Shave Of The Week - 28th Nov '10

November 28, 2010

Ouch, ouch, ouch! This week's shave was full of itchiness and irritation!
Here's the set-up:
- Penworks Badger Brush
- 2-piece Gem razor with a lather catcher
- Gem Blades (grrrrr...)
- Prairie Creations Honeysuckle Tallow Shave Soap

The brush, as always was great. I find it performs equally well with soaps as with creams while the B&B LE I used last week is probably more suited to creams given the fact that the bristles are so floppy. This soap is lovely too. A nice mild honeysuckle scent that I love, but that is unfortunately not strong enough for my liking. I can smell it just fine in the tub but when whipping up a lather it's hard to get a hint of it at all. In fact the smell of my conditioner seemed to completely overpower it. Still, it creates a great lather. I find I need to load up quite a bit of it but at the rate I use soaps this should still last me ages even with quite a bit of product being used each time. It's not an overly hard soap either though so it's easy to load up and to add a little bit more to the brush halfway through. It's slick and provides good cushion which I was very grateful for considering the shave I was in for this week!

So onto the razor and the blades. Now this week something went very wrong here. I have it narrowed down to three possible causes, with my strongest suspicion being that the blades are old and aren't sharp enough. I've never used a razor with a lather catcher like this before and indeed it's only the second SE (single edge) razor I've ever used. Having been blown away by my Gem G-Bar I thought this would be amazing but I couldn't have been more wrong.
I think the lather catcher and the set of the blade in the razor could make this quite an aggressive razor to use but I'm not sure. Here's a picture of the blade in the razor so you can see:
The handle screws onto the top of the razor and it's a really lovely piece to hold. It's got a good weight to it but I must have put too much pressure on it for the very first stroke I did because while it felt fine, the minute I lifted the razor and went for the second stroke the red dots of doom began to appear and I had 9 nicks on my first pass (yes I counted just so I could tell you all here!). I took the rest of the shave with much more care and zero pressure and to be honest it was an ok-ish shave but not great.
The second shave I did a few days later I loaded up another blade and off to work I went again. At the start of the second leg (not the same leg as last time) I must have pressed down again because while it glided over the skin, I started to get many red dots appearing again. The blade felt mostly okay but it was hard to tell as I was a little cold (more about that in my next post) and possibly goosebumpy.

So I finish the second shave and put on some lotion this time to try and calm the irritation I could feel flaring up. It was fine for the day but when I got into bed that night - GAH! My legs have never been so irritated and uncomfortable. Every brush of the covers or touch of any fabric off my skin was like sandpaper on sunburn. I eventually had to get out of bed and put on some knee-high socks so that they would form a barrier between my skin and the covers.

Now I put this down to either:
1. the razor is simply too aggressive for me, 
however I've used aggressive razor before and I can normally feel it.
2. the bathroom was too cold and I was shaving over goosebumps
and while this is likely I have shaved in much colder conditions and its never been this bad.
3. the blades (which were gifted to me) were old and had blunted
in my opinion this is at least part of, if not all of the cause I think.

So some day when it's warm again and my legs are feeling brave I'll take out this razor again and pop in a brand new blade and see how it goes. But right now it's -2 degrees outside and my legs are still recovering from the shock. Time to get them a nice cup of tea I think.

- BE


Shave Of The Week - 21st Nov '10

November 21, 2010

So thanks this week to Ryan on B&B for helping me pick out this weeks shave. I was looking for something luxurious and feminine and he made all the right choices!
Here's the set-up:
- Mama Bear's Pearberry Shaving Soap
- Badger and Blade Limited Edition 2006 Finest Silvertip Badger Brush
- Wade and Butcher straight with cameo-style scales
- Vintage paddle strop 

