One of the very first videos I posted online on my YouTube Channel was a video I entitled "Some Secrets, Mysteries and Wisdom Learned About Traditional Wet Shaving...and Life". In this video I presented some ideas that I had used and learned over more than 30 years as a social worker assisting clients to change and modify their behavior and outlook on life. As human beings there is nothing that we do without having created in our heads, whether we realize it or not, a set of rules or a way of thinking about whatever it is we are doing. In other words we function based upon a philosophy or a way of framing and thinking about it.
I applied these principles to my shaving routine. You can have all of the razors and soaps and aftershaves, pre-shaves, post-shave creams in the world, but if you do not have a solid foundation, a plan, so to speak, then all of your efforts could fail or at least be confusing and frustrating. You do have a philosophy of wet shaving, if you wet shave. The key question is whether or not you know what that philosophy is and what it does or doesn't do for you. Some people haphazardly approach their shaving. They just do whatever feels right at the moment. I'm not saying that such an approach can't work, but I do think this type of approach will result in a lower level of success and takes away from what could be the ultimate enjoyment of your shave.
I became the Mad Scientist of Wet Shaving due to my early tinkering with simple inexpensive products in an effort to recreate some of the more expensive products. I threw in a dash of homespun common sense and thinking and people started calling me the Mad Scientist or Wizard or Professor. In the long run "Mad Scientist" became the nickname that stuck. Over the past few years since I seriously "got into" traditional wet shaving after wet and dry shaving for over 40 years, I have learned a lot and I have developed a basic philosophy that will enable someone to maximize their shaving efforts and potentially achieve consistent excellent shaves in addition to improving their overall happiness and contentment, inspired by their daily shaving routine.
The basic tenets of this philosophy of shaving is really quite simple. You first have to be doing the right things more frequently than the wrong ones. You must learn the skills necessary to shave without thinking about it. You should strive to be able to empty your mind and go on autopilot during your shave. This enables you to then begin to impact how you are thinking and in time impact how your are feeling...not just about your shave but about yourself and your world.
To accomplish the emptying of the mind and reaching the "zone" while shaving you must learn the necessary skills and develop a "dialed in" muscle memory of the light, very light touch that allows the razor to glide over the face effortlessly. After doing a basic shave with the same basic products for 30-90 days you will have the necessary skills to go to the next step...emptying your mind...getting into the zone where you aren't thinking about what you are doing at all. You're just doing it.
Next you clear and empty your mind as you shave. You and the razor act as one entity. If you are able to be doing the right things (grooved in muscle memory) and emptying your mind, at the conclusion to will "wake up" to discover you had a great shave and you are revived and relaxed. After being able to consistently "get in the zone" then you can begin to shave the way you think about the world and yourself. You can be positive and shun the negative...if not in every aspect of your life at least for 15 minutes during your shave routine.
Preparation is important. The only way to have a good or great shave is if your preparation is good. Washing your face with water and a soap begins the hydration process of the beard. If your skin tends to the dry side then also hydration (moisture) must be applied also to the skin. If the skin on the face is not moisturized it is dry and brittle. Dry and brittle results in the face not being flexible and the razor cuts and nicks the skin. One method of achieving a flexible supple skin is to use moisturizers. Another way is to use a pre-shave oil. The oil does nothing to the whiskers. It doesn't soften them. It does make the skin flexible and the razor passes over the smooth surface without nicking or cutting.
When starting out don't be constantly switching products and gear. Get to know the product and your gear intimately. Once you know your equipment well enough you can then switch up and try different razors, blades, soaps and balms and really understand whether or not they contribute to a better shave. Many shavers, because they don't have enough knowledge about their equipment don't have a clue about what factors influence the better shave. They become victims of marketing hype, believing the "spin" and having no choice but to believe it. If you know the performance factors of your shaving equipment (both soft and hardware) you will also be able to know what factors made things better for yourself. You don't have to rely on the propaganda or opinions of others.
You must also know your general hair (whisker) growth. The simplest way to do this is to map your face by simply shaving with the grain, then across the grain (in general) and after each pass putting water on your face and feeling what whiskers were left. After the second pass a wealth of information about the details of your face is revealed. You can feel the remaining stubble and better recognize which way your trouble spots grow. After doing this for awhile you will know just how and when during your shave to approach your more difficult patches of whiskers. Trying to map your face with a full beard can be confusing and inaccurate. Once most of the whiskers are removed you can better evaluate the needs of your face.
Don't chase a BBS (baby butt smooth) shave, particularly when you are first starting. In time it will occasionally come, but most men have spots on their face that present challenges in removing all of the whiskers. You will know what they are and can better deal with them. Chasing BBS results usually in pressing too hard or irritating a specific spot. If you are switching from using a mult-blade razor you will press too hard, at least at first. You had to press hard with a multi-blade razor. It's light and the blades clog and you don't get nicks or cuts by pressing too hard. If you press too hard with a DE (double edged) razor you have a significantly greater chance of getting a nick or cut. Irritation can result too from pressing too hard. After several weeks you may think you have mastered the delicate light touch needed but often it still isn't light enough. Most irritation and nicks are a result of pressing too hard.
If you have a solid philosophy of wet shaving, if you are thinking right about your shave, you will enjoy your shaves and experience the closest and most comfortable shaves. You will have grooved your muscle memory and can then progress to the other enjoyments possible in wet shaving.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe