What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.
LostInCincy
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What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by LostInCincy » Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:43 pm

7 years ago, I stopped checking in to ShavemyFace. I stopped coming here for recommendations and I stopped adding my two cents to every post, even on my favorite forum: Shaving Creams & Hard Soaps. I started to sell off the impractical number of brushes and razors I had and got rid of the shaving creams I’d acquired that I didn’t really think were worth my time (or preference). There was no particular reason for leaving, I just sort of lost interest. In a fairly short amount of time, I’d settled into what I preferred and had become surprisingly conservative.

A lot has actually changed in the shaving landscape in the years that I’ve been off the forums, but that’s a subject for a different time. What I found interesting to reflect upon, now that I’m “back,” is how my attitudes changed the further I got away from some of the discussions here. In no way am I trying to say that I learned some universal truths, but rather I found what worked for me better in a vacuum than when my experiences were measured constantly against others’.

What follows is sure to shock or amuse many of the readers here, but I hope my explanations offer a view that can at the very least be understood or appreciated:

1. You can get a lather out of almost anything, seriously.

Many of the discussions about shaving creams and soaps focus on the quantity and quality of lather differences between products. In my experience, I can get a quality lather that is more than enough to shave with and has the density and weight that I need from so many products. For sure, there are stark differences, but those differences can all be mitigated by adjustments in the amount of water and how much you work the product with your brush. If you spend most of your time using Taylors creams and try Musgo Real the next day and don’t change anything, you’re going to have issues. You have to either give yourself time to adjust or know what adjustments need to be made from experience.

2. Practicality should probably enter the equation at some point.

Like it or not, some shaving setups introduce the prospect of risk more than others. A DE razor loaded with a Feather or even Swedish Gillette is going to introduce the possibility of a nick, cut or irritation whereas a Gillette Superspeed and Israeli Personna or EVEN a Mach 3 (GASP!) might be a better choice if you’re in a high-profile job and would prefer to not look like an adolescent.

Personally, I have used a Mach 3 and Maca Root Shave Cream from The Body Shop for years as a balance of a cream I love and a shaving experience I can be happy with and be confident in. I’m often shaving at 6:00-6:30 AM, I’m not a morning person, and it’s not worth it to not have anything other than the shave I expect. Am I unskilled in the art of wetshaving and therefore have to settle for this? Of course not. I just have a tough beard and a need for security. The upside is that all my stockpiled soaps and creams from the reformulatin’ days of 2006-2008 have lasted for years for use on days that I can enjoy them.

3. Settling on a few shaving setups and sticking with them helps your shaves and wallets.

This is, of course, not news to anyone here, but something very few of us can actually follow through on. The simplicity of just a few variables can help the quality and consistency of your shaves so much, it’s unbelievable. It’s pretty hard to maintain that and maintain the chatter, though, with so many things to try.

After I visited Pasteur Pharmacy in NYC this month, I laughed at the cost of the spending spree there. It had been a while since I’d bought multiple products at the same time and gone nuts. I shudder to think what it would have been had I maintained the pace I was moving at in 2007/2008 after I had a real job.

******

Thanks for letting me share. I’d be curious to hear anyone’s thoughts on the matter. One thing I’m thrilled to see, in 2016, is that the community here is still vibrant and maintains a good sense of perspective and camaraderie.

Best,
Dan
Dan

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by nicodemus38 » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:16 pm

those are universal truths. a few dependable shaving rigs, blades, and soap or creams are all you really need. No need to go buy something just because they added a new scent.

A lot of the forums and retailers do seem to be set up in a way to make a new person become a one man/one shopping trip income surge that lets the store pay their monthly bills just on that one person.
On a lot of forums you really cant stay "in the conversation" unless you buy every new product that comes out and hope to have any chance at staying relevant.

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Squire
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by Squire » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:39 pm

Well, I am a morning person and by 6:00 am I have already breakfasted, shaved and fed the the furry children. The non furry ones can fend for themselves.

Dan I think a lot of the conversation on the shaving boards is just that, conversation, but as topics go it's better than the weather and more interesting than listing to some of my chaps go on about their favorite sports team.

There is something uniquely personal about shaving. Surprising how such a simple topic can become complex as we discuss the different approaches we bring to enhance what is for most a necessary daily chore. I like shaving so I like hearing from others who share that interest. Shaving for me is a pleasant interlude between beginning the day and actually starting the activity of the day.

