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Busting myths and legends

Over time, I realized that some of the most common statements in the field of wet shaving did not work well for me and I went to the other extreme, the opposite of the accepted norm.

1. Shaving with hot water brings me nothing but more irritation compared to cold.
For a while now, I've switched completely to cold water, except for the water I use to lather in a bowl, it's a little warmer, but not scalding hot.
Besides causing more irritation, hot water is bad for synthetic brushes. One of the most common causes of knot deformation and the formation of holes (doughnut effect) is precisely hot water.

2. I have found that shaving right after a shower results in excessive drying of the skin because many of the natural oils that are released are washed away.
Now I shave, at least a few hours after showering, as before, I wash my face with glycerin soap. Thus, the skin becomes very smooth, elastic and hydrated, just before shaving.

3. Using alum, after every shave, does nothing for me other than over-drying my skin, leading to potential irritation.
According to my dermatologist, any decent aftershave can do the same thing as alum, but without the side effect of drying out the skin, even more, the aftershave will nourish it.

These are my three refutations of commonly accepted norms persistently imposed over the years.

What do you think about this matter? Do you do something out of the ordinary that works for you and goes against mainstream standards?
 
eh..... makes me wonder. Yes, I use medium warm water when shaving. Yes, I shave right after showering. Yes I use alum after the shave. Still, I enjoy every bit of it and have done so for the past 4 years. May be a case of YMMV perhaps?

But hey, I may give it a go for a week and see if I notice any differences?
 

Dave himself

Wee Words of Wisdom
I've used cold water for over a year now, the reason I changed to cold water shaving was to cut back on irritation. It worked so I just stuck with

Sometimes I shower before a shave and sometimes I don't, I can't say I've ever noticed any difference. I almost always face lather and enjoy taking my time to get the lather to exactly the way I like it. Maybe this could be why I never notice a difference if I shower before a shave or not.

I've used Alum after every shave for maybe the last 6 months, and last night I forgot. My face is softer than usual,so I'll leave it out for the next few shaves and see how it goes. I can't even remember why I started using it every shave.
 
As always whatever works for you and glad you found something to your preference.

1. Shaving with hot water brings me nothing but more irritation compared to cold.

Cold or warm water by the time you finished lathering goes back to room temperature. Doesn’t really hold the initial temperature. So for me cold water during summer and warm water in winter.

2. I have found that shaving right after a shower results in excessive drying of the skin because many of the natural oils that are released are washed away.

Purpose of showering before shave is to help soften the stubbles. Both pre-shave or soap itself takes care of the slickness and protective coating we require to shave.

3. Using alum, after every shave, does nothing for me other than over-drying my skin, leading to potential irritation.

This is absolutely true, alum dries my skin and doesn’t see any light of the day. I kept it for good unless a nasty cut happens. Minor nicks and cuts could be dealt with cold water rinse.
 
I'm guessing if your going to a dermatologist, your skin is likely more sensitive than most, so maybe that why your having problems with the norms?

I cold water shaved in the Army, and I hated it, so I won't ever do that again.

I like the tightness an alum block gives my face. It feels like it's healing it.

Not sure if shaving after a shower does anything positive for my shave, but it just feels right.
 

musicman1951

three-tu-tu, three-tu-tu
YMMV.

I tried cold water more than once. The shave was fine, but it didn't provide me with any advantage.

It seems logical that any time you wash your face you're removing natural oils. I don't see what difference it makes to wash it in the shower or standing in front of the sink.

Alum is definitely drying. If you have oily skin that's a good thing. If you like the tightening effect that's a good thing. I have dry skin and follow my shaves with Thayer's WH and then balm/moisturizer. Works for me.
 

luvmysuper

My elbows leak
Staff member
Anyone shaving with water hot enough to damage a synthetic knot needs to stop.
Sometimes people can go to extremes here and it truly baffles me.
If an aspirin is good for a headache, a half a bottle ought to work great, right?
"Hot" and "Cold" water shaving means warm and cool, not boiling and iced.
If doing something a certain way doesn't work FOR YOU, it means it doesn't work for you.
It doesn't mean it's a myth or a legend.
If using a certain method or product irritates your skin, do something else.
Alum, originally used to address nicks, weepers and razor bumps has somehow evolved into "aftershave", but that was never the original intent and I certainly don't use it that way.
I "nourish" my face by what I eat and by washing the dirt off of it. My aftershave is used because I like the feeling of the alcohol and I like the scent. I have no intention of nourishing my face with it.
Using a product or method in a way that is contrary to its original intent or which causes a problem doesn't mean that using the method or product in any way by anyone is a myth.
 
