Shaving question
June 15, 2010 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Shaving question

Every morning I shave, I don't look forward to it but I don't hate the task either. Seeing how I have to do this everyday what are some ways to make shaving better or even make me look forward to shaving?
posted by abbat to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Make your work a pleasure. Move with the rhythm of music.
posted by Behemoth at 7:54 AM on June 15, 2010

Learn to use a straight razor and make a ritual out of it. This has changed how I view shaving in the morning (though I needn't shave everyday.)

Key ingredients include:

1) Actual warmed shave cream applied with a soft brush, not shaving foam out of a bottle and smeared on your face.

2) A nice straight razor.

3) A slight learning curve in which you may nick yourself a few times. It is totally worth it.

4) Maybe, like, 2 extra minutes. It really doesn't take long once you learn how to do it properly.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:54 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you use a electric shaver or a scraping-your-face-with-sharp-metal shaver?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:54 AM on June 15, 2010

You can use a fancy shaving cream and a badger hair brush, like InsanePenguin says above.

I don't know about a straight razor -- I use a double edged safety razor.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:55 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Shave with a proper razor. I made the switch to proper shaving soap, a safety razor and shaving brush a couple of years ago. I get a better shave, it's a tiny bit of luxury every morning and my wife thinks it's kinda cool.

There are oodles of resources online to help you choose a blade, brush and soap. I use a Merkur HD razor, blades from Personna, shave soap from Crabtree and Evelyn and an Edwin Jagger brush.

As with any niche thing, there are actual shaving hobbyists who take it all a bit far (collecting hundreds of brushes etc), but if you do a google for 'wet shaving' or 'safety razors' you'll get plenty of info.

Takes a bit of practice and time to get into, but I don't hate shaving anymore.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:56 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best piece of advice I ever came across was:

After using warm water on the face, always shave downwards, and in a single stroke, all over, then reapply a layer of shaving foam and repeat. Rinse with cold water, then use something moisturising as an aftershave rather than alcohol.

It winds up not taking me any longer than the haphazard way I used to shave, but it leaves a much cleaner and more comfortable shave. That said, I still got sick of having to shave everyday and rarely wetshave anymore.
posted by opsin at 7:56 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

1) Shave in the evening when your face is less puffy.
2) Use a decent razor like a Merkur, rather than disposable razors.
3) Use good soap and a brush to get a lather going rather than a squirty can of soap.
4) Rinse off with cold water to close up all your pores.
5) Listen to the radio while you're doing it.
6) If this doesn't work, you could always grow a beard.
posted by jonesor at 7:58 AM on June 15, 2010

Good god, do I hate shaving.

People will probably post about using their grandfather's emu-hair brush and rusty safety razor, pointing you to BoingBoing articles explaining how to shave in only eleven minutes with minimal scarring, but honestly my advice is to buy whatever multi-bladed wonder Gillette is selling his year and spend 30 seconds shaving while your shower is warming up. The blades are expensive, sure, but one blade will last me a couple of weeks and it really never takes me longer than 30 seconds to get a decent shave, unless I want it to. A can of generic shaving cream lasts me about six months.

Know that you're in control of it and you can knock it out of the way in a few seconds. Spend the time you save taking a nice leisurely dump.
posted by bondcliff at 8:02 AM on June 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

This is not about shaving but about any disliked routine. I used to have a hard time, for whatever reason, brushing my teeth in the morning. Now I have a slot for it in my routine. Wake up, start coffee, go into bathroom, brush teeth while coffee is making, if I'm done before coffee is done, I'm not brushing enough, finish brushing, wash face, coffee is done. I keep telling myself that it's basically five minutes [less!] of my day and it's good for me. In your case it's a little more time and necessary unless you want to grow a beard. So you can think "Okay, this morning do I want to grow a beard or do I want to shave?" because at some level that's the decision you are making.

