Shaving re-up

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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Well, here’s a milestone. For the first time since I started this little hobby, I’ve actually had to re-buy stuff. Thus far, I’ve only purchased new things. Okay, I have had to buy a few additional bottles of my favorite aftershave before now, but allow me this small conceit.

So, then. The first soap I used to the nubbins turned out to be Proraso Green. This didn’t shock me that much, as I am very fond of the Proraso soap, and the green, with eucalyptus and menthol, has wonderful face feel. If my feet were held to the fire and I had to choose only one soap, I suppose the green Proraso would get the nod. Thus, I’ve purchased another tub of it. I should mention that, because the Proraso soaps are fairly soft, you don’t get as much mileage out of them as a harder soap might provide. If you want maximum shaves per ounce, and minimum cost, something like Arko is the way to go.

I was putting together a travel solution for DE shaving, and that spawned my purchase of the Merkur 34C, which I reviewed here on the site, and recommend. To go with it, I purchased another synthetic bristle Omega, this time with the “old fashioned honeycomb” chromed handle. I was already sold on the ease of use and good lathering capability. When it came in, I found that it was rather bulky, compared to my blue handled model. After using it a bit, it became clear that I should use that one as my home brush, sending the well seasoned blue Omega on the road (where it’ll see sparing use, as I don’t travel all that much currently.)

Because a man of my stripe will always find himself wanting for more Aqua Velva, I ordered a few large bottles for the larder. It has become my go-to, and is used in about 3/4ths of my shaves.

While I still have a good number of my standard Personna Blue blades kicking around, I’d burned through all of my favorites of other types. Because I’d applied a rough sort of science to my rating and reviewing of blades, I had a pretty good idea of which blades had been my favorites thus far. After ruminating, I decided to order a 100 pack of both Astra Superior Platinum and Derby Extras. The Derbys are super inexpensive, less than nine cents per blade. The Astras are less than twelve, and I think they perform so well that even the really premium blades on the market are hard pressed to best them. I’ve since tested the two blade types with the 34C razor, and both work well. The Astras are an especially good match. I’ll have to see how things go with the 39C. It does fine with the Personna blades, but it’s possible that one of the others might make a better match yet.

All this puts me in a place of abundance. Unless I am struck by a sudden desire to try new things, I’m pretty set, and I’m happy with the gear I’ve collected. I’ll check back in when I have something to review or report, but I won’t bore you with same old, same old in the meantime.

Cheers,

Patrick

Razor Review: Merkur HD34C

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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Over the last few months, my shaving patterns have fallen into a fairly comfortable rhythm. I would shave around three times a week, switching between my Feather AS-D2 and my Merkur 39C slant. After a flurry of blade tests, and the resultant test fatigue, I wanted to get back to just shaving. Constant experimentation can be a bit tiresome after a while. There were still blades out there I wanted to test, but the ones that were easy to get and piqued my interest had probably already been done. So.

So, I was loading my Feather with Feather blades, then Wilkinson Swords, until they ran out. I was feeding my 39C a steady diet of Personna Lab Blues. Life was pretty good.

But.

But, it occurred to me that I didn’t really have a travel razor. I am not totally confident that things won’t get lost on a trip. Bags find their way to the wrong airport. Things get left on the sink in a hotel room. Thus, I wasn’t super excited about taking my AS-D2 out on the road with me. It’s not disposable. At all. My 39C, on the other hand, is built like a tank, and just seems a little bit stupid-big to be putting in a shaving kit for the road.

Solution? Well, initially, I was going to get the Merkur razor that they make out of Bakelight. It looked cool, and was the right size and weight. Downside? It doesn’t have inset metal threads in the handle, so it’s metal 0n plastic in there. I am, shall we say, not always subtle. If it can easily be broken, I might figure out how to do so. Growing up, I heard this phrase with some frequency: “The boy doesn’t know his own strength.”

Out goes the Bakelight idea. I looked around for a short handled razor that would do the job. I found the Merkur 34C. It is nearly universally praised. It’s one of the go-to beginner’s or sensitive skin razors. Some of the guys I watched on YouTube to learn how wet shaving was done use it as a reference. Thus, not a huge gamble. Besides, it’s fairly reasonable to buy. Compared to the Feather, it’s almost disposable. Shrug. Not really. Anywhoozle…

The 34C came out of the box with good fit and finish. It’s a two piece, and comes together without issue. Blade alignment is good every time. The knurling on the handle is good, much more effective than the barber pole style on the 39C when wet. There were no voids or oddities in the plating.  (This is a chrome plated pot metal razor, which is what you’ll get for the price point. Since the metal is not under serious stress, it shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re hurling your razor down on concrete or using it to tune up your Jeep, you may need a different material. Brass or stainless will cost you, though.)

