Hiding in Plain Sight

Every day we who have been bitten by the Traditional Wet Shaving bug spend at least some portion of our day thinking (fantasizing) about shaving products and gear.  Sometimes it is simply in preparation for a daily shave, but many hours are spent fantasizing about that possible new piece of hardware or software we want to obtain.  For us shaving addicts hardware involves razors, brushes, mugs, bowls, scuttles, razor stands and many other trinkets related to shaving.  The types and flavors of software are almost endless - soaps, creams, splashes, blades, lotions, potions of both old and new types.


Generally images of shaving gear we see posted in Shaves of the Day (SOTD) we call "shave porn".  It can include elements of software but generally it focuses on a razor, brush or various combinations thereof.  It's a male thing. We men are visual beasts and like looking at beautiful things.  We can't help it.

Acquisition Disorder, be it for razors, brushes, soaps, creams, after shaves, colognes, etc., etc., etc. is that unique disease of the traditional wet shaving enthusiast that turns what could be the most economical method of shaving into a money pit of a hobby.  Just like some men spend huge piles of money on classic cars, fast motorcycles, guns, or any number of the other possible male past times, traditional wet shavers, if they aren't careful can get in financial and marital/relationship trouble by spending too much money or time devoted to shaving.  The first few months, usually 6 to 12 months are the hardest, because everything is new and there are so many different combinations of products and gear that must be tried or "collected"...well, at least that's what we think.

A few years ago there were very few places to get ones daily fix of "shave porn" so traditional wet shavers created their own "Playboy Magazines of Shaving."  Facebook shaving groups and YouTube videos in addition to shave product vendors on the internet are common sources for getting a fix and soothing the itch.  Because there is a scarcity of traditional wet shaving products in most stores worldwide most traditional wet shavers are always on the look out for new products on store shelves.  Probably even more attention grabbing and disturbing to the shaving enthusiast is the disappearance of those few products they can find on a store shelf suddenly disappearing from a local brick and mortar shop in their community.

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Nevertheless, even though there isn't a wide array of products available, a common phenomenon is overlooking and being blind to some products that have always been on our shelves...actually for decades.  Due to their common and often inexpensive status we are blind to them, never considering them sources for new shave den acquisition and considering them "trash" products not worthy of our time or attention.  We may try some of the more unique products for nostalgia.  The products our father or grandfather used.  One such as Williams Mug Soap, Old Spice, Van Der Hagen Soap, Aqua Velva After Shave, Real Shave Cream, or Boots Products in the United Kingdom.


For years I saw many cheap shave products on the store shelves but discounted them, never picking them up or trying them believing them to be sub par just because they were low cost and sold in discount stores.  Such things as razor blades often fall into this category.  In the US many stores have low price generic or store brand DE and SE razor blades.  Some of them are not of the quality of other blades that are available, but some aren't terrible either.  I found this out when I tried Best Choice Brand blades available from independent grocery stores who obtain products from Associated Wholesale Grocers http://www.awgbrands.com/.  In the Review section of this website I have posted my video review of Best Choice Razor Blades.  Pretty good blades and I could survive forever if they were all that was available.

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Then there are other products I overlooked for years.  Such products as Barbasol After Shave, Old Spice, Aqua Velva, Noxzema, Corn Huskers Lotion just to name a few.  They are available, inexpensive, and quite good. Some products like Corn Huskers or Noxzema we don't think of as shaving products, but back in the day, such common products that were kept in every household's bathroom cabinet were used when needed by men to assist in their shaves.  It was what was available and they worked. Obviously there's good reason many of these classic products have been around and almost always in stock on our grocery and department store shelves.  They are simply very good.  Yes, they are old school.  Modern and trendy?  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Effective, trustworthy, and effective?  You bet!!!

Those of you in Europe and other parts of the world have similar types of products that are not the most luxurious and most fashionable but they are always available, quite cheap in price but rich in value.  These type of products we discount due to their familiarity and are ignored due to being relegated to the cheap seat section of our stores. But that doesn't mean they aren't well worth a try.  

In fact, today most of my shave den consists of these types of products.  Yes, I am drawn to these "cheap" products because I have limited funds available on a monthly basis to spend on new shave den hardware and software.  I am also willing to overlook some short comings these products may have that aren't found in more expensive products, because they cost less and usually aren't packaged and marketed in a manner that drives up the prices.  This enables me to view such products with an open eye, an unclouded eye, an unpropagandized eye of mass marketing and evaluate them for what they simply are...good quality, time tested shave worthy gear.  

If  you can get past the lure of glitz, trendiness, or new product sensation that contributes to the social status hurdles common with many of the things we feel compelled to purchase and use, then the generic and traditional brands...those used by our fathers and grandfather can have an honored position in your shave den.  We can feel proud to use them...nurture and cherish a connection to the past while ensuring, by our continued purchase and use, their continued existence on our store shelves and in the future remain in the lives of our children.

Try the old traditional, inexpensive products that you may have overlooked, forgotten, or shunned.  It could be that priceless treasure that has been hidden in plain sight.

Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe.

Big John


Additional thoughts on homemade shaving products...

For a very long time the most popular video on my YouTube Channel "FutrNovlst" was a short video about making mentholated glycerin.  It reigned supreme for many months until just a few days ago when another video surpassed it into the No. 1 slot.  This video was about making homemade shaving products.  

