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Share your annual summary of wet shaving: Looking back at 2020.

Let's reflect
2020 is almost at it's end. The holiday season is a time for reflection. So I would like to reflect upon this (first) year of 'proper' wet shaving. So coming to you from the Netherlands, I would like to share how wet shaving has enriched my life, and what I have learned.

I also would love to hear your thougths:
What has wet shaving brought to you in 2020? What have you learned? What products did you acquire and why?
What are your goals for 2021?
Please share!


How it all started
In 2020, at age 24 I first started the 'proper' wet shaving. So, how did that come about?
Nowadays, life needs to be fast, from our food, to our media, to the products we consume.

Shaving has become a way of slowing down for me. Even when still using a Gilette and a can of shaving foam, I have always found shaving quite a relaxing experience.

A trip to Florence, Italy is where I discovered the more classic grooming ritual of wet shaving. The city has really sparked an enthusiasm in me regarding traditional products and production methods. The city's packed with artisans and craftsmen, using traditional methods to create some real 'old world' quality products. During this trip we've visited tailors, shoemakers and leatherworkers, but also some perfumeries such as Santa Maria Novella and AquaFlor. These ancient establishments seemed so far away from the 'fast world' I was used to. The quality and tradition they exuded were just amazing. Unfortunately, during this trip I was still studying, so on a tight budget. Too bad the badger brushes had a three figure price tag.

Getting a bespoke suit, handmade shoes, or spend 150 euros on something like a shaving brush was out of the question. I realised the old world quality I was craving, was coming at a price.

Some time passed. And I got a job, with a good income.
Being a huge James Bond fan, I watched Skyfall later that year. The iconic straight razor scene just made sense. Straight razor shaving just seemed to fit in with the masculinity and coolness of Bond. The girls, the fast cars, the suits: Straight razor shaving is as much aspirational about Bond's luxury lifstyle, as the hot girls, the cocktails and fast cars. So it was settled then: let's save up for a straight razor shaving kit. I needed to save up, because Bond doesn't compromise on quality.

So the hunt began. And as always with buying new stuff, the fun is in the thrill of the chase. After reading countless forum threads, blogs and reviews, I was sure. It needed to be a Ralf Aust SR with a spanish point and an ebony handle. I read a thread on B&B that stated is was probably best to practice with a safety razor first. And since I was still hesitant about the stropping, grinding etc.: So I did.

My first DE razor
After lots of reasearch, I took the plunge: I bought a Mühle Rocca V4 with the birch handle. I figured an all stainless steel razor wouldn't corode over time, as a chrome plated one would. It came in a mimimalist but luxurious box. The first two shaves I was really careful, but nicked myself twice. Still: the results where very smooth. I started experimenting with lots of DE blades, and decided I liked the sharper ones best.
My current daily driver are the Astra Blue's, (cheap and very sharp). I keep my Feather blades for special occasions, when you need to look perfect.

After months of practice, beardmapping, tempering with products etc. I get a consistent BBS shaving result.

Enjoying traditional rituals and mindfulness
After the initial scaryness of DE shaving wore off, I began to really enjoy practicing this ancient ritual.
In my job I was under a lot of stress/pressure every day. The shaving ritual has become a way for me 'slow down'. Shaving helps me emptying my mind, and relieve the stress from the 'fast world'.
To be deeply engaged in one single activity and not thinking about anything else, is very relaxing. I suppose one could call it mindfulness.
For me this is perhaps the best part of wet shaving.

Contemplating which gear to use
# Italy

The logic by which I try to collect my shaving gear, is that of tradition and geography.
I thought it would me most appropriate for me to start my collection, where my shaving journey started: in Florence, Italy.
So I bought some Proraso products. I like the Green and Azur collection best.
The quintessential Italian shave (according to Franco Bompierie of Antica Barberia Colla) is using a boar brush.
I tried some Mondial and Omega boars, but the quality was inferior when compared to an Atto Prima brush. The hairs are longer, softer and the handle is turned from solid aluminium. It still has that Italian barber style look, but without the flimsy plastic handles.

