Tag Archives: astra

The shaving renaissance in my bathroom

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So, just about a year ago, I shunned the 17-blade, nuclear powered, vibrating monster from Gillette.  The Power Fusion was banished to the cabinet under the sink, along with the can of aerosol-propelled goop that I used to slather on my face.  In search of a better shave (I used to have 5 o’clock shadow at 11am), I decided to kick it old school, and opted for a double-edge safety razor.  My first razor was a Merkur 180 long handle.  Nice razor.  I ended up passing it on to my friend John, who is still using it.

It took a bit of time & learning the intricacies of a proper blade angle, etc., but I am not master of my facial hair.  Part of my initial problem was the manly man inside winning out and choosing the sharpest blade I could get my hands on – a Feather.  The Feather is a wonderful blade, which is super thin, flexible and is unbelievably sharp.  Starting with Feather was a huge mistake.  I eventually moved on to Astra SP blades, which were considerably more forgiving.  These days, I can manage a Feather easily enough.

Along the way, I’ve tried several razors, each with its subtle variations.  I’ve had:

  • Merkur 180
  • 1972 Gillette Super Speed (currently on loan to a friend)
  • 1972 Gillette Super Adjustable (the “black beauty”) – my “birth year razor”
  • Weber Polished with Bulldog Handle
  • Merkur Futur (loaner from a friend that I gave back – it gave me hamburger neck more than once!  For me – adjustments range from super-aggressive to “machete”.)
  • 1960 Gillette 195 (aka the Fatboy) – I had this one re-plated in rhodium, and it’s gorgeous

Currently, my stand has 3 razors in it – the Fatboy, the Beauty and the Weber.  I’m also trying out a 1956 Super Speed Red Tip and a 1963 Slim Adjustable that I got as a gifts for friends, and am going to have restored/re-plated soon.  The Red Tip has a reputation for being very aggressive, but I find it’s unwarranted.  I will say that I keep coming back to the Fatboy.  It’s a smooth piece of engineering.

So, that covers razor and blade.  What about shaving cream? After all, I did mention that I cast aside aerosol-propelled goo.  What did I opt for?  Despite having a coarse beard, my skin is a bit sensitive, so I opted for Taylor of Old Bond Street’s Jermyn Street cream & aftershave.  Those prices look high, and they are a bit.  Mostly, because US retailers have to import the stuff from the UK.  Happily, for me, I pick the stuff up for a fair bit less in London at the TOBS shop.  While more expensive than crappy canned goo, the stuff lasts a very long time, and is of extremely high quality.  My face is much happier with the gentler, more natural products I’ve been using.

Sometimes, I also use Proraso Red for a change of pace.  It’s a fairly mild cream as well.  It’s quite a bit cheaper too – $10 for a tube that lasts several months.

That cream goes onto the end of a badger brush, and gets swirled around in a cappucino mug with hot water to product a nice, smooth lather.  I do two passes on my face, one with the grain (WTG), and another across the grain (XTG).  I’ll do a few touchups and that’s it.