I tested the 34C with three blades, two shaves a piece. The first was the Personna Lab Blue, then the Derby Extra Stainless, then the Astra Superior Platinum. All shaves were three pass, full bore deals. All yielded excellent results, with baby smooth cheeks being the watchword. In the shaves, I only had one weeper, and the very minimum of irritation. Actually, perhaps slightly less than normal, even for the smooth operator AS-D2. Functionally, I was completely satisfied. The shorter handle, which I had imagined might take some getting used to, was no problem. It actually makes the razor easy to control, as you can put a finger on the end of the handle.

I found the dynamics of the razor interesting, and actually quite instructive at times. What I found was that the 34C demanded a much shallower angle to the face than my other razors. In fact, I could essentially address my cheeks directly, with very little “dial in” for the blade at all. It seemed to work best and be most comfortable well below the oft-stated 30 degree rake.

The 34C tended to have more “blade feel” on the face than the 39C and the AS-D2. It was somewhat more akin to the Parker 99R, although it was much gentler and less prone to judder. With the Feather razor, the first pass happens with very little sense of there being a blade touching your face. It can be used almost like a cartridge razor, just pulling large swatches of hair from your face in pseudo-magical style. The 39C’s first pass performance is somewhat similar, the slanted blade angle allowing it to tear through the stubble without a hint of slow down, provided your blade is reasonably sharp.

That ain’t the 34C. No, it demands you to work in short strokes, and keeps you aware of the blade that’s trundling down your epidermis. I don’t mean to say that it pulls, pinches, or abrades your skin. That’s not it. The 34C is just a communicative razor. As you feel for the angle it likes, you can sense the way the blade is addressing your face. It actually seems to help me slow down and work at the pace the tool requires, where I sometimes get a little cavalier with the other razors in my rotation. Because of this, I do think it would be a really good first razor. Shaves great, tolerates blades across the sharpness spectrum, and gives you feedback in terms of how much you’re digging in. All this at a reasonable price.

Which blade did it like the best? Easily the Astra Superior Platinum. That’s not to say that the others had any issue. There was no real difference in the end result, but the Astras, being sharper, left the least stubble for the later passes, allowing the least irritation.

I have to say that, for going six shaves without a “maintenance shave”, this is the least irritation I’ve had in a while.

So, I can easily say that I’ve found my travel razor. If I didn’t have such an excellent pair of primary razors, I would find it somewhat tempting to make it my primary go-to.

Well, that’s about it. Thanks for tuning in.

Patrick

Fighting the good fight

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Workout Reports

Well, it’s been a month since I last checked in with a report of my workout progress. What’s the news? Well, mostly good, with a few predictable caveats. First, I’m still at it. Three to four days per week, as my schedule and my body’s ability to recover dictate. Second, I’m really making pretty good progress. Third, well, my body’s sometimes a punk. Here are some observations:

  1. I’m having better luck with slow, controlled movements, utilizing low reps (5) than I’ve had in the past, using higher reps. You can create similar or better intensity though a shorter rep number by just going more slowly, moving under control, and concentrating on good form. With the various creaky joints I have, this has allowed me to not be in too much pain.
  2. About pain – there’ll be some. There’s no way around it. You are going to feel it, and you’ll be uncomfortable after some workouts. Ideally, if you’re progressing carefully and methodically, you’ll spread out a lot of minor discomfort, rather than being totally incapacitated at times. Doing pretty well in this regard.
  3. Not every day will be your best day. You’ll have off days. Do what you can. Some is better than none.
  4. You’ll get wicked tired at times. I have been essentially down for the count a few times after dinner. I am not 20 years old anymore. Sometimes I “bonk” and have to take a nap that lasts all evening. Sigh.
  5. Some things progress faster than others. Some of my movements are coming along faster than others, but they’re all improving significantly. When I remember how strong my legs used to be, having to eek progress out at this pace hurts my heart, but the progress is coming. Just…at a humbling pace. These things happen when you’re sedentary for too long.
  6. Don’t expect to be what you were, not right away. Maybe not at all. We take damage as we have our adventures, and we get older. Some things may not be in the cards. Don’t close the door on your ambitions, but keep in mind that you have to work around your current circumstance, not what you once were. Also remember that we may have idealized our past a little over the years. The older we are, the better we were, right?
  7. Tend your old injuries. I was wrapped up in my back issues and my right elbow. I kind of forgot about my bum left shoulder. Thus, I ended up really messing up said shoulder. It’s just getting better now. Meanwhile, I’m probably 70 percent improved with the back issue, and I’ve generally done pretty well with my elbow.
  8. Nutrition matters. I think my mindful protein intake this time around has helped. A lot. Don’t try to get into lifting shape without decent fuel. Especially if you’re over 40.

