My quest to Pogonotomy

The art of wet shaving

My father taught me to shave with a Bic disposable razor and canned foam when I was 14; and for my 16th birthday I received as a present from Gillette, a free Mac31 that become my shaving razor for almost a decade. The experience of shaving with it was far from ideal, my neck used to be filled with ingrown hairs and razors burns and I grow up believing that I’ve been cursed with a delicate skin.

Electric shaving

For Christmas of 2008 my parents gifted me an electric shaver, a shining multi-purpose Braun Cruzer3. As awesome as it look this shaver can be really useful for trimming and refining intricate beard styles but, being almost beardless, I used that to completely shave myself. The shaving experience with the Cruzer3 have been, if possible, even worst. I’ve kept using it for almost six months, hoping that my beard will adapt, before giving up.

More blades are better

On that time I decide that my old Mac3 already got enough miles and I bought a Gillette Fusion2 and switched to shaving gel in place of the canned foam.

I must admit that the overall shaving experience improved quite a bit, but the shaving costs grown out of control. To prevent razor burns I had to replace the shaving head every two week, and with a costs of €4,50 each, my beard used to cost me almost €100 a year in blades.

Shaved by a professional

On october of 2011 my wife got pregnant and we decided to move to a proper3 apartment in the city center. On the new neighborhood we discovered a small barber shop whose owner, a gentle man from Naples on its 70’s, use to provide old manner shaving service with a Shavette razor4, pre-shave balm and hand mounted foam. That have been by far one of the best shaving experience at that point, and settled the benchmark for all of the following ones. The shaving foam was soft and warm and the razor glided over my tightened skin producing a resolute sound while trimming the whiskers. The result was a smooth and relaxed face on which the beard refused to grown back for the following three days.

The Straight Razor

After that experience I’ve grown interested in Straight Razors5, and with my great pleasure, my Father in Law, in accord with my Wife, gave me as a present, for my 29th birthday, a huge 7/8 Straight Razor from Filarmonica6 and a leather strop. My first shave with that razor was a mess, I recursively cutted my self badly, and my skin was so sore that I’ve been not able to shave for almost a week. The experience was so bad that I almost give up, but the memories of that one amazing shave I got in that small barber shop in Milan persuaded me to endure on the path.

Going pro

After that first terrible shave it’s passed almost one year. In this time I bought a smaller, shave-ready, razor(5/8 roundpoint Astrale from Dovo); learned how to prepare my face, lather the shaving cream; and take care of my razor.

Now days razors burns and ingrown hairs are distant nightmare, I rarely cut myself and I’m able to achieve a wonderful shave that is almost on par with the one I got in that barber shop. But more important than that is the transformation of a painful daily routine in an awesome ritual that I enjoy twice a week and I’m on a long life path to hone my skills in the art of pogonotomy.

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  1. The Gillette Mach3 is a line of safety razors produced by Gillette and introduced in 1998 after more than $750 million in research and development costs. Gillette used to ship free Mac3 razors as an advertisement around 1999. Source 

  2. The Gillette Fusion is a five-bladed razor released in 2006. The Fusion has five blades on the front, and a single sixth blade on the rear for precision trimming. 

  3. We used to live in a nice multi level loft in the suburb, and we were imagining our baby jumping out from the open first floor as soon as she start crawling around. 

  4. A Shavette is a straight razor that takes disposable blades. This is the kind of razor barbers use over a straight razor for hygienic reasons. 

  5. A straight razor is a razor with a blade that can fold into its handle. They are also called open razors and cut-throat razors. Source 

  6. I later discovered that the brand was a prestigious one from Spain. But it closed out around 1990 and the Razor I got is currently produced in some unknown factory, with an unknown blend of steel and it’s almost impossible to hone.