I used the definitions, "myths and legends" because the three points I mention are widely recommended, almost as rules. Also, all the time, I'm only referring to myself. The part with which I address the rest is with a question mark, that is, I am simply asking, without trying to impose new standards.
I believe that a good aftershave is about more than alcohol and fragrance. I know that it contains oils, which helps the skin to regenerate, that is, it nourishes. There are probably $1 ones that are just alcohol and fragrance, but I didn't mean those.
 
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luvmysuper

My elbows leak
Staff member
the three points I mention are widely recommended, almost as rules.
There are as many professional board certified dermatologists who disagree with the concept of applying products to our skin as there are people trying to convince us it is necessary (for various reasons, profit being just one).
I don't think occasional use of a product is necessarily a terrible thing, but we, as humans, tend to go overboard sometimes.
Just because a substance is good for us to eat or drink doesn't mean it's necessarily a great idea to slather it on our skin.
Here's an interesting article from Slate:

 

Phoenixkh

I shaved a fortune
My dermatologist prescribed “Metro-Gel” as I developed little red bumps on my cheeks. She also confirmed my use of Neutrogena Hydro Boost, along with a couple brands of facial cleansers.

The Metro-Gel cleared up the bumps on the first use and I use it after every shave. It goes on slick, so I can feel any whiskers I might have missed. I quite like that feature, though I suspect it wasn’t designed with that in mind.
 
2. I have found that shaving right after a shower results in excessive drying of the skin because many of the natural oils that are released are washed away.
Now I shave, at least a few hours after showering, as before, I wash my face with glycerin soap. Thus, the skin becomes very smooth, elastic and hydrated, just before shaving.
You’re removing the same oil washing your face with a soap before a shave. There’s absolutely no difference from a shower.

I’ll go even further, if you don’t wash your face with soap in the shower, like I do (water only), you’re doing less damage than a glycerin soap over the sink.

No matter how you put it, it’s not the shower itself that removes the skin’s natural barrier, it’s soap, any soap, at any given time, in the shower or not.

Want to stop the dryness? Water only.
 

Phoenixkh

I shaved a fortune
I tried many of the suggestions I read here.... Experimented quite a bit with this and that. I did find a routine that works for me....

That said, this routine worked best for me when I adopted it early on... As I developed my technique, would this routine still be the best for me? I guess the two things I do that I've read don't work for others... or are unnecessary: Showers and pre-shaves.

Just recently, I tried two shaves, one with no shower but still using a pre-shave.. The next avoiding both the shower and a pre-shave soap... I did wash my face with a gentle, unscented facial soap.... Neither of those shaves were as good as the ones where I stick to that routine I developed over 2 years ago now. And the differences weren't subtle.

I think that's because I have old man, gray, coarse whiskers. I have a fairly dense beard. The shower where I also use a pre-shave soap twice as I wash my face twice... Pre-shave before final lathering soap.... That softens these coarse whiskers up enough so the shaves become almost effortless.

Do I recommend this for anyone else? No... I don't believe there are many universal routines that will work for everyone. I can only say, I've tried various routines people use here... This one was mostly copied by @Chan Eil Whiskers . That is part of the fun of this journey.... trying various approaches to traditional wet shaving and discovering things that work for us.

