Shaveblog is One
May 25, 2006
Thanks go to Beloved Wife for reminding me that it was exactly one year ago today that I launched Shaveblog, and to young Petrovich for helping me put the icing on the birthday cake that is this blog’s move from Blogger to WordPress (the move also means Shaveblog’s RSS feed has changed, so you need to reset your subscription if you’ve been Atomizing).
It’s been a strange and interesting trip doing this blog. I started it on a dare to myself, to see if I could keep up a blog about a subject that couldn’t be less important, and now I find myself with 60,000 readers, profiles in the New York Times and London’s Financial Times, and just last week Women’s Wear Daily BeautyBiz named Shaveblog as the site with the largest readership in its list of the most popular “beauty blogs”.
So now I’m a beauty blogger.
“Daddy, what did you do during the war?”
“Well son, I was a beauty blogger.”
So anyway, as befits a toddler who’s outgrown his onesies, I felt it was time to move Shaveblog over to WordPress. Got a blog and you’re still on Blogger? STAY THERE! What a pain in the ass this was. Sure, things are great now that I finally taught myself CSS and beat on a poor WP template with both my fists like some demented ape until it looked kinda sorta like my old Blogger site. So anyway I made the move and WordPress is really, really nice, seriously, I’m loving it. But I do apologize for taking the week off to get things moved over to the new platform.
Okay, so where were we? Ah yes, the quickie shave.
I’m on a quickie shave kick lately.
It goes against everything formal shavegeekery stands for, I know. The whole point of ditching the Mach3 and canned goo and upgrading to a safety razor, shaving brush, and traditional English-type shaving cream is to slow your shave down. You get a much closer shave, it makes your skin look and feel great, and the whole experience just gets richer and more pleasant.
But the keyword is slow. Like the Europeans with their “slow food” campaign to return the act of eating a meal to a pleasurable, healthy pace from the current trans-fattened speedchow America exports to the rest of the world, wetshaving demands a more leisurely pace for the best results. Instead of haphazardly smearing goo on your puss and then hauling ass with a tri-blade, old-school shaving wants a man with a slow hand. It wants a lover with an easy touch. A man who will spend some time, not come and go in an easy rush.
So why am I obsessed with the quickie shave?
I’ll tell you why. Because I’m a dawdler. I wait until the last possible minute before I have to be somewhere, and then I go on eBay and check my auctions. I go to Nancy Boy and read Eric’s latest blog. I go to YouTube and watch great moments in rock history.
I dawdle till there’s no possible way I’m going to be on time, and then I go into full-on Lance Kerwin mode, when my boy starred in 1977’s “The Loneliest Runner”, a movie about a high school kid who grew up to be an Olympic marathoner because he wet his bed every night and his sadistic mom (a yeopersonlike DeAnn Mears) hung his sheets out of his bedroom window to dry so he had to run home every day after school to try to beat the school bus so he could rush upstairs and yank the sheets inside before the kids on the bus could see them (and let me just say this: I know this story was based on Michael Landon yes that Michael Landon’s real life, and I’m sorry his parents made him sleep in a crib till he was 15, but if a giant flaming meteor was screaming toward Earth and the only way to stop it was for my mom to hang urine-stained bedsheets out the front window of her HOME, well, sorry to break this to you but we’re all going to die).
This is my mindset when I’m behind the eightball but I need to shave. I become Lance Kerwin. If I don’t shave in under 5 mins, the car Beloved Wife and Treasured Offspring are driving home in is going to pull into our driveway and their eyes are going to slowly pan up to the sight of my pee-streaked bedsheets fluttering out the front window of our house, and that is when I run out the back door and keep running until I’m on a shrimp boat headed out to the Gulf with a new name (Wiley), a tweaker’s bony frame, and a dull roar between my ears.
That’s not going to happen, I tell myself. Not on this shave. Not today.
The first thing you have to do when you have to haul ass but still want a good shave is ditch the brush. Hey, it hurts me too — I love my shaving brush. Best part of the whole experience, bar none. But a shaving brush is the quickie shave’s worst enemy. So don’t even look at it. I don’t care if you just spent $65 on a Simpson Wee Scot or a Vulfix #2234. You’re in a whole other place right now. Your brush is dead to you.
