So, if you have been following this blog for any indeterminate amount time, you will probably know that the ritual of shaving and grooming has been discussed quite thoroughly, if not far too much. Nevertheless, here we are again, intimately discussing shaving. Trust, gentlemen really want to know about this. Only this time around, we have the pleasure of having grooming expert, Brian Mulreany, expound on the present topic that appears to garner a passionate opinion from men everywhere. Presently, Mulreany is co-owner and sales director at Executive Shaving in the United Kingdom. The Executive Shaving Company is one of the largest shaving and grooming suppliers in Europe. So, let’s dive right in, pick Mr. Mulreany’s brain, and see just exactly how a gentleman should be shaving.
First, please tell the audience a little about your background in the grooming industry.
I bought Executive Shaving in November 2009. I was always interested in music, fashion and being well-groomed. The opportunity to buy Executive Shaving was just too good to turn down.
There has been a resurgence in the utilization of the straight razor, what has sparked such renewed interest?
I think that men wanting to be men again is one factor. There is something very rewarding and masculine about picking up a real man’s razor. A new appreciation of the shaving ritual is also something we hear more about than before. In fact, the real growth in the market has been towards Double Edge (DE) Safety Razor Shaving. Sales for DE razors massively outstrip sales of Cut Throat razors.
What are some of the benefits of using a straight razor versus a safety razor versus an electric razor?
Straight away – a shave with a Safety Razor or a Straight Razor will give a closer shave every single time providing the blade is sharp. A wet shave done properly is far kinder to the skin than a metal foil rubbing against the skin without the protection of a lubricating shaving cream.
In terms of cost, what is most beneficial to a gentleman’s wallet: disposable/cartridge safety razors or straight razors?
Look to spend around $150 on a decent Straight Razor and around $30 for a good Safety Razor. If you go down the Straight Razor route, you’ll need a strop (around $50) to maintain the razors edge. Safety Razor blades are found in supermarkets and drug stores, expect to pay $2-$4 on a 10 pack and expect four very close shaves from one blade.
Additionally a good wet razor will last several generations; I often use a 1964 Gillette Slim Safety Razor which shaves as well today as it did in 1964. By contrast an electric shaver may typically last 4-6 years at best.
In terms of comfort, which shaving tool is gentler on the skin: the electric, safety, or straight razor? Does this depend on skin type?
A wet shave provides a satisfying feel-good factor something an electric shaver just doesn’t give you. For me, the ease and speed of using a safety razor wins every time.
A sharp blade used with a quality shaving brush and shaving cream will easily scythe through even the toughest of beards. It can be a very uncomfortable experience trying to mow through a heavy growth using an electric shaver.
Men with heavy stubble and especially African-American gentlemen simply do not get a close shave with an electric shaver; the foil simply cannot cope with the demands of tough, wiry bristles. There’s lots of evidence that shaving with an electric shaver can lead to painful and unsightly ingrown hairs. Wet shaving properly means no ingrown hairs, no razor bump and no razor burn.
How would you describe the proper shaving regiment that every gentleman should follow? What accoutrements are absolutely necessary for the regiment?
- Wash the face with warm water preferably using a glycerine based face soap to soften the bristles and lift them off the face.
- Using a shaving brush, lather up a rich lather from a quality shaving cream or soap in a bowl then apply the lather to the bearded area.
- Shave using a light touch and short strokes, shaving twice in the direction the hairs grow (for most guys this means down the face and cheeks but upwards on the throat and neck). This applies to Safety Razors and Straight Razors.
- After shaving, wash the face in warm water to remove any remnants of the lather, and then splash the face with cold water to close the pores. Finally apply an after shave balm to moisturize and soothe the skin.
Should a gentleman use shaving soap, cream, or gel? Are there any brands that you recommend?
Some gels are fairly good but the best shaves I’ve had have been when using a shaving cream, I’m a huge fan of Castle Forbes Limes and Fitjar Folgefonn shaving creams. Both use natural products, Castle Forbes is Scottish (like me) while Fitjar is from Norway. In my opinion, they are the best two shaving creams in the world.
Are there any particular aftershave balms that you would suggest? What should a gentleman look for in terms of ingredients?
I would suggest that the scent of the after shave balm matches the shaving cream used, so I would opt for Castle Forbes Limes and Folgefonn after shave balms. The balm should be alcohol free so it does not damage the skin.