If only my grandfather could read this…
Wet shaving has a lot of history behind it. Take for example Alexander the Great. He was forcing his soldiers to shave every time before any battle. No, it’s not that he preferred men this way. He knew that the enemy can pull their beards in a battle at his advantage. Needless to say, this would consist a deadly mistake.
Well, I don’t think that the soldiers were using a safety razor and shaving cream in front of a mirror. From my understanding, they probably used a sharp knife or equal. Anyway, we’re missing the point here.
Today we’re going back to basics. talking about wet shaving. Certainly, the definition is not something complicated for someone to understand.
There are yet, a few more things that a wet shaving beginner needs to know before starting his adventure. This is a manly journey, where you have to go alone and you need to stand brave. There will be times that you’ll want to go back. But at the same time, you’ll understand that there’s no turning back.
We’re getting off track once again, aren’t we?
What is wet shaving really? And what does someone need to wet shave? How do you wet shave?
Sooner or later, these are the types of questions all men will answer by themselves. If not, their fathers or grandfathers will help.
What is wet shaving. Learn how to wet shave in simple steps
Wet shaving for my grandfather wasn’t even a question. It was his routine. Waking up every morning, getting his safety razor in his hands, his very best shaving soap, his shaving brush and water -no matter the temperature. That’s all he needed. Wet shaving wasn’t even a definition for him. There was only shaving. And there was only one way to shave. The Manly way…
What I remember from him was the shaving speed. From the moment he installed the blade until he finished shaving, took maximum 5 minutes. It was like watching John Rambo dismantling his machine gun.
Let’s get back on track again, shall we?
Wet shaving, as you can guess from the name, is shaving your face with (warm) water.
Now that you found out, you can close this tab on your browser.
I guess the definition wet shaving came into existence when “dry shaving” made its appearance. Until then, there wasn’t something that differentiated regular shaving from wet shaving.
Traditionally, the meaning of the term wet shaving used to also encompass the use of a shaving brush together with a glycerin-based shaving soap or cream. All these tools help in keeping your face wet and hence the term wet shaving (or wetshaving as one word) came to l.
In order for someone to wet shave, 3 things required.
A wet face, a razor and lathering.
I would also include after shave lotion/balsam, as one of the necessary components of wet shaving. Though, not all men have it in their wet shaving set and routine.
Before you start anything, first thing you have to do is keep your face wet.
You’ll find out that shaving gets much easier when preparing your face with warm water.
A wet face doesn’t only help with the lathering but also makes shaving smoother. Your facial hair gets softer, the pores of your face open up and lather builds up easily. Unless you build up the lather in a shaving bowl.
Besides warm water, you might find it useful to get your face prepared for a wet shave with pre shave products. More specifically…
Pre shave Products
Pre shave products are again not necessary and there are many men out there that they’ve never used them. These products help with the lubrication of skin and facial hair. They also prepare your face for a smooth and pleasant shave and the razor will slide nicely.
Such kind of products are highly recommended for guys with have thick facial hair. This is also the case with men that experience razors burns and/or have sensitive skin.
There are different kind of great pre shave products such as lotions, oil, cream and soaps. All used to make wet shaving a lifechanging (!!!) experience.
Here you’ll have to choose between modern and old school razors. Modern razors are usually the ones that have replaceable heads, namely cartridge razors. Now, the old school razors are the ones that have replaceable blades -unless you shave with a “cut throat” straight razor.
We can divide the old school razors in two categories. The safety razors and straight razors.
You’ve seen them and you’ve used them. For most of us, cartridge razors were the first razors we’ve started shaving with. Tennis and football players holding a Gillette or Wilkinson, shaving with them with a smile on their faces. Or at least that’s what you see on advertisements.
Cartridge razors are the most common razors to shave with. Wet shaving with cartridge razors is fast and safe and it’s fast because it’s safe. Still here?
The reasons that are so popular are straightforward.
Easy to clean. All you have to do is rinse it with water. That’s it!
Safe of use. You just grab it and start shaving. No need to be very careful while you’re shaving. You can shave with it, in all directions, with or against the grain
The blades of a cartridge razor are built in such way that face cuts are a problem of the past. That said, accidents do happen when you’re in a hurry. But, if you are careful enough while you shave with a cartridge razor, there are low chances that you experience any cuts.