Also agree with folks above. Have some sort of pleasant-to-the-senses set of things you associate with it [I bought strawberry toothpaste so my mouth isn't all minty and burny] and something good waiting for yourself at the end of it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

In response to the straight razor comments, you can totally use a safety razor instead, the really fun part is the warmed shaving soap.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:10 AM on June 15, 2010

Good god, do I hate shaving.

bondcliff, I will bet you hate shaving because of the way you shave. Try doing it exactly the way you're dismissing. It's awesome.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:12 AM on June 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

After using warm water on the face, always shave downwards, and in a single stroke, all over, then reapply a layer of shaving foam and repeat. Rinse with cold water, then use something moisturising as an aftershave rather than alcohol.

I agree with most of this. The direction you shave in, though, should be guided by the direction your beard grows in. Best to do a first pass with the grain of your beard (this may vary with different parts of your face) and a second pass across the grain.

But what really got me to enjoy the process of shaving was trying out several tools (razors and blades, brush) and soaps until I found something that worked for me.

I realize we're basically telling you to double your shaving time, but if you end up enjoying yourself then you've won, right?
posted by reegmo at 8:16 AM on June 15, 2010

This was me last year.
I've found that going old school has made a huge difference.
A brush, decent shaving cream and a vintage razor that takes proper razor blades have turned a chore into a pleasure. It's cost me about the same as I'd have spent on modern shaving supplies, but is loads more fun! Now I actually wake up looking forward to my shave.
posted by sleepy boy at 8:17 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I shave in the shower. "Blind", i.e. by feel. It took some getting used to, a few unfortunate nicks here and there. I'm not really sure how or why I started doing it, but it's fantastic.

I also don't shave on weekends. My Monday morning shave, which would ordinarily be a pain in the ass, is the best shave of the week.

A sharp razor is a must. You can buy strops for Gilette-style safety razors although I don't know how well they work. Good quality shaving foam or soap is a bonus. My learning over the past x years is not using too much foam/soap (while still using enough).

Also, I used to hate shaving, partly because it used to hack my face up and sometimes give me spots. I don't know why, but that doesn't happen any more. What I'm saying is that you might "grow into" shaving. It took me 10 years.

Finally, I've come to the conclusion that, for me at least, after shave is a painful and unnecessary addition to life. I have embraced my inner metrosexual and now use Clinique's M Lotion on my (dry) face. The trade off of the whole pore closing thing and boiling my face with alcohol was a no brainer that took a while coming.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:19 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I also shave in the shower. I lather up my face, then put shampoo in my hair and work it about, then shave, then rinse out my hair, and finally brush my teeth. You can do it by touch, honest. I never cut myself this way and do not miss any spots. No mirror required and I do not get bits of foam everywhere in the sink. I found shaving to be much more pleasant this way.

Afterwards, treat yourself to a nice soothing moisturizer and sunscreen.
posted by adipocere at 8:21 AM on June 15, 2010

Totally agree with most of the above. I used to view it as a chore, but it's much more enjoyable now. Get yourself a decent brush and razor. My current fave is a Muhle R41 with a Feather blade.
posted by 999 at 8:22 AM on June 15, 2010

(The following advice assumes you are a Caucasian male.)

I hate to be the guy who questions the question but I have to proselytize: have you ever tried wearing a beard? I always despised shaving; it was time consuming, my skin felt raw afterward, expensive, etc. Mostly, though, because I was and am really, really lazy. So, I quit. I bought a beard trimmer, grew the sucker out and now just trim it down so I don't look like a frontiersman/Brooklyn-based experimental rock band frontman. I no longer have to drag metal across my skin anymore. If you're thinking that beards itch, they do not. You'll get a few days of itchy-ness as your face adjusts and then you're good. However please do not grow a beard unless you can grow a full beard. Patchy-beards and neckbeards are ... well, just don't. Unless of course you do not care how you look in public.

