When I was a kid in the 1950′s, Dad always used a shaving brush, shaving cup and shaving soap to work up a hot lather. I never asked him anything about this ritual because I’d seen it all on Gunsmoke and the other old-time TV shows. There was a quaint old custom that obviously went out of fashion in the 19th century.
I used sensible twentieth century shaving aerosols. In January 1970 Gillette’s patent registration for “The Hot One” was accepted. That was a chemically-driven foam that became hot when dispensed. It used hydrogen peroxide to generate the reaction. I adopted it immediately, but I noted the foam only stayed hot for about fifteen seconds, after which it became just another shaving cream. As I recall, that product was pulled from the market after about a year due to skin reactions reported by some users. After that, I went back to various popular brands of foam shaving aerosols for a number of decades.
Researching this post, I’m reminded what a huge market for men’s shaving products there is. There are articles on hot shave dispensers, how to shave with a straight razor, and even on individual brands of shaving cream.
In the 1990′s I discovered you could still buy a shaving brush like my dad’s, and I bought one. I used that pretty regularly for the remainder of my working career. One can buy a “shaving cup,” but I generally just use a heavy wide-brimmed coffee cup of the sort used for soups. You can also recycle the bath soap chips you’d normally discard when they get down to a certain size, and I find so functional difference between that and a dedicated shaving soap. I’m not a purist for any one shaving method, and I keep an electric shaver around for a quick lazy retired man’s shave. I even keep a can of Burma Shave around.
My shaving brush, rinsed in very hot water and then used to work up a good hot lather, softens the whiskers and prepares them for the shave better than any other method I’ve tried. I like the fact that I don’t have to rinse a load of excess shaving aerosol off my hands before I begin shaving. It’s still the smoothest, cleanest way I know of to shave.
Dad was right after all!