Introduction: How to Wet Shave With a Safety Razor.

Safety razor shaving, also known as wet shaving, has long been a staple of the male grooming regiment, being replaced only recently by over-commercialized multi-blade razors. The problem with these razors is that they are extremely expensive, bad for your skin, cause in-grown hairs, and often come with gimmicks just to trick consumers into paying the absurd prices. Anybody who can hold a fork can learn to wet shave and it only takes a few minutes to accomplish a clean, close shave. There are many different ways to wet shave, using various types of razors, blades, brushes, soaps, gels, lotions, etc. This guide will follow a simple setup using shaving soap and a brush, and cleaning off using water and moisturizer.

Necessary Equipment:

  1. Sink with mirror
  2. Safety razor
  3. Safety razor blade
  4. Shaving brush and stand
  5. Shaving soap
  6. (Optional) Lather bowl
  7. Post-shave moisturizer
  8. (Optional) Rubbing alcohol (75%+)

One of the benefits of wet shaving is its economy. A traditional multi-blade razor and cartridges can cost upwards of $100 a year. A double-edge razor will easily last a whole lifetime and possibly more, justifying its initial cost ($25-$100 for razor). Blades can be bought in bulk at a cost of $0.10 per blade (as opposed to $30+ for cartridges). Brushes range from $5-$100, but with proper care will last a lifetime. Soap and gel comes in at various prices, with frugal options lasting months and months at only $10 with more expensive options available for designer soaps and scents. Though seemingly expensive to start, the cost per year of wet shaving is only $7 due to the longevity of the equipment.

Step 1: Prepare Your Face

Preparing your face is a crucial step in achieving a successful wet shave. Opening your pores and cleaning out any dirt from your skin will not only make your hair easier to trim, but also helps prevent acne, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. Pre-shave routines will be unique for every shaver, but an easy and reliable method is to shave after taking a nice warm shower. The warm water will help open your pores and I also recommend using a facial cleanser to clean out any dirt.

  1. (Optional) Wash face with cleanser
  2. Rinse face with warm water

Warning: I do not recommend exfoliating before shaving. The process of shaving acts as a physical exfoliant so any additional exfoliating may cause raw skin and razor burn.

Tip: If you opt to use a pre-shave oil, simply splash on after washing your face.

Caution: After preparing your face, do not dry your face with a towel. Let the moisture soak into your skin.

Step 2: Prepare Your Shaving Equipment

Preparing your shave equipment is important to make sure you create a quality lather and also to keep your equipment from getting damaged.

First put the blade into the razor. This process will depend on your style of razor.

One-piece razor

  1. Loosen the razor handle, allowing the clamp to release
  2. Place the blade in the clamp
  3. Tighten the clamp back down

Two-piece razor

  1. Unscrew the razor from the bottom of the handle, allowing the top of the razor to come loose
  2. Place the blade on the guides on the top of the razor
  3. Push the top of the razor back through the handle
  4. Tighten the razor again from the bottom of the handles

Three-piece razor

  1. Gripping the sides of the razor head and handle, loosen the head from the handle.
  2. Place the blade between the top and bottom of the razor head
  3. Gripping the sides of the razor head, again, screw the handle back on

Warning: razor blades are extremely sharp. They make utility knifes look like butter knifes. Do not touch the sharp edges. When handling, use only the not sharp sides.

Prepare your brush

  • If you have a lather bowl, fill it with warm water and let the brush sit in it for a few minutes
  • If you don't have a bowl, plugging your sink and filling with warm water will achieve the same effect
  • If you can't plug your sink, simply running water over the brush will do
  • After a few minutes under the water, take the brush and firmly shake the water out.

Caution: Do not use your hand to squeeze the water out of the brush. The pressure can pull hairs out of the brush and the moisture is important for creating lather.

Tip: If you are shaving after shower, you can leave the brush to soak while you shower.

Step 3: Lather the Shaving Soap Into Shaving Cream

Arguably the most vital step is lathering up shaving cream. It is possible to shave using aerosol foam, but most commercial product does not provide enough lubrication and will also dry out your skin. If you choose to use shaving gel, just apply the gel directly to your face to begin shaving. Shaving soap can be lathered many different ways, but two common methods are bowl lathering and face lathering.

Bowl Lathering

  1. Drip a couple drops of water into soap
  2. Take brush and load soap onto hairs in circular motion
  3. Load soap for 20-30 seconds or until brush is fully loaded
  4. Drip a couple drops of water into lather bowl
  5. Swirl brush around bowl vigorously, forming an airy cream
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until the perfect consistency is achieved
  7. Spread the cream onto your face using circular motions

Face Lathering

  1. Drip a couple drops of water into soap
  2. Take brush and load soap onto hairs in circular motion
  3. Load soap for 20-30 seconds or until brush is fully loaded
  4. Drip a couple drops of water onto brush
  5. Using a circular motion, rub soap onto face
  6. Let the brush do the work, repeating steps 4-5 until the perfect consistency is achieved

Step 4: Shave Using Razor

Using a safety razor requires a much more delicate, precise touch than a cartridge razor. In order to avoid razor burn and any nicks from the blade, use a 30 degree angle with a very light touch.

First Pass

  1. Rinse blade off in warm water
  2. Start from the top of your face and shave with the grain of your hair
  3. Switch to the other side of the razor once one side is full
  4. Rinse blade off when both sides are full
  5. Use your face muscles and hands to pull skin taut
  6. In order to target jawline, use your hand to pull your cheek up

Warning: Do not apply any pressure to the blade; let the blade do the work for you.

Caution: Try to avoid repetitive shaving or you may cause razor burn. You are trying to reduce the hair, not completely remove it.

Second Pass

  1. Reapply shaving cream (there should still be plenty on the brush)
  2. Lather the cream again if it is not perfect consistency
  3. Using similar techniques, shave across the grain (not against!)

Caution: Be wary of taking any further passes. A third pass going across the grain the opposite direction can easily be made, just make sure to lather again appropriately.

Warning: Try to avoid shaving against the grain at all costs. This is the easiest way to cause ingrown hairs and skin irritation. You can achieve a close shave without shaving against the grain.

Tip: Before cleaning up, take some time to address any trouble areas, such as behind the jaw near the ear, the top lip right beneath the nose, and any areas where your beard grain is irregular.

Step 5: Clean Up

Clean your face

  1. Take some water and rinse off extra shaving cream
  2. Pat your face dry with a towel
  3. Apply moisturizer or aftershave thoroughly on face

Post-shave routines are also very unique to each shaver. Some additional products include alum blocks and toner. Alum blocks are very helpful to heal any scratches or nicks. Toner well help remove any excess chemicals or dirt that may have gotten in your skin during shaving.

Clean the equipment

  1. Rinse off brush and remove extra cream
  2. Shake excess water out of brush
  3. Hang brush hairs down on stand
  4. Run hot water through razor
  5. (Optional) Soak razor in rubbing alcohol for 1 minute
  6. Place razor in a cool, dry place, or on a stand

Caution: If you do not hang the brush with the hairs down, excess water will soak into brush handle, damaging the connection between the hair and handle

Tip: Using rubbing alcohol to soak the razor will cause rapid evaporation, cleaning the blade thoroughly. This means

Step 6: Conclusion

Congratulations on completing the time old ritual of wet shaving. A ritual that your fraternal heritage has passed genetically through you. Your previous untrimmed facial hair should now be smoothly and cleanly cut, without pain and without breaking the bank on over-commercialized cartridges. I recommend further reading at wicked_edge FAQ for anybody interested in further readings or product recommendations. The more and more you practice shaving, the more refined your skills and preferences will be.