Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Review of the Arko shaving stick

Very few products seems to polarise traditional wetshavers quite like the Arko shaving stick do; once you tried it you'll either love it or loathe it.

What most people agree on though is that the tallow based stick works great - it's easy to whip up a lovely lather weither you rub it on your face and face lather, or if you mash it into a bowl and use it for bowl lathering. Where opinions differs is on the scent - some say it smells fresh and citrusy, others think it smells like urinal cakes. And others again - like myself - leave it unwrapped for a while and get a pretty much unscented shaving stick...

Using the Arko as a stick is simplicity itself: I prep my face before I  rub the stick over my whiskers, and then I takes the damp / wet brush of the day and vigourously applies it to my face in a circular motion. The result is a nice creamy and rich lather that is worked into my beard - perfect for those days when I havn't shaved in a while. There is always enough left on my brush for a second and third pass - and if it isn't it's easy to reapply and make more.

The Arko shaving stick provides a more than acceptable cushion and glide, at least on my skin. If you use it for face lathering it can be a little picky on the brush in my expereince; a brush with a decent amount of backbone is needed to work that lather into the whiskers properly. For bowl lathering every one of my brushes works wonders with the Arko, once they are loaded properly.

If you can stand the scent, the Arko shave stick will not disapoint - and it's cheap at half the price.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Shave of the day 30th July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, liquid peppermint
Lather: Nieva Shave Cream
Brush: Body Shop syntetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL loaded with a fresh "Lord Platinum" blade
Post-shave: cold water rinse and Krampert's Finest Bay Rum

Sort of on the go, so using the GoBag. A pretty DFS, despite not having my morning cup of coffee beforehand...

Friday, 27 July 2012

Shave of the day 27 July

Pre-shave: Pure glycerine soap
Lather: Mike's Rose & Cedarwood soap
Brush: Turkish No6
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22R, both with fresh "Wilkinson Sword" blades
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, Alum block and Proraso Liquid Cream Aftershave Balm

An all-round DFS - not much more to say, really.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Quick Review: Mama Bear Shaving Soap

Inspired by a discussion on The Shave Nook, I ordered two tubs of Mama Bear shaving soaps earlier this month - one Awakening and one Brazilian Coffee.

The soap is - as far as I can tell - built on a glycerin based melt-and-pour base. I'm not sure if Mama Bear buys the base or makes her own, but the result is pretty good either way; it lathers quickly, has good slip and cushioning, and don't leave my skin terribly dry. Judging by the sheer amount of lather it whips up, each tub should last me a long time.

As for the scent... a mixed bag indeed:
The Awakening has a strong scent of menthol and other goodies, and actually chilled my face quite well while I was shaving despite the fact that I used hot water to make the lather. My Better Half on the other hand though it smelled like Vicks Vapor Rub, so she wasn't too thrilled about it. I like it though, and that is what matters the most.
The Brazilian Coffee smells more or less like a cold cup of coffee while in the tub, but lathering it up makes the scent mellow quite a bit. If you're expecting the intoxicating scent of a freshly brewed cup you will be underwhelmed though. It's not a bad scent, just not great.

Overall I can recommend Mama Bear's soaps if you're in the market for a glycerin soap. For me, I think the two tubs I got is enough for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Shave of the day 25th July

Or rather, the no-shave of the day. My attempt to revisit my pre-DE razor have resulted in a horrible set of shave bumps on my neck, so I have to let those heal before getting into the groove again.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A suggested 10$ starter kit for new wetshavers

Despite my somewhat funny tagline in the header of my blog, traditional wetshaving can be had on the cheap without sacrificing much in the way of quality. To prove it, here is one suggestion for a starter kit costing less than 10$ from my favorite Turkish web-shop, consisting of items I have tried and enjoyed myself:
Total cost as listed is a whooping 9.54$! In addition an newbie wetshaver might want to borrow a bowl from the kitchen for lathering in - unless s/he wants to make lather directly on the skin - and perhaps an after shave or balm.

I could have suggested the Dalan d'Men shaving cream instead which retails for 24 cents less than the Arko cream, or even the 1.75$ Arko stick. But I have no experience with the former, and the later is one of those you either love or hate and as such may not be a good choice for a beginner.

In addition I would suggest that someone who is just taking up traditional wetshaving spend some time online, checking out the multitude of wetshaving blogs and forums that have sprung up the last few years. In particular I can recommend The Shave Nook - a friendly and including online community. I can also recommend picking up a copy of Leisureguy's Guide to Gourmet Shaving, even if that book costs as much as my suggested shaving kit.

