Cutting it Close
Men have been shaving for thousands of years, using everything from seashells, to sharpened rocks, and eventually metal tools. These metal tools changed many times over, but the modern Double Edge (DE or Safety) Razor was developed and introduced to the market by King Camp Gillette in 1901. Before this, there had been various attempts at alternatives to the straight razor, but they were largely unsuccessful. Until the cartridge razors of the 1970s, Gillette’s razor was the gold standard, and while most men now use either a cartridge razor (Mach 3, Fusion, etc.) or dare I say it…an electric shaver, a man by the name of Charles Roberts is trying to take us back to a golden age of shaving, but with quite a few improvements.
Over the last few years, I personally have used most of the major brands of shaving cremes, various pre and post shave treatments, and have been a Fusion, Mach 3 and DE shaver at times, but nothing comes close to Mr. Roberts’ “Method Shaving.” Now, it is a bit daunting to get in to, but I have been Method shaving for over a month now, and can safely say I can’t imagine ever going back. Bear with me, there are quite a few concepts involve (yes, I’m still talking about shaving here):
First, and foremost, is the idea of “cutting forms.” Instead of cutting with, across, or against the grain of one’s beard, there is a standard set of three forms one cuts with their DE razor, regardless of the direction the hairs are growing in. The first is essentially top to bottom, the second cutting on a downward diagonal to the center of the face, and the final form cuts from the outside diagonal up to the center line. Try this with a traditional creme and you will end up in ribbons.
That brings us to the method shaving products, bottled by Mr. Roberts’ under the “Hydrolast” label. There are quite a few steps involved in the process, and you can find all of the information on Mr. Roberts’ website www.enchanteonline.com, but I will give you a brief overview here. Essentially, you use a combination of proprietary blends of oils and emollients to create a “shaving mix” (the term shaving creme is anathema to Mr. Roberts’) that is 90% water, which allows you to hyper-hydrate the face and cut repeatedly with little to no resistance. The result is a shave so close and comfortable that it is called “Gloss” in Method Shaving terminology. You finish up with a two step series of aftershave balm and a spray tonic that cools the face down and leaves it feeling like a clean, lightly fragrant sheet of glass. The advantages are obvious: products that are carefully hand blended, with all natural pure fragrance oils personally added at your request, you get a closer shave, and escape with no irritation.
That said, there are a few sticking points. For me, the biggest problem was the idea of giving up my shave brush. I love the aesthetic joys of the badger brush, as well as the feeling of it on my face, but it just doesn’t build shave mix nearly as well as the cloth. Also, it is a bit more messy, involves using your hands to mix and spread the creme, and doesn’t feel quite as elegant as a shave with a scuttle, brush, and creme. That said, I quite enjoy my daily shave, and have quickly found that I am not missing my brush nearly as much as I expected to. Also, to me, getting my hands a bit messy is worth having as close to a perfect mug as I can get. Lastly, getting started is a bit pricy, but not drastically more so than using any high quality shaving products, and if you think of it as an investment in the future of your face, it hardly seems disproportionate at all.
Ok, ok, I’ll stop proselytizing. If you have questions, I recommend either contacting Mr. Roberts, who is always happy to talk to excited shavers, or consulting one of the many shaving forums out there. I am still an amateur as far as Method Shaving is concerned, but trust me on this, your face will thank you.