Posted in Derren's Posts

Posted by Derren Brown November 16, 2008 at 1:44 am

Once in New York, I filled a morning by visiting an old fashioned barber’s shop (not a properly old-fashioned one, though: this had a bad eighties’ feel to it and those hysterical turquoise shots in the window of guys with perms and aviator specs) and get my face shaved. I had never undergone such treatment before: it was unnerving, pleasant, painful, relaxing and frightening all at once and at different times. But it is rather nice to know that someone has shaved you. Back in London, I decided to repeat the procedure, and visited a place near my apartment. This time it was unambiguously horrendous, and the most pain I have experienced at the hands of an older man. I was left raw, stinging and absolutely hopping mad, with spots of blood coming up all over my neck. Never again, I thought, furiously leaving a tip.

A few weeks later, and disappointed that my latest effete pursuit was to be curtailed, I got into discussion with the staff at GF Trumpers of Jermyn St, (I didn’t know the original Curzon St branch at the time) which is a quite excellent place for securing all things gentlemanly. Soon they had me convinced that they could do a better job, and after one initially very nervous session, I emerged ever the smoothest, creamiest, most trimmed and talcumed young psychological illusionist to ever read a mind or influence a behaviour. 

On alternate Saturdays I would return to Trumpers and receive the hot-towels and cut-throat safely and precisely. Now that I am no longer a single man and cannot pre-book half of all my Saturday afternoons to be spent in this ludicrous way, I have forgone the luxury of a professional touch and shave at home. Too nervous to use a cut-throat, I use the more pedestrian Gillette Fusion Power razor, which plays less darkly upon the imagination. I am, as you will guess, a shaving enthusiast, and I thought that you could all do a lot worse than pay attention to my shaving tips, because I have met some of you, and frankly most of you need it. I realise this may be of less interest to my lady-fans, but, again, I have stood quite close to many of you after shows, and some of those hirsute upper-lips could stand a little pruning.

So, for those who struggle with their morning toilet, my thoughts are as follows. As ever, recommendations and thoughts appreciated. I am indebted to the various barbers at Trumpers and the long discussions we have had while I was in the chair. 

1. Preparation is all. Exfoliate in the shower, and do so every day if you can.

2. Do not use any shaving oils: they will clog up your razor. The idea is to first open your pores, (which is what the hot towels will do if you visit a professional), so avoid anything cloggy. Trumpers sell a ‘skin food’, which is essentially glycerine and one of various pleasant scents, and this nicely and lightly prepares the skin for the razor without recourse to oils. 

3. Next, lather up. You should use soap in a bowl and a proper brush, for this is where the joy of the whole experience resides. If you use cream or gel from a commercial can, you should still use a brush to apply it. This is because you wish to lift the hairs from the face: smoothing your hand down your cheeks and chin has the opposite effect. A hand-made badger brush will not moult like a machined one, and the best have firmer hairs inside which help the lather build quicker. Brush the lather in little circles around your quite exceptional face, lifting those pesky hairs, and then, if you have time, rub it all in with your fingers and start again with the soap that is still on the brush. 

4. Hair-raised, you can pick up your razor. I use the Fusion Power, but have no idea if the buzzing function really makes any difference. I am somewhat committed to it, as I found a fancy one that has a little light on it, which I just love. Others complain that the 5-bladed Fusion brand clogs up too easily, and swear by the old Mach III. They may be right. I have shelves of faux bone-handled and chrome razors, for every brand of blade, most far more beautiful than the light-up gizmo, and would love a tortoiseshell handle for the Fusion Power… you know where to post a comment if you’ve come across anything nice. 

Some people have hugely sensitive skin, and no amount of care seems to stop the old rashes and in-grown hairs. A dermatologist I spoke to explained that the trouble with the multi-bladed razors is that they can pull out and cut the hair so closely to the skin that if you are one of a small percentage of people to have stubble that grows at a shallower angle to the skin rather than straight out, the pull-and-snip action can actually make the hair grow again underneath the skin. So – and this advice has been invaluable to a couple of friends – the answer is to eschew these modern razors and stick to an old-fashioned top-loading single blade model. There you have it. It won’t be quite as close, but it will be close enough and might stop the in-growing if you can’t seem to stop it after taking on board all my handy hints.  

Meanwhile, when I pluck up courage to use a cut-throat, I’ll let you know. 