With a kit like this, and a steady hand, a fresh wetshaver can get about ten weeks worth of traditional wetshaving under their belt before needing to stock up on more supplies - and when they need more they'll need just more blades and perhaps more shaving cream. The razor and brush will last forever, if taken care of - at the very least the razor and brush will last until the time comes to replace them with more expensive, higher quality gear.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Shave of the day 23rd July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Lavender
Lather: Mama Bear's Brazilian Coffee
Brush: Turkish No7
Razors: Gillette Sensor with a fresh "Sensor Excel" cartridge
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, Alum block and Krampert's Finest Bay Rum

I know... dabbling in the Dark Side again, after all this time of staying true to traditional wetshaving...

The Better Half uses the Sensor for her legs - despite my attempts to convert her to DE razors - and yesterday she ditched the old cartridge.So in the name of experimenting I decided to see if my recollection of using a cartridge razor was right - even at the risk of a horrible shave.

The result?

The Sensor is a mild razor - which is good, since I needed four passes and some touch ups to get close to the DFS I get from two passes and no touch ups with my DE razors. Honestly Gillette; if this is supposed to be "the best a man can get" then I suggest you all hand in your man-cards.

It's half an hour since I finished my shave, and I'm already looking forward to areal shave with a DE razor...

On the upside, I got a much better result with the Sensor today than I ever got before I started traditional wetshaving - prep and technique must count for something.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Shave of the day 20th July


Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Orange
Lather: Mama Bear's Awakening (peppermint, tea tree and menthol)
Brush: Vie-Long 14033 mixed horse-badger brush
Razors: 25C with a "Treet Platinum" blade and Franken-nought-four with a "Lord Platinum" blade
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, Alum block and Krampert's Finest Experimental Menthol

Tried out a soap that arrived yesterday - wonderfully cooling and refreshing in the morning, keeping my face cool the whole shave.
Also used two razors with identical heads today, trying to judge if I like long or short handles the most - jury is still out.
Wrapping up with a cold rinse and Krampert's Finest Menthol - a cool end to a DFS.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review of the Egyptian Racer razor

As part of my experiments in traditional wetshaving - and also with an eye to putting together a cheap starter kit I could PIF to people curious about old fashioned wetshaving, I picked up a very cheap razor from my usual Turkish web store. The Racer razor is - according to the place I bought it - manufactured in Egypt, and cost me a whooping 3.75 USD.

The majority of the razor is made of injection molded plastic, except the top of the head which is cast metal. It appears quite solid - at least as solid as most cartridge razors and much more solid than most disposables. It is a two piece design - twist the handle and the metal cap comes off. The mixed construction is well balanced, with the center of gravity shortly below the head. This makes for an easily maneuvered razor, while keeping it so light you hardly notice that you're holding it.
Loading the blade is pretty straight forward with little to no slack, so unlike the Yuma you don't really have to pay much attention while loading. The cap also covers up the sides of the razor blade, removing one possibility of cutting your fingertips open. The design allow for a pretty generous blade gap, while holding the blade almost flat. This means the Racer is a fairly aggressive shaver, more so than most of my other razors.

Comparing it to another cheap razor - the Yuma - I would say that the Racer feels less harsh but is more aggressive. It's not a bad razor for a newbie on a budget - provided s/he is told to be careful and to make sure not to use any pressure. Combined with a good blade it gives a more than acceptable shave. It also is a decent second razor for a more experienced traditional wetshaver, perhaps as a semi-disposable travel razor. All in all I can recommend the Racer razor to, well, anyone who fancies a very cheap razor for whatever reason - just keep in mind that there is many better razors out there, if you're willing to invest a bit more.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Shave of the Day 18th June

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, liquid peppermint
Lather: Orange Essential Oil Shave Soap
Brush: Omega #10048 boar
Razors: Franken-nought-four loaded with a "Lord Platinum" blade and a Feather Popular with a "Feather Hi Stainless"
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, Alum block and Krampert's Finest Experimental Menthol

Peppermint, orange and menthol makes for a very nice and refreshing shave in the middle of the work week.
The Frankenrazor works as well as can be expected, ie. pretty well - the handle of the Yuma is a little on the light side to balance the Merkur OC head properly.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Franken-nought-four

My first frankenrazor - or technically speaking, my first two.

First off, this is the Merkur 41C - also known as the 1904 - which is a razor with a good reputation, and one I don't own:

I noticed that the head of the 1904 looks just like the heads on my Merkur 25C long handled open comb and my Merkur 985CL travel razor. It seems like the Merkur three piece OC's all share the same style head...

As an interesting sidebar, I found while dredging the web for information on the 1904 and Merkur OC in general that they were actually intended to be adjustable... by loosening the handle 1/8 to 1/4 turn you can adjust the blade angle and gap, while the springiness of the blade should keep the mechanism tight. Needless to say I'm not too keen on trying it out... shaving with a loose head? Anyhow, back to the frankenrazor.

