Monday, June 16, 2014

My Wet-Shaving Setup

Just a quick post today; I thought someone out there might be interested in what's in my shave den, and which products I use regularly.

Safety Razors:
Merkur 34
Merkur Futur (the matte version)
Edwin Jagger DEL8614BL (long handle, imitation ebony)

Straight Razors:
Vintage Sprock 5/8 hollow ground
Vintage Wade and Butcher near wedge
Dovo "Best Quality"
A hollow ground razor marked only with "Solingen"

Edwin Jagger 181P27 Best Badger
Vie Long Badger & Horse mix with wooden handle (currently on loan to a friend)
Men-U Barbiere Pure Bristle (boar)
"Invisible Edge" Pure Badger (currently on loan to a friend)

Proraso Menthol & Eucalyptus (currently on loan to a friend)
Truefitt & Hill West Indian Limes
Boots Cool Cologne Lather Shave Cream
Boots Freshwood Brushless Shave Cream
Men-U Concentrated Shave Creme
Mondial Sandalwood
Mondial Zagara
Bulldog Original Shave Gel
King of Shaves Alphagel

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood
Edwin Jagger Sea Buckthorn
Williams Mug Soap
Osma Shaving Soap with Alum
Col. Conk Amber Glycerin
Col. Conk Bay Rum travel soap
Boots Travel Shave Stick

Osma Alum block
Proraso Menthol & Eucalyptus Pre & Post
Various brush and razor stands
2 Dovo strops
Assorted Edwin Jagger cream and lotion samples
Various brands of blades
Shaving Mug

My current favorites:
Obviously, not all of this gets used every day. A lot of it was bought more out of curiosity than expectation of it being good (mostly the cheaper products like Williams mug soap).

I'm on a bit of an Edwin Jagger kick at the moment, so the combination I've been using most often in the last few weeks is my Edwin Jagger or Men-U brush, the Edwin Jagger DE razor with Feather blades, and the Edwin Jagger Sea Buckthorn soap in combination with the Truefitt and Hill cream. Lately I've not felt the need to use pre-shave, but I still tend to finish off with alum.

The bad:
Bear in mind that "your mileage may vary"; products that I hate may be loved by others.

The non-lathering creams really don't work for me with single edge razors, though I really liked the King of Shaves gel back when I was still using cartridges. The Osma shaving soap was also a big disappointment: I liked the scent but the lather actually irritated me, it has spent the last few years on a shelf.

The Boot's own brand cream and soap (Boot's is a chain of drugstores in the UK) and the Williams Mug soap aren't great performers, but they do get the job done and at that price point I don't feel I can call them bad products.

Men-U's concentrated cream didn't do a lot for me, although I'm still not convinced I'm lathering it right. That said, if it's harder to use than the $2 Williams mug soap, then some criticism is justified.

The rest:
I liked both my Merkur razors just fine before the Jagger came along, and the DEL8614BL only beats them by a small margin- the chrome on it is fantastic though. I prefer the 34 to the Futur, but have no regrets at purchasing the Futur (I bought it at full retail price).

My straight razors are all overdue a good honing, but when they're actually in shaving condition I tend to favor the Wade and Butcher for those rare occasions when I have more than a week's growth, and the Dovo for everything else. The hollow grind of the Dovo lets you feel each hair "pop" as the blade cuts it, whereas the wedge grind of the W&B relentlessly plows through the thickest stubble with barely any noise or feedback.

All four brushes are more than capable of whipping up excellent lather. I slightly favor the Edwin Jagger best badger, but the Men-U also stands out for me. I purchased it at the same time as the Boot's own brand creams, and was surprised at how good it was for £10- I have something of a preference for stiffer brushes.

I've hinted at my attitudes to cheaper and more expensive soaps and creams in the post on superlathering; I find that you generally get what you pay for, but cheaper products can still be fun to use, especially in combination with others. In the warmer months I particularly appreciate the scent of Edwin Jagger's Sea Buckthorn soap (now discontinued, but Muhle's Sea Buckthorn is identical), and find that it shaves at least as well as my winter favorite, Taylor of Old Bond Street's Sandalwood.

I'm less fussy about creams than soaps, and find that Proraso, Truefitt and Hill and my Edwin Jagger samples all offer equally good shaves. I tend to choose between them purely on the basis of scent.