- Proraso Green preshave
- Proraso Green Cream / Croap
- Proraso Green aftershave
- Face lathering with an Atto Primo Boar Brush

I always feel very clean and fresh after this shave. It stimulates all the senses.
Any reccommendations for other fresh smelling typical Italian creams with pedigree?

# Britain
My next goal is to assemble the perfect (at least to me) British shaving experience.
I did quite some research into which brush, which soap etc. At first I thought Silvertip Badger would be the way to go. It's the purist's choice.
But as much as I hate it, buying a badger brush is now out of the question. The animal cruelty in the farming of badgerhair is just unacceptable to me. I would feel guilty everytime I would use it. Unfortunate, because those Simpson's, Rooney and Kent brushes really look the business!

So for Christmas I treated myself to a synthetic Simpsons Trafalgar brush. Looks similar, feels very soft and I don't have visions of screaming badgers in a snare or cage while I'm shaving. So my mental state of zen while shaving is preserved.

For creams, I was experimenting with samples from TOBS. So far I liked the Eton College and Cedarwood creams best. Most traditional would be a soap or cream from one of the 3 T's. I'm looking for a fresh scent. I also tried Castle Forbes Lavender, and it performed beautifully! I liked the scent much better than the TOBS lavender. However, 30 euros for a jar is a bit steep.

Furthermore I am looking for a great English style shaving mug or scuttle. A 3 T's example with one of the Royal Family's Crest's on it would be great. As for the soap: you guys have any advice for classic English Cream / soap that outperforms Proraso, has heritage and a fair price? Maybe some British members can chime in, and give some advice on perfecting the quintessential British shave?


Reconsidering the initial idea of SR Shaving

Since my first year of wet shaving, I really enjoy the DE shaving. It's really easy, cheap and comfortable. As badass as SR shaving still looks, I am wondering if a SR would get me even smoother results. Would a SR experience be even more relaxing / satisfying? Or am I just romanticizing something because it looked so cool when my hero of traditional luxury, mr. James Bond was doing it?
Maybe the Mühle I'm currently using is just as efficient?

Before I pull the trigger on buying expensive SR gear, I think I'd better give it a try first.
Any advice?


Goals for 2021:
- Getting proper products for the English / British shaving experience
- Learning how to use a straight razor
- Deciding wether to start using a SR
- Visiting Solingen
- Go to Portugal once Covid's gone, and dive into Portuguese soaps and brushes


Thanks for reading!

Again, I would love to hear your thoughts and advice.
I wish you all happy shaving and all the best in 2021!

Best regards from the Netherlands!
 
I started traditional shaving more than 60 years ago. When I first started out I had one razor that my father gave me, one brush, and one soap. I used only one brand of razor blades: Gillette Blues. After shaving for about a year I purchased my first new razor, a Gillette adjustable or Fat Boy as it is called today. Until I joined B&B, I used one or two razors, the same brush until it wore out, and soap and cream until it was used up. Last year I managed to get up to 34 DE, SE. and injector razors. In late 2019 and in 2020 I sold or gave away more than half of those razors and now have 16 in my rotation. I have more than 20 sopas that have never been opened.

My objective in 2021 is to not purchase any new razors, blades, soaps, or creams since I have more than enough to last me many years. The only purchases I plan to make are with aftershave and fragrances and only to replace one that has been consumed.
 
1967-2019
I began wet shaving back in the 60’s. I can’t recall when exactly. In the 80’s or 90’s, I was drawn to the dark side of cartridge razors by a Gillette Sensor Excel. I shaved with that razor, and canned foam until last December. I finally decided that Gillette had taken more of my money than I cared to give them. I tried Harry’s razors for a month and decided they were awful. This mega blade business doesn’t give a better shave, it just caused more irritation while leaving the stubble.

2020
In January 2020, I decided to go back to my original DE setup. I had been using a Gillette TTO razor, blue blades and foamy. But this time, no canned goo, I was going to get a brush and a puck and make real lather.

