[imga=left]http://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/media/15711/full[/imga] A beginners compendium on how to get a better shave. Three steps to getting a smooth, irritation and ingrown free shave. So you've stumbled upon a website with nearly 1 million posts/articles regarding shaving... and you're in shock. Sure, you're interested in getting a better shave and making your daily routine less miserable, but come on - 13,000 people discussing and enjoying shaving? Has the world gone mad? Like a moth to a flame, you read on - only to soon find the lunacy we preach make more and more sense... so you give it a go in blind faith and immediately you're hooked, line and sinker. Welcome to Badger & Blade... we accept you, one of us. "Wetshaving" as it's called, is a growing practice/hobby that has taken off like wildfire in recent years because it works... really, really well. Wetshaving turns your daily chore of rubbing ineffective, drying foam or gel in a can (which conveniently smells like a teenagers underarm deodorant) on your face and scraping hair off, with the latest 17 bladed plastic made in China wonder-tool, into a more efficacious method; mixing craftsmanship, history and skin-healthy products into an olfactory journey. It's no surprise most men aren't fond of shaving. With drug store products and tools, it's about as enjoyable as flossing - save for flossing won't cut you, cause you ingrown hairs and isn't something you can "forget" to do for a week or two. Think about your first shave.... chances are, like me, you bought a razor and some shaving cream, cut the hell out of yourself and felt manly and sophisticated - sporting your toilet paper band aides with pride. If you were lucky, your father gave you a few hints, like "Don't move the razor horizontally, stupid." but certainly no one reading this got a full run down on products, skin types, available, tools, etc. It's because of this - you're likely on google or the like, and have now stumbled upon this article. You're in luck, as I will now shower you with the beginnings of what will soon become one of your most relaxing and enjoyable past times. How to get a better shave, Step 1: Use a quality badger hair shaving brush and a quality soap or cream. This is the quintessential step which makes the greatest impact on the quality of both your shave and your face. First a shaving brush. For many of you, this will sound/seem weird... a badger brush... for shaving?!?! Yes. But why? Well, there are four reasons you'll want to use a quality badger shaving brush: 1.) It will lift and raise the hair on your face, as the bristles will lift the hair and place lather under the hair more effectively, thus raising the hair and priming it for cutting. 2.) It holds water and heat like a sponge and will generate a plethora of gorgeous, thick, warm lather - enough for multiple passes (more on that later). 3.) It feels remarkably good on your face. It's almost like getting an invigorating massage on your face (insert happy ending joke as appropriate). 4.) It keeps your hands dry. Having slick, wet shaving cream/soap on your hands before you put a blade to your face isn't very convenient. You can get a good badger hair shaving brush starting at $35 and can learn more about some of the different qualities here. Now that you've got a shaving brush you'll need a quality shaving cream or soap. Yes, I said soap - like a hard bar. Believe it or not, that used to be the staple, shaving creams are the newcomers. Take a wet shaving brush - twist it on a shaving soap and take a look at the picture above to view the outcome. Whether it is a cream, or a soap - it makes no difference (all things being equal) in your shave - but many prefer soaps as they have a longer shelf life, and end up being less expensive (1 cake of triple milled shaving soap can last well over 1 year). So you get you need a quality soap/cream - but why? 1.) It works remarkably superior at protecting your face from your blade and providing superior lubrication. The difference is radical - it's like comparing a G5 Jet to a paper airplane. The stuff you buy in the store is meant to be mass-produced and as a result the quality of the ingredients is mediocre at best. Commercial products are made to be cheap and cheaper. 2.) A quality shaving soap/cream will have incredible nourishing ingredients, such as shea butter, almond oil, jojoba, lanolin, etc. Not only do they contain these ingredients - but they are a significant component. Gels/Foams in a can love to boast some of these ingredients, but when you look at the ingredients list - you'll find them so far down the list they have no affect. 3.) It'll make you look younger. No magic here - moisturizing your face with a quality soap/cream every single day will smooth our your skin, maintain it's color and minimize/prevent wrinkles. 