Well, that’s about it.  More to come, probably in a few weeks or a month, when I’ve had a chance to see how the progress is going over a longer scale.

Cheers,

Patrick

So, here we go. I am actually beginning the long and toilsome task of getting back in shape. I reached a health low point a few months ago, and it was a wake up call. This came on the heels of one of my good friends passing away unexpectedly. A friend years younger than I am, with no obvious history of illness. I’m not going to talk directly about that, short of saying that it was both a tragedy and an eye opening moment in my life.

I don’t think we imagine that people in our peer group will pass away from what could be termed “natural causes”. Not in our thirties or forties. I mean, sure, a few people have accidents, a few people develop a disease of some kind. By the time we reach middle age (ouch, still getting used to thinking of it on those terms), we know that we’re mortal, fallible, and growing a bit creaky in various ways. Still…most days, we don’t confront mortality head-on. We leave it for twenty or thirty years further down the road. That’s old person shit, right?

Except that we sometimes get our legs kicked out from under us, and we have to realize that death is not necessarily old person shit, specifically. We are made to understand that, if we fail to take care of ourselves, we may never get to see what it’s like to be fifty, or sixty, or points beyond.

Here’s the situation. I have a few lingering health issues. A bad stomach is one of them. One morning, things had gone so sideways with my stomach that I was miserable. I could hardly sleep. I felt like a hot balloon of fire had been inflated in my ribcage. Several things had come together to bring this about. First, there was my poor coping mechanisms in terms of some long term stress situations in my life. Both personal and professional. Second, the holidays, wherein I’d acted like an ass and eaten lamentably. Third, I was exceedingly worried about the health of a close relative, who’d been in and out of the hospital for a long time. (She’s better!)

In reality, I was just dealing with standard stuff, things that many of us have to deal with. (Many have to deal with much worse. I’m emotionally fragile, I suppose.)

Well, back to that fateful morning that found me feeling like I was about to die, sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care center.

The long and short of it: There was nothing really wrong with me, other than perhaps having had a minor panic attack, and a wicked case of the acid reflux.

Still, it saw me have to totally go off of solid food for a week, and very gradually get back into a normal lifestyle. I wasn’t ready to imagine that this would be my life, that I would be constantly bouncing off the bottom of the barrel, always feeling like crap, always being exhausted and at my wit’s end.

I had to change things around. Lots of things.

So I did. From work to food, to rest, I changed things. I began de-cluttering my house with a vengeance. I mindfully worked on moderating my proclivity for stewing, raging, and otherwise holding onto negative emotions. Strangely enough, this helped. I won’t say that I flipped a switch and now I’m perfectly adjusted to everything, and that all my problems are in the past. But I mindfully decided that I HAD to learn to enjoy life, and find some happiness again. Looking back, I found that so often, over the last (way too many) years, I’d been putting a good face on things, with true happiness and enjoyment coming far too rarely.

A month or so down the line from the great-(re)happiness project, I finally felt well enough to get down to one of the pillars, in my mind, of being well adjusted. Getting into some kind of physical shape, namely.

Now, I took stock of things. I was not ready to get back to my old caveman ways. No, I would have just injured myself. Two years lost in the noisome swamps of World of Warcraft addiction (another story, for another time), then another eighteen months of being terribly unhappy all the time, and I needed to start from scratch. Old school.

How old school? Well, I was crawling back to five sets of five reps. Kicking it old school.

And you know what? It’s working.