My wife, bless her heart, knew my plans, so she came home with a Micro One Touch razor from Walmart. It came with some junk Dorco blades and a stand for less than $20. I decided I would give it a go. I ordered an EJ Super Badger brush and a tub of TOBS Jermyn Street.

The lather that the brush and TOBS created was luxurious and dreamy, and my face felt so much better than the canned goo had left it. The Razor and the blades, not so much. It felt like I was shaving with a garden rake. I ordered a blade sampler and found that Astra blades felt much better, but just didn’t knock down the whiskers. Against my better judgement, I tried the Feather blades. Yikes! They were sharp and I had a couple of mishaps. But, they knocked down my beard like nothing I had ever tried before. I decided that these were the blades for me, but not quite yet. I first needed to hone my technique so that I consistently held the razor at the same angle and didn’t press. Both old bad habits from cartridge razors.

I found Badger & Blade at the end of February and began reading all the posts on technique, lathering and blades. I heard a lot about BIC blades and ordered another sampler that had a tuck of BIC blades in it. The first shave was a little rough, but the second through seventh shave was smooth, close and awesome. I thought that this was the blade for me. I tried to order 100 from Amazon, but every listing I looked at talked had several reviews about how awful they were. Most of the reviews said the sampler blades were great, but these were terrible. There were also mentions of counterfeit blades. I thought, “who would counterfeit blades? It would be like counterfeiting nickels” so I held off.

I finally found the Feather blades for $25 per hundred. Not a great price, but not terrible for the sharpest blade made. So I bought 300.

In May, I decided that my technique was much better, and that I was never going back to cartridges, so I treated myself to a Rockwell 6S. From my first shave, it was awesome. Smooth and close with a Feather blade. After some experimentation, I settled on the #4 plate and never looked back.

In May, I began to experiment with soaps. I ordered Mitchell’s Wool Fat and was dealt my first serious setback. I could not get it to lather. It lathered a little, but by the time I started to shave the lather had dissipated. The residue that was left was very slick, so I made the best of it. While I could not get it to lather, I was getting some awesome shaves. The blade just skated over my face and mowed down the whiskers. I watched every video I could find, and tried everything suggested on B&B. But the best I could do was a weak lather that while it didn’t dissipate, it was nowhere near what TOBS did. I started a thread on B&B about my trials with The Fat that at last count was almost 300 posts. In September, the puck came to an end. Not being one to admit defeat, I ordered a second puck. When it arrived, I hydrated it as instructed and on my very first shave, I got TOBS type lather. There had been some discussion on the thread from others that used to be able to lather the Fat, but were now experiencing the same issues with weak lather. We eventually decided that there must have been a dodgy batch produced somewhere in the spring.

In June or July, I found my birth razor on eBay along with a Gillette New Long Comb. This piqued my curiosity, so I bought both. A couple of shaves with the long comb and I realized Gillette knew what they were doing back in the 30’s. But, it still wasn’t quite as smooth as the Rockwell. So I put the Gillette razors away and have been shaving with the Rockwell and Feather blades ever since with the exception of Shark Week And a week in October. For Shark Week I used a Shark blade and couldn’t wait for the week to be over. For the first week in October I used the long comb, but after a few days stopped the madness and went back to the 6S.

Since October, I have determined not to purchase any more shave gear, except to replace soaps, or something that broke. I did buy a RazoRock 400 Rubberset replica with the Plissoft knot and fell in love with that brush on first use. I no longer wanted to use the Badger, which up to then, I felt couldn’t be beat. Now I keep thinking I need the red handled 400, or perhaps the monster F400. But I’ve stayed the course so far and resisted buying more gear.

My goal for 2021 is to not buy any shave gear other than consumables unless something fails. That’s the only shaving goal I have. I’m satisfied with my setup, and with the exception of soaps/creams, I won’t be trying anything different. I’m satisfied with my technique, but I also realize that any shaver’s technique can stand improvement.

