What Do You Need to Get Started With Traditional Shaving – AKA Wet-Shaving – Using a Safety Razor?
Learn the Art of Wet Shaving Like Your Grandpa Did
Traditional shaving as your grandfather did is very simple and easy. You only need 3 items:
- Safety razor (with blades)
- Shaving brush
- Shaving soap or cream
There are many other things that are nice to have – but strictly speaking, these are the 3 things you MUST have. Keep in mind – the equipment you purchase today will last you year after year. You’ll get a better shave and lower your expenses. A better combination is hard to find! To help the beginners a bit on the way to choose the right combination of these three – we will provide some general tips.
Once you’ve tried traditional shaving is highly unlikely that you return to modern razors or equipment – it is therefore not a big risk in buying the three essentials, safety razor, brush, and cream together.
Making this small commitment to getting the right wet shaving supplies from the get-go is sure to enhance your first experience in this new found pleasure in shaving.
Wet shaving, the proper way, is more of a lost art. Sure it is slowly finding its way back to the people but as it is, it has not yet attained the levels of popularity it had back in the day. Many males in the 21st century have no clue what wet shaving is all about. And the few that know, a very small percentage are skilled in the art. The rest are newbies trying to find their way around it. Instead, the 21st-century men have grown used to using disposable and chap shaving products from numerous companies in the current industry.
Back in the days of our great grandfathers, the art of wet shaving used to be passed down from generation to generation.
But somehow, something happened and it all stopped. The tradition of achieving a clean shave by wet shaving was cut short. But luckily, it is slowly but surely finding its way back to the heart of males all over the world.
What Are The Benefits Of Wet Shaving?
We shall not waste any time here. Instead, let’s get right into it.
1. Reduced Costs
Compared to cartridge razors, safety razors are cheaper. Let’s put things into perspective. An 8-pack of a 4-blade cartridge razor costs about $20. That translates to about $2.5 for each cartridge. Compare this to the cost of a safety razor which is only $0.25 and you get an idea of just how much you can save.
Aside from saving money on the cartridges, you also will save some cash on the traditional shaving soaps and creams. A small can of chemically processed gel sold in most stores costs about $5. At this process, you would expect them to last long. However, they do not and they do not even provide a quality shave.
On the flip side of things, the traditional shaving creams and soaps are made from natural ingredients. While their initial cost is way more than that of the chemical versions, small amounts produce adequate and quality lather. As such you end up saving a lot in the long run.
2. Reduced Environmental Impact
Traditional wet shaving uses far less waste compared to normal having cartridge razors. The only waste is the lather that goes down the sink. Unlike the razor cartridges, the double edges blades can be recycled.
3. Better, Quality and Consistent Shaves
Any men today will walk around with their head held high devoid of the fact that they have bad shaves. Electric razors usually irritate the skin causing redness, ingrown hairs and razor burns.
Safety razor shaving helps to get rid of the irritation on the skin and thus provide you with a clean more healthy looking shave.
The Safety Razor
There are many razors to choose from and they range from excellent for beginners to suitable only for those who have long experience with traditional shaving.
As a beginner we recommend you to choose a razor with a closed comb – this is a razor that protects you from the blade – only a small part of the blade is being exposed so it is very difficult to cut yourself.
Mühle R89 and Edwin Jagger DE3D14BL are examples of such razors. If you want to get yourself the best there is, then the Feather AS-D2 is the best bet. A less expensive option may also be the Parker 99R or the best selling model Merkur 34c.
Once you’ve worked up a bit of experience there are many other options that might suit your particular needs better – but at the start, we certainly suggest one of these more cautious options.
Looking for more options for what safety razor to choose? Read our in-depth article about various safety razor designs such as Open Comb, Adjustable and Slant Bar with our reviews of the best safety razors on the market.
When selecting your safety razor blade, we recommend you to feel free to experiment. What works for you is very dependent on your skin type and hair coarseness. A good choice for beginners is Astra Superior Platinum – it is reasonably sharp and provides low friction against the skin. When you have started getting the hang of it, you might want to consider the ultra sharp Feather blade.
The shaving brush is an important element to get a smooth shave. It should lather up a good froth – and distribute this foam evenly over your face. Obviously then it’s important to find a brush that works the way you want it. There are affordable options made from boar bristles and more expensive option that is made of badger bristle.
