Intro: An In-depth Beginners Guide to Wet Shaving
Wet shaving is a technique that’s fallen out of favor since the advent of disposable, multiblade razors. That isn’t to say there aren’t benefits to this old approach; but since you’re here, we can assume you’ve weighed the options. To get started, you will need a few things…
• A double or straight razor (I’ll be demonstrating with a double edge)
• Shaving soap or cream
• A shaving brush
• A post-shave product
• A sink
Once you have these materials, we can get started!
Step 1: Mapping the Grain of Your Beard
Most beginners do not realize how important this is, but it's best done before you even begin prepping. Mapping the direction your beard hair grows will make beard reduction easier and reduce post-shave irritation.
Step 2: Prepping Your Materials
Before you start shaving, your materials will need prepped. You will need to insert a new blade (if you are using a double edge razor) or hone your blade (if you are using a straight razor). It is also best if you soak your shaving brush, softening the bristles and eases building a later.
Step 3: Prepping Your Beard
The first step in to actually shaving is beard prep. This can be accomplished in any way that softens your beard hair. Hair is softened by moisture, so the simplest prep is a hot shower. Pre-shave oils exist, but in shaving everything is personal preference.
Step 4: Building a Lather
Building a later is straightforward: Shake your brush of excess moisture (after soaking it) and start "loading" the brush with shaving soap (just more the brush in a circular motion over the shaving puck). After the the brush is loaded, you can either start applying the soap to your face, or build the lather in a bowl. As I mentioned before, in shaving everything is personal preference.
It's best to start with a relatively dry lather, and flick moisture into the lather until you reach the desired creaminess.
Step 5: Finding the Right Blade Angle
Before you begin your first pass, you must find the correct blade angle. Start by placing the razors face flat against your face (with the handle perpendicular to your face). Slowly lower the razor handle towards the floor as you pull the razor down your face. When the hair starts cutting, you will have found the right angle!
Step 6: Your First Pass
After you have found the right blade angle, you can begin shaving the beard hair. Wet shaving is the gradual removal of the beard hair, so this first step is following the grain of your beard. Running your hands along your face will show you the direction your beard hair grows. USE NO PRESSURE, simply let the weight of the razor keep the blade against your skin. After you've finished your first pass, you just rinse your face with water.
The image with this step shows arrows following the grain of the beard.
Step 7: Your Second Pass
Reapply your lather as the first pass, but instead of following the grain, drag the razor across (perpendicular to) the grain of your beard hair. Also like first step, rinse your face with water afterwards.
Step 8: Your Third Pass
The third pass is optional, but is the only way to ensure your face is "baby-butt smooth". Reapply your lather (you may need to make more at this point), and shave against the grain. This pass is the harshest, and the most likely to cause irritation post-shave. Post shave precautions are important after a third pass.
Step 9: Rinsing
After you have finished your third (or second, depending on preference), rinse your face with warm water. This pulls the excess lather from your face, and cleans the pores. Now rinse your face with cold water to seal those freshly cleaned pores. Pat your face dry and move to the final step.
Step 10: Post-Shave
Now that you've shaved all the hair from your face, it’s time to follow that up and prevent any unwanted facial blemishes. There are many products you can use, but for simplicity’s sake, I use witch hazel. Witch hazel is a toner, and is used no differently than recommended. Dry your face, and generously apply the witch hazel to the shaved area. This helps clean and close pores, preventing pimples, ingrown hairs, etc…
Now let this air-dry, and you have completed your first wet shave!