Traditional Barbershops are making a return, and it is easy to see why. For a bit of cash you, and your skin, gets pampered the old-school way. The atmosphere that these shops have, it takes you back to a simpler time.
As your face is covered with a hot towel, the barber begins to form the lather with his shaving brush. The products are designed for an optimal shave, while nourishing your skin. As your lathered face is skilfully shaved with a straight razor, you have time to relax and reflect. A cold towel, and aftershave later and your shave is complete. Your skin, and you, are left feeling like a million bucks.
This experience of luxury can easily be recreated every morning, with minimal cost. It starts by ditching your multi-blade razor, the canned foam, and the sub-par shaves. Then you need to pick out your tools according to your wants, needs, and budget. The brush can be as basic as a boar, or as extravagant as the finest badger hair around; your razor—grandpa’s old Gillette, or a modern stainless steel masterpiece. Combined they provide you with effortless shaves, while preventing bumps, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. Your soap or cream of choice has scents that tantalize the senses. The glide, protection, and beneficial skin properties of the lather are unparalleled. And lastly, your aftershave, be it a balm, or a splash, finishes off your shave, and signifies the start of your day.
Shaving does not need to take hours, and it does not need to be a chore. Once you take into account the running costs, and health benefits, not to mention the confidence boost when you look as good as you feel, the Traditional Wet Shave really becomes the only way to go.
The above is just an idea of what a Traditional Wet Shave offers. Below, we cover everything in depth. Here are the 5 top reasons.
- It is traditional.
- It is better for your skin.
- It is less expensive.
- It is environmentally friendly
- It gives you time for yourself.
The traditional wet-shave is making a comeback, but why? I still remember seeing Sean Connery, as James Bond, grab his Gillette Slim Adjustable in the 1964 movie Goldfinger, with my father when I was younger. Or who can forget Daniel Craig in the recent Bond movie being shaved with a straight razor? There is a certain “cool” that a traditional shave brings to an otherwise mundane activity.
It goes further than that though, as some of you may remember your father, or grandfather, shaving with a DE Razor, or maybe even a straight. A traditional shave seems like return to your childhood, an homage to your elders, a return to simpler times.
We are slowly becoming aware that more is not always better, and that the latest and greatest is not always what it seems. A traditional shave is simple, relaxing, and timeless.
What are the most common complaints by men about their shave?
- 24% Not a close enough shave
- 22% Ingrown Hairs
- 19% Skin Irritation
- 13% Nicks/Cuts
- 13% Razor Bumps
- 8% Razor Burn
- 1% Grip of Handle
That is an astonishing 62% complaining about some form of skin problem due to shaving. To fully understand the skin benefits of a traditional shave, and how it can alleviate the above problems, you have to look at the individual components: These are the shave soap or cream, brush, and razor.
Whether you decide on a shaving soap or a shaving cream, you will find that the ingredients used are superior when compared to commercial shave products. Not only are the ingredients of higher quality and more natural, they are also much friendlier towards your skin, leaving you looking great.
Common ingredients in canned shaving foam include Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), Parabens, Fragrance, and Triethanolamine, among half a dozen other chemicals. If we look at the above ingredients, it becomes evident that shaving foam is not all it’s cracked up to be.
SLS and SLES are lathering agents that are known skin irritants. These are only necessary as shaving foams would otherwise just be a gel. Parabens are used to inhibit microbial growth in cosmetics, however they have also been found in breast cancer tissue and are known estrogen mimickers. Fragrance has been named Allergen of the Year in 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society, this is because fragrance can be any of 2800 different ingredients, and at minimum 100 of those are considered known allergens. The last ingredient to look at is Triethanolamine, which is an emulsifying agent; this means it holds the oils and water together. However, it is also a known irritant with potential carcinogenic effects.
Traditional wet shaving products on the other hand, for the most part, do not feature any of these ingredients except for Fragrance; often this is from natural sources such as essential oils, or the irritants are listed. Not only that, but beneficial ingredients such as shea butter, lanolin, aloe, glycerin, coconut oil, vitamin E, and many others are often part of their formulation.
Boar, badger, synthetic—no matter which brush you choose for your shave it will bring some amazing qualities to your skin. As you lather on your face, the brush gently exfoliates (think of those exfoliating scrubs people use—this is a softer version of it), and helps to release trapped hairs, minimizing ingrown hairs.
Lastly we come to the razor, the tool that will ultimately remove your beard. Regardless of whether you go with an Open-Comb, Closed-Comb, or a Slant, the benefits will be there. Because there is only one blade, the chance of ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and general irritation is reduced, as you are not experiencing the hysteresis effect, which actually cuts the hair below the skin.
Not only that but because you control the closeness of the shave, the chance for irritation is further reduced. In fact, dermatologists recommend one-bladed razors for exactly this reason. Since can purchase a grip that suits you, the last 1% of the issues presented by men have been addressed.
For an initial outlay as low as $40 you can get started, which is less than you would spend for the newest Gillette with shaving foam, aftershave, and a comparable amount of blades. Of course, you don’t have to go the ultra-economical route. If only a Silvertip Badger will do, then get one! Same when it comes to what soaps or creams you want, aftershaves, razors, and so on. The sky is the limit.
Regardless of the initial cost, once you have your razor and brush your biggest cost is already taken care of. However, with disposable cartridge razors the biggest cost is ahead of you: the cartridges. The running costs of a traditional wet shave are minimal. A blade generally lasts three to four shaves. And blades can cost as low as $0.10 each, meaning you are spending less than a quarter a week on blades, or $10 a year. Soaps and creams last a very long time. On average, you will find yourself spending $20 a year on them, depending on your choices. Post-shave products start at $20 a year, making the minimum combined cost $50 a year for everything—half the price as a year of cartridges alone (and that is using only two cartridges a month).
In the US alone two billion disposable razors—this includes cartridges—end up in landfills every year. This is an enormous amount of waste, and it does not take into account all the shaving foam and packaging that is thrown away, as well.
The packaging on most traditional wet shaving products is quite minimal, which helps reduce waste. Not only that, but soaps and creams generally last longer than modern shaving products, and the former even comes in refill form, which further reduces waste.
You will have to throw your DE blades away anyways, however steel is recyclable. If you live in an area that offers this, you can put your blades in a blade bank and then bring them to be recycled; a blade bank is like a piggy bank, but for used blades (so it is normally a metallic or thick plastic container for safety). Even if you don’t recycle them, the amount of space a DE blade takes up is minimal when compared to the size of a razor cartridge. So when the time comes to throw out that blade bank, you will be using much less of the landfill than with cartridges.
If this is still too wasteful for you, maybe consider straight razor shaving. A good straight razor can last a lifetime if well maintained, so it will not contribute to the landfills. Not to mention, you look and feel awesome when using a straight razor.
In today’s information age, when do you really switch off? A traditional wet-shave can provide you with some well-deserved quiet time where you can block out the rest of the world and just focus on you. This time can be used to reflect, to be mindful, or just to enjoy the experience. Turn this boring chore into an enjoyable activity.
At the end of the day the choice is yours, but there are numerous obvious benefits. Better looking skin, a better, more comfortable shave, half the cost, better for the environment, and, of course, time for yourself. So, why not wake up looking forward to your shave, and start the day of right?