I’ve lately began to experiment with shallow angle shaving. That is riding the cap to reduce the angle of the blade with my face. I theorize that with any blade, the more perpendicular the blade is to the work, the less damage occurs to the blade. In this case, the work is the whisker.

So that’s about it. My recap of my shaving life, where I’ve been and where I’m going. It’s probably a lot more information than you wanted.
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
In thirty years of traditional shaving, only two years had significant expenditure. The first was about eight years ago, and the second was 2020.

This year, I added a Razorine shavette and Ikon SBS to the array, plus the brush count reached five for the first time ever. I also got myself a ceramic lather bowl, and a pewter soap dish with lid. Barring major calamities, these should all give many years of service.

On top of that, I had a brief exploration of a few moisturisers, and found two out of the eight I tried to be very nice, and products I would buy again. The biggest expenditure was on soaps though. I decided I wanted to move away from internet shopping, and got stocked up with 10 mug soaps, and 10 tub soaps, wich should help liberate me from PayPal for a good while.

Despite this year's expenditure, I still consider myself to be saving money over cartridges and foam, and still getting much better shaves too.
 
2020 was a deep dive into modern razors. I had previously tried a Karve and Rockwell, but went back to my vintage Gillette’s. In 2020, my name came up on the Wolfman list. I also added a Timeless Ti, Masamune, Henson, and a Leaf. The Wolfman is a keeper and the Masamune and Henson are under continued evaluation. The other two have found new homes as will most/all of my Gillettes. Modern razors have won me over. My face is happy. My wallet? Not so much.
 
2020 was a year of learning and acquisitions for me in wet shaving. I learned how to DE shave more efficiently with more comfort. I picked up on shavette shaving although I'm still not good at it. I also honed down my blades to three that I really enjoy.

I picked up a lot of soaps, razors, and brushes this year. More than I need but they'll also last a long time, so I plan on using them all.
 
For me this year has been a bit of a turning point.

I have been DE shaving for 4 years or so and for most of this period I have been in the learning and gathering phase of my shaving journey. This year however, everything seemed to click in terms of what works and what doesn't i.e. hardware, software and (most importantly) technique.

This has left me with a strong urge to pare down the hardware and software that I have. So much so, that I have enrolled in the 2021 Gentlemanly Restraint with the aim of:
- enjoying what I have
- get better at using what I have
- not buying any more stuff!

It will be a challenge but it'll be fun 🙂

Here's hoping that 2021 (whilst looking back at everything 2020 has brought us) doesn't utter the immortal words "Hold My Beer......"

Enjoy your shaves everyone!
 
2020 was a deep dive into straight razor shaving. I bought my first SR (Ralf Aust 5/8” Round Point w/ African Blackwood scales) in January and made use of the Melbourne lockdowns to learn how to use it. Since January I’ve used a straight razor almost exclusively. I got pretty good at shaving and honing and amassed a nice collection of razors, brushes, strops and stones.

My goal for 2021 is to find the tortoise shell Heljestrand MK32 that has been alluding me.

I think that your instinct is correct. If you are looking for the perfect shave, SR is the ticket. It’s badass and it delivers. James Bond would approve. Ralf Aust is a great place to start. I’ve tried a few reputable bands and I haven’t found anything better. Good luck for 2021.
 
2020

acquisition of SR, SR honing, & SR restoration skills. short journey from traditional shaving beginnings in September 2019. DE to Vintage SE's to Straights.

love the shave, maintenance, stones, and all the goodies. satisfaction of a skill well done. besides at this it is a Badass Gentlemanly craft. There is Zen to be found here.

I really can't imagine shaving any other way now.

so whats in store for 2021? continued hunt for quality pieces at reasonable prices. try to only buy special or hard-to-find razors which takes patience.

in the end its all good!!!!!

camo
 
A Christmas play in 4 days:

Dec. 23rd: broke out a birth year adjustable black beauty - to celebrate a new year. Feels great feels a bit raw! ( Only used r89/41 and asd2 before this, though own more )

Dec. 24th: So raw - but really close.

