Let’s face it, shaving has become something of a lost art in recent years. Unfortunately, shaving is now seen as little more than a necessary hassle undertaken for looking smart for the office, at the behest of loved ones not wanting a facial scrub down with your untrained bush every time they go near you, or simply the common decency of not exposing the world to your full caveman hair growth.
Whether you keep it completely clean or just trim your beard into shape, it’s one of those tasks that men have to tackle at least a few times a week. And when you throw in the inconvenient pitfalls of shaving, like nicking your face or your girlfriend borrowing your razor for herself, it’s really no wonder we’ve lost some of the enthusiasm for it.
The average man will spend 3,000 hours of his life shaving and when you’re staring down figures like that, it becomes somewhat more important that you do it properly.
Forget a hasty scrub with an old blade minutes before you have to leave the house — I mean, yes, that’s still going to happen, but let’s go into this with a slightly higher handed approach in mind. We need to return to the golden age of the razor; the kind of shaving that our forefathers did, taking pride in their appearance and the task in hand – using shaving almost as meditation and preparation for the day.
Failing that, at least explore methods of getting a clean face without having to contend with razor burn or sticking loo roll to your face to quell the sudden bleeding from an unwarranted laceration.
So, with that in mind, we’ve assembled the ultimate guide to the wet shave.
You can guess this from the name, but in case there’s any doubt, wet shaving basically means shaving with water. I.e. not using an electrical razor. For a traditional wet shave, you’ll also need some form of shaving soap or cream, to effectively lather your face, and a shaving brush, traditionally made with either badger or boar hairs. A traditional wet shave uses a single bladed razor and can either be done with a straight razor or with a safety razor.
While the traditional wet shave can seem to be more expensive than using modern disposable razors and foams at first, in fact it needn’t be, with soaps and creams available at low costs, which can then last for months or even years. Plus, this is your face we’re talking about, so it’s worth the investment.
To anyone experienced with wet shaving, the benefits are obvious. A traditional wet shave will give you the closest shave possible, for a much smoother and cleaner feel. It can also help reduce the uncomfortable effects of shaving, such as ingrown hairs. Though many men think they have sensitive skin, as a result of suffering from razor burn and other side effects when shaving, in actual fact it’s likely just down to the type of razor and products they’re using. Most of the negative effects from shaving come as a result of not having the proper lubrication, often down to cheaper modern products. Taking the time to do a wet shave can be much kinder on the skin and reduce any after effects.
Beyond this, wet shaving can work out far cheaper than using plastic multi-blade cartridge razors. Although a safety razor and shaving brush require an initial investment, replacement blades are much cheaper for safety razors and shaving soaps and creams will last much longer than a shaving foam or gel.
Then, on the less scientific level, there are the other benefits from the traditional approach. For example, the aesthetics: a shaving soap in its wooden bowl will always look better on the side of the sink than an aerosol can filled with chemical gloop.
On top of this, a lot of men who have switched their modern razors for a traditional approach have found that the whole process becomes less of a hassle and more of a pleasure: carefully shaving with quality products that give a more luxurious feel will not only get better results, but warrant a more enjoyable process.
What it comes down to is a far better shave that reduces any possible skin irritation and becomes far more enjoyable overall than simply your morning hassle.
If you have never wet shaved before then there can be quite a lot of information to take in at once. That is why we have broken our wet shaving guides down into simple to read articles which can be viewed using the navigation on the left hand side of the page. It is not essential that you read or follow each article, for example, if you don't feel ready to use a safety razor then you can still benefit from using a shaving brush but for the best results we recommend that you do.