Okay while typing this I just realised that the soap is not the scent Ryan suggested for me - sorry Ryan!
Firstly a bit about the brush. I won this as part of a competition on B&B and it came with a matching DE razor. It's a lovely brush and the handle is stunning but this was my first time using it and I just couldn't get a good lather from it. I'm sure this is just due to my inexperience with the brush but it just goes to show how different brushes take different techniques. The bristles are incredibly soft and seem to have no backbone to them at all which I found tricky to get used to . I didn't want to be applying too much pressure but they just smushed down on my leg while I was trying to build the lather. I should note that I leg-lather. This means that I load the brush with soap or cream and then swirl it on my leg, creating my lather directly on my skin. This is opposed to bowl-lathering; where the lather is built in a bowl and then just spread on the skin. I must try bowl lathering with this brush until I get it figured out. I couldn't work out if I was using too little product or too much water. The lather seemed runny and thin yet I've used this soap before and had no problems with it so I'm lead to believe that it's the brush that's causing me problems. I got a poor lather worked up this week but the shave was still fairly close and smooth. Not very cushioned though and I could feel the blade drag a tiny bit in parts.
As for the soap - I love this smell. It's sweet and fruity and sort of like candy but not overly sickly either. The scent doesn't last very long and while, as I mentioned, this soap normally gives me a good lather, this week it just wasn't happening.

The straight is lovely and it is shaaaa-aaarp! It was honed by ShavedZombie (a member on B&B) and this is the sharpest straight I own I think. Wade and Butcher are a well known and well loved make of straight and the quality of the steel is top-notch. Feeling my legs now 12 hours after shaving and they are still smooth with zero hints of stubble. I also love the scales on this straight. Here's a picture that shows some of the detail of the scales as well as the bottom of the brush:
So though the lather was poor the shave was luxurious and contained some wonderful things. Once I have perfected using this brush I think it will become a favourite and maybe it just needs a bit of re-breaking in. I also tried again to shave under my arms with a straight (why I keep trying is beyond me but I guess I'm just a stubborn glutton for punishment!). Anyway I actually got a okayish half-ass job done of it but it's safe to say that shaving under your arm, using your wrong hand, with a large sharp piece of metal is not advised. I got a little nick under there unsurprisingly! Don't try this at home!

- BE


The Magic Hour

November 20, 2010

I've decided to push myself even more with my studies now that my course is finally deviating from the general "hairdressing" lessons. I'm doing more short cuts on the dolly heads and learning new barbering-specific things. It's very exciting and I have a new found energy and passion as each new piece of information is given to me. Like learning a dance step by step, the routine slowly comes together.

Each Thursday we finish class an hour early at 4pm instead of 5pm. However, for the past two Thursdays I've had work in the evening at 6pm. Now I can't get home and back into work in the 2 hours in between 4pm and 6pm, and work is just a short walk away from college, so two weeks ago I asked would they mind if I just stayed in the college practising for an extra hour (as the salon out front would be opened anyway) and leave at 5pm giving me time for food then into work in plenty of time. The tutor said that would be fine and that she'd be hanging on until 5pm anyway. So two Thursdays ago I got a kind of one hour private lesson with my tutor. It was fun being there by myself working away, practising scissors over comb. To be honest, she didn't teach me a huge amount but it was good to just practise and have no real agenda. So last Thursday I did the same thing. The tutor gave me one of the reject dolly heads (the hairdressing girls cut them short but not overly short and then I get them to mess up and do what I want with them) and I just sat there happy as can be. As first I just practised as normal, but then I thought "what the hell", and just started chopping away. I made the hair really short all around high up on the back and sides and left it long on top combed forward into a V-point of hair going down the nose. It was ridiculous and very 80's looking but I really enjoyed just giving it a whirl. In fact when the tutor came back to check on me I got embarrassed as I had gone off on such a tangent but she thought it was great and said that there's a lot of learn from just trying new things. 

