In addition to the quest for the perfect cup of coffee, I also idly search for the perfect shave—how to get as close to the skin as possible without irritating or breaking it. (Stubble: bad. Blood: also bad.) I’ve come to a few conclusions over the years:
- Electric razors don’t give you the best shave, no matter how much Remington and Norelco want you to believe otherwise.
- All that stuff about shaving with the grain of the beard? It’s right.
- The weak point in most non-electric shaves isn’t the blade, it’s the cream.
I’ve known more than one fellow who swears, swears, that the only way he gets a good shave is in the shower, with no shaving cream at all. It’s true shaving after (or during, if you insist) a shower is easier, because the beard is softer, but most “shaving cream” and “shaving gel” doesn’t do much more than foam up into a huge half-inch-thick lather. You might as well be shaving with Cool Whip. What you want is to first wash your face with hot water and a good face scrub, then to apply a thin layer of shaving cream (ideally with a shaving brush, I’m told).
You have to get out of the drug store to find anything that isn’t a fantastic foaming wonder. Audrey Organics and Aveda show up in natural food stores; department stores sometimes carry high-end (and high-priced) goods.
But now, there’s… Target. No, really.
Recently they decided they wanted to get into men’s grooming products. So they came out with a line called “Caldo,” with various toiletries—shaving cream, shower gel, aftershave, etc.—imported from Italy, and including a razor set that takes Gillette Mach 3 blades. This got mentioned on Gizmodo, with much mocking from the “$40 for a razor?!” peanut gallery, but $40 for a good razor handle, shaving brush and chrome stand for both is just about unbeatable. (There’s actually a cottage industry of “serious razors” using the Mach 3 system, some of the razors being much more expensive than that.)
So, yeah: I needed new razor blades, so I got the razor along with it. And, as Target’s also carrying a couple of famous shaving product lines along with this, I bought some “Sharps” face scrub, too. I have to say it’s effective stuff.
Is my quest over? Of course not: there’s some shaving regimens which call for a “pre-shave oil” before the shaving cream, and while I’m dubious, Target actually sells Italy’s Proraso oil—and cream for the shaving brush that came with the razor!—pretty cheaply, so I may give it a try. (There are also shaving oils which take the place of shaving cream entirely.) And, of course, there are people who swear a good single-blade safety razor will give you much better shaves than cartridge razors do. Right now I’m figuring I’m close enough to the perfect shave for government work, but of course, when I started thinking about making a better cup of coffee, I never figured I’d end up grinding fresh-roasted beans and brewing in a vacuum pot.