I’m doing four sessions per week, one hour at a time. Back and chest on day one. Legs and arms on day two. Back and chest again on day three. Legs and shoulders on day four. It’s not quite the “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” program that I did in High School, but it’s not so far off, either. It’s cautious. It’s basic, and if I can keep my various old wounds from flaring up too badly, I think it’ll get me in shape. I’m doing cardio every day, too, like good boys should. Actually, of everything, that’s the thing I’m seeing the biggest and most impressive improvement in. The first week, my body immediately went into “thou has slain me with thy evil machinations” mode. Second week, slightly less so. In the third week, though I’m already able to start upping the intensity, and I’m not as likely to be gumby-legged afterward. It’s progress. Another six months of this, I might be ready to start cavemanning again.

Details:

Day one: Bench, lat pull-downs

Day two: Squat, barbell curls, barbell triceps extensions (skullcrushers)

Day three: Dumbell butterflies, bent rows

Day four: Stiff-legged deadlifts (with shoulder shrug), dumbell military press

All days: Elliptical machine warm-up, Recumbent Bike cooldown; stretching and abdominal work in the evening before bed.

Well, that was a bit of a longwinded affair. I’ll check in and let you know how things are going with me as time progresses. I hope that I can keep creaky knees, inflamed elbows, and torn-up shoulders from raining on my parade.

Oh, and you’ll be amused to know that the elbow brace that I’m using to some good effect for my bad right elbow – it’s actually a size large knee brace.

Cheers,

Patrick

I have never been someone to give a great deal of thought to moisturizing my skin. In this, I have essentially used whatever was around, when I needed to because my skin was all powdery and gross. Like a dude would do.

Beginning to get into “the wet shaving game” as it were, I learned some stuff about ingredients that were possibly harmful, and had fallen out of vogue with the cognoscenti. Parabens, for instance. I learned that, sometimes paying a few bucks more, and spending a few more minutes looking at the ingredient list for a product, can make a lot of difference.

I’d picked up some moisturizer from “Every Man Jack” a while ago, and sort of liked it. I didn’t feel, however, that its effects lasted that long. It was a momentary fix, but without using the stuff every day or two, back to the old powdery and gross situation. Now, I’d been using, on and off, either a vitamin E lotion, or this stuff called Hydrophor Ointment. I believe the Hydrophor stuff is actually a prescription treatment. They sent it home with my dad for dry skin when he was sick. It’s basically Vaseline, with Lanolin and a few other ingredients mixed in. It works, but it’s got all the negative problems that Vaseline does, like hanging around forever on your skin, being sticky, etc.

During the winter here in Utah, the air gets pretty dry, and I tend to take a lot of showers, so skin dryness is the order of the day. I was poking around a while back, and found a product from NatureWell called Extra Virgin Coconut Oil moisturizing cream. To skip to the end, it’s the cat’s whiskers. Good stuff.

The cream features vitamins A, E, and C, as well as some other excellent oils, like Grape Seed oil, and Macadamia nut oil. You’ve got glycerin and a few other active ingredients in there as well.

It goes on smoothly, and doesn’t leave much greasy residue. I also find that it works well as a beard conditioner on the old goatee. The cream typically keeps my skin hydrated with one or two applications a week, which is nice, because I am not that enthusiastic about having to use a moisturizer every day. Too lazy.

Anyway, the only negative with this stuff, if it can be said to be negative, is that you will walk around smelling a bit like coconut. I believe that this is probably something that would be difficult to mitigate. Coconuts gotta smell like coconuts, as they say.

In any case, that’s a lot of bloviating about skin care products, and all I had to say, so cheers. Happy epidermis day to all.

Shave Update, 3/22/16

Posted: March 22, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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There has been no great revolution of my shaving strategy in the recent months. No new blades, no new equipment. I’m using the same soaps and so on that I was before. Hence, the rarity of updates. That being said, my learning has not altogether stagnated. Let me share the kernels of information that I’ve come upon recently.

