The Best Shave You're Not Having

The Art of Manliness says upgrading from a disposable cartridge razor to an old fashioned safety razor is like upgrading from a Pinto to a Cadillac.

It's true.

Yesterday I stopped by The Art of Shaving and picked up a blade and a brush. This morning I used it for the first time, using the Art of Manliness blog post for some direction. Wow.

The handle feels heavy in your hand, not like the cheap plastic you're used to. It has a single German made, platinum coated blade. No extra blades, no battery, no moisturizing strip. Art of Manliness says you need to use a very gentle touch, and they're right. I barely touched the razor to my face and the whiskers fell right off. Art of Manliness recommends shaving with the grain because it's gentler and because if you shave against the grain you'll hack your face off. I found I had to  shave against the grain to get a really close shave, and if you are really gentle your face will be fine.

"Fine" is an understatement. My face hasn't been this smooth since I hit puberty.

I used the same products I've been using for the past few months : Burt's Bees shave cream and Pinaud Clubman aftershave. Yelena doesn't like the Pinaud so when she's around I use the Burt's Bees aftershave. It's all natural, organic, and undoubtedly better for me. It also has moisturizer in it, which does wonderful things for my skin; the Pinaud leaves my skin a little dry.

But even with the same products, the new blade makes my skin feel infinitely better. I have very sensitive skin, but I noticed much less razor burn (redness and bumps). The Art of Shaving people also threw in some samples of their preshave lotion. I haven't tried it yet, but it promises to reduce razor burn even more.

Ultimately, I had several reasons for keeping my own products, and not buying the creams and lotions that the Art of Shaving wanted to sell me:

Price: The AoS stuff was literally 4-5 times as expensive, and that's compared to the already expensive shave cream and aftershave I buy from Whole Foods. It's 10 times as expensive as the cheap stuff I used to use (ie. Aqua Velva).

Naturalness: The stuff I buy from Whole Foods is all natural and organic. Like, my deoderant literally has pine oil in it. I asked the saleswoman at AoS if their stuff was all natural and she assured me it was, but when I looked at the label it was a bunch of chemicals I didn't recognize. If it really was all natural, they didn't do a good job of showing it. They told me their creams were glycerin based, but couldn't tell me what glycerin is.

Quality: Is the AoS stuff good? I'm sure it is. But my existing products are already good. The creams from Burt's Bees all kinda have the same color and consistency, but they give me a super soft baby face. (I think the Burt's Bees aftershave is actually better for my face than the Pinaud Clubman.) If I'm going to pay 4-5 times as much, it needs to be better, not “as good.” If it turns out the preshave lotion is fantastic, I know Whole Foods sells it too.

Where AoS was better was in its equipment. There simply isn't another store in San Francisco that sells a classic safety razor. There are stores that sell brushes, but they're all boar's hair. Everyone tells me that badger hair is much better, and AoS is the only store in town that sells that. I could have ordered from Amazon, but the prices at AoS were just as good. $50 for a brand new, high quality safety razor? That's as good as it gets.

On top of that, the salespeople were super friendly and loaded me up with a bunch of freebies, including product samples and a brush stand. I'll definitely be going back, and I'll send my friends. They also have disposable cartridge razors, if you're not ready to make the big leap. On the other hand, if you want to go truly nuts, they also have classic straight razors too. I have a friend who does that and he swears by it, but I think that's a step too far for me. The classic safety razor is badass and offers the absolute best shave I've had in my entire life. That's good enough for me.