I am feeling a little unsure of myself today. I have been getting fairly good results with my straight razors, but I have also been using some really great products. I am able to get nearly perfect results almost every time with my safety razors, no matter what products I use, and I want to be able to do the same with my straights. I know that I still need a lot of practice to master this sort of shaving, but it bothers me that I feel the need to create absolutely optimal conditions when I shave with a straight razor. There will be days when I will not have the time to create the perfect lather or when I will be in a hurry and won’t want to strop the blade as much as I probably should. I want to be secure in my abilities to get a good shave even when I do not have ideal conditions. Men have been shaving with straight razors since the late 1600s, surely at least some of them faced uncertain situations and were still able to shave. We are living in the golden age of shaving, there are hundreds of soaps, creams, oils, and lotions for us to use and just as many razors to choose from. I can, I am certain, figure out how to shave effectively without having to examine my edge under a microscope and without having to create a lather so dense that it defies the laws of physics. With that in mind, for the next few days I will be using some of my middle of the road products. These products aren’t bad, but they aren’t amazing either. They do their jobs well without calling much attention to themselves and even though I may not reach for them every day, I do enjoy knowing that they are there waiting to be called on.
My soap today will be eShave Linden. I absolutely love eShave’s creams and after shaves, but I have to admit that I am not overly impressed with their soaps. This is a nice smelling soap that can be found at reasonable prices if you look hard enough, but has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that is way higher than it deserves. This soap performs fairly well and has excellent skin care properties, but can be a little difficult to get to lather properly. It is like many other French soaps in that it requires a fairly dry brush to get it to perform. I like this soap well enough to use on a regular basis and I enjoy its scent, but I just can’t see it as anything other than average. My brush for today is the often used #6 Turkish Horsehair. It works well, costs next to nothing, and very rarely sheds a hair, but it also takes a long time to kill off its terrible odor and has to be imported all the way from Turkey. There are also quality control issues and the fact that the knot opens up in the center when it lathers, which can be an annoyance for some folks (I do not mind this, but I can see why it might bug some others). The #6 is a solid performer that is an excellent choice for a new wet shaver on a budget, but certainly not a spectacular brush. The razor is my Sterling 5/8 extra hollow ground round point. This is an awesome razor and it is quickly becoming my favorite. Even though I am testing my abilities to shave using average products, I do not feel the need justify using an above average razor. After all, I could easily own just this razor and still want to be able to use it under less than perfect conditions. The truth is that straight razors are such a big investment that if you own one that is not above average then you should probably get rid of it and find something better to take its place.
I did my usual prep of soaking my brush while I took a hot shower and then splashed warm water onto my face. My stropping was a little subpar, but nothing that should have taken away too much from the overall shave. I whipped up a nice enough lather from the eShave and applied it easily, but it was a bit thin. I performed a three pass with the grain/against the grain/across the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse. The razor worked smoothly and continues to impress me with how easy it is to use, but I did manage to nick my upper lip and developed some moderate irritation a little while after the shave. Up until the irritation popped up I would have described the shave as smooth and close. I don’t know if the irritation is due to the soap not providing enough protection, an overly aggressive shave, or some sort of reaction, but it went away after some liberal application of cold water and a blue gel ice pack. In spite of the irritation, I still considered this a successful shave. My skin is soft, there are no areas in need of clean up, and I didn’t slice anything off…what more could you ask for? Next time I will try out some preshave oil with this soap, which should take care of whatever problem caused my sudden and unexpected irritation. If I can repeat this shave without the irritation then I might end up having to increase my eShave Linden soap usage.
Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Sterling 5/8 extra hollow
Brush: #6 Turkish Horsehair
Soap: eShave Linden
Post: Cold water rinse and blue gel ice pack
#6 Turkish Horsehair Brush: