Shaving With Lathered Shaving Soap and a Double-Edge Razor




Introduction: Shaving With Lathered Shaving Soap and a Double-Edge Razor

Shaving with an old-fashioned double-edged razor, shaving soap and a shaving brush will provide a much more enjoyable experience than using a cartridge razor and canned goo. Cartridge razors are, put bluntly, a marketing scam to drive up profits (did you start getting suspicious around the fourth blade?). They work no better than other methods, and the cost of cartridges is outrageous. Meanwhile, you can buy 100 high-quality double-edged blades for $18, which could last years. Meanwhile, 12 five-blade cartridges will run you about $40. Cartridges often lead to irritation and ingrown hairs, because the first blade pulls the hair before the others cut it; this can lead to hair being cut below the surface of the skin, which causes ingrown hairs. Only having one blade prevents this, and using water-based shaving lather is soothing and pleasant.

Materials: Double-edged razor, blade, shaving soap, shaving brush, bowl, water, alum block (optional) and aftershave (optional).

There are many great artisan shaving soap makers. Reddit's /r/wicked_edge is a great community devoted to shaving. Here is a thread offering soap suggestions:

Step 1: Soaking the Brush

First, let the brush soak in water for about a minute.

Step 2: Loading the Brush With Soap

Give the brush a quick shake to get rid of the excess water.

Swirl the brush around on the puck of soap quickly (multiple revolutions per second), applying light pressure, for about 5-10 seconds until the brush looks loaded with soap as in the picture.

Step 3: Making the Lather

Begin swirling the loaded brush around the bowl with a small splash of water. You should start to see a visible lather.

The goal is to build lather in the brush. There will be plenty in the bowl as well, and you can certainly use that while shaving--but the main idea is to use the bowl as a surface to swirl the brush on so that the lather builds in the brush.

Step 4: Finishing the Lather

Add water a small splash or a few drops at a time while continuing to swirl the brush around the bowl.

If the lather is thin, runny or looks like it has a lot of air bubbles, there is probably too much water, so it needs to be whipped more. Swirl the brush more without adding water.

If the lather is too dry, it will look thick rather than creamy, and sticky rather than slick. Add more water

The final product should have some structural integrity and be able to form small peaks as shown in the pictures. It should feel slick to the touch. The brush will look fully saturated with lather.

The entire lathering process should take about 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: Applying Lather

Apply the lather to your face in circular or painting motions.

Step 6: Preparing to Shave--Safety

GO SLOWLY. Always move the razor perpendicular to the blade. If you move the blade parallel, or along the length of the blade, you will cut yourself.

Blade angle is important: make sure both the metal above the blade and the metal below the blade touch the skin. Refer to the included pictures.

Use short strokes rather than long sweeps. You want your skin to be as much of a flat surface as possible.

Step 7: First Shaving Pass

Shaving with a single blade rather than multiple allows you to do multiple passes in different directions without irritating your skin. This will give you a smoother shave.

NO PRESSURE. Most people who use cartridges are used to pushing down on their skin with the razor while shaving. Do not do this, it will cause irritation. The weight of the razor resting against your face is all that is needed. DO NOT PUSH ON THE RAZOR. Just hold it against your face.

First, shave with the grain of your hair. This means if you hair grows down, on the first pass you should shave down. This is different for everyone: pay attention to how your hair grows.

Step 8: Second Pass

Rinse your face briefly and apply more lather. NEVER shave without lather on your face.

Next, shave across the grain. So if you shaved down or up to go with the grain, shave sideways. You still need to move the blade perpendicular to the razor; just turn the razor 90 degrees.

Step 9: Third Pass (optional)

If you want a smoother shave, you can also do an against the grain pass. So if you shaved down with the grain, shave up. This may cause irritation in some people. You may not want to attempt this your first time using a double-edged razor. It's better to be comfortable with your ability to shave without resulting irritation before attempting this.

Again, be sure to rinse your face and apply more lather before the third pass.

Step 10: Clean Up, Apply Alum, Aftershave

Apply alum by wetting the block and running it over your face. If you shaved well, you should feel no irritation. However, if you applied too much pressure or made other mistakes, the alum may burn a bit. This is normal at first.

Rinse the alum off after a minute and dry your face. If you so choose, apply aftershave.



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    11 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I'm one of the old school (70 year old) who adopts the following method of shaving, Soak your shaving brush in hot water (my brush is an old one made from Badger hair) to remove previous shaving residue. Wash and soap the beard area using hot water. This removes natural oils and softens bristles, next apply shaving soap using a shaving brush replenishing the hot water and soap on the brush frequently. Then shave going with the growth not against it as that causes soreness and abrades the skin. Finally rinse the face and neck area with cold water to close the pores. The modern multi bladed razor blades are far superior than the old high-quality double-edged blades and I don't think I have ever cut myself using the former. If you do decide to use the old type double sided blade invest in a styptic pencil to quell the blood flow when you nick yourself.

    Incidentally there is an urban myth that one won't receive a better shave than from a cut throat, that's absolute B/S as it is a slow, tedious process fraught with the possibility of cuts.

    This is full of great information. Thank you very much for writing up the details!

    I think if I ever start shaving again, I'm going to use a double edge razor. Good work, you sold me on it! :)

    1 reply

    Go for it! They're awesome. Even if you don't feel comfortable going for a safety razor, you can still use wet shaving techniques with regular razors. Using a brush and lathering up the shaving soap on your face feels awesome.

    Also, styptic pencils help with minor cuts. They help to seal the cut quickly, but they do sting a bit.

    A few sites to check out:

    - Bib and Tucker

    - Maggard Razors

    - Badger and Blade

    - Above the Tie

    - Reddit's /r/WickedEdge (they have a whole page dedicated to the best/worst products for wet shaving)

    - Art of Shaving (for just about anything but shaving brushes)

    Great info but shouldn't you apply cold water after you shave to close the pores back up to prevent ingrown hairs also. This is what I have been told by the people at The Art of Shaving.

    1 reply

    Correct. You should first rinse your face with warm/hot water to open the pores and soften the hairs. Then rinse with cold water after you finish shaving to close them.

    Great info but shouldn't you apply cold water after you shave to close the pores back up to prevent ingrown hairs also. This is what I have been told by the people at The Art of Shaving.

    I've been using a mug and brush for a few years, but I just work up the lather in the mug. The bristles give my face a nice massage when I'm applying the lather. Plus, one cake of soap lasts for a few months, as opposed to a shaving cream can.

    I love my "Safety" razor! Blades are inexpensive too! I pay $10 per 100 although I'm sure the brand I use can be had for less.

    I've never seen anyone use an extra bowl to lather up the brush. Where did you get that idea? My grandfathers and my father all used them and they never used an extra bowl.

    At one point I started buying old straight razors and sharpening and restoring them, but then I realized how hard it is to actually shave with one...... Yikes. Double edged razors are great and that's what I use now. I do have a few disposables left over for when I need to fly. TSA agents don't like the razor blades and half the time they'll confiscate them.

    I always thought shaving was a chore until I started using the right (old) stuff. Now it's a pleasure, and I'm not littering the earth with plastic disposables or spent shaving cream cans. Thanks for sharing your tips.

    it really is way cheaper. I use a straight razor with replaceable blades and they come in a pack of 100. Even if you used 1 blade every shave you could use it for 2 years assuming you shave once a week.