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

Interesting.
How is it different from the lather made by badger / synthetic brushes? Which do you prefer and why?
Water to soap ratio is the key to good lather. My experience is that boars nail this with their water absorption that is unique from other materials. But it doesn't happen until they're broken in. You have a Semogue boar, don't you? If you concentrate on figuring that brush out and using it lots, chances are good that it'll become a favorite. I'd highly recommend trying a Zenith also. Very small investment for a very interesting experience. Have fun!
 
I began 2020 with only 4 months into the DE world (after over 30 years of only electric) with a minimal supply of soaps, a brush, a couple of DE razors. I really didn't aquire anything additional other than a second vintage Tech.

2020 was spent getting both my sons my brother and my dad into DE shaving and its way of life.

Still, at the end of 2020, when its my night to shave, I look forward to the experience each and every time and the spa like zen experience that goes with it. I am not going anywhere.
 
You have a Semogue boar, don't you?

Thanks for your answer! I have an Italian brush called 'Atto Primo' (the first act).
It's great, check it out: Pennello da Barba con setole di maiale | Atto Primo - http://www.attoprimoitaly.it/prodotto/pennello-silver/

I looked for a Zenith, but I can't find em anywhere in the Netherlands.
The boar brush gets softer overtime when hairs split. I put it with its tips in cold water in the fridge for 2 days. So it feels quite broken in already. The Semogue SOC boars look the business as well. But my boar brush just had to be Italian.

Do you squeeze out the water from the brush, to get this perfect water/soap ratio?
 
Thanks for your answer! I have an Italian brush called 'Atto Primo' (the first act).
It's great, check it out: Pennello da Barba con setole di maiale | Atto Primo - http://www.attoprimoitaly.it/prodotto/pennello-silver/

I looked for a Zenith, but I can't find em anywhere in the Netherlands.
The boar brush gets softer overtime when hairs split. I put it with its tips in cold water in the fridge for 2 days. So it feels quite broken in already. The Semogue SOC boars look the business as well. But my boar brush just had to be Italian.

Do you squeeze out the water from the brush, to get this perfect water/soap ratio?
Wow, that's a gorgeous brush! I 've found yourshaving website in Portugal to be a good place for Zeniths and Semogues.
Sounds like you're on track to really get good results from your boars. It's unfortunate that some people toss boars because they don't figure them out.
From full soak, I sometimes give the brush one flick to reduce water, but never more than that depending on both the loft of the brush being used and the kind of soap that I'm using. Start with a timer and load for a full two minutes. It feels like forever, but if you start this way you'll quickly get a feel for how a brush feels when it's sufficiently loaded.
 
Before I pull the trigger on buying expensive SR gear, I think I'd better give it a try first.
Any advice?

Although it's true that beautiful women will queue up for the pleasure of shaving you with your new straight razor - just like James Bond movies - it's not all glamour, meaningful glances and expensive lingerie. When I think of straight razors I think of the workshop: the smell of oil and sawdust, an old radio, and rows of carefully-maintained tools with keen edges. You'll need to enjoy this kind of work. To keep a razor sharp you have to learn the craft of honing & stropping.

It's always good to learn a new skill though. The other day I had a sticking door which needed some wood shaved off so I dug out an ancient Stanley plane which hadn't been used for years, no edge on the blade. There was a time when I wouldn't have had a clue what to do but now, with all my sharpening experience, I took one look at it and instantly knew what grit to start on and what grit to finish on. About ten minutes later the blade was razor sharp again and slicing easily through wood.

Anyway, once you've mastered the art of honing there's the kudos and respect to be gained from grooming nonchalantly with a deadly blade of death. I kid you not but every one of my friends & family - without exception - have all asked me the same thing: "are you f****g mental?!"

PS: if you want to try it out without the hassle of stropping & honing get an Aliexpress Feather DX copy plus some Schick Proline or Kai Captain mild blades (Feather Pro Super at a pinch). Many users of traditional straights like their Feather DXs a lot. The blade is slightly shorter than a traditional straight but they feel very similar.
 
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!

2020 started as a year of restraint. Having acquired a ton of stuff in my first two years of DE shaving, I wanted to focus on using what I have and create a more manageable shaving kit. By October I was down to 6 soaps, 2 tubs of cream, 3 razors and 7 brushes. In November however, I managed to fail big time.

Enter a Ralf Aust 6/8, a strop and a finishing stone. I've been using it daily, since it arrived to me in the beginning of December. Perhaps it is my excitement, but I feel that as long as I have the time for it, I don't see myself returning to a DE razor.

For 2021, my main goal is to get better at shaving with a SR and manage to successfully keep it in a shave-ready condition. I will probably add a second razor, so as to always have one with a fresh edge in hand. I'm sure though that I will have to control the ADs somehow, as there's so many things that tempt me lately.

I would say that since you like the idea of trying a SR, go for it. For me it is a completely different experience. Whether it will suit you, that's something that you have to find out on your own.
 