I don't think shaving is important just that so many other things we have to do are equally not important yet shaving is at least interesting and more fun.
Regards,
Squire

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by CMur12 » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:50 pm

Hi Dan -

Welcome back. You and I joined about the same time. The conversation has definitely changed around these forums since those days, due in large part to products that have disappeared, products that have been reformulated, and new products that have entered the market. Boar brushes didn't have much credibility when we joined, but they do now. Brushes with synthetic fibers have evolved into quality tools. A lot of new razors have been introduced as well. Whereas most of us used either new Merkur or vintage Gillette, now there are a lot of new razors for reasonable prices (most notably the Edwin Jaggers and Muehles), and the market for user-grade vintage razors has largely dried up. Artisan soapmakers have advanced from simple melt-and-pour glycerin-based soaps to true soapmaking and quality shaving soaps.

Your points:

1. If you are talking about shave soaps and creams, I agree that one should be able to coax a decent lather from any decent soap or cream. Using other bar soaps, I think I could get a decent shave with a mild razor and enough lather/suds to provide some beard-softening and a little glide.

2. Each one of us needs to use what works for him. We have had forum members who have preferred cartridge razors and I see no reason to deny that they are the best tool for many shavers.

3. I have long been an advocate of starting out with a minimum of variables for more rapid learning. (For example, I don't advocate blade samplers for any wetshaver who doesn't have his basic technique down.) I keep variables to a minimum now, too, so that I can build a rhythm of familiarity without having to make constant adjustments.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

brothers
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by brothers » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:53 am

I agree with all of the above, and couldn't come close to expressing these observations as well as the others have. There is one factor that many take for granted as a necessary part, but it's really not, and that is the concept that one should build a lather before shaving. Really not a fact. Just about any product, even water for the most conservative, may be used as a carrier of the shaven whiskers, and a barrier to keep the blade at bay while cruising across the surface of the skin. Brushless is still a dirty word, poo-pood and scorned in the most hushed tones of private and snobbish circles when the naive children are not in the room at the moment. :) This even includes the commonly occurring shaving creams used as-is. This prejudice is the most inaccurate of the various things I have learned from participating on the shaving forums. Just for the record, while this is true, I happen to currently enjoy and even revel in the lather I build every day. I do it because I want to, not because I am required to do so. :D
Gary

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fallingwickets
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by fallingwickets » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:00 am

Hi Dan

Nice to see you out and about again :D I for one am hoping too see you around more often.

On the subject of lather, while it is true that you can get a decent lather from any soap or cream, I for one have a lathering style that is suited to some soaps/creams but not others and so if a product doesnt fit my style I deem said product 'useless' or at the margin, not very good. As far as I'm concerned, the soap should work for me, not the other way around! On a side note, I actually enjoy reading the adventures gents have in the pursuit of lathering nirvana and so selfishly I hope they never take your advice about lather to heart :D :D :D

clive
de gustibus non est disputandum

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fallingwickets
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by fallingwickets » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:03 am

P.S. 10 thumbs up on the 'fidelity' mantra
de gustibus non est disputandum

brothers
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by brothers » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:08 am

fallingwickets wrote:P.S. 10 thumbs up on the 'fidelity' mantra
Same here, fidelity results in predictability, while complete randomness is sometimes known as chaos and uncertainty.
Gary

LostInCincy
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by LostInCincy » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:42 pm

Thank you, Murray and Clive. Funny that it seems like so many people joined around the same time we did.

Because the market has changed a bit, I am going to be asking elsewhere as to what's relatively new on the scene and worth looking into. For all that I wrote above, I'm enjoying mixing up my routine and trying new things. The excitement of that is such a part of what makes communities like this thrive.
Dan

brothers
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by brothers » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:34 pm

Welcome back Dan. Surveying the current landscape is a good plan.
Gary

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GA Russell
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by GA Russell » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:49 pm

Welcome back, Dan!
Rapira Swedish Supersteel
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by BeatlesFan » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:04 pm

I also joined SMF in approximately that same time-frame.

I would say that, for me, one significant change worth checking out in recent years is that several current-production DE blades are now "on par" with the best blades of the past.

For me, I would give a particular shout out to the Personna Hospital Use, which I think is as good as anything ever made, and maybe smoother than even the legendary blades from the '70s. But there are some other standouts, too (Polsilver Iridium, for example).

Beyond that, although there's obviously lots of new products, I'm still about where I was in terms of shaving with (mostly) old-timey soaps and creams and vintage Gillette razors.

Another major change in recent years is newly offered DE razors, mostly all stainless. This hasn't affected me personally, because I'm quite happy with my Gillettes, but, oh my goodness gracious, they're EVERYWHERE. I'd make particular note of the Above The Tie line, recently discussed here and widely praised as being extremely high quality (with a price tag to match).

Anyway, welcome back, and (just my nickel's worth) you might consider picking up some Personna Hospital Use blades (indeed, I'd be happy to send you a few as a "PIF" for Gary who did likewise for me on these blades -- just PM if interested).

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by Ouchmychin » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:47 am

In the last year I found out about a few great blades from Russia. I am thinking about Gillette Rubie; and Rapira blades, especially the Sweedish Supersteel. I also found the Schick Krona, which, for me turned out to be the best non adjustable razor I have used. The only problem I have with it is watching the outside corners of the blade. In some geometries I have gotten nicked with them, but that is a learning and care problem.
Ouchmychin (Pete)

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by Pointer » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:01 pm

Long time lurker who rarely posts...even on the old SMF where I had been a member.

Agree with all your points. The reformulations of the greats have not been the best, the meteoric rise of all the various artisan software just kinds of flies by without notice. The same with the newfangled, brushes, SE and DE razors.

One positive point has been a resurgence in straights which I use exclusively. The new Solingen straight makers (Aust, Wacker, Revisor, NTS), Ulrich at Koraat bringing back the smiling wedge and all the semi production US 1/2 to 1/4 hollow straight makers like Hart, Nate's, Portland, BBRW etc. This is a huge boon with the inflation and degradation of the secondary vintage market.

Probably last post I will make until drmoss_ca puts his TI Eagle 7-day set up for sale at a price I cannot refuse :)

LostInCincy
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by LostInCincy » Sat Jan 09, 2016 1:05 pm

To think that razors, blades and brushes have also changed a bit makes the whole process a little more daunting. Blades are one thing that really needed to improve, so that's nice to see.
Dan

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by Tallships » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:18 am

Since the 60's I've always used 1 razor (Gillette Adjustable) 1 brush and soap, but after finding it more and more difficult finding shave soap and blades in rural Maine, a friend said i should try on line, and here I am. Recently, I too have been veering away from forums and buying razors (25 in all) that many, I used only once. I'll admit there are a few, both new and vintage that I like and a different soap other than VDH (Cella's Kilo), Brush's ?, 8 instead of 1. I used to have just a spot in the medicine cabinet for my shave gear, now I have a whole shave den that I built near the bathroom sink. I think I realized it was getting out of hand, after I bought an $8.00 Gem 1912 and my wife asked " How many razors do you need to shave ? " . My sons and nephews have had an eye on my razors, I'll just keep my Gillette Adjustables and my Weber PH.
I have to thank you guys . I have learned a number of things here, like making my own aftershave, the variety of razor blades, number of different brushes, where to buy supplies etc.

Happiness is a BBS, Denis

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by DEF » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:14 pm

The most important thing I learned is that it's much cheaper to be afflicted with shaving acquisition disorders than with guitar and amplifier acquisition disorders.

Most days now, I'm using the Dollar Shave Club 4-blade cart and Kiss My Face Moisture Shave brushless. But on the weekends, I'll break out the Trumper soaps, Taylor creams, my custom-run Simpson's 57 Super, a.k.a. "The Douglas," and a Merkur HD or 1904 with Gillette 7 o'Clock yellow.

I'm still a cologne junkie, however. Just bought some T&H Grafton last week.

Best regards!
Doug

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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by CMur12 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:19 pm

Hi Doug! It's great to see you! :D

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Squire
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by Squire » Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:31 pm

Hey Doug, welcome back. Not as if you actually really left or anything, once sworn in and all that . . .
Regards,
Squire

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fallingwickets
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Re: What I learned in 7 years away from the shaving forums

Post by fallingwickets » Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:38 am

definitely nice to see you out and about doug

clive
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