The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 44; Shaving for the Gods

I stare at my face in the bathroom mirror every morning, usually with a sigh as I decide I have aged more in the last eight hours and that my hair has also clearly thinned more and the fact I look tired. Still.  But there is the silver lining of being where I am, the coming ritual.  No reader, I will not be spending the next twenty minutes chanting at my reflection or drinking some herb based concoction whilst standing on one leg.  The only herbs are probably in the soap as I start my morning shave.

What man doesn’t love shaving, that fresh skin feeling that starts your day and for me always brings a slight smile when the ceremony is over.  You don’t get the same feeling from electric razor shaving, nor do I find the quick foam and slice of more modern shaving styles anywhere near as satisfying.  Single edged blades and a badger brush are certainly a piece of classic elegance but also are perfectly built tools for the modern gentleman.

The clean wet shave, which after the hipster craze which has waned in popularity more recently, has become the normal state of the face.  The smooth style that some women are more fond of, my wife included, shunning any rough feeling of my cheeks as I come in for a loving kiss.

The ritual itself has its own way, like the Mandalorian of my bathroom.  Getting the foam right, checking your blade, warming your face is a ritual on par with Aztec sacrifice, okay maybe not like that, but if you make a mistake your sink can become similar to what I guess Aztec altars would look like.  Or the end of Django Unchained, with fewer bodies.

What can elevate the art of shaving are the ingredients.  The right blades, a very personal taste, I like something that is forgiving so there are no cuts, or less cuts than some super sharp blades.  Decide if you are going to use a shave oil, I use a great one that comes in a small oil can.  The two most important are the razor, a good weight as you don’t use any pressure and the soap.  I recently went to classic barbers Truefitt & Hill and I am now hooked and my love has certainly grown for the classic shave, if it was at all possible, due to the smells that now come with the shave.

I will always be an advocate for these finer things brought by the simple art of shaving, this is the way.