Dads. If you’re lucky, they teach you a load of different stuff as you grow up, some of which you need, some of which you don’t but they like to teach you anyway. In this respect, my Dad started off well but tailed off towards the end and specifically when it came to teaching me how to shave, he was a man of traditional tastes. Preferring his double edge stainless steel razor, over the two, three or five bladed modern inventions that he always regarded with a skepticism that bordered on the militant end of suspicious. As such, as soon as I left home, and in a display of youthful ill gained confidence I, obviously, ignored him completely. Coincidentally, for my 18th birthday I was sent a free razor by Wilkinson Sword in a move that proved more cunning than a fox who had just been ordained as Grand High Wizard of Cunning at the Official Church of Cunningology. Needless to say I’ve been sucked in to their lubricating stripped, multiple bladed, vibrating handled, flip topped progress ever since. That is, until now…
We met the guys behind The Modern Man by chance, before Christmas and we started to ask them about the ‘Male Grooming’ scene. I’ll happily admit that SuburbanGent is far more into his grooming* than me but as John talked about the huge increase in the diversity of shaving products targeted specifically at men, I began to wonder if my beard oil and Hydro 3 combo was starting to look a little dated. What then was next? Where are we going and what should we be looking out for? The answer that came back from The Modern Man was very clear: when it comes to shaving, these days it’s time to go Old School.
Shaving, the way it used to be
To prove their point that my Dad actually knew what he was talking about, The Modern Man sent through a few new modern twists on the old classic products for us to try; a brush, a moisturiser and two different shaving treatments. First up, I took a closer look at the Vie-Long brush. John tells me with an authority which I find hard to doubt, that traditionally these are made from badger hair. Did you know that? I didn’t. Quite apart from the PR nightmare that is a mental image of a load of shaved badgers running around a farm somewhere in Eastern Europe to provide hair for my Dad’s favourite shaving accessory, I welcome Vie-Long’s dedication to revive the appeal of the shaving brush with sustainable, cruelty free pure horse hair. It’s a wonderful thing to look at too sitting on your shelf, plus it has a strangely pleasing prickle against your skin. I decided that we had started well.
Next up, was a shaving cream and biscuit. The cream from MenRock loaded onto the brush really nicely and the slight citrus scent from the lime was strong and fresh. There is no need to create a lather as the cream layers on your chin very well. However, the cream kind of dried and caked on my face like a face mask which meant that the shave turned a bit unpleasantly gooey half way through. This made it very difficult to see what was going on but also meant I got lubrication with every stroke so swings and roundabouts there. The end result was pretty good though, smooth and fresh if pretty messy.
The biscuit from Dear Barber comes in a very classy wood effect pot (it ain’t wood but you would never know on the shelf), and requires you to wet the brush and create a lather on the top before applying it to your face with the brush. The smell of this stuff is the smell of my Dad, back in the early years before the whiskey; it’s the smell of happy memories. Shaking off the rose-tinted glow of reminiscence, I noticed that application on the face is softer and thinner than MenRock’s offer but still provided great coverage, and although there was a little bit of goo when the lather settled into a cream when on the face, it didn’t crack or dry and wasn’t disagreeable at all. The finished shave was significantly better than the other cream as well, softer, smoother and needless to say much easier to clean.
Finally, I used the moisturiser from American Crew with both shaves and having never used one post cut before (despite SuburbanGents insistence that it should be an essential part of every mans grooming practice), I’ll fully admit that I came at it from a very wary position. Real men were red raw, stubbley and slightly flaking around the edges, weren’t they? Well, I’m not in a position to truly judge the effectiveness of American Crew as it’s the only moisturising cream I’ve ever used, but what I can say is that it had me at the first palm softening moment I allowed it near my skin. It cooled, it softened and it relaxed my face in one single move, it was nothing short of a revelation. Real men be damned, this is my future and I love it.
So is the Modern Man learning old tricks?
So, Gentlemen one and all, allow me this moment to confirm and cry from the roof tops; I am a convert, I have been radicalised, I am an Apostle to the true believers – never again will I suffer with greasy oil or dry and chapped skin. I have rediscovered that the joy of a good shave is to learn the lessons of the past; shaving is a process of preparation, dedication and moisturisation. Of course, there will always be a place for a tight trim, or the kind of Brian Blessed beard you can lose a badger in. But right now as I lather up my shaving biscuit and squeeze out another dollop of American Crew, I can finally admit that my Dad was right about something at least.
The Modern Man sent us these products to take a look at because they think they’re pretty good and from what I’ve seen I can’t disagree. They stock a huge range of brands and will ship worldwide for free on orders over £15, plus they are running a deal to give you the American Crew moisturiser for free if you spend over 30 quid. That seems like a pretty good deal to us so check them out here: TheModernMan.co.uk
*An unfortunate phrase that, I think you’ll agree.