5. Start shaving. Stretch the skin where you can, and shave slowly: they shave too fast and casually in the adverts and it’s a bad example. Keep the blades rinsed, and go slowly and carefully. Above all, SHAVE WITH, NOT AGAINST, THE GRAIN. This is a very common mistake. It will feel closer if you go against the grain, but you’ll end up with ingrown hairs all over the place. Always with the grain. For most people, that will be DOWN the cheeks and UP the neck to meet under the jaw, but we all have our personal hair-grain maps. Be aware of any areas you tend to find rashes: usually this is where you’ve been shaving the wrong way. 

You should be changing your blades every four shaves at the very most, but with the current economic climate and the cost of Fusion blades, you may have to make compromises. 

6. After the shave is complete, PAT your face with a towel, don’t rub. 

7. Moisturise your face and neck, and treat any nicks with a styptic pencil or similar product. 

8. For a super-silky effect, go for the talc. Yeah, baby. 

I don’t use an aftershave balm, as it’s best to minimise the number of products you’re pushing into your face every time you shave. Stick to the same products, and don’t use more than are needed. Avoid shaving every day, (every other day is best). Exfoliation is an important part of the regime, as it’s primarily all about stopping those hairs from growing the wrong way under dead skin or clogged pores. 

Those, then, are my top tips. Do with them as you wish, but I can assure you I was raggedy-rashed and spotty before I discovered the pleasures of doing it right. And my life was poorer too, because shaving was a chore rather than a delight. I hope you’ll find your way to enjoying it too. Especially those ladies: you know who you are. 

Right, next time it might be perfect egg-poaching. 

Heavens, is that the time. Ner-night.



November 16, 2008 at 2:01 am
Berber Anna says:

While we of the XX persuasion (well, most of us) have indeed foregone the silly practice of growing hair on our faces – this post reminds me of watching my grandad shave when I was little. Happy memories. Nice. 🙂

November 16, 2008 at 5:24 am
Emma says:

I just love how enthusiastic that post was of Derren’s.

I’m sure there’s a limit to how much pleasure you can get from shaving and at the same time, pretty sure that Derren reaches it each time!

Although being a woman (not one of *those* select few who has facial hair, Derren *ahem*) this advice is useless to me… I’m completely empathetic with the enthusiasm for some very beloved things though (especially mundane things) such as staircases. (In relation to the ‘Stairp0rn’ article)

I could go on well into the early hours expressing my love for such things – just don’t get me started.

November 16, 2008 at 9:18 am
BellaFiga says:

I have in vain tried to source a hand-made badger.

The vibrating disposable seems to have become popular around the same time as extreme hair fashions in the minge department. Coincidence? I think not.

November 16, 2008 at 9:26 am
Nancy says:

I agree with Emma above – your enthusiasm is this post is adorable! But I just wanted to say that i’m glad you’re not single even if it does mean less time to wallow in the pleasures of shaving, as it means there are plenty of other pleasures for you to wallow in 😉

love xx

November 16, 2008 at 10:00 am
Katherine says:

Not being one of those hairy female types, I have just learnt something quite fascinating but utterly useless. Perhaps, Derren, in exchange you would like some tips on looking after long unruly red hair?

November 16, 2008 at 10:04 am
KimM says:

As one of his lady fans may I say, with the greatest of respect, what a cheeky boy!

This is all very fascinating but does not explain how he achieves the various facial hair configurations we have seen him sport over the years, e.g The Emperor Ming, The Johnny Depp, the Brazilian and more recently the Toblerone. I would like to know how this is done – templates, specialist trimming gizmos or just a steady hand?

November 16, 2008 at 10:06 am
Rhian says:

Ha, the funniest article on shaving ever. Bless. I’m sure many others here can attest to how lovely and smooth Derren’s face is close up ;o)

November 16, 2008 at 10:12 am
Nopke says:

Well, can’t say if those tips will work out … I’ll distribute them among my male colleagues and have them test those scientifically and will submit the final conclusions for review and publication here.

Now I wonder .. how come there are no male respondents here … all to stubborn and determined to keep using their own methods and refusing to see into Brown’s methods? Or are they all already in front of the mirror .. list of the Brown’s protocol next to the mirror .. following the procedure … struggling … to get it right …

And as for myself … well, I may not post several comments from someone called Phyllis (she did not get the length of Brown’s posts now and then apparently … ) so I will put them here … My methods works way faster and smoother than Brown’s so I will keep mine up. Ofcourse .. I don’t look like a hairy neantherthaler each morning … that’s probably another reason for my lack of motivation in this area …

November 16, 2008 at 11:27 am
Courtney says:

I also use the Fusion, most useful. I’ve always had trouble trimming though. I’m curious how derren does it as his always presents so expertly crafted.

