Thursday, June 25, 2009

In a hurry? Late for work? Who cares?

Normally, I wake up about 45-50 minutes before I have to leave for work. This leaves me enough time for a shower, a 3-pass shave, breakfast, and a moment of quiet with my dog before crating her and getting out the door.

This morning, I woke up with less than 30 minutes before I had to be out the door - not good... Normally, I'd scream through my shower, throw a quick 2-pass shave down, and then run out the door. Not today, I decided. I took relatively quick shower- using Crabtree and Evelyn's Sandalwood shower gel as shampoo and body wash helps speed things up. Hopping out, I dried off, turned on some music (Slowdive's Souvlaki) and loaded my Badger and Blade Essentials brush with Tabac soap and face-lathered. The reason I went Tabac today was simple: I can still take my time, and it lathers up rapidly. I don't need to worry about water amounts or taking care at ALL - the stuff is way easy. Sure, I'm not psyched with the scent, but it goes away after rinsing, so whatever (for a suitable alternative in terms of speed, I also love the Speick shave stick). 3 quick passes with the fatboy on 3 and I was done. Rinsed, threw on some Proraso splash and balm, deoderized (Arm and Hammer has a great natural deodorant I highly recommend), and was fully dressed with 5 minutes to spare.

What the hell kind of good breakfast can I eat in 5 minutes, you ask? Well, if you're like me, you might have some Morningstar soy sausage patties in your freezer (yes, non-vegetarians, they're really good - I'm an avowed carnivore and I still love Morningstar's entire lineup - except for the maple sausage, which is kinda weird). I pulled two out and nuked them for 40 seconds, threw some cheese on one and piled them, nuked for a few more seconds, and then off to work!

The lesson, I suppose, is simple: if you're running late, stressing out and screaming around your house as fast as lightning might save you a few minutes (tops), but you're going to arrive at your destination frazzled and completely unready to face your day. Take your time - even if you have to shortcut some things, do so at a pace which keeps you calm. Start your day in a manner in which you want the rest of your day to go.

The great and holy Ferris Beuller (blessed be his name) once said "life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it" - this quote has served me well so far.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A birthday shave.

This morning, I showered in a hurry, knowing I was running a bit late for work. Normally on such days, I snag the proraso and just pound through the shave, splash on some aftershave, and off I go.

This morning after my shower, I reached into my cabinet and accidentally knocked out my sample of Castle Forbes lime shave cream, so I figured why not. Slathered it up, threw down three passes, finished with the intense burn of Royall Lymes aftershave... and I was ready to go. Pretty nice shave, pretty nice.

Music to shave by: Sonic Youth / The Eternal
The album will be released in a few weeks - I'll be buying it immediately. My uh... pre-release version will have to do until then. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why I love to shave.

There are a lot of things in this world over which I have no control. I can't control, for example, what the weather will be like or if the schmucks driving next to me on my way to work will cut me off. I can't control a user dropping his laptop in a puddle and expecting me to get it fixed on the spot. I can't control my ex-wife's ability to pay child support.
Shaving is one thing I have total and complete control over, every day.

I have found that in the morning, the ritual of soaking my brush, choosing a soap / cream, lathering, shaving with several passes, and following up with one of several aftershaves / balms has the ability to set the tone for my day with great precision.

For example, some mornings I wake up kind of sluggish and have a hard time diving through my shower routine. Those are the mornings in which my Proraso comes in handy - it's bracing and cool as a shave cream, and the aftershave splash and balm finish me up leaving me completely awake and ready to take on the day.

On other mornings, I wake up feeling pretty okay about life and my upcoming day, and I'm into a more luxurious shave. Those 10 or 15 minutes are spent in the wonderful aroma and feel of Art of Shaving's sandalwood cream - or if I'm feeling it, the lavender pops in rotation instead. I can follow it up with patchouli or sandalwood splash and perhaps a QED patchouli /teatree / peppermint balm, and I'm smelling and feeling good, ready to take on the day.

Then there's the mornings like today, where I'm running a bit late... I snagged my jar of soap,lathered up my face and GOGOGO. Tabac followed by a quick balm has turned into me "OH MY GOD MOVE MOVE MOVE" shave, and I've found that despite the scent not being ideal, it Just Works.

A good shave can really set the tone... but then there's the other end of the spectrum where I know that the day is shot. After a bad shave - say I tore myself up with the Injector or had a bad lather base with irritation - I might as well call off work and go to bed. Fortunately, those days are few and far between. I've found that those days tend to happen when I don't adequately clear my head in the shower, or when I'm really stressed out.

Shaving is more than just a way to get the hair off my face. It's become my meditation in the morning, as essential to the day as my first cup of coffee or stretching out of my bed. I'm a better person for having discovered this - I can't honestly imagine what shaving was like before, only what... 9 months ago, when I was still using my Mach III and using horrid creams in the cans, tearing myself to shreds 3 times a week.

EDIT: I have linked this post to the Badger and Blade forums asking why people love to shave over there. Some incredible posts showing up in the thread already - a highly recommended read!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Badger and Blade Essential shave brush review

(picture stolen shamelessly from Badger and Blade)

Badger and Blade recently offered a brush called "the essential" as a trial run to holding it as a normal stock item. The stated goal was to have the best possible all-around brush for the most reasonable possible price. Two runs were made - the first was a very limited test run, and the second was around 200 (though that number might be off - I'm going from memory). The first run came in and went through testing paces, at which point Joel and the other recipients declared themselves to be very, very happy with the results. The brush's hair was very, very thick and the overall efficacy was declared to be well above their expectations - on par with a brush costing 150 dollars or more, instead of the projected 50-60 dollar price.

Joel immediately ordered a large shipment and offered them up to the Badger and Blade forums. After a long process that apparently wasn't a lot of fun for him, Joel finally received the brushes only to discover that the new run wasn't as well-made as the first. After some debate, he offered them up for sale anyway. They sold out, predicably, within a few days.

When I received my brush, I noticed a few things right away. First, it's beautiful. I'm actually really happy with the overall look - I thought the acrylic handle would be cheezy in a bad way, but it's quite nice and understated. There's a great little picture of a badger on the side, too. Second, once I got the brush wet, it stank. Hugely. It smelled of seriously funky badger - and the only thing that lessened the scent was to shampoo the hell out of it with some very convenient pet shampoo I had under the sink.

It still didn't smell all that great the next morning, but I was determined to give it a shave. I loaded up with my "luxury-goto" setup, Art of Shaving sandalwood cream and a Gillette FatBoy with a new feather blade, and got to work. In terms of performance, I noted that the brush held a ludicrous amount of water even after being shaken out, which necessitated a bit more cream than I usually use in order to keep the ratio normal. I also noted that the tips of the bristles were a bit stiffer than I was used to on the Crabtree & Evelyn Best Badger brush, though not overwhelmingly so. It definitely did the job very well though, holding a great amount of lather and working wonderfully.

Later shaves included use of several creams (Proraso green and red, Speick, Castle Forbes lime) and soaps (Tabac, QED Chocolate, Crabtree & Evelyn Sandalwood), and overall I think the brush fulfilled the goal of being a great overall performer. I WILL say, however, that the brush absolutely excells with soaps in comparison to my old brush. Also, over time, the brush has softened up nicely, which makes face lathering a possibility now.

Unfortunately, there are no plans that I know of to re-run this line of brushes after all the trouble Joel and co. went through at Badger and Blade. I can't blame them - but I also feel badly that such a wonderful brush won't be available for a newbie starting out.

Thanks, Badger and Blade!