Method Shaving is a fairly new concept and it is evolving as the products are continuously improving. This leaves room for some confusion and misunderstanding of the process and how the products are used, so hopefully I can shed a little light for the "method curious." Not everyone wants to take the time to read Charles A. Roberts' 75-page "Primer on RMWS" and FAQs, which is understandable, so I cover the basics in this article. Yes, I have read the whole manuscript and found it very informative, and yes, I am that much of a shave geek.
What is Method Shaving?
Method Shaving is a system developed by Charles A. Roberts to help you shave as quickly and efficiently as possible. Charles simplified wet shaving by making directional guides called cutting forms, so you don't have to figure out which way your hair grows and the angles that you should shave. In addition, and he created Hydrolast, an all-natural product line of shaving products that lets you customize your shave if you have dry or oily skin, sensitive skin, in-grown hairs, razor bumps, or other concerns.
First, if you haven't already, watch Mantic59's "Introduction to Method Shaving" videos. There's little I can say about the products themselves that Mark hasn't already covered in these outstanding videos. The second video on building a wet mix shows the difference in common types of brushes when used for Method Shaving and also introduces a nice new product, the Activator solution, which I will discuss later. The third installment shows the cutting forms in action and gives you a basic understanding of how they work.
So now that you know what the products are and the general idea of how to lather up a mix, the next step is actually shaving with it. The Method is broken down into three forms that provide a road map for reducing the beard to the lowest point regardless of your grain growth direction.
Everybody's grain is different and it's common for some to think that following this will result in against the grain strokes on the first pass, and hello irritation. The concept is that the cube/paste combo gets the face hydrated and the hair softened enough that these forms cut smooth and easy. The goal is not to plow the blade right down to the skin, but to reduce the length of the hair each pass. The following are the basics of how I go through my shave:
1. Build mix.
2. Lather face with brush.
3. Cut Form 1.
4. Lather face with brush again.
5. Cut Form 1 second time.
6. Take a small amount of lather from the brush and wet hand and spread across face in a thin layer. Charles calls this "stretching" the mix.
7. Cut Form 2.
8. Repeat the mix stretching again.
9. Cut Form 3.
The reduction phase looks like a lot of steps, but it actually goes very quickly. This mix is slick enough that you can cut in much quicker strokes without irritation, but that depends on the individual. For me, the above steps take no more than a few minutes to complete.
Once that is done now, I apply some touch up for those few remaining tough spots where there's still that last bit of stubble. This is where the Activator solution is also useful. I take a small amount of hand-lathered slag from the cube, cup my hand and put a few drops of Cutting Balm, and a pump or two of Activator, and rub that by hand directly on my face to create a thin slick layer. Then use short, against-the-grain strokes to clear those last spots. In this phase, I do go back to paying some attention to grain pattern. The razor glides right over this with complete ease and leaves the face very smooth every time. This slick-cutting mix is referred to in Method Terminology as a "Cutting Serum."
Once the shave is done, a normal cold-water rinse follows, and then I mist my face down with the spray tonic. The Hydrolast Tonic is a blend of purified water and essential oils that adds to moisturizing and conditioning the skin. It is not entirely necessary for the post-shave process, but adds that little extra something. Then I apply a small amount of the aftershave conditioner and gently message it on to my face. I use a bit more than some people because I apply it to my entire face, not just the shaved area. The peppermint scent is a very soothing moisturizer with a nice cooling effect. The other scents are nice as well, but I'm hooked on the Peppermint for life!
The products also will last quite a while, which justifies the price. The cube and paste are what you will have to restock most often and they are together about the same price as a regular tub of cream. Obviously, there are more ways to shave and the Method is not for everyone, but consistently I have had great results from it. The skin conditioning properties of the products are outstanding.
The Myths of Method Shaving
Charles Roberts spent hours writing lengthy and in-depth documentation, which many critics argue makes Method Shaving too complicated, time consuming, and expensive. Most of these critics, however, have never tried the system, which has unfortunately resulted in a lot of skepticism and inaccurate assumptions. Set aside the lingo, terminology, and eccentric personalities, and you'll see that the basics of the system are straight forward and highly effective. Learn more about The Myths of Method Shaving.