Wet Shaving Supplies: What Do You Need?
Wet shaving is having a renaissance, as modern men are trading in their quick, electric dry shaves for the slower self-care of wet shaving. Yes, wet shaving takes time. But you will be rewarded with a closer shave and possibly even less skin irritation. If you’re interested in the benefits of a wet shave, don’t stress about the wet shaving supplies – everything you need is explained below.
The wet shaving process is relatively simple. You wet your skin with water, making it soft. You might plan your shaving after a hot shower for even softer skin. Add on shaving soap, cream, or butter to help raise the hairs and using easy movements glide the blade across your skin. Finish with a splash of water and some aftershave, and you’ll be fresh and ready for your day.
Safety, Cartridge, or Straight Razor
Picking a razor type will help you determine all the other supplies that you need for your wet shaving kit. When most men switch to a wet shave, they will generally do away with their multi-blade (cartridge) razors. Razor cartridges are much more expensive than using a safety or straight razor. Wet shave enthusiasts also claim that multiple blades are more likely to irritate your skin and cause ingrown hairs.
If you trust that a single blade will do just fine on its own, then you’ll need to decide which design if best for your lifestyle. A safety razor is a great option for someone who is just starting with wet shaving. If you have decided to turn off your electric razor and want to fall in love with a close, smooth shave,G+S would recommend starting with a safety razor. Straight razors, on the other hand, will offer you the closest shave possible, but take some skill to master.
Safety razors have two parts. You have the head that houses the replaceable, double-sided razor, and the handle. One of the benefits of a safety razor is its versatility. You can change out different kinds of razor blades to find one that works best for your skin and facial hair type. You can even get a blade sample pack to try out a variety of blades.
Straight razors make an art from the practice of shaving. These take skill, control, and practice. This is old-fashioned shaving with a single, very sharp exposed blade. You will need to sharpen your blade with a strop and hone it every once in a while, but the upside is you will only need one (although a lot of straight razor enthusiasts end up with a collection of straight razors).
Groom+Style has written a comprehensive article comparing the differences between straight and safety razors.
Soap, Cream, or Butter
First off, ditch the canned gels and foams. Even the ones that claim to be moisturizing only do a fraction of what they need to do. When you pick a shaving soap, you’ll have more control over the ingredients you put on your skin. Most chemicals listed on the soap bottle or cream can are only there to preserve and stabilize the soap itself. In contrast, most botanicals and naturals available in bar soaps actually help your skin to heal and to remain soft and smooth.
The soap or cream’s lather should raise the hairs away from the skin. This makes it easier to get a close shave, as your razor can then make direct contact with the skin and cut away the hairs. It also prevents ingrown hairs by making it less likely that the hairs will replant themselves into the skin.
In bar form, shaving soap will last much longer than a can of shaving cream, but it takes more time and work to build the same amount of lather. A shaving cream already contains some water, so that when you create that lather it foams much quicker. Cans of shaving cream are quickly used up, increasing your cost per shave. Soaps and creams are compatible with any kind of razor and are necessary for using a safety razor or straight blade.
Shave butter is most compatible with multi-blade cartridge razors. When you opt for shaving butter, you are only getting the lubricating quality without the foaming ability to raise the hairs. Shaving butter will also continue to moisturize your skin after the shave. Try using it as a preshave underneath your usual shaving soap or cream, and feel the blade glide over your skin like you have never felt before.
Have sensitive skin? No shame, just make sure to check the ingredients on the soap you buy. If it has added scents or fragrances, it probably won’t do you any favors. And just like with all your other skin care, check to see that there aren’t any alcohols that could dry your skin or irritate your pores.
Shaving brushes are those delightful tools that you swirl in your soap or cream to work up a lather. Putting your lather directly onto your face with a shaving brush will help to lift the hairs for a close shave.
They can be made from badger hair, horse hair, synthetic hair, or boar hair. Use a softer brush for shaving creams and firmer bristles for shaving soaps. When you’re done using your brush, rinse it and flick out the excess water. Dry the brush upside down to best preserve it. A brush that is taken care of can last years.
You can use a mug, saucer, or just about anything to swirl your brush in the lather, but most men opt for a nice bowl dedicated to this purpose. This is part of the style of the wet shave, so treat yourself and pick out a quality brush.
Most men will finish off their wet shave routine with a splash of cold water and aftershave to close the pores. Choose aftershaves with natural ingredients like witch hazel to help prevent infections from cuts. Watch out for aftershaves that contain alcohol, as these can cause irritation and have the potential to dry your skin. Aftershave is usually scented, but the fragrance is often just a hint, only discernable to someone standing right next to you. If you have sensitive skin, though, you might wish to look for one that doesn’t contain a fragrance.
Other Supplies to Make Your Shaving Life Easier
While having a great razor, shaving soap, brush, and aftershave are essential wet shaving supplies, there are a few other odds and ends to have in your shaving kit.
Some men swear by a preshave. Preshaves go on before the shaving cream or soap to create a smoother surface so that your razor doesn’t drag. Preshaves can take the form of a shave butter (which was mentioned earlier in the article) or oil. This can also come in the form of a skin cleanser, to help you clean dirt and oil from your skin before you open your pores with hot water and start the shaving process.
Just because you’re shaving doesn’t mean you’re taking all the hair off. If you’re growing a beard on part of your face, you’ll find beard oil to be a good investment. It keeps your beard soft and the skin below it healthy. As you can’t always count on your facial hair to grow in the perfect shape, a tub of mustache or beard wax will allow you to style it the way you want.
The main thing is to try out new products and techniques to find the shaving ritual that is best for you. Good luck with your new shaving routine, and let us know if you have thoughts on these suggestions!