Disposable and replaceable. This is also part of how easy it is to use a cartridge razor. It’s called cartridge for a reason. Once you see that the razor head needs to be changed, all you have to do is change the head with a new one and you keep the rest of razor’s body.
Availability. You can find these razors literally everywhere. From the large chain supermarket until your local shop that sells chewing gums,,, and razors.
The safety razor, uses a disposable blade to shave. This usually lasts for 2 to 4 shaves depending on the user. These razors offer the ultimate wet shaving experience and offer you the deepest shave you can get. Unless you use a straight razor or go to your barber.
Safety razors bring the shaving experience at a whole new level. You discover emotions you didn’t know existed. You begin to understand your purpose in life. What love is.
Most popular safety razors are the single and double edge. The single or double refers to the sides on which the actual blade is exposed. As you may understand, with the double edge safety razor, you can use both sides to shave with.
There are also the adjustable safety razors, that allow you to adjust the exposure of the blade.
Even though the shaving experience is great, you need to pay attention with these blades. It’s highly advisable to take your time when you shave with them and make only one shaving pass at a time. Otherwise, you might either irritate or cut yourself or both. Face cuts is something common, no matter if you are new or experienced wet shaver. As indicated, the blade is both sharp and exposed compared to the cartridge razors.
Pay extra attention when shaving with a safety razor and you’ll enjoy every single shaving moment.
Just like the safety razor, the straight razor gives you a great wet shaving experience with the deepest shave of your life.
You can divide straight razors in two main categories. The shavettes and the cut throats.
Shavettes boast a disposable blade, while the cut throat razors have the blade as an integral part of their body.
There are many type of cut throat straight razors. Each one of them differ from each other depending on several factors. These can be blade material and width, grinding method and type of handle. Others are stability and balance and lastly, required maintenance.
For lathering, you have a few options available. Again this depends on the wet shaving set up you’d like to have as well as the amount of time and money you’re happy to invest. You can choose anything from the most premium shaving cream until a regular soap.
Type of lather
The most common way to lather your face is to apply shaving foam or gel on your face. This is the fastest way to create lather and start shaving. This also comprises the modern way of lathering.
The traditional way, is to build up lather using shaving cream or shaving soap. This has to be combined with a shaving brush to produce the lather in a shaving bowl or on the face directly. Speaking of which…
There are essentially four types of shaving brushes. Synthetic, boar, horse and badger hair brushand fibre -Let me know if I’m missing any. The first one as the name suggests is synthetic and the other three are natural hair brushes.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that natural ones are better than others. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by some synthetic shaving brushes. Do your homework so you’ll be able identify good brands with quality shaving brushes.
Normally, a good shaving brush, needs to have the following characteristics:
- Creates great lather either on face or shaving bowl
- The hair brush is soft to the face
- Retains moisture and doesn’t dry fast. Otherwise, the lather will dry as well.
What is the best shaving brush? There’s always one way to find out. Get your hands dirty!
After shaves can be different types such as balms, lotions, creams with or without alcohol. If you have a sensitive skin, it would be a good idea to avoid alcohol based after shave products.
How to wet shave properly
The most common way is to take a shower with warm water before you shave. This way the pores of your skin open up, your facial hair softens and shaving becomes easier and more pleasant.
You don’t necessarily need to take a shower but make sure you splash plenty of warm water on your face before you start shaving. This way, you’ll avoid skin irritation, especially if you have a sensitive skin.
The other way to prepare your face for wet shaving is by soaking a towel in warm water and then put it on your face. You’ll achieve the exact same thing with taking a shower before you start shaving. That said, your pores on your face will open and lather will reach the roots of your facial hair. As a result, your skin and facial hair becomes softer and more lubricated.
That’s what the barbers do as well before they wet shave you. If they don’t know, then who does?