Another vote for "yourshaving.com" as a Zenith supplier across Europe. I've had a couple of brushes from there with easy shipping to the UK, so Netherlands should be even simpler.

British stuff? Sounds like the Trafalgar was an ideal place to start, though Simpsons also do the higher range brushes in a different fibre - "Platinum" vs. "Sovereign". Kent also do a range of synthetic brushes "Infinity", but I've not tried those.

For soaps, TOBS are certainly a good bet and Wickhams are worth a look, for good basic scents to more obscure varieties like lemon cola. And I think they do one that smells like Tom Selleck. It's worth remembering the old definitives like Erasmic, and I'd never live it down if I didn't mention Mitchell's Wool Fat. Connaught Shaving are a good place to buy and will usually ship.

I'd highly recommend straight razors - there's no satisfaction like a good shave on an edge you made yourself - but they are a commitment and very likely to turn into a huge rabbit hole of additional purchases. And they're not for everyone. When you're thinking of buying it's worth considering the cost of stones (but read up on "The Method" on these pages first). Honing services are available - if you go that way make sure it's someone you trust and someone who uses a straight razor themselves, but to me half the fun was putting an edge on things.

Even if you only get round to doing half the things on the list for 2021, it sounds like it will have been a great year.
 
Things began in March 2020, when I shaved off the substantial beard I had been wearing on and off (but mostly on) for decades. Curious, I bought a DE razor, Merkur 38c.....loved it. Acquired some soaps and a few brushes and a few more mild razors. Fell hard for vintage Gillette’s. Had a brief dalliance with the Feather AC folding razor before revisiting a past and fleeting interest in SR’s. Began dedicated SR shaving and began learning to maintain my razors. Just got bit by the bug, can’t explain it really. So for now I will just appreciate the immense satisfaction I get everyday without overthinking it. Who knew?
 
Although it's true that beautiful women will queue up for the pleasure of shaving you with your new straight razor - just like James Bond movies - it's not all glamour, meaningful glances and expensive lingerie. When I think of straight razors I think of the workshop: the smell of oil and sawdust, an old radio, and rows of carefully-maintained tools with keen edges. You'll need to enjoy this kind of work. To keep a razor sharp you have to learn the craft of honing & stropping.

It's always good to learn a new skill though. The other day I had a sticking door which needed some wood shaved off so I dug out an ancient Stanley plane which hadn't been used for years, no edge on the blade. There was a time when I wouldn't have had a clue what to do but now, with all my sharpening experience, I took one look at it and instantly knew what grit to start on and what grit to finish on. About ten minutes later the blade was razor sharp again and slicing easily through wood.

Anyway, once you've mastered the art of honing there's the kudos and respect to be gained from grooming nonchalantly with a deadly blade of death. I kid you not but every one of my friends & family - without exception - have all asked me the same thing: "are you f****g mental?!"

PS: if you want to try it out without the hassle of stropping & honing get an Aliexpress Feather DX copy plus some Schick Proline or Kai Captain mild blades (Feather Pro Super at a pinch). Many users of traditional straights like their Feather DXs a lot. The blade is slightly shorter than a traditional straight but they feel very similar.

Great post. Thanks for the advice. I could see myself finding satisfaction in honing and stropping. How often do you need to do this? What should I think off in terms of cost for all the sharpening gear, if I want my SR to be 'Feather sharp' ?

Best regards from the Netherlands.
 
2020 was crazy for me with regards to wetshaving.

I started the year with a couple of old Gillette razors, some Derby and Astra blades, a couple of small Simpson brushes and a small selection of soaps.

Now? Thousands of blades, 50-ish soaps, a couple dozen brushes and a bunch of razors including a few Rockwells.

2020 was a VERY expensive year for me for shaving gear but I am enjoying traditional shaving more than ever. 👍
 
@TomNetherlands

I struggle to get a really good edge so I may not be the best person to ask.

Once a razor is shave ready you could maintain it almost indefinitely with strops ie a leather strop used before/after every shave, and some pasted strops for touch-ups.

When that isn't enough, you either need to send it off to get sharpened or hit the stones. For example, a set of Naniwa super stones in 1k, 5k, 8k, 12k. There's not much cheaper which is worth buying.

Lapping film is the cheapest option. A full lapping film progression might be 30u, 12u, 9u, 6u, 3u, 1u. There's no doubt it works in skilled hands I'm just not sure if it's the best choice to learn on. I think I get more feedback from stones. Or maybe I just don't understand the feedback you get from film.
 