November 16, 2008 at 11:32 am
Courtney says:

I must experiment to see what it’s like with the power off, I must admit each time the little light starts flashing I feel duty bound to replace the battery.

November 16, 2008 at 11:41 am
ReliegiousMarie says:

Lol…i find it utterly sweet that you left a tip furiously :-D…

Well, though i am a lady with not much facial hair i do have one very funny almost sadistic experience with this at a barbershop with all my lady friends including my mother …it is a turkish barbershop where they cut all the facial-hair with a very thin rope….i will spare you the details but it may be clear that everyone was persuaded to undergo the (quite painful) experience (get eyebrows done too etc..) it left me with a tummy pain and thick eyes because of the laughter…

although its painfull and rather different then shaving (and not really for the ladies) i must say the results i saw were even stunning for ladies…



November 16, 2008 at 11:57 am
Jackie says:

I say – let it grow, let it grow, let it grow… Winter warmth from face fuzz.


November 16, 2008 at 1:23 pm
Sam says:

Well i gave it a try but my dark hair coupled with pale skin meant that in the end, I had to shave against the grain for a close enough result. Otherwise, it would have looked as if I hadn’t gone to the effort in the first place. It did feel much more comfortable up to that point but the end result of my hacking was intermittent clumps of hair, cuts & red skin, which make me look like a radiation victim.

And a single-bladed disposable, you say?! Frankly, I’d be more comfortable with a rusty chainsaw. Perhaps I’ll give a cut-throat a try & hope it doesn’t live up to its name.

November 16, 2008 at 1:45 pm
Lynsey says:

Umm…Derren, you’re starting to sound a wee bit like Patrick Bateman, mate…


November 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm
Laura says:

How did anyone ever doubt you were gay?

November 16, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Nicosia says:

ReliegiousMarie- Oh, sweetie! Go get waxed instead! Same results with less trauma!

Laura- we were just hoping he was messing with our minds 😉

November 16, 2008 at 6:25 pm
AaronK says:

I wanted to comment on my little theory on why these modern razors have the little “buzzing” units inside them. I don’t believe that applying a vibrator to your face lifts the follicles anymore that a razor that doesn’t have one, but it did occur to me: when I used a razor that had the buzzing feature, it caused me to slow waaaaay down on how fast I was shaving. Hence, the shave was better quality with no knicks and cuts, and less bumps. With razors that don’t have the quasi-erotic mandible device inside them, I was shaving much faster and not surprisingly had poor shaving.

Good tip on the brush, I will give that a go!

November 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm
Andrea says:

I am going to make my boyfriend read this, he could use a few tips =)

November 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm
Bob, Carol Jeez says:

What next Derren? A post on how to wipe your own arse properly? FFS. Only Derren Brown has the knowledge on how to shave properly!

“Now that I am no longer a single man and cannot pre-book half of all my Saturday afternoons to be spent in this ludicrous way”

Oh, has he got you chained to the kitchen sink (or where ever)? Not allowed to go out on a Saturday or spend your time doing anything else other than being with him? Maybe you should see him more during the week. Sounds like an unhealthy relationship you have there.


November 16, 2008 at 8:55 pm
Bob, Carol Jeez says:

Forgot to say Derren, maybe if you didnt write such long ass posts you could get to see him a little more that way!

“Right, next time it might be perfect egg-poaching.”

That would not surprise me!

November 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm
whodat says:

“Lynsey Says:
November 16th, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Umm…Derren, you’re starting to sound a wee bit like Patrick Bateman, mate…”


see also:

November 16, 2008 at 9:32 pm
Sue says:

Firstly… lol, and bless you Derren (obvioushly). And lol at the gay comments (obvioushly very very true).

I agree with Rhian that Derren is lovely and smooth, and I have been lucky to be fairly close to him (yet I too am not one of those hair facial ladies!).


Finally in response to Bob Carol Jeez comments – bit to OTT perhaps, Derren is blatantly pointing out that he prefers to spend his spare time with his partner now instead of spending a few hours in a barber shop… I’m quite sure that Derren does spend his weekdays/evenings with his partner also.. and just because he is posting here, does not mean his partner isn’t there at the time of postings given their opinion too.

November 16, 2008 at 9:40 pm
Sue says:

Oh and “yeah, baby” right back at ya Derren.


