I’ve always been interested in the *old school shave*. I’m pretty sure I stumbled across a safety razor at my grandparents when I was young and it stuck with me. I remember Dad having old westerns on and the hero would bring out a blade/strap and get to work. Recently the warm towel shave has seen a bit of a renaissance with salons, even further sparking my interest.
A little over a year ago, my wife sent me for a warm towel shave as a gift. It was at a reputable shop, with very experienced staff in the craft. (be very choosy about whom you let shave your face or you risk a very uncomfortable experience that may ruin you on the art) It was a nice experience, a pretty decent shave, although not the best-shave-ever experience I was expecting. It was nice to have a bit of manly pampering. But at the cost, it sure wasn’t something I was going to be able to do regularly, so I continue on, using the trusty Shick Quatro and thinking about that old school experience.
Fast forward to a year later, and I came across a post on my social feed from Shave Valet. He was offering an intro to Wet Shaving class. Here was my chance to delve a little deeper into the old school shave. I signed up and made my way to the class. There I was greeted my Shahan, the mastermind behind shavevalet.ca. Now here is a guy that is passionate about the wet shave experience. If there was anything you wanted to know about the old school wet shave, Shahan is your guy. Unfortunately for him he had a few no shows that evening, but for me, I got my own individual training class. It was great, I learned about the history, the benefits, the gear, the experience…. and even the community. Yes there is a very loyal wet shaving community that is growing all the time.
I got to see all his fantastic products. He sources only great gear that he has tried, experienced, and would stand behind. His collection of artisan shave soaps is pretty stunning. I can see how this could become a problem 🙂 After absolutely zero sales pressure (Shahan is just genuinely happy to share his passion and his side hustle), I started eyeing up the gear that would be mine. Shahan has curated a couple of great starter kits, everything you need to get started; razor, blades, brush, soap, alum and blade bank, all for a great price. He even let me swap out a couple things I wanted to upgrade by paying the difference. I opted for his Boar Shave Kit ($50) which included 40 assorted blades, a boar hair brush, alum stick, blade blank, an Italian Barber Amici shave soap and I paid a couple bucks extra to upgrade to a RazoRock 3 piece open comb razor safety razor. I also added a styptic pencil (for any knicks) and a chrome brush/razor stand. I thanked him for his time and was on my way.
That weekend, I put the time aside to have my first old school shave. It was great. The experience of whipping up a great lather in the bowl, using a brush to apply to making that first pass, I was hooked. It instantly made me think of my Grandpa Siwy the barber, wishing I had a chance to share the experience with him before he passed. It has me thinking about passing this on to my son when that time comes. Now I would be lying if I said it was the best shave I ever had. I suffered a few knicks and a bit of razor burn along the way. But I was undeterred. I knew that would be gone with experience. And I was right. I’m now several shaves in and I’m pretty much done with the knicks. I am better in tune with the growth pattern of my face and am aware of the bad habits I developed with the cartridge razor I was using. With that knowledge, I now experience the best shaves ever.
It is still more time consuming than my work day ritual allows. I’m getting quicker every go, but I’m still using the cartridge razor on work days and saving the luxury experience for the weekends. I know there will be a tipping point when I completely make the switch. But until then I’m just enjoying the experience and doing all I can to resist matching Shahan with his awesome collection of supplies. I already have a bit of a favourite when it comes to blades and I’m already thinking of picking up some more soap and gear to take with me on the road. I still want to get a straight razor/strap and give that a try next. That seems a bit less intimidating now.
If you are interested in the old school shave, check out shavevalet.ca. Drop Shahan a line, he will gladly answer any questions you have. If he has a class open up, sign up and attend. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are lucky enough to be in Saskatoon, he will even deliver your supplies to you! Maybe you too can share the experience with your Dad/Grandpa and pass it on to your future generations.
All for now,
PS – my attempt at photos didn’t do the product justice, so again I enlisted the help of my wife Erin from finelite.ca to photograph for me. All the credit goes to her for the great product shots.
PPS – she is also a potter in her spare time and I have commissioned my own custom lather bowl. I’ll post an update when it is complete.