So I look forward to hopefully having more of these "magic hours". Time when I can just get an old head and go to town on it for an hour. I'll try to remember to take a picture next time to show you anything weird or wonderful I come up with! As the owner of the place said when she saw my creation - I might just come up with a new hairstyle that ends up on the cover of Time magazine!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 14th Nov '10

November 14, 2010

This SOTW is for a friend of mine on B&B: Telecaster52, who picked out everything for me to use this week.
Here's the set-up (sorry about the bad photo):
- Musgo Real shave cream
- Astra blades 
- Slim Adjustable razor
- Penworks brush

I've used adjustables before in the past, so I'm guessing it is the blades, but on my first shave with this set-up I cut myself a couple of times on the first leg. I had it set at a 3 so I dialled it down to a 2 and it seemed fine after that. Nice sharp blade, but I'd be curious to see if it's too sharp for me in a non-adjustable. The razor is quite top-heavy but easy enough to hold and the weight helps the razor to just glide on the skin.
A problem I've been having lately is the cold weather. The window in my bathroom is a little broken and it's cold, cold, cold outside so my bathroom gets freezing. One thing ladies (or at least traditional shaving ladies) will tell you is that you just can't shave legs that have goosebumps. It gives you horrible irritation. So I've been trying to stuff a towel in the crack and turn on the heat before a shave so as to heat up the room a bit more. Im considering just duct-taping the gap!

As always I love this brush with it's lovely soft bristles and large comfortable handle. It lathers creams very well and the big knot is great for covering large surface areas like my legs. The cream is nice. It had a pleasant smell that is just like soap but less powdery. It actually smells a little like mild Arko (a shave stick). It provides a good lather though I found it required a bit more work than some other things. It takes a fair bit of water and swirling but once it hits the "sweet spot" the lather is good and cushioning.

Again, the cold bathroom and sharp blade didn't make this the best shave of all time but now bad either. I think this coming week I'll use something with a nice girly smell. Hmmm...

- BE


November 12, 2010

Just a short note to say that I have had to re-enable the verification codes on comments. The word thing that comes up that makes sure you're not a robot.
I've been getting some spam comments so I'm hoping this will stop that. Sorry for the extra trouble added to the genuine comment makers.

- BE

Quick Catch Up

Well I've been really busy the last week so I haven't had any time to blog but I just wanted to write a quick update.
Great news - the tutors in college are really starting to push me into the barbering side of things now and taking my course in that route rather than me just doing everything all the others do (they are all training to be hairdressers).  Up to now it's been fine as it's been general stuff like health and safety and basic blow-drying and straight cuts etc. , but now, while they are all doing pin curls and perms, I'm practising my scissors over comb and necklines. I'm one happy barber!

Also, to make things even better, I got another distinction - the only one in the class! In fact quite a few of the people in the class did very badly so I'm keeping my result quiet, but you guys won't tell will you !?! I am really happy about that as it's my third distinction now so I hope I can keep up the good work. I have another project due next week and a BIG test on the 18th.

Well I'm yawning as I type so it's off to bed for me as I have work experience tomorrow (might have some exciting news about that too in the next few days I hope). But that's enough for now!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 7th Nov '10

November 7, 2010

So it'd be wrong to say this SOTW (Shave Of The Week) is made up but some of my least favourite things, but rather it's made up of things that I don't use very often and prefer less to other types. Mainly I'm talking about using a boar brush instead of badger and a cream instead of a soap.
So here's the set-up:
- Gillette Flare-tip razor replated in rose gold
- Boar brush (not one of the higher end ones admittedly but a good worker)
- "Wilks" blades
- Taylor Of Old Bond Street (commonly referred to as TOBS) Eton College Collection Shave Cream

I'm not a boar kind of gal. Some guys love them as the bristles are stiffer and more exfoliating, but I just can't get used to them no matter how much I try. With badgers I know how much water each of my brushes will hold and therefore how much needs to be added to get a good lather, but boars just don't hold water terribly well so the ratios are all different. Using this brush is fine. I've used it many times before and it does the job but there's not the luxury in it that badger provides in my opinion. 
To top that off I decided to use a cream this week. Again, not something I generally do as I like soaps better and man, I sure picked one MANLY smelling cream to use! I'd never used it before but had picked a few TOBS creams up on uber-sale a while back. The lather itself is good and abundant and the scent is one of the strongest I've found.  'Hurrah' you might think, ' You only just mentioned a few posts ago how you love strong scents!', and indeed while sitting here typing I can still smell it on myself. Which is a bad thing. I smell like I've dosed myself in men's aftershave.  Not entirely replusive aftershave I might add (it's no "sex panther" anyway!) but there's nothing I could even vaguely describe as unisex about the scent. Looking at the back of the tube I get no hints as to what the smell is and my nose isn't trained to pick out the notes in it. However the terms "Eton College" and "gentlemen" do seem to fit the scent well. And I'd rather not choke my work mates by trying to mask it with perfume so I will shortly be going into work smelling like a refined gentleman. Oh joy. At least the lather was nice and heavy and cushioning to use.

