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Hey all. It's been seven weeks and a day since my first safety razor shave. I'm new here and made a post in the newbie area called Newish Safety Shaver. I thought it would be fun to record a more thorough description of these early explorations . Here goes.

Yes, I had started shaving when I was 15 years old. I didn’t have much of a relationship with my dad. What I learned about shaving at that time was from my older brothers. I remember a small variety of popular cartridges and disposable handles in our bathrooms in the preceding years. I settled into a cartridge system, the Gillette Sensor. See the photos of my vintage handle. At some point the cartridges were getting expensive and were sometimes not available. I started using the fully disposable Sensor.

It’s a pretty snappy system, a good number of bells and whistles. Flexible twin blades, probably quite sharp. Pivoting head, lubricating strip, soft and grippy back handle. Combined with the Edge gel, seemed ideal. And it was, to an extent. I have ok skin so it was a decent shave. Reasonably safe and convenient. But I got tired of it.

It was reasonably close but not close. Shaving was smooth and it also tore up my face. This system worked better on less growth, as a daily shave. Any multiple days of growth would cause much clogging between the blades. I was having to try and pluck hairs out from the blades using my fingernail, after every pull it seemed. If I didn’t do that, it was like dragging a little wire brush over my skin, again and again. Or try and pull the hairs out, again and again. There was just a ton of friction with the cartridge. There was no winning. Because of the height of the cartridge, edging or under the nose was difficult. It was awkward.

It was quick but for the unclogging. But the shave wasn’t close or comfortable. And it was environmentally unsound. And it seemed expensive. It was time to do something different.

I had been seeing ads, for a couple years probably, for a couple new safety razors.

I knew about safety razors, my dad used a safety razor. I hardly touched his shaving stuff because I was told that the blades were very sharp and dangerous. I remember opening it, it was twist-to-open, and looking at the blade. I did think it was sort of scary. I was a cautious kid. But I liked my dad’s shaving stuff. It had dignity, there was a calmness to it. It was masculine. He used a brush and soap, and an Old Spice cup. His aftershaves were Old Spice and Tabac.

I hadn’t seen or really thought about safety razors since the 70s. Even then I had hardly touched one. They were still scary, a bit mysterious to me and still maybe dangerous.

But I had seen the ads. And I wanted a better shave. I wanted to revel in it a little. And I didn’t want to pay for disposables and gel anymore. journal 1 copy.JPGjournal 2 copy.JPGjournal 3 copy.JPG
 
Journal 2

I had a derelict stash of wet shaving stuff. It was in the bottom at the back of a lower bathroom drawer. I’m not sure where the individual pieces came from or how long I had been carting them around. I think it may have been decades for that vintage brush. There was a old dry Erasmic stick, I had never used a shaving stick before. I didn’t think the little brush was a real brush, it was so stiff and pokey. The tub of Wilkinson soap seemed fresh enough.

No more gel. The can I had was almost finished and I wasn’t paying for another one. I started lathering with the Wilkinson soap. Money was tight so I didn’t look at razors but I was thinking about it. And I was enjoying making the soap, just a much better way to go about it. That was a couple months ago, the weeks went past.

There were some friends and family I hadn’t spoke to in a while. I was making an effort to reach out. I hadn’t talked with one of my brothers for quite some years. I got his number from my niece and he called right away.

It was great catching up with my brother. I found out he had been wet shaving for years. He shaves his head sometimes and he has a straight razor, but mostly he is a safety razor enthusiast. This was a fantastic coincidence because, even though I wasn’t ready to buy, I was ready to learn about safety razors. After years of trying different razors and soaps, etc., my brother had built up quite a supply of products. He texted me a photo of shelves in his bathroom where he stores his shaving stuff. Quite a little inventory.

My brother sent me a care package, from his stuff, to get me started. I couldn’t imagine it being better. There was a couple good basic cremes and sticks, a nice poofy synthetic brush and, most importantly, a good beginner razor and a carton of blades. Because that’s what I needed most, to learn to use a safety razor. My brother also prepared a half dozen little cream samples, super nice. There were three Taylor Bond, a couple Fendrihan and the Lea. He urges me to go wild and have a go at the nice creams. And I’m trying to be methodical and keep it simple so that I can understand each part as I’m using it.

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Journal 3

How lucky am I? Between the bits I had in the drawer and my brother’s care package, I was now poised for a cool and exploratory safety razor journey.

First shave. I gotta say, it was super easy. And fun. No blood. Just a couple few little areas of redness, a little rash. My brother had coached me over the phone about angle and other razor positioning. I figured angle etc. was pretty important. I took it slow, was careful. It was great. Yeah, and just way closer and smoother than any other shave I’ve had.

I had done just a little research, I watched a couple videos on youtube. And the stuff my brother sent me was perfect. The Nivea is a good inexpensive, available cream. It’s a good inexpensive brush. But at this point for me it’s all about the razor and the blade. The Derby Extra is a good beginner blade and I have 200 or them! I really like the chrome Wilkinson TTO, a very good beginner razor.

The bowl I used for lather is funny. It lives in my kitchen, I use it to microwave eggs. It’s very good for this purpose, I’ve been using it this way for many years. This bowl has some sentimental value. One of my outlaws was a potter and made it in the 70s, as part of a whole set of dishes. The rest of the set lives in a beach house in Tofino, BC where my son lives.

I noticed that this bowl of mine was about the size and type of a couple I had seen in shaving videos. It makes great lather. There’s some texture to it and the glaze. There is radial ridging and a subtle lip. Fits in the hand well, doesn’t want to leap out. So yeah, a great bowl for lathering soap, and making eggs. I’m lucky.