November 16, 2008 at 9:40 pm
Berber Anna says:

Bob: It’s his blog, nobody is forcing you to read it…

November 16, 2008 at 9:49 pm
Steve says:

I’ve never been given any tips on shaving. Derren’s Blog has now become a father figure for me. I’m about to go watch a YouTube video on how to tie a tie now

November 16, 2008 at 10:01 pm
Nicosia says:

BTW boys… Wax is great for eyebrows… not so much for beards! When we were in beauty school, my friend Jessie and I decided we would wax his face. There was a lot of blood and a lot of tears. Seemed like a good idea at the time….

November 16, 2008 at 10:05 pm
Nicosia says:

Gee, Bob… someone piss in your Cheerios this morning?

November 16, 2008 at 10:15 pm
Sue says:

I don’t think anyone should come here posting negatively in response to stuff written in this blog.

I am amazed that Derren is actually taking time out to post here – and I think that his fans really really are appreciating having the chance to read Derren’s views on things and his likes/dislikes, and of course, the Derren charm and wit is always there too.

I thank Derren for taking the time out to do this.


November 16, 2008 at 10:48 pm
ChrisMaine says:

I love the fact Bob has got so upset. Maybe he dosen’t get Derrens humor – either that or he just needs to get laid.

What’s the matter Bob? The missus not putting out or is she just fed up of you whining like a little bitch all day long. Sounds like a shitty relationship to me.

Chill out dude it’s just a bit of fun (I bet he’s off now to go scream at some “tard” on You Tube)

November 16, 2008 at 10:49 pm
Emma says:

I wonder why this post is titled ‘Movember’ rather than ‘November’…. subliminal messaging anyone?

November 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm
Berber Anna says:

No offense, ChrisMaine, but I think that angry posts are just going to feed the troll… :/

November 16, 2008 at 11:30 pm
Emma says:

Derren, Coops, anyone – Please delete these offensive comments people have left.


November 16, 2008 at 11:32 pm
Berber Anna says:

Bob: If that is indeed the reason for your anger, you could have spared yourself some admittedly offensive comments by some posters here by just saying so in the first place, instead of randomly attacking Derren’s post.

I can see how the joke you refer to may have been hurtful to somebody who is sensitive about having facial hair, but I don’t believe it was ever intended to do that. I do hope your wife can see that, too.

I do wish you all the best. Honestly.

November 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm
Bob, Carol Jeez says:

@Berber Anna

Thank you but at the time I didnt feel like being friendly in the slightest and just felt like having a go.

Thank you for your best wishes and I wish you the best also. A joke is a joke in my opinion and it can cause offense as many women suffer from this. If it can apply to someone then it shouldnt be said at all.

November 16, 2008 at 11:44 pm
Bob, Carol Jeez says:

“Thank you but at the time I didnt feel like being friendly in the slightest and just felt like having a go.”

I should have added having a go at Derren, not other posters here.

November 17, 2008 at 12:05 am
crae says:

Bob, did ‘having a go’ make you feel any better? I doubt it. Sometimes life is just a bitch. There are circumstances that make us all frustrated and angry, but wallowing in the misery & spreading it around just makes the situation worse. I suggest you learn to let it go. If something upsets you, ignore it & do something else more pleasant. This goes for you partner too. It’s called growing up.

November 17, 2008 at 12:10 am
BellaFiga says:

November 17, 2008 at 12:11 am
BellaFiga says:

I could have sworn I said something.

November 17, 2008 at 12:34 am
ReliegiousMarie says:


how come this whole thread makes me laugh? pffwwmmm

and @ nicosia…i’m happy you came back to correct that waxing is not a really smart thing for the manly-beards! ouch…

(whispers@AaronK…eh, thanx for the tip)

November 17, 2008 at 2:13 am
phillis says:

Somehow i think there’s only 3 or 4 people in this massive list of 42 posts. I would hate to have to restrict posting to “members only” if this continues. 😉

November 17, 2008 at 10:02 am
Gilie says:

Thanks for those shaving tips Derren, I’ll try & remember to prune my top lip hair before I see you next!

November 17, 2008 at 10:22 am
BellaFiga says:

I don’t have a member! Don’t exclude me!

November 17, 2008 at 4:12 pm
Sara says:

Now, I did meet Derren last March and thanked him for signing my book – the European way and kissed his cheek and said goodbye!
Someone did need a shave and it WASN’T ME! – At the time I was too polite to mention it! – Even when he did call me cheeky! At the time I thought he had read my mind! – That would be sarcastic and cheeky then!

