Shaving with water only

There’s a touch of heresy floating around the double-edge-blade shaving web: you don’t really need lather to shave. It’s relevant here because double-edge blades can be had without plastic.

Heresy because some of the cachet to double-edge shaving is the equipment — the obvious, but also brushes, mugs, soap, lotions and mirrors — that makes it something of a hobby rather than a dreary daily requisite. And a cozy, masculine indulgence. And the quality of the shave is, in my experience, better than what I used to have with plastic cartridges and canned foam. (Yes, I have a beard but I have an equal surface area that does need shaving: neck and upper cheeks.)

I used to use a (plastic) bottled shaving soap, but wanted to phase that out. Most commercial bar (disc?) shaving soaps are overperfumed or leave me feeling greasy in D.C.’s hard water. Ordinary bar soap is too drying.

Folk legend suggests — I have no reliable citation — Albert Einstein used nothing but water because that — and not the foam — softens whiskers. That’s right. I shave right out of the shower, or in a pinch after softening my face with a hot towel. I use the washcloth to keep my face wet and rinse my blade frequently. I cut myself no more than before (that is, infrequently) and clean up is, of course, much easier.

Getting the shaving brush

My male office-mates know I’m an advocate of double-edge razors: they save money, plastic and provide a superior shave.

Martin Higgins ( had a post today about safety razors — but if you see the one he notes, avoid it; I got one and it’s awful — and the subject of shaving brushes came up in the comments.

And further, what if you want a brush that’s plastic-free and animal-free? Well, tough. It’s one way or another. And given the choice, I’ll take a brush with plastic and no animal bristles. (I also wear plastic, leather-free shoes.)

Fortunately, the Body Shop has one with synthetic bristles (read: plastic) and a wooden handle, which makes up for the plastic handles they usually have.

Shaving without plastic

A while back I changed my shaving routine, going from cartridge blades and canned foam first to a traditional double-edge blades in a holder. I revived the use of my shaving brush. Then I got my grandfather’s all-metal razors after my grandmother died. I moved from blades cased in plastic and sold in blister packs to those wrapped in paper. My last step is to quit using a plastic-bottled shaving soap and find something that’s plastic-free and preferably animal-free: I’ll keep you posted.

I won’t republish these steps because I blogged about it along the way on my main blog, finishing here with links to all the earlier steps there.

But I never wrote about the blades. I used to use Wilkinson Sword blades, made in Germany, but apart from the (admitedly small amount of) plastic waste, they’re not a sharp or flexible as I like. After researching my options, I bought a box of 100 Korean-made blades, wrapped in paper and boxed — 10 smaller boxes of 10 — in cardboard. Evidently a pack for shopkeepers.

These are the Dorco ST300 blades, sold in many places, including this current eBay auction with good photographs. Watch out: I believe the Dorco ST301 blades are packed in plastic. Reviews at Badger and Blade.

The downside: when I got them mailed to me they came in a bubblewrap mailing envelope, but I’m hoping to find them at a professional beauty supply shop. And a 100 blades should last me about two years or more.

Revisiting my shaving posts

I’ve stumbled into a sidebar conversation with Ms. Theologian about shaving tools.

For more than a year, I’ve cleared away the unbearded parts of my face with my grandfather’s “missile silo” double-edge razor, Wilkinson blades, a shaving brush I’ve had for eons and Kiss My Face Moisture Shave. I’m sure I spend less than $20 a year to shave and enjoy the experience royally.

Look back to these three posts — inspired by PeaceBang’s then-new Beauty Tips for Ministers blog — I wrote when I was converting over to Papa Daddy’s razor: entries 1, 2 and 3.