Grooming Artist News Roundup: May 2017

Wet shaving is an ancient art – we’re talking as far back as 30,000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians used flint blades to scrape their faces. So it’s only fitting to pay tribute to this tradition with some wet shaving history lessons. The Star digs deep into Sheffield, England’s long history of straight razor manufacturing, while we offer a history on the evolution of Proraso.

Moving forward to present day, there’s exciting news in the barbering world, with the first female barber ever to win the title of Welsh Champion of the Wet Shave. And with spring vacation on the horizon for many of us, we’ve included tips how to dress for any destination.

We polish off this month’s Grooming Artist Roundup with grooming tips for keeping your skin healthy and your shaving brushes performing optimally.

Enjoy!

A history lesson on Sheffield razors. (The Star)

Barber Sophie Collins is the first woman to win the title of Welsh Champion of the Wet Shave, and goes on to compete for the British title at Barber UK this month. (Daily Post)

How to travel in style for every kind of getaway this spring. (MR PORTER)

A quick guide to exfoliating: the secret tool to better skin and a better shave. (GQ)

Shaving tips for sensitive skin. (Men’s Journal)

Are you a fan of Proraso? Then be sure to read our history of the popular Italian brand. (Grooming Artist)

How to care for your shaving brush so it lasts a lifetime – or longer. (Grooming Artist)

History of Wet Shaving: Proraso

Images via Proraso

Founded on the motto, “Shaving is an art and a pleasure,” Proraso brings the barbershop experience home – a premium product without a premium cost. And with four lines to suit specific concerns, Proraso seems to really cover the bases, boasting a legion of fans worldwide. The nearly 70-year-old company’s products have become classics.

Here’s a little history behind the popular wet shaving brand:

Keeping it in the Family

In 1908, Ludovico Martelli founded a cosmetics company under his own name in Florence. It wasn’t until Martelli’s son, Piero, came on to the company in 1948 that Proraso was born. Proraso transitioned the focus from cosmetics to shaving.

On the eve of an economic boom in Italy, Piero invented the Proraso Crema Miracolosa, a eucalyptus-based cream that could be used before a shave to soften the beard and after a shave to soothe irritation. You know it today as Proraso Green Pre-Shave Cream. As you might expect, the recipe for the formula of Pre-Shave Cream is tightly guarded, passed down from one generation to the next. Pre-Shave Cream became the first in a line of men’s grooming products now referred to as the Green line.

Proraso Pre-Shave Cream was an instant hit with barbers, and soon word of this fresh, multitasking product spread to Italian men who shaved at home.

Working on formulation in the Florence laboratory.

Targeted Lines for Different Concerns

Following on the heels of the Green line’s success, Proraso released its Red line for sensitive skin, which was discontinued several years ago. The White line eventually picked up where the Red line left off, with gentle formulations for reactive skin types.

The company then proceeded to launch a new Red line, this time targeted towards guys with coarse beards.

Recently, Proraso came out with its Blue line, designed to deeply moisturize dry skin.

Reinvention

In 2012 Proraso reformulated its products, to much discussion on the shaving forums. For the most part the formula stayed the same, but now it became over 95% natural origin and free of parabens, mineral oil, SLS, and silicones.

Find out more about Proraso on its website, and shop Proraso at RoyalShave.

The Top 7 Bestsellers of 2016

It’s coming on the end of the year, and we feel it appropriate to share a “Best Of” list to celebrate. With the immense growth of the men’s grooming industry, there are new products being released all the time, vying at our attention. However, there are certain tools that persist – whether it’s the blade that gets you the perfect shave or the safety razor that weaned you off cartridge shaving for good.

Every year, we take a look back on the wet shaving essentials that you loved most. The following seven items are our bestsellers of 2016. Take a gander, gain a few tips from the reviews, and perhaps discover your next standby.

30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin

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Features

  • Soft silvertip badger hair with superb water retention
  • Smaller knot for optimal precision and control
  • Bulbous loft for easier lathering in shave bowls and mugs

Customer review

“This is a good brush that produces a great lather. Great deal for the money.”

-Rod

SHOP: 30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin 

Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades

 

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Features

  • Platinum-coated stainless steel
  • Excellent starter blade for men with light to medium beards

Customer review

“Makes my Merkur 34C sparkle in the morning. Gives my wife a great cheek to cheek.”

-Larry J.

SHOP: Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades 

Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Features

  • Midweight construction for just enough pressure
  • Stubby handle for better grip
  • Two-piece, closed comb construction

Customer review

“This is my first safety razor. I tried the Merkur blade that came with it and was so impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish 

Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl

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Features

  • Glycerin-based for slickness and glide
  • Coconut acid for a rich lather
  • Available in a dozen scents

Customer review

“This is the best shave cream that money can buy. There is no burning or drying your skin out. It bathes you skin in comfort, and the Sandalwood scent is the best I have ever smelled.”

-Jerry B.

