Shaving is an important part of classic barbering and like any other classic trade, it comes with it’s own set of specialty tools. Instead of saws and hammers, those who enjoy wet shaving would have brushes, razors and soaps. Just like a carpenter’s plane needs sharpening or an automobile needs an oil change, a gentleman’s razor and brush require specific care.
Most razors are made of a high carbon steel, which allows for a long-lasting and sharper edge but is susceptible to rusting when left wet or in a humid environment. To prevent this, one would dry the razor thoroughly after each use and rub it with blade oil when stored for prolonged periods of time.
To maintain the edge, a leather strop is of the utmost importance. Ideally used before each shave, the strop does the best job at polishing a razor for the smoothest shave possible. It is important to use a gentle touch and to keep the spine flat on the leather; pushing too hard or using too steep of an angle can damage the delicate edge.
Even with regular stropping, a razor will need to be honed. In the world of razors, honing is the process of using a sharpening stone to refresh the edge. Depending on its use, a razor will need to be honed one or two times a year. Any razors purchased from Kent of Inglewood will receive their first honing for free, subsequent honing services are a mere $20. If you are the sort to take care of things yourself, a progression of high quality Japanese water stones will prove indispensable.
A shaving brush is more than just a fancy way to apply shaving cream. In addition to lathering, a brush helps prepare the skin for a shave by lifting hairs and clearing away dead skin. Some prefer a luxuriously soft brush and others something a little “scrubbier”; different types of facial/body hair can benefit from different styles of brushes.
Prior to shaving, a good habit would be to soak your brush in warm water. This will load the brush with heat and soften the bristles, the resulting foam will be rich and warm. Use circular motions to further lather the soap on your skin and take mind not to apply too much pressure as you can bend or even break the hairs.
Once finished shaving, rinse the brush of any left over soap and gently wipe the bristles on a towel to draw out any water hiding inside. If you are prone to shaking a brush dry, grip the base of the bristles to prevent excessive shedding. Store your brush upside-down on an elegant stand so it will dry completely.
A razor and brush should last a lifetime, many razors become family heirlooms and are passed from generation to generation. Things worth having need to be cared for and a smooth shave is worth having.