Unless you're working somewhere it isn't, stubble is also socially acceptable (and even considered attractive!), so if I don't want to wear a beard because of the heat, I take the guard off the trimmer, run it across my face every three or four days and I'm good. Instant 5 o'clock shadow.
posted by griphus at 8:23 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

bondcliff, I will bet you hate shaving because of the way you shave. Try doing it exactly the way you're dismissing. It's awesome.

Mostly I hate shaving because of a) the time it takes and b) the fact that I'm basically taking a sharp knife to my face while I'm still half asleep. I can appreciate the pleasure of using quality tools and were I more of a morning person I'd probably give it a shot.

Perhaps going the safety razor / soap / brush route is the correct answer for the OP, however my answer to him is to get it the hell out of the way as quickly as possible and to do it during time that is normally wasted, such as when the shower is warming up.

Also, one of the things that really helped me hate shaving less, and I'm being totally serious here, was to watch the Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers. There's a scene where Captain Winters breaks through the ice in a bucket (or maybe it's his helmet) so he can shave in the middle of the woods in the freezing cold. Ever since then, whenever I think "boy, I sure do hate shaving", I think of that scene and be glad I'm in a nice comfy house shaving with hot water with almost no chance that there will be an artillery attack before I'm finished. It's all about perspective.
posted by bondcliff at 8:23 AM on June 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

You could always grow a beard.

Sure, you have to trim it, and shave your neck/the edges, but probably not every single day.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:26 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh! The best shaving advice I have ever read actually came from Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. This seems a little odd if you've never encountered it, but the book is chock-full of surprisingly good grooming advice as the protagonist is capital-i Incredibly vain:
I press a hot towel against my face for two minutes to soften abrasive beard hair. Then I always slather on a moisturizer ... and let it soak in for a minute. You can rinse it off or keep it on and apply a shaving cream over it – preferably with a brush, which softens the beard as it lifts the whiskers – which I've found makes removing the hair easier. It also helps prevent water from evaporating and reduces friction between your skin and the blade. Always wet the razor with warm water before shaving and shave in the direction the beard grows, pressing gently on the skin. Leave the sideburns and chin for last, since these whiskers are tougher and need more time to soften. Rinse the razor and shake off any excess water before starting. Afterwards splash cool water on the face to remove any trace of lather. You should use an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol. Never use cologne on your face, since the high alcohol content dries your face out and makes you look older. One should use an alcohol free antibacterial toner with a water moistened cotton ball to normalize the skin. Applying a moisturizer is the final step. Splash on water before applying an emollient lotion to soften the skin and seal in the moisture.
posted by griphus at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

You know, I had a big post typed up about wet shaving (a subject nerds love for some reason), but then I realized you can find a bunch of info out there yourself if you wanted that. I'm guessing you want a way to minimize the shaving task. If so, go out and spend a bit on a really good foil electric razor. I'm talking like Braun Series 7. You have to give it a few weeks to "train your beard" but eventually this is the quickest way to get your shaving done. Wake up, run it over your face, the end. No prep required.

If for some reason you were looking for enthusiast shaving advice, keep in mind that there is a whole subculture built around shaving, and you can waste a huge amount of money on the process if you really want to. A lot of it is hokum and elitism. Also, the whole specialty razor thing is a bunch of baloney. People used to like shaving with old-timey safety razors because they're collectible and antiquey (not to mention the blades are dirt cheap), but certainly not because they provide a better shave. I personally shave with a Merkur, but it's due to the cheap blades. And straight razors are right out, I've walked that road and you have to get into the $200+ range before you can eek out half the shave a Mach 3 will give you, and it takes months to master the technique.

Like I said, there's a lot of good advice on that scene out there, but if you follow that path here are a few things to remember: 1.) Glycerine soap is necessary, but even the cheapest will do. Colonel Conk is $3 a cake, no need to spend more. 2.) A real badger hair brush is necessary, but again, you can find one for $25 and you won't see much difference between it and the $450 one. 3.) You can keep using your cartridge razor. If you want to get fancy about it, you can buy expensive razor handles that will accept the cartridge.
posted by Willie0248 at 8:40 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The topic of razors and shaving technique has been discussed to death here. If you follow your tag you'll find all you need to know about it and then some. But...

jessamyn: This is not about shaving but about any disliked routine.