SHOP: Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl 

Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

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Features

  • Three-piece, closed comb construction
  • Chrome-plated for enhanced rust resistance
  • Fluted handle for a secure grip

Customer review

“This is a pretty amazing razor at a very economical price. Fantastic option for new DE shavers who want a superior razor but don’t want to spend a lot upfront. Very impressive build quality and materials. Weight is just right. And the longer handle is a great choice for those transitioning from cartridge and disposables. It will feel very familiar. At this price, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you’ll be pretty amazed at how much razor you get for just $32.”

-Kenstee

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid

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Features

  • Stiffer, more forgiving half hollow Swedish blade
  • Top and bottom tang jimps for enhanced grip
  • Durable celluloid scales

Customer review

“Nice Straight Razor. Smooth Dovo quality clearly felt in this razor, great first razor to jump into straight razor shaving. There are better Dovo razors but this is a great starter for the price and quality. It will last forever and be a great travel razor when you upgrade.”

-Michael L.

SHOP: Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid 

Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Features

  • Coconut oil for enhanced slickness
  • Glycerin-based formula keeps skin soft
  • Soothing menthol scent

Customer review

“I purchased the Proraso Hard shaving cream as part of a straight razor starter kit. When Opened the Proraso hard shaving cream bowl, I could immediately smell the refreshing scents of menthol and eucalyptus. This cream lathers up very thick with little effort. The cream not only applies to my skin very nicely ( I recommend a badger brush), but it also doesn’t bubble out like a lot of other creams out there. After I use the shaving cream my skin is super soft. I will only use this cream from now on.”

-Jason

SHOP: Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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The RoyalShave Guide to Pre-Shave Treatments

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As with everything in wet shaving, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to pre-shave treatments. Some men can’t live without them, others notice no difference, and some even find their shaves to be better without a pre-shave. The best way to determine if you should be using a pre-shave treatment is to try shaving 1 – 2 weeks with, then 1 – 2 weeks without, then with again. You can also experiment with applying the treatment only before your shave, or applying before each pass.

There are a couple pre-shave options available: pre-shave oil, gel, and cream. Here, we break down the benefits of each option.

Pre-shave oil

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What is it?

A pre-shave oil makes your skin softer and more supple for a shave, which means you won’t experience as much irritation. Oils penetrate the skin better than creams or gels, so they are able to retain water in your skin and keep it strong during a shave. As noted on Badger and blade, “when a blade drags across the well-moisturized skin, the skin ‘gives’ to the blade and will bend or conform significantly to the shape of the blade BEFORE it will be torn or cut by the blade…on the other hand, if the skin is dry…the skin will not give or conform to the blade but will instantly tear.”

Who should use a pre-shave oil?

We recommend pre-shave oils for any man with sensitive skin, as it will protect you from razor burn and razor bumps.

How do I use pre-shave oil?

It must first be noted that a pre-shave oil is not effective without water. This is because the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) absorbs water with ease, but does not keep it in well. Thus, an oily substance – a pre-shave oil – is needed to trap the water in the skin.

To optimize a pre-shave oil’s benefits, apply it in the shower, where the steam will open up pores for deeper penetration. Or apply it right before a hot towel treatment to similar effect. Wait until your skin feels ultra soft, then commence lathering.

What are some good pre-shave oils to try?

Highly absorptive oils include jojoba oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, castor oil, and sunflower oil. You can simply use a few drops of any of these oils (or a blend) for a pre-shave.

In the realm of commercially prepared oils, St. James of London Pre-Shave Oil has excellent reviews. It contains sunflower oil and jojoba oil to leave your skin feeling smooth as silk.

SHOP: St. James of London Pre-Shave Oil

Pre-shave cream/Gel

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What is it?

Whereas pre-shave oil makes the skin itself softer, thereby preventing nicks and cuts, pre-shave creams and gels create a cushion between your skin and the blade. This cushion allows the blade to slide more easily across the surface. Pre-shave creams and gels simultaneously soften the beard, making your hair more pliable and easy to cut.

Who should use a pre-shave cream or gel?

The best way to determine if a pre-shave cream or gel will make your shave better is to try one out for yourself (see method in first paragraph).

How do I use a pre-shave cream or gel?

Apply to damp skin prior to shaving. We suggest applying the cream or gel right before you start building lather. By the time your lather is ready to go, your skin should be thoroughly lubricated.

If you shower before you shave, apply the pre-shave cream or gel right before you shower.

What are some good pre-shave oils or gels to try?

Proraso Pre-Shave Cream – Green, Refreshing and Toning has been said to not only improve shaves, but also to reduce acne and razor burn. It has the added benefit of refreshing your skin with a minty, tingling sensation as you shave.

If you have reactive skin, The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Pre-Shave Gel is highly effective for men with sensitive skin and thick beards. Glycerin coats the skin for enhanced glide, and the alcohol-free formula reduces irritation.

SHOP: Proraso Pre-Shave Cream – Green, Refreshing and Toning and The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Pre-Shave Gel

A note on Geo. F. Trumper Skin Food

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If you find yourself short on time or just looking for a multitasking product, Geo. F. Trumper Skin Food makes a good pre-shave and aftershave balm. Its glycerin base protects the skin. You can also place a few drops onto your puck or brush to combat lathering issues with hard-to-lather soaps like Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap.

Tip: For a step-by-step guide to producing lather with the Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap, see our blog post here.

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