Money Saving Monday Tip#19 – A better shave for less money
This article is part of an ongoing series where I write about Money Saving tips and strategies each Monday. You can see the rest of the series articles here.
I’ve been shaving using disposable razors since the very first time I ever shaved. Disposable razors work OK, but I never really got the quality of shave I wanted, and the razors are expensive. This is particularly true if you use one of the newer Mach III or Fusion razors. Sometime back, I found an article The Simple Dollar had written about shaving. Trent’s method of shaving sounded like something worth trying, especially if I could get a better shave for less money.
I used Trent’s amazon affiliate links and purchased all of the supplies. I also read a lot of additional articles on the subject of shaving the old fashioned way.
I purchased the same razor Trent recommend, the Merkur Classic. The Merkur is a simple and straight forward German made razor. The razor is heavy and well balanced and glides smoothly over your skin and uses double edged blades providing a very close shave. Blades are replaced by unscrewing the handle. The blade is sandwiched between the guide and a cover.
The razor will be the most expensive purchase at around $30 – $35. This is a long term investment though as this razor will last you a lifetime. You will never have to buy another razor, you will only need to replace the blades, which are very inexpensive. But more on that in a minute.
Another option in liu of buying a new razor is to find an old Gillette or Merkur razor at an auction, flea market or garage sale. The old Gillette razors are really neat in that as you turn the handle, the top of the razor mechanically opens up to expose the blade for replacement. I haven’t found one in good enough shape yet to buy, but I continue to look.
The Merkur razor comes with a Merkur blade, and amazon sells the Merkur blades as well. These are decent blades but the best are Feather Double Edged blades (not an affiliate link). They are considered by most to be the sharpest and smoothest of all blades. I’m in full agreement with this after having tried both. These blades are incredibly sharp and provide a very close shave without much pressure at all (pressure = nicks). Sharp blades are important to keep the blade from pulling on your hair, which leads to skin irritation. Here’s the best part, a 5-pack is only $2.95. I use 1 blade per week.
The normal canned shaving cream most of us are used too works fine, but if you want to get the best shave and maybe even enjoy the shaving experience a little, I highly recommend using Proraso. Proraso is an Italian shaving soap that contains eucalyptus and menthol. Proraso is a very high quality shaving soap that contains one critical ingredient that will exponentially increase the quality of your shave…glycerin. Glycerin allows the razor blade to glide over your skin without actually touching it directly. Giving you a close shave without the burn associated with cheap razors and shaving cream.
The eucalyptus and menthol also open the pores on your skin causing your beard to stand up also giving you a better shave. The best part, when you are done shaving, splash some cold water on your face and the feeling is great and very refreshing. Using Proraso has made shaving actually something I look forward to each morning instead of dreading it like I used to. A tube of Proraso lasts me approximately 2-3 months. Oh, and it smells great!
The single best way to apply the shaving cream is with a badger hair brush (don’t worry, no badgers harmed in the process…hey they need haircuts too). My first brush was a Tweezerman Men’s Deluxe Shaving Brush. While this is a decent brush for the money, mine only lasted about 4 months before the bristles feel out of the handle. I moved up to an Omega Stripey Badger Hair Shaving Brush. The Omega is of higher quality and comes with a stand to allow the brush to dry better.
Why a brush? Well, the badger hair is pretty stiff and when the shaving soap and hot water are mixed together and applied to your face using the brush, the soap is forced all around the hairs of your beard causing the soap to hold the hairs up where they can be better cut by the razor. The badger hair also cleans your skin and whips the soap into the perfect consistency for shaving.
The Shaving Process
Here’s the actual process I use when shaving. I first fill the sink up about 1/4 – 1/2 full with hot water…and I mean hot. While the sink is filling, I place the shaving brush, razor and a wash cloth in the sink and allow them to soak in the hot water. Once the water is to the right level, I use place the wash cloth on my face and allow it to sit for 5-10 seconds moving it around my face to get my whole face wet and to warm my face up. You do primarily to open your pores and get your beard hairs to raise up. I then wring out the wash cloth and hang it up
Next, I remove the shaving brush and tap it on the sink to remove some of the water. It will take you a few tries to get the right amount. I then place a small dab of the Proraso shaving soap on the bristles of the brush and then coat my face with cream using an up and down motion. Continue to do this until your whole beard is covered and the cream is a nice thick consistancy. Place the brush back in the water in the sink.
I then begin shaving in the direction of the hair growth (typically down). Use small and VERY light strokes. Remember, this isn’t a safety razor and it doesn’t require any pressure. I just use the weight of the razor itself. Small short strokes are better than long strokes. Once the blade is coated with cream, rinse it off in the water and continue. I flip the razor over and alternate sides of the blade each time I rinse.
Once I finish, I soap up again and shave against the grain. This is really optional depending on you and your beard. My beard is pretty soft so I can get away with this. I you have a really stiff beard or very sensitive skin, shaving against the grain can result in nicks or razor burn. So use your judgment. Shaving in both directions for me gives me the best and closest shave.
Once you’ve completed shaving, splash your face off with some cold water, use the now cool wash cloth to wipe of the excess shaving cream, and then pat dry your face with a towel and your done. I dry everything off and put it up for the next time. Don’t rub your razor’s blades on the towel though. First, you’ll cut your towel and second dull your blade. Just let this part of the razor air dry.
Using any one of these products will significantly enhance your shaving experience. I would say the razor is essential with the brush and soap being optional if you don’t want to spend the money. Although I do highly recommend all 3 to get the best experience. One of the side benefits of using this method is a reduction in waste. I felt pretty guilty throwing away those plastic disposable razors every 2 or 3 days.
Do you shave this way already? What is your take on the best products and shaving method? If you don’t shave, are you wiling to give this a try? Share your thoughts by adding a comment below!