With that in mind, I'd suggest a change in your shave soap. Get yourself a brush (badger hair, none of that synthetic shit), a bowl (I use a plain metal prep bowl I "claimed" from the kitchen), and some kind of shave soap or cream that requires a brush (I use Proraso, which is fantastic). I despise shaving, even though I don't have to do it very often- my hair is course and I have a mole above my lip that I'm constantly nicking.

What I do like is the ritual around it- getting the brush warm and wet beforehand, whipping the cream into a good lather, and working it into your beard. Makes a big difference.
posted by mkultra at 8:42 AM on June 15, 2010

With a decent rechargeable electric razor and a little practice, you can shave pretty much anywhere. I take 5 or 10 minutes to sit down and surf the web while I shave each morning. That's my only time to relax during my (fast-as-possible) morning routine, so I look forward to it.

Granted, I don't get as close a shave as I would if I took most of the advice in this thread, but it's good enough for day-to-day. If I had some important event in the evening, I would probably wet-shave after work.
posted by pocams at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2010

Grow a beard! They're awesome.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2010

I switched to shaving with a old straight-edge razor about 2 years ago. I did it partially for the reasons you mentioned. And partially because I began to grow uncomfortable with throwing out all those disposable razors.

I've now got a few vintage straight razors, the oldest of which is pre-civil war, which I think is kind of cool. I also like that, with a little care on my part, these razors won't be thrown out in my lifetime -- they will likely outlast me. I like the ritual of shaving this way: it forces me to slow down in the morning, and I actually find the whole process of making the lather, stropping the razor, etc. to be very relaxing. But most of all, I get a better, cleaner shave with less irritation than ever before.

Now I have to say that I switched with some trepidation: I mean, they're called throat-cut razors for a reason, right? And there was a bit of a learning curve involved, a couple nicks and one doozy of a scrape. But, it turns out, there's an active internet community of people that's willing to help here. I found the forums at Badger & Blade to be really helpful, and supportive of newbies. Now, I can't imagine switching back.

One final point: Willie0248 is right to point out that you can easily spend crazy amounts of money doing this, but he also rightly points out that you don't need to.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:20 AM on June 15, 2010

Also, one of the things that really helped me hate shaving less, and I'm being totally serious here, was to watch the Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers. There's a scene where Captain Winters breaks through the ice in a bucket (or maybe it's his helmet) so he can shave in the middle of the woods in the freezing cold.

Heh, I remember that scene well. Yes, everything's relative.

But he's using that nifty vintage equipment...
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2010

I have a beard but I shave (neck only) in the shower with bath soap and a cheap plastic disposable razor. The fog-free mirror fogs, of course, but I wipe it off and keep going. Takes about 11 seconds. Life's too short, right?
posted by fivesavagepalms at 9:39 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think that by and large, people who encourage you to try wet-shaving with a brush and safety razor (myself included) have discovered that it's an enjoyable ritual that affords you an opportunity to slow down, set a few minutes aside from other concerns and focus on this one task. For some people the ritual is stopping by their neighborhood Starbucks for their favorite triple-whip-half-caff-non-fat-two-lumps latte, or doing the crossword puzzle... it's not so much about the actual act of shaving as it is about the routine.

Also: a decent safety razor is a modest one-time purchase, and replacement blades are so cheap compared to disposables, especially the fancy ones with multiple blades.

(Although I would think that if you're a person who hates having to shave, or is perpetually running late, wet-shaving might wind up making you hate shaving even more. You don't want to rush things with a safety razor.)
posted by usonian at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2010

I found some stuff at walmart for like 3 bucks in their shaving section that I absolutely love. I don't remember what it's called, but it's basically an eye-dropper filled with oil. Take about 5 drops of that stuff and smear it all over your face. Apply plenty of water and shave. Your razor will glide over your skin. It usually takes me 2 rounds before my face is smooth, so I just splash more water on myself and I'm good for another 2 rounds; no need to re-apply the oil.