November 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm
Morgaine says:

Thanks Derren… I have no beard but my legs need all the help they can get!
(Loving this blog, BTW…)

November 17, 2008 at 7:58 pm
Rhian says:

I also love the blog and find this topic very amusing. As with most things there is always gonna be someone who doesn’t appreciate it and feels the need to moan. I find it amazing that Derren has the time and inclination to share some thoughts with us…albeit very random ones.

November 17, 2008 at 8:31 pm
T Braun says:

I prefer the next procedure:

– turn on the shower
– get under the shower
– soap (all over body)
– get your little nifty old fashioned razor (the ones you
can throw away): move as follows:
– first not against the grain
– then against the grain
– then to the left
– and finalize the procedure from the right

Don’t do the top of the body, this causes an effect which will not look good on everybody.

For special effects you can skip some nice patterns here and there. Your partner will like seeing his or her name on your body (saves the money for a bouquet or bottle).

And a free tip for the holidays: do no shave for halloween … saves you money for a costume. Besides, scientists claim that ape like men arrouse women the most, maybe men as well. Smoothies or apes … that’s apparently the choice.

November 17, 2008 at 8:47 pm
Sue says:

*lol* at T Braun.


November 17, 2008 at 11:41 pm
Astrid says:

Thanks indeed for these tips that are top. Never fear that the female of the species would be left out.

My ‘Lady Garden’ has never been so neat.

A 😉

November 18, 2008 at 7:56 am
Katherine says:

Apparently, studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between the degree of beard a man has and the perception of him as masculine, mature, dominant and courageous. Additionally, in Western cultures beards often have connotations of diabolical intent, concealment and poor hygiene.

Is Derren using these shaving tips to reinforce his masculine, dominant and diabolical psychological illusionist persona whilst simultaneously reassure us on the hygiene issue?

November 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm
John says:

Ok so off I go to buy the pedestrian Gillette Fusion Power Razor along with a proper brush (couldn’t find a dead badger so another pedestrian one had to do), some soap and moisturising cream.
Now almost £20 lighter i set off for home looking forward to having a delightful shave.
I exfoliate my face first to open the pores, followed then by lathering up the soap with the brush, which i must tell you is a delight in itself! Then i lather my face and neck with the soap and then pick up the razor. Here Goes!
Firstly down the cheeks with the grain followed by up the neck to my chin. This feels good! Whether its the buzzing from the razor or just the pure fact that Derren says its good so it must be!, i couldn’t tell you. All I know is i am starting to enjoy rather than endure shaving at last.
Once finished i wash my face with water and pat down with a towel, then add the moistuirsing cream. OH MY GOD, how good does it now feel!!
So with these thoughts now of how good it can feel i think to myself what else can i shave? I had my chest waxed once upon a time! Hmmm too much hair to shave though!! My legs? No, might look a bit strange if i wear shorts!! AHA I know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The rest i’ll leave to the imagination!
Thanks for the advice Mr Brown it is very much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you in Manchester next Year

November 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm

hmm random blog Derren mate very random

fascinating stuff though

fascinating!! : ) I love your randomness it kinda makes you, you!

hope you’re well babes


xxx chantelle : )

November 19, 2008 at 8:55 am
Devolved says:

To the girl who said about the ‘subliminal messaging’ in Movember, it’s an actual reference to an event in which men grow as much facial hair as they can held to raise awareness of mens health issues like prostate cancer etcetera.

It started off in Aussie, and has spread to quite a few countries, here in New Zealand it’s pretty much in full swing, with some of the boys sporting beards to rather unkempt facial hair, right up to fancy ones like Derren’s.

So there’s a bit of contextual info for the readers!

November 22, 2008 at 3:44 am
baffs says:

Derren, been on protagonize?

November 22, 2008 at 3:46 am
baffs says:

er, if you don’t know what that is, i just realised that looks like a prescription narcotic. definitely is not. it’s a collaborative writing website. you write lovely arrogant prose.

November 25, 2008 at 12:21 pm
Bert Blaauw says:

Erm, something went wrong while following Brown’s protocol, Derren … the exfoliation process went a little too good …. the good thing is .. there’s no hair left but .. erm.. I think it is not supposed to look like this?
Any advice?

November 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm
Dr A. Wolf says:

Shaving triggers something in surgeons .. they do need a protocol to go with when it is shaving time

April 15, 2009 at 2:27 pm

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