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Journal 4

And this is what it became. I was trying to keep it simple, keep it organized so I could understand what I was learning, not confuse myself with all the different goodies. What I was trying to do, to focus on, was learning to use that razor, and that blade. Not cut myself, get a smooth, comfortable shave, with an increasing level of efficiency.

I thought that I should start with basic soap because I was learning that too. I had never used a shave stick before and they seemed like a very basic soap. And I was trying to use up the Wilkinson soap. I was already learning about the availability of replacement soaps and I wanted to free up that container.

I had some practice lathering from the tub but using the stick was another thing. I didn’t know about face lathering or hand lathering. But it was all doable and fun. The Arko stick was pretty luxurious compared to the Erasmic, which seemed older and dry. They both made a good lather but rubbing the old dry Erasmic stick on my face wasn’t too fun. I started flaking it into the bowl with the blade of a knife. It made a wonderful lather like that. So that’s how I’ll use up that Erasmic. I’ll use the fresher sticks for conventional face lathering.

Yes and trying to keep things consistent to properly gauge the razor and blade. It’s been good. I’ve been counting the number of shaves per blade.

And learning about brushes. That became a thing. I hope you can appreciate my run-what-you-brung ethos.

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Journal 2

I had a derelict stash of wet shaving stuff. It was in the bottom at the back of a lower bathroom drawer. I’m not sure where the individual pieces came from or how long I had been carting them around. I think it may have been decades for that vintage brush. There was a old dry Erasmic stick, I had never used a shaving stick before. I didn’t think the little brush was a real brush, it was so stiff and pokey. The tub of Wilkinson soap seemed fresh enough.

No more gel. The can I had was almost finished and I wasn’t paying for another one. I started lathering with the Wilkinson soap. Money was tight so I didn’t look at razors but I was thinking about it. And I was enjoying making the soap, just a much better way to go about it. That was a couple months ago, the weeks went past.

There were some friends and family I hadn’t spoke to in a while. I was making an effort to reach out. I hadn’t talked with one of my brothers for quite some years. I got his number from my niece and he called right away.

It was great catching up with my brother. I found out he had been wet shaving for years. He shaves his head sometimes and he has a straight razor, but mostly he is a safety razor enthusiast. This was a fantastic coincidence because, even though I wasn’t ready to buy, I was ready to learn about safety razors. After years of trying different razors and soaps, etc., my brother had built up quite a supply of products. He texted me a photo of shelves in his bathroom where he stores his shaving stuff. Quite a little inventory.

My brother sent me a care package, from his stuff, to get me started. I couldn’t imagine it being better. There was a couple good basic cremes and sticks, a nice poofy synthetic brush and, most importantly, a good beginner razor and a carton of blades. Because that’s what I needed most, to learn to use a safety razor. My brother also prepared a half dozen little cream samples, super nice. There were three Taylor Bond, a couple Fendrihan and the Lea. He urges me to go wild and have a go at the nice creams. And I’m trying to be methodical and keep it simple so that I can understand each part as I’m using it.

View attachment 1863132View attachment 1863133View attachment 1863134
Best brother ever!
 
Journal 5

Ok brushes. I like brushes, I’m having fun with them, learning about them. I had the two brushes in my original kit. The more vintage one is a bit of a mystery, I hope someone can help.

I started looking at the shaving products available online. I started looking at badger brushes. My brother schooled me, told me I didn’t need a badger brush. He said boar brushes are plenty good and less expensive. I figured my little brush was a boar brush but couldn’t identify the vintage one. My brother said it could be boar painted to look like badger, or it could be a badger/boar brush. I started looking more closely at my brushes.

They both have a rather small knot of 20mm. This is the smallest common size of knot I could find. The vintage one has a loft of 52mm. I couldn’t find any brushes with those dimensions but I was only really looking in one place.

The small one. I thought this was a toy brush or not really a brush, that came in a cheesey kit or something. But then seeing that it is a real boar brush. It was so stiff because it was new, or unused anyway. I looked at it’s dimensions: 20mm knot/45mm loft. Yes, small but I found out that this is actually the smallest common size of boar brush. There was a bunch of them for sale from that site. And then I learned about boar brushes, their qualities and they have a breaking in period. And I saw that even though that small brush was small, it was still a legit brush. But spikey.

And I found out about accelerating the break in period of a brush. And started “breaking in” the small brush. And thought about how fun it would be to have a neat little functioning brush. The photos of it here were taken after I had used it / broken it in a little. You can see it looks soft and has splay. “I worked it in to look like that”. Originally it had no splay, the ends of the bristles were like pins, and the bristles themselves were stiff as pins.

And I was looking at the larger brush. I was learning about the qualities of brushes and I was looking at this one. It didn’t have a lot backbone. It was kind of firm, had some bounce, wasn’t too soft. Ends of bristles mildly pokey, and not really split like a well-used boar. It made a good lather. I thought I would like more brush, more volume, like a larger knot. Maybe just a bit more loft, 55mm?

Anyway, I was looking at the dimensions of this mystery vintage brush, 20mm/52mm. Curious dimensions and couldn’t find a boar brush with quite those dimensions. Then I saw there was a page of horsehair brushes. I hadn’t seen that before and there were 6 brushes in there. And they all had similar dimensions to my brush. And then I was reading about the qualities of horsehair brushes. It sounds like that brush of mine.

What do you guys think? Horse?

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