Month: January 2019

Vlasta – My Journey To The Dark Side

Hi, I don’t think many of us have shared our full shaving journey so I thought it might be nice to share with you all my journey to the dark side. First of all a couple of observations/truisms:-

  • If you think that getting into wet shaving will save you money then my advice is “Don’t start”. It won’t. You will get sucked into a deep deep rabbit hole of razors, blades, the latest whizz bang soap, pre-shave oils, balms, creams, after shave, eau de cologne, brushes, knots – the list goes on and on. Unless you have a WILL OF IRON then you will spend more, a lot more. I write this from the back seat of my abandoned car using Starbucks WiFi…
  • If you think your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or sugar mammy will understand why you are doing this – they won’t. You will end up hiding your purchases and rationalizing with them that you will sell some of your stuff to make way for more – you won’t. I write this sitting on a pile of soaps, creams and razors – at the last count more than a dozen brushes, twenty or so creams and soaps despite having had a give away for what I told myself was more than 50% of my den. Thirty or so straight razors from a simple Dovo to a custom Drew Dick – and I still want more… Snailforge, Ali’s Blade, an Iwasaki kamisori – oh yes I have a list a mile long. Not forgetting the DE’s. Way more shave stuff than I can use in a lifetime.
  • You will never, ever be satisfied that you got the perfect shave. So don’t chase it. Let the technique guide you. Not every day will be the perfect shave and most will be at DFS level. Don’t sweat it, you are the only one that knows.

So, words of wisdom over. Here is a blow by blow “diary’ of how I came to be a wet shaver. I have cut and pasted most of the stuff from another forum I am involved in and only my own and relevant replies. My journey from cartridge user to addict:

My forum name on most wet shave forums is ‘Vlasta’: –

16th February 2017

Hi Chaps and Chapettes,

OK – I am almost there…. except my razor is still on its way from Japan. I am all kitted up with:-

  • Edwin Jagger Best Badger Brush
  • Feather PG15 and Pro 20 blades
  • Geo. F Trumpers Lime Cream Soap
  • Alum Block
  • Proraso Repair Gel

My razor – a Feather SS Japanese Straight Razor in Lime is in the mail from Japan and due any time!!

Now – in the meantime I am using all the above good kit with a cartridge razor – a Gillette Mach 3 – you know it is OK for a nanny-razor and with my new gentle technique – no more razor burn!

My question is this: I have been trying to use my non-dominant hand for the left side of my face to prepare myself for the day my straight arrives, and the dominant hand for my right side, and I am finding it difficult to control the razor with the non-dominant hand. Tell me, is there any compelling reason why I should use my non-dominant hand?

A member wrote that a shavette was maybe not the best choice for a beginner. Especially not a Feather SS AC Kamisori style…

17th February 2017

I am a bit scared now by the comment above on my choice of razor for a first purchase….. should I also buy a proper str8 and start learning with that before trying my Japanese Feather? I went to a local shop today and they have a nice Dovo 5/8″ with Olive Wood handle for $310 – is that a good deal?

Advised by members that this is NOT a good deal…

18th February 2017

Right…. ordered a Dovo str8, strop, strop pastes, Dovo storage pouch from www.thesuperiorshave.com – all for about a hundred buck less than my local store charged for only the razor.

So – my ordered line up was:

  • Dovo #4580 Straight Razor
  • Dovo 185-35001 Strop
  • Dovo Yellow Paste
  • Dovo White Paste
  • Dovo 9022021 Burgundy Sheath

The guy at Superior Shave honed it to shave ready before sending it to me.

24th February 2017

Right guys – I have my swag – photos coming soon. Now I need to gird my loins for that first shave… feeling scared about it. I am going to start with the Dovo str8 not the Feather shavette. My 30-day setup will be:-

  • Jagger Best badger Brush
  • Dovo str8 “Silver Steel” Primo with black ebony handle – honed by @Jarrod from TSS
  • Geo. F Trumpers Lime Cream
  • Regular alum block

28th February 2017 – THE DAY!!

I am now officially on the dark side.

The BIG day arrived friends – first the equipment. Apologies about the Photobucket watermarks but this is the only record I still have of the fateful days line up.

  • Geo F. Trumpers Lime Cream
  • Dovo straight razor bought from and honed by @Jarrod
  • Razor storage pouch from The Superior Shave site too
  • Strop – Dovo – not had the need to use it yet
  • Jagger Best Badger brush
  • Shaving Bowl – kids cereal bowl – photos on request only….
  • Alum block – standard stuff

Time – 10:00 was my start time. I finished about 30 minutes later.

Prep: Run hot water, 60 degrees, soak shaving brush for 1 minute. Soak hot towel and apply to face for 30 seconds x 2.
Lather: – dabbed wet brush into cream to just cover tips. Whipped up a nice creamy foam in my cereal bowl then put the cereal bowl in another bowl of hot water to keep it warm – like a bain-marie.
Application: Applied lather to face as per all the videos!!

Time to shave and I am not kidding I was scared. Will it slice my face? Will I score a jugular hit on the first stroke and spout my life blood all over the bathroom?….. I pucker up. I loop left hand over my head to try and tighten skin on my right cheek and then I am off – very VERY gently at first I make my first pass on my right cheek. The razor sings. IT IS ACTUALLY CUTTING WHISKERS… and not flesh. It feels great… I am on a roll now. I finish my first stroke and I am alive. I feel ALIVE. I wipe the razor on my wet towel and think to myself “This isn’t too bad. Not too hard at all”. I rub my fingers on my alum block to get grip and go for stroke 2. Still alive. I go down to the jaw line and beyond onto my throat. I cannot believe it I am actually shaving with a wickedly sharp razor on my throat and it feels safe, it feels good and by jingos it IS good!!

Next I am confident – I go for the right hand side – the same. I live. No cuts yet. No nicks yet. I do the WTG pass on my left cheek and YES I used my left hand. I am now in the zone. I go for a WTG pass down the front of my neck – all good. Next – the chin. This is where I though I would slice myself for sure – noooooo. I did not. Not even a nick on my Adams apple

Thoughts – my first pass was a success in that I managed to do it ALL without cutting myself. It was not the closest shave in the world though and this did disappoint me so I put that down to nerves and being too gentle. My soap tended to dry out – how to fettle this?

Subsequent passes – another WTG and better result. Third pass XTG – getting better and better. Fourth pass – ATG on all surfaces. I came out of it alive with only two teeny-weeny nicks, one on my left cheek near the side-burn and one on the tip of my chin – I mean really teeny – a pin prick.

All in all I made four passes and got what I would call a reasonable level of shave and certainly better than with my Mach 3 thingos. Not baby bottom smooth yet but I am sure it will come with practice.

Warmdown – Rinse, alum blocked and then Khiels after shave balm. I washed all equipment. Put the brush to dry in the breeze and dried and oiled my razor ready for next time.

It takes me a couple of days to grow whiskers enough to go for round two but I am going to do it. More results soon

BTW – no top lip report – I am growing a moustache so won’t be shaving the top lip for a while, if ever…

Review: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Sit back, and enjoy as this review has been a long time in the making, but what’s great is I have had an easy 6 months using the product. To start off this review we need to take a journey to a short ride from Turin, Italy to the Extrò shop to meet Donato. Donato Ciniello is the owner operator owner of Extròcosmesi, and easily one of the best men I’ve had the pleasure to know. Extrò makes everything from Shaving soaps to EDT, Refreshing eucalyptus splashes, as well as promoting other blade smiths, and artisans within his storefront. The great news is Donato will ship anywhere in the world for amazing rates, and very fast shipping. From Italy to me here in New York, USA takes about a week to 10 days. That’s huge ! Great prices and fast shipping 👍🏽👍🏽 that’s a win. Hopefully that is a good back ground on Donato and Extrò so let’s get onto the product

Felce Biancospino

Fragrance– for those of us that are blessed enough to speak Italian this translates into Fern Hawthorn. I find that it has an equal amount of each fragrance, nothing overpowering the other. They work symbiotically together to produce a beautiful bouquet of what I would call an aged forest, full of greens as well as fragrant trees and bushes. Their is zero flaw in the fragrance. Over the past 6+ months it has been stable and consistent with no unexpected spots.

Lather– Years ago we were confined by tallow shave soaps in the Wet Shaving community. Donato has been ahead of the pack for years using different vegan oils and bases. This particular Crema da Barba uses Shea Butter which is known for the post shave smoothness associated with Shea. This would be considered the quintessential Italian softer Croap or, somewhere between a cream, and a hard soap. I found an easy 30-45 second loading led to ample lather for equal more than 3 passes. This will be factored by your water being hard or, soft. If it’s any indicator I have hard water which in theory should be a negative, gives me zero problems. I will say though this soap does prefer colder to warm water. I’ve used my scuttle many times, but I temper the water to be enjoyable, but still create ample thick and slick fragrant lather.

Post Shave– As I have said above the main factor in the post shave is the Shea Butter Donato uses. People have used Shea for as long as smooth skin has been preferred (a really long time). I use the matching aftershave as a layering, but the true softness comes from the soap !

Conclusion- Easily put this is one of my favorite soaps to use. I prefer the earthy Fern and Hawthorn fragrance. It’s very natural in scent, and very protective. Felce Biancospino has the added benefit of containing Shea which gives a natural soft post shave feel. When combined with the aftershave you have a beautifully layered shave that’s fragrance lasts for quite sometime depending on your skins individual properties. There are very few soaps or, brands that equal the mastery of Donato Ciniello so, when you get a moment check out his website, and you heard it here on WSR that this is a solid purchase from a great European Artisan.

https://www.extrocosmesi.it

Facebook:

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Shopping—Retail/Extrocosmesiit-1727013654268658/

Soap: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Brush: Alpha Brush & Shaving co. T-400 Silver tip badger

Razor: Vintage Gillette President

Blade: Personna Med Prep

Aftershave: Felce Biancospino

Scuttle & Scotch Porter beard balm

SOTD 8th/Jan/2018 and Review of Martin De Candre Fougere

Hi – a revisit of a soap I have had for a while and only ever use on special occasions – the first working Monday after Christmas is pretty special no?

The line up:-

A couple of observation on what was a great shave – the Drew Dick did it’s work very well but there is a story there… I forgot to strop. So I started shaving, only the third time with this razor and it is tugging and painful – whoa!!! Then I realized I had forgotten to strop!! I normally strop 25/25 linen/leather before every shave and naively thought it was just part of the ritual… now I know differently. I stopped the shave and stropped – phew back to normal!!

The soap – essence of a nice forest clearing, ferns, green cut leaves and dew on the grass – that sort of smell you never get sick of. I love it. This is a hard soap and my technique is to scoop a bit out of the jar, it is a nice GLASS jar, and put it into my bow to bloom with some warm water. I add my brush to the mix and let them soak. The soap lathers easily but it is thirsty – a nice slick and fragrant shiny lather. Superb.

The Brush – a Shave Nation big Blue, and big it is weighing in at over 7oz. The knot is superb and yes those are gel tips. The handle is matt finished aluminium and anodised blue. It is grippy even when wet due to the sand blasted finish and the finger notch in just the right place.

Now back to the soap – it performed superbly and I was left with a nice hydrated skin and a great scent all day. I think MdC really nailed what is meant by fougere – better than B&M Reserve Fern in my opinion. Is it worth the money? In my opinion yes it is. The soap is hard aI mean HARD and will last a long long time. I use about a “almonds” worth for each shave so at this rate and given my rotation it will be years before the MdC wears out.

The First Shave Of 2019 (1/1/2019) and a more in depth review of the Augustini Kamisori

I hope that everyone has a prosperous and happy 2019 and a lot of great shaves too. I had my second shave on the Augustini Kamisori and I wanted to show some more photos and my observations about this razor.

First a health warning:

The Kamisori is a superb blade to master. It is at the pinnacle of Japanese razors and it takes some skill to use. It is NOT for the novice wet shaver and nor is it for the novice straight razor shaver. Wait until you are comfortable with a sharp blade and can almost shave blindfold before you try a Kamisori!!

However, if you do master  a Kamisori it will give a superb and comfortable shave – you will be well rewarded. The kami I am using is a blade I bought from Augustini Razors in Melbourne Australia. It has a traditional left handed asymmetrical grind as you will see from the photos below. It is beautiful in every way – a true masterpiece of the art. IF you want one like the one I am using then contact Augustini through Instagram HERE.

The line up:

Lets first look at what makes a Kamisori – traditionally the Kamisori is made of a soft iron ‘handle’ with a hard steel cutting edge with either three layers or 2 layers (san-mai or ni-mai) this was done in order to keep the price down and is in line with how swords are made – soft body/hard edge. In this case the complete kami is made up of the same hard steel. A Kamisori is ground to be ‘handed’ either left or right handed although some modern Kamisoris do have a ‘western grind’ more like a traditional straight razor. Kamisoris were originally meant truly ‘for barber use’ so I am guessing that the handedness was for the barbers preference not the shavers. I use my Kami in both hands – (lets wait for the thunderbolts from the traditionalists….). The Kamisori I show here is left handed grind. The side with more grinding is called the ‘Ura’ and the flatter side is called the ‘Omote’. The makers mark would usually be found on the Ura on a Japanese razor however Augustini has not marked the blade – I think he should as it is a superb razor and something to be proud of – mark it Luke!!

So here are my observation on what was a superb shave:-

  • The heel of the razor – the point at the front – is superb and slightly angled and therefore muted – it will not dig into my face flesh if I lose concentration.
  • The toe is at almost 90º and is super sharp – beware of this digging in – you CANNOT use the Kamisori like a pencil. The blade needs to be parallel to the face at all times.
  • The handle is super shiny, just the right weight and very highly polished – dry hands or alum is essential

The shave was superb with even the ATG pass a delight.

A tip for a Kamisori shave is to use a very slick soap like Man of Siam Cadwgawn or something like TOBS Avocado  – something that leaves a residual slickness on the face after the pass – why? because the angle at which you shave with the kamisori is very shallow and the Omote will slide against the skin – if there is no residual slickness then it can drag and skip a little. Nothing to worry about just one thing to watch out for.

If you are a serious straight razor user then mastering the Kamisori should be on your ‘to do’ list and you would be hard pressed to find a finer example than this Augustini Kamisori.