Summer Shaving

Ahh, summer. Though it’s only 6/6/6 and we’ve still got two weeks and a day till the official start of summer, we’ve had a few days of searing, wavy-lines-off-the-sidewalk kind of heat here on the Forgotten Coast. And that can only mean one thing to inveterate Shaveblog readers:

It’s shaving season again!

Yes, Planet Shavegeek rejoices once more, as cruel, cruel winter recedes to her Stygian depths, taking with her the dry skin and the merely adequate shaves I’ve been putting up with lo these many months of frigid darkness, wondering, in private moments of despair, if the season-long string of partly crappy shaves meant that I’d— dare I even think it? — lost my way.

But today’s shave put that light-starved jibber-jabber to rest, because I finally got my ass in gear and made it over to the YMCA after, christ, a month at least of shameful torpor. It felt good to sweat like a pig again, to put in the hour of cardio and weights and then sit for awhile in the sauna, letting the sweat stream down from the top of my head and marinate my whiskers (that’s right — I always save my shave for the Y). I sit there in the steam room and rub my face, working the sweat into my beard, accelerating the process of softening up the hair for the kill. The other guys stare, sure, but out of awe, not discomfort. Definitely awe.

And then Lady Shave and I, we dance. Today I packed my dopp kit with my usual rig — a 1940’s Gillette Super Speed DE safety razor, an Israeli “no-name” Personna blade, and a Simpson Wee Scot badger shaving brush. But to celebrate the first day back at the gym after so long, and to make the most of this unseasonably hot weather we’ve been having, a tube of Firenze’s own Proraso shaving cream.

Proraso may be my favorite hot weather shaving cream. Chock full of skin-friendly eucalyptus oil and menthol, Proraso shaves as well as any of the high-end English creams like Taylor and Trumper, but it’s got this wicked-excellent ice cold smack at the end of the shave when you rinse your puss with cold water. Really, there’s nothing else like it on the market.

Today’s shave was the best I’ve had in months. Unless I’m dicking around with a new razor or cream and the whole thing goes out the window, my shaves have been consistently good since I started sticking to the Super Speed razor and the Israeli blades. This mild-mannered DE and these mild-mannered safety blades stand in stark contrast to the pinhead escapades on the shavegeek forums, where urinal cake salesemen from Modesto do that barking thing they do during Tim Allen concerts and wield manly, skin-peeling rigs like Merkur Slant Bars loaded with Feather Platinum blades, or Merkur adjustables cranked up all the way so you’re not shaving with a razor anymore, you’re shaving with a blade on a stick.

Hey, I play around with razors, too. In the last week alone I’ve shaved with the Merkur HD (still the best razor Merkur ever made), an all-metal Schick Injector I yoinked on eBay, a stick-shift knobbed Injector from the same yoinked lot, and even a hundred year-old Gillette DE Beloved Wife got me, which was sweet beyond words but kind of like Ferdinand giving Imelda another pair of shoes.

Shavetention Deficit Disorder keeps me from settling down with one true rig, but god help me, it’s the 40’s Super Speed — The Little DE That Could — that gives me the best, most consistent shaves. And no matter what other blades I try, I keep coming back to the Israelis as the best combination of closeness and comfort. If I’d known about these blades as a newbie, lots less blood would’ve been shed, let me tell you.

That said, there have been shaves these past few months that weren’t all that great. Good, but not great. Close, but not super close. Little patches of micro-stubble around the base of the neck I could feel with my fingertips, even if nobody else except Harvey could see it. I blamed myself, and lived with the shame, forgetting it was the winter blues that were limiting my shaves to those of a commoner.

Well, today marked the return of wetshaving as usual. A good workout to get the blood flowing and the face swelling, a nice sit in the sauna to open the pores and soften the whiskers, and that time-tested, money-in-the-bank combo of a Gillette DE, a Simpson brush, and Proraso shaving cream.

When it’s hot outside, I’m more than willing to put up with Proraso’s not-terribly-shavegeek-swooning scent (think Vick’s Vapo-Rub pulling a train with Noxzema and Hall’s Mentho-Lyptus) just to get that spectacular shave and the bracing cooldown at the end that lasts for a nice long while. Used to be you could only find Proraso at Italian markets, or online from the usual suspects. Now Target (!) of all places stocks it, making it even easier to pick up a $10 tube of this insanely great Italian marvel.