If you just want to try out traditional shaving and are unsure if this is something for you, then go for an affordable brush of boar bristle. A brush from Proraso creates a good lather and works great – but I am not going to hide the fact that the brush is somewhat stiffer than the more expensive badger brushes. But if you want a reasonable solution, I would recommend you a boar bristle brush. It is nevertheless important to be clear that there is a definite quality difference when stepping up to badger brushes.
Badger brushes can be found in almost all price ranges – but although the price of some of the brushes is high, they are quality products that can last for over 20 years with proper use and care. At the same time, these brushes give you a special, unique feeling every time you lather up.
Here is one of the most affordable badger brushes and here is one of the more luxurious shaving brushes. If you want to read more about shaving brushes have a look at our in-depth article and reviews of 10 great shaving brushes.
Shaving Soap and Creams
When choosing shaving soap or cream there are a lot of options – the important thing is to find a soap that provides a rich lather. The lather has two functions – it will soften your beard so that it becomes easier to shave, and it will provide less friction against the skin so that you prevent nicks and cuts. You can choose either a shaving cream or shaving soap.
The advantage of the shaving cream is that it is easy to lather up and simple to use. Shaving soaps, on the other hand, require a bit more work to create a good lather but provides a richer and thicker foam when it is done right. What you choose is pretty much your own preference and taste. Soaps usually give you more “mileage” than creams, so even if the price is sometimes higher for soap than for the cream, it is still cost-effective to use over time.
Wet Shaving Technique
Here Is How You Get Quality Wet Shaving in 8 Easy Steps
1. Prep the Beard
If you are looking for a clean and healthy shave, you will first have to prep your beard. You just do not dive in suddenly felling your facial hairs from nowhere. The purpose of prepping your beard is to soften the hairs so that they are easier to shave and that the skin experiences less irritation.
The perfect way of prepping your beard is to shave right after you have showered. A hot shower softens the beards and hydrates the skin for wet shaving. If you do not have time to have a shower, use a wet towel on your beard (the towel should be wet with warm water).
2. Lather Up
Take a small amount of shaving cream and add it to a mug. Pick up the brush that you had earlier soaked in water and swirl it in the shaving cream until you have a thick lather. Apply the lather with your brush in simple swirling motions. When your face has been covered, smoothen it all out.
3. The Shave
Wet shaving requires some technique and skill. This is not the case with cartridge shavers. And it is the reason most men love cartridge shaving. But while it does require some skill and technique, once you have got it mastered, there will be no stopping your efficiency. That said, here are some 4 successful shaving tips you should apply.
4. Apply Very Little Pressure
Why shouldn’t you apply pressure while wet shaving? Well, the weight of the safety razors is usually enough. If you apply more pressure, you just might end up hacking your face. But despite this knowledge, some men still find themselves applying the pressure. To keep yourself from being one of those who do, hold the razor by the tip of its handle.
5. Angle the Blade As Far As You Possibly Can From the Face
This is probably the trickiest bit of wet shaving. The right angle is between 30 and 45 degrees. To achieve the proper angle, you should place the head of the razor directly on your cheek and hold the handle parallel to the floor you are standing on. In this position, slowly lower the razor’s handle until you cut the hair. If you are not comfortable practicing with the face practice on the arm until you get a hang of it.
6. Shave Along the Grain Rather Than Against It
Sure shaving against the grain can provide you with a smooth shave. However, it also increases your chances of nicking yourself and causing ingrown hairs. When you are just learning the technique, it is advisable that you shave with the grain. It may take several passes to get a smooth shave but eventually, you will hack it.
7. Purpose to Reduce the Beard – Not Remove It with Every Stroke
Shaving is a gradual process. You should not expect to remove your beard in just one swoop. Trying to hack it in one swoop will cause skin irritations. To keep this from happening, lather up properly and make several passes.
8. Post Shave
Once you are done shaving, rinse your face with cold water. Cold water helps to close up the pores. Apply an aftershave of your choice. Aftershaves are built to reduce skin irritations and enhance healthy skin.
Wet shaving technique will take some time to get a hang of. This is true. But it is also true that once you have hacked the process and technique, your face will thank you.
There you are, that is all you need to get started! For more information on how to get going with and improving your wet shaving experience – check out our guides on How to Shave – 5 Tips For a Better Shaving Experience and Why Classic Shaving? 5 Common Myths Answered.
Here are some great resources if you want to dig even deeper into this topic: