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Discussion in 'Shave Clinic & Newbie Check-In' started by bokaba, Mar 21, 2009.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an alum block? I currently use a styptic pencil.
I almost always use the alum block after putting a new Ted Pella injector blade in. The first couple of shaves can be a little rough. The block, in combination with cold water, does a great job at stopping the tiny blood spots that form all over when the blade is fresh. A bad nick or cut caused by lack of technique, poor lather, or any other "operator error" might still need the styptic pencil.
It also works as a toner, firming the skin. Running cold water over it for a minute or two before using can also give a great cooling sensation as you rub the block over your face.
Most days I'll skip the alum tho. It seems to cause my face to dry out way too much and get uncomfortably tight. The only time I feel the need for an A/S balm is when I use the alum block.
I haven't checked prices lately, but I got mine from tulumba.com for less than 2 bucks each. That was about three years ago and I'm still on the first one. It's worth checking out, as they had a lot of other shave creams and soaps for cheap.
I've been using an Alum block for a couple months. My newby perspective is:
Styptic action, though only good for small weepers
Feedback on technique...when it stings you know something was wrong
Toning, although overall I prefer witch hazel for this
Tastes very bad. I shower after I shave, and some of it rinses into my mouth. Its not pleasant.
I have found the best prices at Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage. Also, they are available as shaving products, and as other products like *natural* deodorant. You want to make sure to get Potassium Alum.
I use my alum block on my chin every day. If I don't I still get little pimples after shaving. It works as a super-aftershave for me that I rinse off with near freezing water after a couple of minutes and follow with a splash or balm. I don't use it so much for nicks. I keep a styptic pencil around in case that happens.
I really think that without the alum block, I would still be largely frustrated with my shaving results. I really honestly believe they are a must-have item.
I actually disagree that an alum block is necessary, though I concede they may be useful for complete beginners.
I bought one soon after starting out, but soon felt that I was relying on it to sort out the after-effects of a below par shave. When I ditched it I was forced to concentrate harder and hone my technique.
If you want something far nicer that does seem to help with very minor nicks, I'd recommend splashing on an after shave. This will have a mild alum-like effect on your skin while smelling nice too! Finish off with some moisturiser to counter any drying from the after shave splash.
I tried a GEM Micromatic today for the first time.
Alum block was necessary. I'm so glad I had it. I welcomed the sting.
Followed up with Witch Hazel.
I need to work on my GEM technique.