A bit part of what makes classic shaving awesome is the top-notch equipment that you get to use. Your razor and brush become an important part of your daily routine, both for the benefits they give your skin and the experience they provide. Caring for them properly can extend their lifespan many times over, and allows you to spend your money growing your collection, rather than constantly replacing your gear.
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 should 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. Click here to learn more about stropping your blade.
Even with regular stropping, a razor will need to be honed. This is the process of using a sharpening stone to refresh the edge, and depending on its use your 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 Silvertip brush while others like something a little 'scrubbier'. Different types of facial/body hair can benefit from different styles of brushes.
Prior to shaving, it is vital to soak your brush in warm water. This loads the brush with water, warms the mug and soften the bristles, so the resulting foam is rich and warm. Softening the bristles also prevents breakage, so they last much longer. Use circular motions to further lather the soap on your skin and take mind not to fan the brush out too aggressively as you can bend or even break the hairs.
Once you are 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.