I also noticed that the nice handle of the 1904 looks very much like the handle of my cheap and cheerful Yuma - even if I do believe the Merkur handles are of a much, much better quality, finish and alloy than the cheap Yuma.

Cue wheels spinning...

Gentlemen, allow me to show you something:
This is the cheap and cheerful Yuma - which actually shaves rather well. Notice the handle.


This is the 985CL travel razor, which is a good shaver. Notice the head.

Drummroll please...
I present to you... the Franken-nought-four! The well shaving Merkur three piece OC head matched to the nice looking handle of the Yuma, creating a 1904 look-a-like razor.

The leftovers assemble into the Yuma travel razor... which I may never assemble again.

I could also have used the head from my Merkur 25C, in which case the leftovers would have given me a long handled Yuma. However there is a blade in that razor right now, and I'm not too keen on opening razors before it's time to ditch the blade.

How the frankenrazors shave? I don't know yet... but I am going to find out soon enough!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Shave of the day 16th July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, liquid peppermint
Lather: Nieva Shave Cream
Brush: Body Shop syntetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL loaded with a fresh "Lord Platinum" blade
Post-shave: cold water rinse and Krampert's Finest Bay Rum

Sort of on the go, so using the GoBag - using my new folding cup to build the lather. Thanks to Krampert I can now enjoy his Finest A/S from a travel-sized bottle, which make shaving on the Go about 20% more awesome...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Shave of the day 13th July

Pre-shave: Pure glycerine soap
Lather: Arko Cool Mint shaving cream
Brush: Vie-Long 14033 mixed horse-badger brush
Razors: Merkur 25C open comb with a "Treet Platinum" blade, Racer Safety Razor with a "Racer Super Stainless" blade
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, alum block and Proraso Liquid Cream A/S

If you had told me three years ago that a DFS would be the norm and nothing to write about, I wouldn't have believed you. But today I got a DFS as I usually do, and there isn't much to say about it.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Pictures and quick review of the vintage Ever-Ready 1914


I am a very lucky guy for many reasons, but one of them is that I own an old razor that used belong to an old friend of the family that is - as far as I can tell - in near mint, unused condition. What better way to try SE shaving than with a razor that has a history attached?

Thanks to the friendly fellows at The Shave Nook I identified the razor as an Ever-Ready Model 1914, also known as the little lather catcher. Most of the guys who uses SE razors promised me that it was a wonderfully smooth and mild shave... more on that later

First we got to have pictures!

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Riches revealed; a SE razor and almost full packs of blades.
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Focusing on shiny objects is hard...
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Two packs of blades, one full, one missing one blade - which is in the razor.
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Everything out of the box.
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Just the razor - nice knurled grip, balance near the head.
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Closeup on the head - an interesting (to me) open comb with a bar. Not a spot of rust either, or even much dust.
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The head head-on. The lettering on either side says "LIFT HERE" in a non-serif font.
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The head opened, showing the blade that is in the razor. Two little tabs on each side holds it in place.
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The blade out of the razor. I'm not sure what "radio steel" is, but I know that back in the day radio was a buzz word much like digital was in the 90's.
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A better view of the lettering on the blade.
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The head with no blade. It's a little hard to see, but the text says "American Safety Razor Oo. Inc. New York". Again, it's practically spotless.
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The underside of the head, reading "Ever-ready" and "Patented March 24/14"
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Another view of the underside. Seems to be a very slight bow to the bar connecting the ends of the comb, but that might be the surface I photographed it on.
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One of the unopened blades. Compared to today's packaging, this is pretty awesome.
    
This is the old, original blade. Notice how the solid sides lets the hooks on either side hold the blade in place easily.
    
Closing the lid though, it seems that the blade is pushed forward a bit and rests against two small bumps on the razor. The bear-trap lip seems to hold it securely in place too...

The only downside is... I can't get it to give me a good shave. I can get a near BBS shave on my face with it in a single stroke, but once I get to my neck.... lets say I haven't had this much razor burn and weepers since I started traditional wetshaving. I'm not sure if it's the blade flexing - the original blades were certainly thicker and more rigid than the modern GEMs - or if it's just me not being able to hold the EverReady at the right angle down low on my neck. At any rate it is a real shame, since I would really enjoy using this historic razor... but for now I'll have to put it aside. Who knows, I might give it another go in a few months and see how I fare then?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Shave of the day 11th July

Pre-shave: Pure glycerine soap
Lather: RazoRock XXX
Brush: Turkish No7 horse hair
Razors: Merkur 25C open comb with a "Treet Platinum" blade, Racer Safety Razor with a "Racer Super Stainless" blade
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, alum block and Krampert's Finest Experimental Menthol

On a whim tried a cold water shave today. Used a block of what was intended as a melt-and-pour from the local hobby store for the face wash, built up a good lather from the RozoRock and went to town. The cheap Racer razor keeps impressing me. Cold water rinse and Krampert's Menthol was a cooling end to a damn fine cool shave. Worth doing again on a summer day!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

How to introduce traditional shaves to the cartridge generation?