At first, I thought the large number of hits on my menthol glycerin video was due to the vaping community looking for techniques for making a mentholated vegetable glycerin to add to their ejuice.  Some of them probably are e-cig users.  Yet I can't help but wonder why so many people are interested in making their own homemade shaving products.

Of course the necessity of poverty is one reason.  The past few years we have all seen a poor economy worldwide and things are still tough in many households.  Then there's the growing number interested in creating the next popular "artisan" product that will make not only extra cash but enable that lucky garage based business artisan to tell the boss to "take this job and shove it".  Then of course there are the college students and young shavers who have embraced traditional wet shaving in droves over the past few years.  I remember my college days and finding ways to stretch limited funds and resources was always a necessity...particularly if due to a poor economy they can't find a job and have a mountain of school loans to pay off.

But when you get down to it, I don't have a clue why there are so many people seeking information about making their own homemade shaving products.  I know why I am interested in doing it.  I'm an underpaid civil servant social worker with a lack of extra funds to buy all the types and flavors of shaving products that I would like to purchase...so, without the funds to buy things, I try and find ways to "create" them from less costly materials.

Another reason, which I didn't really discover until I started "experimenting" and tinkering in my shave den laboratory is that I realized by looking at my shave products with critical eye and discovering what one product does better than another product, I have learned exactly what kinds of products work better for me.  

I realize that I can make any product more cooling and chocked full of menthol goodness than any product I can purchase. By adding either mentholated glycerin or Corn Huskers Lotion and then applying it to an after shave, cream or soap, every product I use can be "mentholated".  Consequently, a whole category of shave products are no longer on my acquisition radar.  I have no desire to purchase most mentholated products...they are off my radar 99% of the time and no amount of "enabling" by my shaving friends will change that lack of interest.  I can make just as good or better myself.

Consequently, since I am a menthol addict, this has freed up my limited shaving product funds for new and different products I would normally not pursue or show interest in.  One thing I have explored that I probably wouldn't have otherwise has been different cologne and after shaves.  I always presumed that the good ones were expensive due to expensive essential and fragrance oils.  In the past, I thought quality meant pricey.  Attempting to make my own products has changed that perspective.

I have now discovered that the classic and generally inexpensive after shaves like Aqua Velva, Stetson, Skin Bracer, Barbasol, Brut, etc. are really pretty good and some of them I had never tried before, for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is the perception that something inexpensive and still available in many discount, grocery and drug stores must be not worth my time.  Not true by any stretch of the imagination.

Another thing I have learned is that "new" doesn't mean better.  The old classic products and "ways of doing things" have value and there is a reason why they have been around so long and stood the test of time...at least until modern advertising convinced us that the "new improved formula", etc., etc., etc, was the only thing to buy to be/stay "young, vibrant, and sexually appealing".   But that is really another topic that I don't need to rant about right now.  Historically, most shaving products, including shaving soaps were probably homemade prior to World War II and the advent of television advertising.  Of course there is a long history of shaving products that goes back hundreds of years, but it has only been since the mid 20th Century that knowledge and distribution of those products has expanded.

The long and short of it is unless you've recently won the lottery, eventually at some point in time your pocket book will become thin while your acquisition disorder for new shaving products continues to itch like you fell naked into a patch of poison ivy.  When that happens, working on a homemade creation can tide you over and give you the "new product" fix, at least until next payday.

Regardless, trying to make your own products can help you better understand and appreciate the shaving products you currently use daily and if you just happen to come across a recipe that works...well all the better.  Just remember to share it.

Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe

Big John

Everything you ever wanted to know about making your own shaving products but were afraid to ask. This video presents brief how to instruction how to make home made pre and post shave balms, pre-shave oil, scented witch hazel, mentholated glycerin, and simple after shaves.

I first posted this video in The Big Shave FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebigshave/ on April 2, 2013. I had seen a lot of guys posting shaves using 444 Balm, which is a thick mentholated glycerin. It is added to aftershaves and colognes to give it a menthol kick.

Let's Talk About Pre Shave and Post Shave Routines

How many of you wet shavers use a pre-shave product or do a special "routine" when getting ready to shave?  Most of us at least do something, like washing our face, taking a hot shower, using a pre-shave oil or lotion.  Just exactly what does a pre-shave oil do?  What does a pre-shave balm or lotion do?  The same with post shave products - what does after shave do?  What does witch hazel do and when should you use it?  What does a post-shave balm do for your skin?  How does it make a "rough" shave feel better?  

Many times we have done things, tried products for no real reason other than we have heard about someone else using it or reporting good results after using it and we buy and use products without really understanding the more technical aspects of what they are doing.  We enjoy the after effects without knowing how the good results came about.  Consequently, many times we get a good result on one shave and a not so good one the next and don't understand what changed.  Well, with a little basic knowledge you can better understand the "how" of your pre and post shave products and routines.

So I did a short video: Let's Talk About Pre Shave and Post Shave Routines.

Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe

Big John

In this video I briefly discuss the age old argument of cold vs warm or hot water shaves, the different pre-shave options and post shave products available and what they do to both the skin and the whisker.

Following this pre-post shave discussion I do a short two pass shave using Saint Charles Shave Coconut Shave Soap using a Personna Med Prep blade and the Matador Toro Mastiff Solid Straight Bar Razor.