For many men out there, November was Movember, a month for farming facial hair to promote awareness about men’s cancers. A decent goal, but one that I can’t really participate in. You see, I can’t grow a beard to save my life and my mustache is neither elegant nor manly. So for me at least it was a solid month of shaving with my new safety razor. Another month of learning to be hip and old-fashioned.
I’ve been using my new razor for about six or seven weeks now. Every day, after my shower I wet my brush and build a lather. Soaping my face in sections, I shave in relaxed strokes. Afterward I scrub my face clean with a hot, wet wash cloth. Each day I have a smoother shave and a happier face.
It is strange how different this method of shaving is. I knew that it would have a learning curve. I had read about using a blade while I was making the decision to switch. Blogs around the net have good descriptions about how to hold the razor and let it do the work for you, but the experience is so personal, so individual, that you have to put blade to skin to learn it.
A friend who works with me in the book mines gave me the best advice: shave after your shower, while your skin is warm and moist. This simple adjustment to my routine has worked wonders on my shave. After emerging from a hot shower, I dry my body, careful to leave my face wet. I splash a bit more hot water on my face before the soap too, and warm the razor too. Now the blade slips nicely across my skin, catching the hairs more easily and nicking less.
Cuts are a process. At first, I cut myself a lot. I actually likened it to shaving with a cheese grater. Over time though, I have discovered the spots, like invisible corners, on my face where the blade will cut. With these in mind, I practice gliding past them, only applying the gentlest of force. A steeper learning curve than I ever suspected, but one that is finally starting to level out.
The greatest pleasure of this new shave is its mindfulness. Each morning I must slow down and pay attention to each step of the ritual. I suspect that this must be similar to a tea ceremony, where meditation on the process is the goal, amplifying the result far beyond its objective qualities. There is no rushing the blade without blood and I have learned that if I don’t have time to do it right, I shouldn’t bother to do it at all. That is a wonderful lesson in itself.
My apologies to all of you who Movembered, but I am quite pleased with my new morning shave. The careful use of a blade may not be for every man, but it resonates nicely for me, fitting well with the new set of rustic skills that I’ve been grooming.