Dec. 25th: Christmas! Let’s take a break ! I need a break. My face needs a break.

Dec. 26th: Dial that baby down to 1. Oh still so raw. This makes gives the 41 a run for the money. Hmmm, the bottom of this razor does feel a bit loose ( the TTO mechanism ). Realizes I am a dumb human being.

A 2020 denouement:

me ( reading a book)
wife: I have to tell you something, you have to change the blade in your razor.
me: ( perking up, getting visions of SO self discovery of DE rabbit holes, oh the 2021 bonding experiences we will have!)
wife: I dropped your razor in the toilet!

Is there a more apropos ending to 2020?

The end!
 
2020 was a very good year as far as shaving acquisitions are concerned. The catalyst was potential lack of availability of key shaving goods as result of covid impacts, which led me to buying a Simpsons Chubby 1 and Rex Ambassador, which grew into acquiring vintage Gillette razors and more Simpsons brushes. Those activities have ran their course now, and I have all the items I want for a lifetime.
Prior to 2020 I had a very budget conscious outlook on shaving, my approach to hobbies or interests is all-in or bare-minimum. In 2018-19 I wanted to save money with cheap blades and stretching soaps with minimal lather. This year 2020 I moved onto quality blades, much more soap consumption and are getting much better shaves with less ingrown hairs and irritation

I'm not planing on jumping on the SR wagon yet, SR maintenance is not something I'd likely have time for.

I'm signed up for the 2021 acquisition sabbatical, the goal is not to acquire anything excepting one item.
 
Lots of great shaves, experimented with different blades--some great and then some were yuck.
For now I have settled on Proraso Green cream for my daily shave.
Now using my WCS 84S as my go to razor.
Began using the Gray Dog brush from the PIF by Hannah's Dad (Dan)
Hoping for continued pleasurable shaves in 2021.
 
For me 2020 has been about stripping back to what really works and finally accepting that DE shaving is not the be all and end all. In 2019 I tried the Gillette Guard and loved it. This year I bought a Broman razor and really loved it. This made me realise that SE shaving with pivoting razors is my optimum razor type. I have still kept my Edwin Jagger and my 1950s English Ballend Tech but they are not my preferred options now.

I also tried Proraso and Cella for the first time. Loved them both! I have now cut down to four creams/soaps: Proraso Blue, Cella Bio, Erasmic and MWF.

I used Permasharp blades for the first time and really liked them too. I gifted lots of my other blades to my dad who uses a DE but is not a hobbyist like me.

In 2021 I have the urge to finally try an Injector razor and possibly a Leaf or Twig razor.
 
UGH! 2020 has been extremely difficult for everyone!

Our January calendar included interesting travel, dinners with friends, cultural and sporting events. How COVID changed those plans: lockdown, cancelled travel, etc. A trip to the grocery has become an event!

’Traditional’ wet shaving remains a calm oasis! What hardware and software? Concentrate on technique, not outside events! ‘International’ means where my kit comes from, not where we are traveling!

B&B has been a great source of community throughout the Pandemic! :straight: :straight: :straight:
 
My journey began in the mid 70's with the family Gillette DE razors. I went to the Trac II in the early 80's, then to the Mach 3 in the late 90's. I was getting tired of constantly changing razor formats, as the Mach 3 became more expensive to keep going, so I went back to the family DE razors about 2012 or 2013.

In 2020 I was able to afford some of the higher end products that I've dreamt about since joining B&B. That has been a lot of fun. I have several quality stainless razors, some truly remarkable brushes, and my fragrance collection has ballooned. I'm more conscious of my choices of scents and soaps and my shave is truly a meditative experience. I've incorporated the Shaving Buddy app, tracking the things I find pleasurable.

This year has brought me my best shaves ever. Earlier this year, my wife asked me to grow my hair back. I started to and found I just enjoyed my shaving more. I told her so, and bless her, she understood. I will be shaving the dome for as long as I can.
 
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