My Venture into Shaving - A Beginner's Sojourn. October 23 2013, 2 Comments
Some time ago I asked if anyone who was relatively new to the 'wetshavng' fraternity wished to write a "Guest Blog" about their experiences so far for this website. The following is by Derek Sword CSCS, OMS-III who comes from Pikeville, KY USA.
Let me start by saying this…It is VERY difficult to express something to others in an articulate manner, when the subject isn’t something you're quite sure you understand yourself. You know you like something, but why do you like it? Because of how it makes you feel, or the memories it offers? What is it that keeps my mind going when it comes to the world of shaving?
Maybe it’s the history, sophistication, and classic nature that is so desirable. Maybe it’s ALL of that - and that’s what makes wetshaving a special hobby for me.
About two years ago shaving evolved from something I did on a near-daily basis - begrudging to my sleep schedule and personal hygiene as a grungy teenager. Eventually it became a routine that is nearly as elaborate as my wife’s clothing closet!
My mind can’t help but wander to a quote I read from a book recently: “It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll.”
I know, for a fact that I love to shave. I love the scents each new cream I try can provide, the feel each brush I use has on my skin. I get excited to try new products from all parts of the world. I want to break the fragrances, textures and qualities down to their basics.
I’ve had hobbies, good and bad, that have stolen many hours of my life in the past. But never, have I had a hobby where I have found so much complexity and interest all at the same time. From the time my Dad began to introduce me to names like Proraso, Genco, Torrey, Case and Boker.
My collection of 'straights'
I immediately took note of everything he said. It was like I was finally being commissioned into this “Manly Gent’s Club” after so many years of living in the dark! I was finally going to just wake up the next morning, have my steam shower, beautiful, young blonde hanging off my shoulder and straight razor in my hand, ready to conquer the world!
Needless to say, after that first day of having shaving cream running all over my face, blade marks everywhere, and razor burns for days it was much more than I had imagined!
When I discovered all that the 'male grooming' market had to offer, I was easily overwhelmed with where to start. I remember thinking there wasn’t enough money in the world to try all the Truefitt & Hill creams, the Trumper soaps, as well as the Dovo and Theirs-Issard blades.
Was it my technique that was killing my ability to master the shave? Was it the products I’ve been using that were just poor for my skin? Or was it just that I wasn’t 'sophisticated' or 'manly' enough to figure this thing out?
You see…these simple things I had never noticed before had become my biggest social priority! I wanted to run into this brand new part of my life grabbing, taking and using every shaving implement and product I could!
Instead of slowing my pace to a casual stroll, I steam rolled ahead leaving no room for my sense of “patience” to take over. Finally my Dad, thank God, decided to pull me aside and say “Derek, don’t get in a hurry. Find some things you like and use them, stick with them and learn the basics. Learn how to master the basics, you’ll eventually learn what you like the most and then you can just add to that.” Great advice indeed!
Fortunately, since that great debacle years ago, I have had the great opportunity to meet people like Iain Kane (@VillageBarber) and Craig Whitely (@CraigtheBarber) who can give professional guidance to anyone, regardless of their experience, who appreciate this ever developing art of shaving. They helped me gain confidence in what I love and also showed me that this isn’t something to be hidden or embarrassed about.
Probably, like some of you reading this, I live in a community where shaving and grooming products aren’t really spoken of at all. There are no stores for men’s products or spas where we can go for a nice hot-towel shave. Even mentioning names like Proraso, Dovo, Truefitt & Hill, or even The Art of Shaving will get you some pretty strange looks. It’s a small coal mining town where money is abundant for the very few and scarce for the very many. I love my home but boy are these people sure closed off to a lot of the things the rest of the world has to offer!
To everyone reading this then, I guess this is my take on all things 'wetshaving'. It’s from the same book I used an excerpt earlier:
“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Baghdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody else love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”
And that’s the sentiment I want to leave the readers of this blog with. I’ve found something different, that I didn’t appreciate before until I saw someone else love it. This elaborate form of Men’s grooming and subtle form of pampering. I have people like my Dad, Iain Kane and Craig The Barber who I look to for new products, advice, and technique to only further my appreciation and passion for shaving. These are the people from the above excerpt “showing me the way”. I want to encourage everyone reading this to do the same: close your eyes and dive in again…like it’s the first time, rekindling the passion you have for a hobby you love. Don’t let it end, don’t let it resolve, keep the music going!
P.S. Shameless plug for myself. My Dad and I restore, clean, & hone antique straight razors and resell them on eBay. We only sell them when they are at the highest restored level and shave ready. If you have Twitter, follow me @dsword10, I update our selling list weekly. If you have eBay my username is omt2013. We carry all the famous brands like Ambossmann, Wade & Butcher, Joseph Elliot, etc. Please look us up or simply tweet me. I would love to meet some of you or chat with you about wet shaving, products you’ve tried or tricks you have picked up along the way.
Author: Derek Sword & his wife Annie