Finding people here who share our needs and likes is huge... Or it has been for me. I was buying this or that brush, razor, soap.. You name it... but the purchases weren't targeted. It wasn't until I met people here with whom my face and whiskers were a match that my purchases started hitting the bullseye...
 

luvmysuper

My elbows leak
Staff member
Two ‘myths’ (IMO) that do not work for me:
1. Pre shave products add nothing to my shaves.
2. I moved to ‘neutral’ on the superiority of ‘tallow’ based soaps; some vegan options are terrific!!
I don't like it when a great tallow soap is changed, but it wasn't great only because it was tallow.
There have been some really crappy tallow soaps too.
 

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
Over time, I realized that some of the most common statements in the field of wet shaving did not work well for me and I went to the other extreme, the opposite of the accepted norm.


My main comments here would be related to what Kim said in his post which is linked here. Since he's already said 'em, I won't.

In addition, it occurs to me that much of what is published about shaving might apply to other gentlemen, but not necessarily you or me. Unless folks tell us about their skin, their whiskers, their water, etc., we're not learning much from their experience.

Plus, sometimes it's the blind leading the blind. I've learned not to be so trusting of "experts."


1. Shaving with hot water brings me nothing but more irritation compared to cold.


For a while, I found the same thing. Cold water worked much better than hot for me.

Later, hot water (not very hot) began to work well, so now I use hot water.


For a while now, I've switched completely to cold water, except for the water I use to lather in a bowl, it's a little warmer, but not scalding hot.
Besides causing more irritation, hot water is bad for synthetic brushes. One of the most common causes of knot deformation and the formation of holes (doughnut effect) is precisely hot water.

Interesting, about the brushes.


2. I have found that shaving right after a shower results in excessive drying of the skin because many of the natural oils that are released are washed away.


For me, shaving right after the shower works well.

I'd think washing with soap removes the oils, but isn't that what it's supposed to do, to a degree?


Now I shave, at least a few hours after showering, as before, I wash my face with glycerin soap. Thus, the skin becomes very smooth, elastic and hydrated, just before shaving.


I wash my face with the Cube. At the sink, I apply the Tube prior to lathering up. My skin, lathered, is very slick, probably from stuff in the Tube, and stuff in the soap.


3. Using alum, after every shave, does nothing for me other than over-drying my skin, leading to potential irritation.


Occasionally I use alum. When I use it, I might let it dry and then rinse it off, but sometimes I let the alum dry on my skin, and apply Mysterium Serum on top of it.

Mostly, I follow a simple enough preshave routine which works for me. It may or may not work for you.

That's the point: We have to determine what works for us through trial and error. The process is faster if we follow what others, having similar profiles to our skin/whisker/beard profile, do.




According to my dermatologist, any decent aftershave can do the same thing as alum, but without the side effect of drying out the skin, even more, the aftershave will nourish it.

These are my three refutations of commonly accepted norms persistently imposed over the years.

What do you think about this matter? Do you do something out of the ordinary that works for you and goes against mainstream standards?


I'm not sure about anything anybody else does, but, being BOSC, I experiment on occasion.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
Over time, I realized that some of the most common statements in the field of wet shaving did not work well for me and I went to the other extreme, the opposite of the accepted norm.

1. Shaving with hot water brings me nothing but more irritation compared to cold.
For a while now, I've switched completely to cold water, except for the water I use to lather in a bowl, it's a little warmer, but not scalding hot.
Besides causing more irritation, hot water is bad for synthetic brushes. One of the most common causes of knot deformation and the formation of holes (doughnut effect) is precisely hot water.

2. I have found that shaving right after a shower results in excessive drying of the skin because many of the natural oils that are released are washed away.
Now I shave, at least a few hours after showering, as before, I wash my face with glycerin soap. Thus, the skin becomes very smooth, elastic and hydrated, just before shaving.

3. Using alum, after every shave, does nothing for me other than over-drying my skin, leading to potential irritation.
According to my dermatologist, any decent aftershave can do the same thing as alum, but without the side effect of drying out the skin, even more, the aftershave will nourish it.

These are my three refutations of commonly accepted norms persistently imposed over the years.

What do you think about this matter? Do you do something out of the ordinary that works for you and goes against mainstream standards?
eh, if it works for you, wonderful!

altho i tend to agree on the alum block, i rarely use it except for spots.

enjoy your journey!
 