And that means those delicious English old-school shaving creams like Trumper’s, Taylor’s, and Truefitt’s are dead to you as well. Because they don’t lather up nearly as well with just your fingers as they do with a brush. Since it’s fingers we’re dealing with when launching into a quickie shave, all those otherwise superb English creams are out (except for Truefitt’s new Ultimate Comfort shaving cream, which happens to lather really well without a brush and doesn’t really count as an English cream since it’s made in Canada).
The key to a really good quickie shave is the cream. It’s got to lather up quickly and thickly with just your hands smearing it all over your wet puss, and it also has to buffer your skin from the sped-up bladework you need to do if you’re going to get your two (okay, sigh, three) passes in under the 5-minute mark without some serious razor burn.
For awhile there, I always reached for Beloved Wife’s shower tube of Cremo Cream when I need to haul ass with a shave. She loves it for gam-shaving, and it’s excellent stuff for when you need to shave really quickly with a safety razor and still get that shavegeek-approved smoothness. I’m not crazy about Cremo’s Pina Colada scent, but ye gods does this stuff shave like a madman. With a brush or without, this is hands-down the slickest shaving cream I’ve ever tried. You forgive its fruity scent because it lets you haul ass and still look good.
Or at least you try to, anyway. I’m good with Cremo for a shave here and there, but I can’t use this stuff all the time. I just don’t care for that Pina Colada smell. Great product, wish the scent was different. So I’ve kind of taken Cremo off my quickie shave list. The older I get the more crotchety and picky I become. I need speed and good smell.
The Lush shaving creams are fantastic for quickie shaves, but I find they gunk up my razors quite a bit, and it takes longer than usual to rinse the blade clean after a shave. These wacky, tacky UK creams shave like nobody’s business, but since they take longer to clean off your blade, I don’t consider them quickie-approved.
I’ve gotten some amazing quickie shaves with the two budget-priced Euro creams I recommend every shavegeek own at least a tube each of — Proraso and Musgo Real. Italy’s Proraso, especially, just comes into its own when you squirt an inch into your palm and rub your hands all over your face — and its eucalyptus oil really wakes you up at the end of the shave when you rinse with cold water. I love Proraso to death and shave with it all the time, quickie shave or not.
Lately, though, I find myself wanting the best of both worlds. A quickie shave with the fewest compromises, scent-wise and otherwise. But mostly scent-wise. I love Proraso like a dog, but it smells more like something men used half a century ago when they weren’t supposed to enjoy the way their toiletries smelled.
It occured to me recently that Nancy Boy, currently my favorite shaving cream and the one I use most mornings, is one of those new-school, inherently wetter and creamier shaving creams that was meant to be used brushless, even though it lathers really nicely with a brush. Funnily enough, I’d never tried it with just my hands, because it worked so amazingly with a brush the first time I tried it that I just kept using it that way.
And so it was that on one fine morning not too long ago, I dipped my fingers into a tub of Nancy Boy for my first brushless quickie shave with this stuff. And let me tell you something, man and boy — it was awesome. Stupendous. Why haven’t I been using Nancy Boy for all my quickie shaves? It’s right there in the medicine cabinet, with my little Simpson Wee Scot brush and Gillette Super Speed sitting on top of it — my lean, mean, minimalist shavegeek rig.
I know it sounds stupid, but this is who I am — I consider it a major triumph that I finally grokked that Nancy Boy shaves just as well when you need to haul ass and just smear it on with your hands as it does when you take the time to fill your Moss Scuttle with hot water, let your badger brush soak in it, and then whip up the finest lather possible for a slow, languid, me-time wetshave.
Some days I don’t even need to rush my shave and I still like to ditch the brush, slap on some Nancy Boy, and Edward Scissorhands it. Perhaps, like Michael Landon, I will develop the kind of muscle memory that takes a humiliated bedwetter and turns him into a world-class beauty blogger.