I really, really enjoy shaving in the old fashioned way; soap, brush and double edged blade. I enjoy it so much I rather go for the cave man look than having to use a cartridge or electric razor - in fact, I enjoy it so much I want to share the enjoyment with the world!

There are several reasons for wanting to share. At the very core, I find it to quite simply to give a much superior shave and a much, much more enjoyable experience in the bathroom. Then you have the enjoyment of trawling the various online shops in the various corners of the world - from Turkey to Brooklyn NY, from Spain to the UK. And not to forget, the fun of talking to like minded shavers from even further abroad online.

Which off course leaves the question of how to properly introduce others to this all too absorbing hobby of mine... without coming across as a weirdo or worse. Not an easy one to answer, that is for sure.

One thing I have considered is assembling a Pay It Forward Starter Kit - PIFSK - and hand out as gifts. A quick look around shows me that I can assemble a decent one for less than 10 USD, meaning no one will be heartbroken if the recipient finds that old fashioned shaving isn't for him (or her, for that matter).

Such a kit would most likely consist of a Turkish No6 brush, a stick/tube of Arko soap/cream, some good blades and a cheap but good razor - right now the choices are between the Yuma and Racer razors; neither of which can be said to be expensive razors. Add to that a card with some quick instructions*, some links to places online to learn more and perhaps some pointers on brush and razor care... printed out on nice, thick paper.

I have gotten both a Yuma and a Racer from turkey, and both actually shave remarkable well. I just need to find out what bades do and don't work with them, which off course would mean trying them with several blades I consider good to find the best match... or maybe two best matches.

Then it's "just" a matter of creating a presentable box and find out who the recipient will be... and that might be the hardest part of it all.

*) Wash face. Rub shave stick over stubble. Use wetted brush to build lather directly on face. Shave with short, controlled strokes while maintaining proper angle. Rinse face. Apply more lather. Shave again. Rinse well. Apply aftershave or balm of your choice.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Shave of the day 9th July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Lavender
Lather: Mike's Unscented Soap
Brush: Vie-Long mixed horse-badger #14033
Razors: Merkur 25C open comb with a fresh "Treet Platinum" blade, Racer Safety Razor with a fresh "Racer Super Stainless" blade
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, alum block and Krampert's Finest Experimental Menthol

First shave in quite a few days - being ill is no fun - and the first outing of two new razors. The 25C performed excellent as expected, having the same head as my 985CL travel razor. The Racer was a pleasant surprise, being a gentle-yet-aggressive razor performing better than the 3.75USD I paid for it would indicate.
Krampert's Menthol - which I do sincerely hope he'll be able to offer for sale when my sample bottle is used up - rounded off a really nice Monday shave on a muggy summer morning.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Shave of the day 4th July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Orange
Lather: Proraso eucalyptus and menthol soap
Brush: Turkish No6 horse hair brush
Razors: Vintage EverReady Model 1914 with a GEM, Feather Popular with a "Feather Hi Stainless"
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, alum block and Krampert's Finest EXPERIMENTAL Menthol

I was still very excited about trying my vintage, but... had to switch to a regular DE for the second pass. Got a decent shave on my cheeks, but anything but on my neck. Seems like me and SE is just not meant to be.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Quick review: Proraso eucalyptus and menthol soap

The Proraso in the green tub was one of the first soaps I bought after getting into traditional wetshaving, and still one of my fall backs if nothing else appeal to me in the morning.

The Proraso eucalyptus and menthol soap makes a great lather which not only cushions great but stays fluffy for quite a long time, which is good if you like me sometimes spends a bit of time fuzzing over which razor to use. It also smells good, which is always a good thing.

It can be a little picky about the brush - I seem to get the best result using a short lofted brush with lots of backbone. YMMV off course, but when I'm using a soft brush on this soap loading seems to take forever.

Overall a good soft soap that I can recommend to anyone who likes menthol in the morning.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Shave of the day 2nd July

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Lavender
Lather:C&E Sandalwood soao
Brush: Omega #10048 boar brush
Razors: Vintage EverReady Model 1914 with a fresh GEM
Post-shave: Cold water rinse, alum block and Krampert's Finest Bay Rum

Very excited about trying my vintage, but... lovely lather, not so lovely shave. A bit of shave burn, a few weepers on my neck. As far as I can tell there is nothing wrong with the razor - logically the fault must be in my technique...