I don't like it when a great tallow soap is changed, but it wasn't great only because it was tallow.
There have been some really crappy tallow soaps too.
Certainly the presence of an ingredient does not guarantee performance.
Can you mention just one really crappy tallow soap? I am just curious, without challenging.
 
I think you have found things that work for you, but that doesn't mean that the commonly recommended practices are "myths". After all, there are reasons they are commonly recommended.

1) Personally, I find that making the hair as easy to cut as possible is the best way to reduce irritation and get a decent result, and the research shows us that this is achieved via saturation in warm water for several minutes (I think precisely how long or how warm is a case of YMMV depending on hair type). The instructions that came with the very first safety razors, predating the science, also recommend lathering with warm water for a good long time to soften the hair. I suspect that this has been the received wisdom for as long as folks have been shaving and have had ready access to warm water. After all, received wisdom doesn't survive to become received wisdom if it doesn't work.

But all that said, I think we are often arguing about definitions more than we realise on these things. If your idea of hot water is hot enough to damage your synthetic brush, then I would be concerned that your water is far too hot and you are risking scalding. I am not surprised it is problematic for your skin - it would be a problem for mine too!

2) See above. Warm water exposure for several minutes softens the hair - this is a fact (as much as the scientific method allows us to establish facts, cf. the problem of induction). Maybe showering before shaving does remove more oils from the skin than shaving alone. I don't know. But I do know that 4 minutes in the shower seems to be the most reliable way for me to get a shave that's as comfortable as it can be. I absolutely don't dispute that shaving can leave the skin dry, but I have found that the type of soap (and particularly the amount of fragrance in the soap) seems to be the most signifcant cause of excessive drying. Some soaps and creams reliably leave my skin nicely moisture balanced. Some leave it excessively and visibly dry, almost dessicated, about an hour or so after the shave - but the shower before the shave is non-negotiable! The soaps that don't work get binned or PIFed.

3) I managed to do traditional shaving for >10 years before I tried alum. I concluded I wasn't missing anything, but I wouldn't want to disuade anyone who finds it beneficial. Presumably there is a reason its use is so commonly recommended - if nobody found it useful, it wouldn't be recommended so frequently! I mostly use an alcohol splash or nothing at all. I try to avoid the soaps that dry my skin out, so balm isn't necessary (although I do own one, just in case).

You gotta do what works for you, but I wouldn't encourage anyone to throw out the tried and trusted techniques and methods of traditional shaving without trying them first. I think one of the problems new shavers have nowadays is that there is so much contradictory information out there that it is difficult to work out what the established, traditional advice actually was. I spend a lot of time online advising young tyros who are getting ghastly shaves but also have no real idea how to fix things because they are thoroughly confused by all the different, highly personalised accounts of what makes for a comfortable shave. I always recommend going back to the "standard" practices - proper, water-based prep, mapping the grain, etc. It doesn't mean you can't experiment later on, but you need to start somewhere, and it makes sense to start with what men down the years have universally agreed to be effective.
 
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These are my three refutations of commonly accepted norms persistently imposed over the years.

What do you think about this matter? Do you do something out of the ordinary that works for you and goes against mainstream standards?
I wasn't aware anything was being imposed on your shaving technique! Do you get fined or sternly scolded when you don't comply?

⁉️

Comfortable warm water is the best, IMHO. Warmer water softens the beard and helps clean the skin easier than cold. Hot can irritate the skin if carried too far. Cold water shaving, I think I'll pass, not very comfortable to me.

Some kind of pre-shave routine is a good idea, IMHO. It doesn't have to be a shower, that's just convenient for a lot of people. I'd rather shave in the evening when I can relax. As long as you can get the whiskers wet and keep moisture on there for a few minutes, it will help make the shave easier.

Alum is one of those things some people use and some don't. I don't mind it, but if I use it don't leave it on the skin very long. I prefer something like witch hazel which also cleans off soap residue and means I need less aftershave lotion afterward and get less sting.
 
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