Traditional Shaving for the 21st Century
31 May 2020
With Father’s Day approaching, it’s high time to delve deeper into the world of men’s grooming. Handlebar, walrus, goatee or clean-shaven, a man’s facial hair says a lot about him. It’s estimated that the average man in the UK will spend around 45 days of his life shaving. What a chore!
The good news is that by investing in the right equipment, you can turn a job into a joy. In today’s article, we’ll explore the good, bad and ugly of traditional shaving methods and how modern methods stack up. We’ll also be sharing our best buys for Father’s Day, so you can treat that special man to something that will brighten his day.
Shaving: The Tools
The tools used to get the perfect shave have changed rather a lot over the last few centuries! Traditionally, the best shave came from lathered soap and a straight, or “cut-throat”, razor dragged at an angle over the skin’s surface. Understandably, this undertaking was best performed with a second set of hands, hence the importance of the local barber!
Over time, new variations were introduced which could be done from the comfort of home, such as the safety razor which added a physical barrier to protect the face from any accidents or injuries. Still, shaving was labour intensive, required regular changing of blades (often after every use) and irritated the skin.
Since then, times have changed rather dramatically. Take, for example, Gillette Mach 3 Razor Blades, one of the top-selling razor cartridges in the world. Not only does one cartridge have three incredibly sharp blades, but it also has a gel strip to help the blade glide over the skin, and a skin guard which stretches out the skin to provide a closer shave. It’s little wonder that Gillette claims their razors leave you “feeling better after the 10th shave than a new disposable does on the first”.
What’s In Your Soap?
Old fashioned soap used for shaving has also evolved over the years. Traditional soap was made of fat and lye from wood ashes. The issue with this is that lye can be very irritating to the skin, not to mention drying. To this day, anything labelled as a ‘soap’ must follow a similar formulation to the traditional method, albeit honed to be less likely to cause skin irritation. However, many of the soaps that you find in the supermarket are created completely differently.
The majority of products that we consider ‘soap’ are actually detergents, using ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) to provide their cleansing properties. Unfortunately, SLS strips the skin’s natural oils, making it less than ideal for shaving.
Look instead, at the example of one of our best-selling shaving gels, Elemis Ice-Cool Foaming Shave Gel. Infused with fruit extracts and witch hazel, a naturally occurring ingredient that aids skin health. Not only is it free of stripping detergents, but it has additional skin-friendly ingredients such as glycerin, which is incredibly hydrating.
Shaving: The Technique
While there was once a clear ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to shave, the latter of which could result in serious injury, things are a tad more simple these days. Even the traditional advice of shaving with the grain, instead of against, is redundant thanks to advances in pre and post-shaving products and the evolution of razors.
It’s still advisable to open up your skin with a hot towel or shower prior to shaving – perhaps one of the only things that hasn’t changed over the course of history! This allows for a closer shave and makes it easier for the blade to move through the hair.
But perhaps the biggest impact on the shaving experience comes from the leaps and bounds in product development. Shave oils can be applied pre-shave to safeguard the skin from irritation, while post-shave, soothing lotions and balms ensure that those who shave daily don’t have to sacrifice the condition of their skin.
Father’s Day Best Buys
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the special man in your life, we’re here to guide you in the right direction. Here are a few fantastic products for a range of men:
Best For The Clean Shaven
Men who prefer to be clean-shaven need to undergo regular upkeep, which can increase their risk of redness and sensitivity. Thankfully, there is a wide range of sensitive skincare products designed to ease the struggle. REN Tamanu High-Glide Shaving Oil is infused with tamanu oil, which is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Best For Bushy Beards
We know that a big beard often requires more work, not less. Acqua Di Parma Collezione Barbiere Beard Wash gently cleanses impurities from the beard and leaves it soft and silky.
Best For The Moustachioed
Nothing quite beats a spectacularly coiffed moustache, which is why the TIGI Bed Head Mo Rider Moustache Crafter is a must for any discerning gent. With ingredients including beeswax, coconut and sunflower seed oil, it offers a great hold and nourishing properties.
Best For The Traditional
Aftershaves have largely fallen out of favour with the modern man, but traditionalists maintain it as an important step in any shaving regime. Although we have no shortage of fantastic aftershaves, Montblanc Legend makes our list due to its great scent, its stunning bottle and its fitting name for Father’s Day.
Best For The WOW Factor
If you’re looking for an outstanding gift for an outstanding man, you can’t go past the Braun Series 9 Wet & Dry Shaver. Our top of the line model, this is the world’s most efficient electric shaver. With five shaving elements, a titanium coating, and a leather travel case, this is a gift that is built to last.