I've only used half the contents supplied in the vial I purchased over three months ago.
posted by Zeker at 11:16 AM on June 15, 2010

Like jessamyn, I'm chiming in with more general advice about disliked tasks.

I'm incredibly lazy in the morning and I do everything I can to trim down my routine. That means I do a lot of "morning" things in the evening before bed. I make my lunch, shower, pick out my clothes for the day, pack my yoga clothes, etc. Now my morning routine takes about 15 minutes and gives me plenty of time to walk the dog and get out the door on time.

Perhaps shaving at night would make it an enjoyable and relaxing routine? If a fresh-shaven face feels as good as fresh-shaven legs (I'm a girl) on sheets, then you may come to enjoy the task.
posted by annaramma at 11:18 AM on June 15, 2010

Chipping in on the get-a-safety-razor-and-shaving-soap chorus.

Usonian: It's not really about the ritual for me - it is authentically the cleanest most comfortable shave I've ever gotten. Saving roughly a hundred bucks a year on razor blades only sweetens the deal. It's great to do the full-on warm-towel thing on the weekends, but when I shave most mornings, it's not a meditation time to take a swim in Lake Me, but just to get the fuzz off in time for work. The safety razor does that comfortably, efficiently, and inexpensively.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2010

Perhaps shaving at night would make it an enjoyable and relaxing routine?

The problem with this is that by the time you wake up you have a 5 o'clock shadow.
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2010

n-th vote for the safety razor and brush routine. I switched about years ago when I got fed up of shaving rash and the expensive cost of blades in Norway where I was living at the time.

My daily razor is a Merkur Futur, makes a fantastic sound when you're shaving and the acoustic feedback is great. Blades are cheap, you can get them for 10-20c each on the web; beats $10+ for the multi blade heads.

But I wouldn't have stuck with it if it wasn't pleasurable and I didn't get a shave that equaled the multi-bladed razors. I now look forward to my shave and turned a chore into a daily pleasure.
posted by arcticseal at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2010

You know, I haven't seen this address yet, but since they are entirely different tasks depending on your gender, are you a man or a woman?
posted by WCityMike at 5:51 PM on June 15, 2010

My husband has had very good luck using a regular disposable razor but using a different kind of shaving cream -- he switched to Cremo shaving cream which is more like a lotion than the squirt-bottle puffy aerosol shaving cream he was using before. He cuts himself less and the routine doesn't take any longer.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:07 PM on June 15, 2010

I'm with bondcliff. Safety razors mostly suck. The reason Gilette can continue to gouge people with $2 razor cartridges is because they work really well, and the alternatives don't. Nicks and cuts are pretty much a given with a safety razor and nigh impossible with any of the various Gilette blades. The only thing that I continue to use from my experiment with wet shaving was the badger brush and the shaving soap. I'll occasionally get a straight razor shave from a barber, but that's about the extent of it.
posted by electroboy at 9:34 AM on June 16, 2010

I'm wondering how these answers could be modified if we were talking about legs rather than face. I love the idea of fancy shaving stuff.
posted by zorrine at 12:06 PM on June 16, 2010

One of the frequently cited benefits of straight-razor shaving is that your gf/wife will never use your razor on her legs.
posted by electroboy at 7:29 AM on June 17, 2010

Oh, following on from LobsterMitten's comment about a cream, I randomly bought a tiny can of this shaving oil when I was travelling recently in case I wanted to shave, and have found that used under foam it gives an incredibly smooth and irritationless shave. It was lavendar and something else oil essentially and while I had concerns due to my mild lavendar allergy it was certainly something I'd recommend people hating their shave try.
posted by opsin at 1:02 PM on June 18, 2010

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