What is the key to a great shave?
It's all about the oil.
Men have searched for the best way to shave their faces since the first caveman scraped a sharp rock across his jaw (well maybe not that far back.) It seems we are willing to try anything to avoid the pain of razor burn and the wads of bloody tissue. Just check the shaving aisle at your local grocery store and you will find the most dazzling array of multi-bladed, vibrating razor gadgets, all promising that elusive close shave.
Well let me tell you friend, your great-grandfather had it right. The double-edged safety razor and the terrifying straight razor are the pinnacle of shave technology. Everything invented since pales in comparison. What the earlier generations knew that we seemed to have forgotten is, it's not the blade but how you prep the skin that is key to a great shave. In fact it is the use of a pre-shave oil that makes the difference between a shave that leaves you feeling like James Bond or one that makes you look like Freddy Krueger.
Pre-shave oil can be purchased from various high-end shave companies for up to $200 per bottle, the good news is you can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Here's how.
Go to your local health food store and buy a bottle of food grade grape seed oil. You can also use sesame seed oil or even olive oil in a pinch. Grape seed oil is a very thin oil that doesn't leave a heavy residue on your face.
Next you need to find a place that sells essential oils. You may find these at the same health food store, or you may have to order them online. It is best to buy them in person so you can smell the samples and choose the scent you like best. A bottle of essential oil will range in price from $10 to $50 depending on the quality and size. Don't worry, it will last a long time. Take your time and explore a number of scents. I prefer lavender in the summer and a sandalwood or bergamot in the winter. Some people like menthol and eucalyptus. Try them all.
Now that you have your base oil and your essential oil you need to make the proper mixture. This will depend on the size of the container you keep it in. I searched online and found an assortment of glass bottles with corks. In my opinion a 2 oz bottle is the perfect size for accurate mixing. Now everyone is different, and you may like the scent to be stronger than I do, but I like to put twenty drops of essential oil per 2 oz of grape seed oil. This way I can enjoy the fragrance, but it doesn't overpower my aftershave.
Once you have your mixture right, you will only need a couple of small dabs per shave to get that professional lubrication that creates a world-class shave. The initial cost may be more than you would like, but a large bottle of grape seed oil and essential oil will last me well over a year and I shave every day.
The key to a great shave happens before the razor touches your face. It's all in the prep. Invest in a good pre-shave oil and research quality shaving creams (that's another article), and you will enjoy a smoother, less painful shave. The average man spends somewhere around 60 hours per year in front of the mirror shaving. Do yourself a favor and use that time wisely.
Double Edged Razor
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