4.) It's made of natural, quality stuff and it smells AMAZING. I never thought I would like a rose scented shaving cream or shaving soap, but guess what, they're for men, and they've been the top sellers for centuries and for good reason. A manly Taylors Rose or Trumpers Violet is simply an incredible experience that will ever so slightly linger. I started with almond shaving creams (my overwhelming manliness wouldn't accept Rose being for men) however the proprietor at the shop knew why I was only getting Almond, and gave me rose/violet samples. I now have 1 tube of almond, and a dozen tubs of different types/brands of rose. Don't be scared, remarkably I still pee standing up. Lathered... A quality shaving soap, which will last you over a year, can be had for as little as $10. For more information on making lather with a shaving soap, check out this excellent guide. How to get a better shave, Step 2: Get a real razor... sissy. If you push a button and the blade pops out of your razor, or you use a disposable, we're here to help. That's not to say you can't get a good shave with a cartridge razor, but likely you've gotten this far in this article because you want more than just "good" - or due to your ethnicity or skin/hair type, you've got an issue with ingrown hairs, which cartridge razors make worse. Before I jump into what you *should* be using, I'll first show and tell you why you shouldn't be using a cartridge razor. Cartridge razors, much like the cans of shave foam/gel we discussed earlier are designed around manufacturing ease/cost. They use the lowest quality, least expensive materials they can possibly get away with. What you end up with, is very poor quality blade steel, cheap plastic handles, and utter disappointment. What's more, is then you're stuck grabbing your ankles whenever you have to pop for those $2 blades... ouch. Above, you can see the blades of the two most popular "systems" the Quattro and Fusion. Notice the following, with both "systems" the blades are recessed into the head, and the blades have multiple angles. Both characteristics are bad - having the recessed blades means you need to apply pressure in order to get a close shave (which creates irritation and ingrown hairs) and the angled blades create the heavily advertised "lift and cut" - which many curly haired fellas and minorities call the "I'm screwed" feature, as this promotes ingrown hairs like hippies promote "going green".... not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, while we're on the subject - all of the shave foam cans (releasing crap into the air) and unbiodegradable plastic razor cartridges/packaging are land fill nightmares. Cartridges also easily clog with beard/lather refuse and lose their effectiveness mid-stroke. Ok, so what do you need? This may come as a shocker, after being bludgeoned by countless advertisements stating contrary, but you'll actually want a razor, which uses only one blade/edge. The two most common forms of razors like this are "double edge" razors (they have an edge on both sides of the head, thus allowing you to take a stroke, twist the razor, then take another stroke, so you don't have to wash lather/beard refuse off it each stroke) as seen above. These razors are very reasonably priced ($25 or so) and create a tremendous amount of savings when you factor in blade cost. For QUALITY Swedish steel double edge razor blades, you're looking at spending as little at 5 cents a blade, which means you can get 40 quality DE blades for the price of one Gillette Fusion blade. Now the down side with a DE razor is that you'll likely have to order your blades online, and you'll have to learn how to use it. It isn't rocket science to learn (it takes about a week) but it is a heck of a lot different. Since you're using much sharper blades in the DE, you use ZERO pressure, almost not even touching your face, and the blade just slips the hair off without sound or feel... amazing, and once learned is remarkably soft/kind to your face. To learn more about DE's check out this guide. For the "do it yourself" kinda fella, there are also straight razors, of which is my personal preference. Not only is it 10 pounds of manliness in a 5 pound bag, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun and delivers the best possible shave... period. While covering everything involved in using and maintaining straight razors is large enough to cover hundreds of pages (and i've done so in the Interactive Guide to Straight Razor Shaving) it isn't all that difficult. For those wishing to use a straight, without dealing with maintenance, there are also disposable bladed straight razors like the two below... Confused? No worries, here's help - DE VS Straight Razor, which one for me? How to get a better shave, Step 3: Take Care of Face. Finish your shave with a good aftershave, which will soothe your face, and keep you skin in good shape. It's bad enough we have to look at your ugly mug as is, but a red irritated face isn't making it a better experience for us... trust me, 10 out of 10 women prefer men with non-irritated faces. Few drugstore aftershaves are even worth their weight in dirt, so be sure to take a look around in the aftershaves section, look at the review system and ask lots of questions on the forum to find the product that will be best for your face and smell great to you. There are retailers/manufacturers who offer samples and sample kits as well... a small amount of research (10 minutes?) could greatly change the condition of your skin, and you might find a scent you simply adore. Here are the basic rules - If you've got dry skin, use an aftershave balm/cream. If you have oily skin, use an aftershave splash (alcohol based) and if you have normal skin, use balm/cream in the winter, splash in the summer. A big misnomer however, is that aftershave splashes with alcohol are drying/harsh to the skin. This is not always the case and many splashes are quite moisturizing, so again - consult the review system and the forum for something that matches your skin type and scent preferences best. NOTE: The products in the pictures above are merely for reference/illustration, and aren't necessarily recommended or suggested. Everyones skin type is different, if you need help finding the perfect products for your face, that's what the community and REVIEW ENGINE exist for, don't be shy. Besides, aside from Jay no one here bites. I did my part - now go get a better shave, If you like this article, DIGG it here.