Both ways are equally effective. I highly suggest that you prepare your skin carefully. Especially if you have a sensitive skin like mine. If you’re not doing this already, you’ll see huge difference in you face sensitive skin once you start with this routine. Been there, done that…
When I fill the basin with warm water (a bit more than lukewarm) and am waiting, I take a pre-shave cream from Proraso and apply it genrously to the to be shaved area. I let it get into my skin to make the pores more open and the beard hairs softer.
If you use shaving soap, first pour some warm water on the soap. Once you do that, swirl the shaving brush on the soap for a few seconds until you see foam producing. Then you either build up the lather in a shaving bowl or directly on your face.
Same thing with shaving cream. You put some cream inside a shaving bowl with a few drops of water and start building up the lather. Want to build the lather directly on your face? No problem! Put a little bit of cream on your wet face and start swirling the shaving brush.
I prefer thick latter. I use the shaving soap from Proraso, which is perfect for shaving. I use the white line from Proraso because my skin is extremely sensitive, so I need to take good care to avoid to injure myself. I love thick and lucious foam and therfore I beat for 30 seconds to get it the way I want.
Simple, isn’t it?
Now comes the shaving part. If you use a cartridge razor, you will be tempted to shave the same area multiple times even when the lather goes away. For some people this is not necessarily a problem. But for some others, including myself, this can cause skin irritation due to sensitive skin.
For smoother face, you can shave your facial hair against the grain. Again, if you have sensitive skin, it’s better to avoid that. Just lather again and repeat shaving until you get the desired result.
If you’re shaving with a safety or straight razor, you’ll have to be more careful when you shave.
First you lather your face and at each spot, try to make only one pass with the razor. Due to the sharpness and exposure of the blade, shaving your face when there’s no lather, increases the chances to get your face cut. This happens because the lubricity of the shaved area goes away. On top of that, safety razors compared to cartridge razors, have no lubricated stripe. That said, make only one pass at a time with the razor and repeat lathering and shaving as many times as required.
Smooth face is the goal here gentlemen!
Shaving against the grain with safety or straight razor is not recommended if you’re not an experienced wet shaver. There is a great chance that you’ll hurt yourself, literally. I must say, that I do shqve in four directions. First with the grain to start with (in my case up), second against the grain (down), than, as a third direction, I shave my neck horizontal to the middle and the last direction is diiagonal also towards the middle.
I love the feeling of a baby skin under my beard. That’s why I only shave after having a shower with a skin peeling (also the skind UNDER the beard!) a beard wash, a face wash and some conditioner for my beard. For wearing a full beard with a low edge, I don’t shave every day. By letting the beard hairs grow a bit longer, the risk of irritation after shaving is fractional.
Once you’re done shaving, time to apply after shave.
Make sure you dry your face well before you apply any. Otherwise, it will go wasted since your skin will not be able to absorb both the water and after shave fast enough. On top of that, the water dilutes the after shave and the after shave loses its purpose.
I first make my shave towel (I got great ones from Mühle which I exclusively use for shaving) wet with icecold water and wrap this wet towel around my neck. Firstly does it feel fresh (great when still not awake early morning) and secondly the pores will clode and the skin will experience relief. It will also stop the bleeding, if a small cut has occured.
After that, I use the liquid after shave balm from Proraso. It doesn’t contain any alcohol (alcohol is great for drinking or cookuig, but not for my skin) and it brings an instant relief. About ten minutes later after brushing my teeth and getting the superfluois hair removed from my ears and nose, I apply a second aftershave from Mühle. This one is more like a cream. I use the organic products from Mühle, because they are richt and soft.
As initial investment, modern wet shaving is cheaper than traditional shaving. That said, it will cost you less to buy a cartridge razor than a safety razor. Moreover, lathering is cheaper with foam or gel rather than with shaving brush and shaving soap or cream.
As for ongoing costs, you’ll be better off with traditional shaving set up. Once you built your shaving kit in the beginning, it gets much cheaper later on.
Starting with the blades. The disposable blades of safety and straight razors , are way cheaper than cartridge razors. The disposable blades cost literally a small fraction of modern cartridge razor blades. As for the lathering? Shaving soaps and creams are very affordable. But the real cost savings are long term. Both soaps and cream can sometimes last for months before they run out compared to a shaving gel which may last less than a month. This of course depends on the frequency you shave.