2020 was a good year for shaving needs for myself because my RAD almost :lol:disappeared with the only a few inexpensive razors I purchased- a Everready 1912 & a AC Kai Shavette clone and a few new blades to try out & a few yaqi brushes bought on 11.11 sale. I thought I would just try a Shavette and see what is involved in that adventure and it was kind of what I thought it would be a challenge in technique with two shaves in & it was rewarding on the second shave.(Kai Protouch & Kai SS blades sure impressed my blade collection, excellent products!)
Bought a few different soaps because I finally used up 4 existing tubs & that took a few years. Possibly one more razor for 2021 and that is all for a little while because I have well over 40 razors now and do not regret that # because it keep my mind off from healing after some serious surgery's.
I seem to learned a lot about proper shaving methods over the years and there is not a lot left to learn about the proper way or techniques, Its just enjoy the shaves for the last year (2020)mostly. Some times newer razors(cartridge & electric= faster shave) are just not better and it's great folks all over the world still know traditional wet shaving is still strong & support those MFG needs & countless products that we enjoy.
(I'm spoiled with shaving gear:em2300:.)
Lets hope 2021 is a lot better than 2020!

Have some great shaves! Stay & think safe in these times!
 
Great post. Thanks for the advice. I could see myself finding satisfaction in honing and stropping. How often do you need to do this? What should I think off in terms of cost for all the sharpening gear, if I want my SR to be 'Feather sharp' ?

Best regards from the Netherlands.
I hone my SR's just once. After that they get stropped on clean (not pasted) leather before each shave. After each shave they get about 50 laps on a 0.1um diamond pasted balsa strop. That is all. They never need honing again.

Of course you don't "need" to even do that initial honing. You can always send the SR out to have it done by someone else who knows what they are doing. There must be a few available in the EU and Britten.

As for cost, with only a few SR's you can hone them using lapping film. All films and substrate will cost you under USD 30. A decent strop will cost you USD 20 and up. Diamond pasted balsa strop is about USD 30. All up, the cost of your SR maintenance can be much less than USD 100.

Of course there are rabbit holes to fall into, but that is your personal choice (or is it an addiction?).
 
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For me 2020 was a year of puting together matching seven-day sets of SR's, improving my SR maintenance skills and further refining my SR shaving technique.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my shaving journey throughout the year and socialising with all my new-found friends on B&B.

For 2021, I think I will follow in @camoloc's footsteps and start looked at rarer older SR's.
 
In 2020 I was reminded that cold water shaving is underappreciated, that 3 minutes of facial prep is foundational to a close and comfortable shave, and that vintage adjustable DE razors are the pinnacle of shaving tools.
 
2020 has been a year of dialing in. I became proficient with my SR and made my own DE custom razor handle which feels like an extension of my hand, perfect weight and balance and gives remarkable shaves with any head I’ve put on it. I’ve used up all my soaps except a spare puck of arko and settled on Stirling executive shave soap, aftershave and body soap. I love the scent and for the first time have a uniform scent profile. I’m going to use my custom DE daily, my SR on weekends. In 2021 I don’t see myself purchasing much gear, if anything I’ll probably be downsizing. Keep it simple and dialed in.
 
My big shaving expenditures in 2020 were the Merkur Progress and the Fatip Open Comb Slant razors, some cologne and samples from Stirling, a tube of Proraso Green cream and some more blades, and a second fat-handled Tech and a travel shave kit with a Travel Tech from 1965. Quite a bit, when you think about it.

My journey has been from canned gels to Barbasol foam, to creams and then to soaps. Now, this year, I find myself drifting back to creams again. As for brushes, I began with an EJ badger, added an AP Shave Co. synthetic that at first I did not like much, and then a Semogue boar. This year I began to use the synthetic more and more, and it is by far the brush I employ most often. And for a time I was not completely happy with the shaves from my Gillette Slim -- this after using it with delight since 2014. Recently, though, I've come to a new appreciation of it (mostly by using a higher setting for my first pass).

As for 2021, who knows. I may try some more Proraso products, like the aftershaves or colognes.
 
My big shaving expenditures in 2020 were the Merkur Progress and the Fatip Open Comb Slant razors, some cologne and samples from Stirling, a tube of Proraso Green cream and some more blades, and a second fat-handled Tech and a travel shave kit with a Travel Tech from 1965. Quite a bit, when you think about it.

My journey has been from canned gels to Barbasol foam, to creams and then to soaps. Now, this year, I find myself drifting back to creams again. As for brushes, I began with an EJ badger, added an AP Shave Co. synthetic that at first I did not like much, and then a Semogue boar. This year I began to use the synthetic more and more, and it is by far the brush I employ most often. And for a time I was not completely happy with the shaves from my Gillette Slim -- this after using it with delight since 2014. Recently, though, I've come to a new appreciation of it (mostly by using a higher setting for my first pass).

As for 2021, who knows. I may try some more Proraso products, like the aftershaves or colognes.
Requiring a slightly more aggressive razor is common as we grow older and our whiskers toughen.
 
This year was a very "seasonal" year for me in terms of soaps and aftershaves. Also got some pretty cool vintage razors. My collection of anything shaving is still fairly modest, especially compared to a lot of people on this board.

With the world being what it was in 2020, I really latched onto this hobby, so I'm grateful for the hobby and this forum to help get my mind off of everything.
 
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