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Getting starting with wet shaving, other gadgets

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We covered the very basics of a wet shave (razor, blade, brush & soap) but what about the other shaving toys? Maybe you are looking at a kit with several add-on's or you are looking to expand past the basics. Here’s a quick rundown of common things you may consider for your shave:

The Mug
The mug is another classic component with the brush and soap. The mug can range from anything from a coffee cup to a specially made shaving mug that will hold hot water in a chamber, and therefore heat your lather. In general, a shorter, wider mouth mug is preferred so you can get the bush moving to create a creamy lather without banging the handle all around the edge of the mug. I use a couple of different mugs, one that came with a kit I bought, the other a very old, Old Spice mug I bought on eBay. It’s nice to have a couple if you are trying out various soaps and creams.

Brush & Razor Stand
A stand will help the brush dry properly, holding it upside down so the bristles don’t get bent (as they would you left it in a mug) and allowing air to circulate and fully dry the brush between shaves. It’s nice to have your razor put away, both for the safety of stray fingers and the razor itself (you do not want to shave with a bent or nicked razor.) As with most shaving things we've talked about, there are a hundred different styles, price points, and made of every material you can imagine (sounds a lot like cigars right?) Having a stand to hold your brush and/or razors is a great next addition to your kit.

Pre-Shave Oil
Many guys use a pre-shave oil as an important step in the shave routine, in fact many shave oils can be used by themselves (with no other soap or cream). However it’s most commonly used by applying a thin layer of oil (5-10 drops in your palm, then rubbed into your beard) after first washing your face with warm water and soap, and then lathering with your shave soap/cream. It helps soften the beard some but primarily holds moisture to your skin, which allows the razor to glide across the face. This helps prevent razor burn and nicks. Your pre-shave oil can be simply any light house-hold oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil. 10w30, while very manly, is not recommended. And (of course) there are a wide variety of pre-shave oils available for purchase. Also, many shavers make the own, just search the net for recipes if you are so inclined. Personally, I like “shave secret” pre-shave oil available at most big-box stores for around $3 and it comes in a small bottle that is great for the dopp kit. I personally always use pre-shave oil.

Electric Kettle
This is my one odd addition to the tried and true that I use for my shave routine and it comes courtesy of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving. An electric kettle heats water very quickly to just shy of boiling; they are pretty common for tea drinkers. I love it to wet my brush to make my lather; the lather comes out nice and hot. I then fill the sink with the hot water and it’s good for rinsing the razor between strokes. Allowed to slightly cool, it’s great for a hot towel treatment. I like the Sunbeam Hot Shot; it runs about $20 online (I’ve had no success finding it in stores) and heats 2 cups of water very quickly. I don’t have to wait for the tap water to warm up, and I don’t have to worry if my daughter is in the shower; I get all the hot water I want in literally about one minute. The Hot Shot takes up hardly any room in my bathroom and I use it constantly. If you are into really hot shaves or if your hot water from the tap is iffy, I strongly recommend it.

Styptic Pencil
Another good addition to your basic kit, a styptic pencil stops bleeding from any nicks. These are also very easy to find at most big-box stores for a dollar or two, (Clubman Pinaud being the one I see most). To use, wet the tapered end and roll it over the nick. It might sting at first, but should stop any bleeding almost immediately; it also acts as an antiseptic. Once done, simply dry the pencil and put back in the tube. For a couple of bucks its very cheap insurance, esp. when first starting out. Note, it dries white like chalk, so you want to brush or wipe off once it’s done its job.

Alum Block
An Alum block is like a large styptic pencil, but for your whole face (in fact many styptic pencils are made from similar materials.) The block itself is usually a crystal looking rectangle about the size of a ½ of a deck of cards and usually comes in a plastic case. To use, rinse your face after shaving and then rub the block over your wet face. Dry the block before storing. It might sting a little; helping soothe any razor burn and tightening your pores. I’ve tried an alum block and it wasn’t for me, I prefer a splash of aftershave, but I know a lot of guys who swear by it. Not something I’ve ever found retail, you will probably need to order one online if you are interested, or it might come as part of a kit.

Aftershave
I always end with a splash of aftershave; you can find the stuff everywhere and at every price point (or even make your own.) I like the slight sting it gives (I won’t tell on you if you make a “home alone” face, if you won’t tell on me) and the light scent it leaves. One of my favorites is Clubman Pinaud, you can find it at most big-box stores. It has that classic scent I always associate with a barber shop.

Thanks
I hope you found the above worth your time. I’m sure I missed some things, so if you have any questions I will be happy to answer if I’m able.
 
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sean

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Before you do, try shaving with cold water. I gave it a shot after Cartisdm, and TravelingJ both mentioned it.
 
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Awesome, another great write up Tim. I am going to search for some more tools very soon that is for sure. While I was on the hunt for a pipe & tobacco stand on vacation I was also on the look out for a vintage brush & razor stand.
 

javajunkie

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tim, an alternate to your electric kettle (which is a genius idea, BTW!): plastic double walled coffee mug. picked one up at wally world for $3. microwave it, and it gives you about 16oz of screaming hot water to make lather with, or ramp up your tap water if necessary. plus, it can hold coffee. o)

CAVEAT! watch out microwaving water, you can super heat ir past boiling if you are not attentive. many microwaves have presets, and i use my "reheat soup" setting to get it comfortably toasty without being face-meltingly hot.
 
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