  1. The importance of not being frugal. What do I mean by that? Well, here goes: If in doubt, change the blade. Don’t try to stretch an extra shave out of it. It’ simply isn’t worth it. It’s better to err on the side of too much lather than too little, so go ahead and load your shaving brush without reservation. I have found that pushing for more than three shaves with any blade I know of is looking for trouble. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that’s what I’ve found to be the case. In terms of shaving soap, the cost differential between using a bit more than you strictly need and being stingy is not that high. Even with softer soaps, they last pretty well. So you have to buy them a bit more often? Big deal. A small price to pay for not having a torn up face. Finally, don’t be frugal with your time. Being in a hurry is not what traditional shaving is about. Shave when you have time to enjoy it.
  2. It’s not about orthodoxy. People may give you hard and fast rules about how to shave, when to shave, what to use, etc. They mean well, and can often help, but it comes down, in the end, to your own experience, your own face. For me, although everyone and their hound dog indicated that shaving after a shower was the best way, I have found that, time and again, shaving, then showering, works best for me. In fact, that’s probably my biggest change in recent months. I now finish shaving, lather a final time, and let the soap sit on my face as I put my gear away and prepare for the night’s shower. I then use my aftershave when finished and dried from the shower. Works great.
  3. A new blade is sometimes better than “the best” blade. With rare exceptions, I’d say that I’d rather have a new “medium sharp” blade, like a Personna Blue, brand new, than a more luxurious brand, like a Feather, on it’s second or third shave. This is purely a personal thought, but I think that, to some extent, having an inexpensive blade that you changed more often, even with every one or two shaves, might be the way to go. The Feathers blades in my arsenal have been all used up, by the way. I am on the fence about getting more. They are good, but I might like Astras and Wilkinsons better. At the price, I wonder if the wise choice is simply to get some Derby Extras, and throw them out after a few shaves. Hmm.
  4. You’ll eventually find “your thing”. For instance, I could happily use Proraso Green soap and Aqua Velva just about all the time. Not that I don’t like other soaps and aftershaves, but those two perform for me, every time. In the same way, I’m very happy with my two primary razors, the Feather AS-D2 and the Merkur 39C slant. Between those two, I can pretty much do anything I need to do. I’ve sort of stopped looking.
  5. The strategic off day is vital. I suppose that some leather-skinned folks can shave every day, come rain or come shine. Sadly, that ain’t me. I have to shave tactically, or I get razor burn. Yes, even with the best stuff and on my best behavior. You’re still abrading your skin when you shave close. It’s just the way of the world. So, I’ve found that planning my week to include a few off days, ideally shaving about three times, is the way to do it. My manic enthusiasm for shaving has now died down enough that I can countenance a bit of beard stubble here and there, without feeling like I’ve missed an opportunity. My face and neck are much happier.
  6. Learn your trouble spots, and pick your battles. My neck is the spot where I get razor burn. Right where it creases, I have to be careful. I’ve learned that I have to limit the “full on” shaves in this area to once or twice a week. Any more, and I’ll be sorry. Going directly across the neck, side to side, is a tempting thing, but I have to avoid it. I’ll just tear myself up, just about every time. It’s a no go. On the low neck, It’s basically north and south now. Side to side shaving, while it does get that last bit of closeness, is just too risky.

Well, thanks for tuning in. I will be talking about a moisturizing product I like in the upcoming posts, as well as discussing some health stuff (getting this blog back to its roots, of hoisting things and so on!)

Regards,

Patrick

Shave Update, 1/3/2016

Posted: January 3, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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It occurred to me that I may have been searching for something that had already been found. Yep. I think that we do that more than a little with the hobbies and pastimes of our lives. In this case, I was continually going down the list of different razor blades, looking for something magical or wonderful. As you might expect, and might have even read about, I have found some really good blades, and a few duds. More than a vew middle of the road performers. Probably about par for the course, whichever endeavor you’re involved with. Bell curve stuff.

After considering this, I loaded a Feather Hi-Stainless blade into my Feather AS-D2 razor. Like you’re supposed to. It’s always good to touch base with your reference shave, anyway, so I went back, doing a shave with Proraso White and the aforementioned combination. What did I get? A comfortable, very close shave. Like you’re supposed to. Now, I’d given myself a minor irritation with my previous shave, and it would have perhaps been the better part of valor to go easy, but I didn’t, and I got away with it. Why? Because the AS-D2 is a razor that will only jump up and bite you if you’re acting the fool, or if you’re using a blade that lacks all refinement. In my experience, that is. These are subjective tests that rely upon my judgement, after all.

So, the Feather/Feather combo is a good one. The best? Shoot, I don’t know. I’ve had excellent shaves with more than a few blades. The Wilkinson Sword, the Astra SP, most recently with the Derby Extra. This razor is safe with sharp blades. The sharpest, even. On the other hand, it is flexible enough to get great performance out of a less-sharp option, like the Derby. One of the reasons (other than keeping my own epidermis from getting shredded) that I chose to do most of my tests with the AS-D2 was that it wasn’t absurdly aggressive or perilous to shave with. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try out blades that have failed with the D2, but man, be careful.