Onto the razor. This is one beautiful razor and the picture above doesn't do it justice. It's got a fair bit of weight to it which is a little more than is fully comfortable in my hand but it's still a cinch to use and combined with the wilk blade it gave a close irritation-free shave. In fact combine these two with a badger brush and something that doesn't leave me questioning my gender everytime I close my eyes, and it's be a great set-up!

- BE

Pride And Prejudice

November 1, 2010

There's been a thought on my mind for a long time now and last night it came to a bit of a front.
Last Friday, while in the barbers, a customer came in with a few of his friends and they were all getting haircuts. A typical group of "lads", a bit loud and laughing and joking back and forth, very particular about their styles, and teasing each other etc. One of these guys though, I'll call him Mr. Yellow (he was wearing a yellow top), was being a bit more loud and crude than the others. He was in the chair of one of the female barbers and was clearly chatting her up and being quite sleazy about it. The others were teasing him about "oh no, she's ruined your hair, man!" etc. but the barbers all just grinned and bore it, finished the cuts and the guys all paid and left (not until after Mr. Yellow took a seat while waiting for his friend and pulled up his top and began to pick at his bellybutton I might add - ugh!)

Now last night I was googling things about women barbers when I came across a discussion thread on an Irish forum on-line. The thread was all about women barbers, and the guy who started the thread was proposing that men band together and boycott any barber shop that hires female barbers. He felt that women are infiltrating the last place that a "guy can be a guy and shoot the breeze" etc. Now that's fair enough I suppose. I mean, I really respect the traditional atmosphere you found in barbershops years ago, and feel it is part of their unique charm. It's that "feel" that I love about going into old fashioned ones and one of the things that draws me to it as a career. However, I'm in a horrible situation where I want to be part of all of that yet was born with the wrong set of "equipment" for the job if you will... Unfortunately the thread comments went far beyond that point. He, and others, were proposing that all female barbers were bad at their job and the only reason to go to one would be to get an accidental feel or brush of some female "assets". I'm trying to keep things PG rated on here but let's just say those guys weren't quite as considerate as me and to say the comments were sexiest would be putting it mildly. The thread was a good 4 pages long and I ended up reading most of it and feeling quite sick.

You see, I know the ideal barber is seen as a man in his late 50s, with years of experience behind him, good manly stories to tell, and a collection of rare straights out the back of the shop that he'll take out to show to anyone interested. My age and my gender may be a barrier in this job, and one that, previous to considering this carrier, I had never even considered to be an issue before. I even see this sexism in my work experience. Some guys will wait and wait for the male barbers to be free, in fact one guy even said quite simply that he didn't want a woman cutting his hair. It wasn't that one of the guys was his favourite barber, that I'd understand, and in fact he'd never been to the shop before; he simply didn't want a woman to do the job.

Now I don't want anyone to judge me, ever, because of my gender. I don't want people not to come to me because I'm female, nor do I want Mr. Yellow sitting in my chair purely because he's hoping for a quick eyeful or fleeting brush of skin. I find some comfort in the fact that the oldest barbershop in Dublin (80 years and still going strong), The Waldorf , is co-run by a wonderful woman called Linda who is very well respected. 
So what can I do? Well I can take pride in the occupation I've chosen and in order for others to forget about my gender being an issue, I myself must learn to get over my concern about not being a 50 year old man! Oh, and if Mr. Yellow ever does decide to sit in my chair, I'll gladly show him the sharpest straight in my collection!

- BE