What do you get with those, the sharpest of the sharp, that you don’t get with other blades? It’s somewhat subtle. Essentially, you get your razor to take off more of the stubble with each pass. Especially the first one. The blade doesn’t hang up with the stubble or slow down. You feel like, even after a single pass, you could probably look presentable at work. Does it, in the end, make a huge difference by the end of the shave? It varies, but with proven performers, not a whole lot. A slightly duller blade just has a bit more to do in later passes. The Derby, not known for a lot of sharpness, got me some of the closest shaves I’ve had with this rig. The real thing that a blade that begins with reference level of sharpness will probably get you is a few more shaves before it gets dull enough to be a hazard. A hazard? Yep. I said it. The point at which you begin using force to get though the beard is the point at which you hurt yourself. If you have a gentle hand, sharp is perfectly safe. Dull and coarse is not. Says me, anyway.

***
The maintenance two pass shave with the Wilkinson Sword went swimmingly. It’s really all about not doing the third pass with the Merkur 39C. Perhaps I could get away with it with a Derby, but with a sharp-end blade, it’s going to irritate me. This last shave, a farily speedy affair with Palmolive Classic from the tube, was about as close as I’ve been able to achieve with a two pass shave. Damn near as close as some of my less-than-stellar three pass outings. I’ve like the Wilkinson blade a lot, and it continues to impress with really good sharpness combined with a smooth cut.

I certainly haven’t tested every blade I have (there are a good number of Lord and Crown blades left from my sampler pack), but I’ve tested enough to have a good idea of the qualities that work with my razors and my face. To be honest, I’m not that excited about any of the blades that remain. I’ll probably test them, sure, but I’ve become a bit less enthusisatic about doing a full three shave sequence if I’m not feeling it for a particular blade. I’m prepared to give a blade that doesn’t have great prospects the short shrift.

The blades that I’m still interested in testing include the Polsilver, the Perma-Sharp, and a few others, primarly from Russia and Scandinavia. Perhaps the top of the line Dorco, if I can get a small enough pack. Buying a hundred blades to simply get a try with a blade is not in the plan. Not because of fiscal restraint, but because I don’t want to have a thousand blades hanging around, of which I only like three hundred. Seems wasteful. Especially when I already know of at least three blades that I would happily use through a fifty or hundred pack.

***
I’ve carried on with the course I set, using the Feather blade in my AS-D2 razor until I began to sense signs of roughness. With the benefit of the ultimate sharpness of the Feather blade, the AS-D2 flat out shaves every vestige of hair off your face. You do have to be just slightly more careful, but not too bad. I wouldn’t give a Feather to a beginner, but if you have your technique down, all is well.

If I’m honest, I could easily close the book on the whole testing element of wet shaving. With the AS-D2 and a Feather blade, I could do just about anything I ever needed to. I could use a one or two pass shave to give my face a break, and then do the full three pass when smoothness was paramount. In terms of the other accoutrements, I could also pare down to only a few soaps. If pressed, I suppose I would pick, if I could only pick one, the Proraso White. Not because it is necessarily my favorite, but it always lathers perfectly, has enough of a menthol coolness to make my skin feel good, and protects as well as anything I’ve tried. I haven’t gone brush crazy, like some wet shavers do. I like the Omega synthetic in terms of function, though it isn’t the most luxurious feeling brush. Now and then, I like to use the Escali. It’s a bit gentler, with a slightly different feel on your face. I recognize that neither of these brushes are anywhere close to “the best” brush, in terms of what the experts say. Shrug. I don’t care that much. They work fine. If one of them begins to wear, I’ll gladly try a new brush then. For aftershave, I suppose I could pare down to Aqua Velva or some version thereof, Witch Hazel, and some form of moisturizer. I have been trying a Coconut Oil product I picked up, and thus far, I really, really like it. More details as I’ve used it a bit more.

All of this is a mental exercise on my part, though. I still want to try more blades, more of all the various gear out there. I don’t know that I’ll be going at it hammer and tongs for a while, though, as I’ve found a good number of products that work well for me.

Cheers, and Happy 2016!