Traditional wet shaving has a one-up on shaving with pop-in blades, teary foams, and kits, when many of them offering a sleeker trim, but not without digging deep into our pocketbooks in our pursuit of wanting to look—and feel, good. Wet shaving speaks to a time when shaving was, well shaving. Not a big to-do about which store-bought razors can eliminate stubble while reducing burn. When you wet shave, you pare down the multitude of gadgets to just several or a few that can get the job done—and the best part: you get to look sharp as a dandy or unforgettably pretty. Here’s a intro to what’s at the core of traditional wet shaving that knocks the fear out of which tools to use and the simple products that work in tandem, so you never have to worry about how to get a great—and affordable traditional wet shave again. The best part when you start, is you only need five.
What the heck is wet shaving?
Wet shaving takes what Mother Nature gave you and lets you put it practical use. While it uses one of the purest things we can’t do without: H20. A refreshing splash of water not only cleanses the skin, it can help prep the pores from warm steam and stomp down inflammation when cool. Whether it is mineralized, or bottled, like men’s show host Mike Chadway lauded, straight from the tap in The Ugly Truth.
Start with life-giving H2O, yes—H2O
There’s no two-way street when it comes to a great shave—you’ve got to start where the getting gets good, and nothing beats good ol’ H2O. Then check out James Bond. MI6 agent Bond took the art to whole other level when he sat close and male with a razor-shaving Moneypenny. When in doubt how a proper shave can revive, give a look at Skyfall, and see why shaving can also titillate as much as it rejuvenates.
Cream de la crème
As dapper is getting a perfect shave, water is the first tool in your wet shaving silo. It’s the base for working with any shaving cream and the beginning for a really rich lather. You want a world-class shave? Then the cream of the shaving crème is what you’ll need to clip those stubborn hairs faster than a silver bullet.
Use a shaving brush with ends on it that can make a superb lather. The soap you’ll use will give you a consistency not unlike a whipped crème. The beauty from applying a soapy lather is it buffers the skin and cuts down on abrasion.
You can begin with a soap or a cream. We say go with creams since, they are genius-simple to blend and they foam up pretty darned smart. Soap will work but not as full-monty, we found as the cream. Experiment with both; we believe you’ll become a fanatic about the magnanimous feel a good creamed lather makes, and how a modest amount can go a long way. While it saves on stocking up on a ton of extras (shaving kits) and items you may never try. (Although a tweezer that’s handy for hairs that are tougher to snip does have its virtues.)
How to Get a Good Lather: Try a small amount of water and soap to work into a lighter lather. Then add in soap or water in incrementally until the lather is soft but thick. You want a shave not a bathe. Got it? Excellent.
We said it, “Brush”. No salesy promises you’ll tune out or snake oils either. One plus one always equals two and two plus one will always get you three. The shaving brush is your third accouterment in your shaving trifecta you’ll want when it’s about having the superior shave.
There are also more brush types and ‘hairs’ you can shake at with a horse tail. Yes, hairs come in horse and even ‘super badger’. Not surprisingly once you trade a multitude of shaving proffers for a simple water, cream, and brush wheelhouse. No more gimmicks, just good clean shaving fun.
The difference among brushes is the one with hairs that are softest will give you a brilliant shave. Just remember to select the brush with hair type you want that also lets you make a creamy lather. Remember these two equations:
A brush with firmer bristles (called a backbone) used with soap scours up more hairs:
Backbone + Soap = Crisper Shave.
A brush with softer hairs feels like a smoother shave (though getting a completer shave might take a stretch longer):
Soft Brush + Cream = Smoother Shave.
There are plenty of brushes with hair types that fall somewhere in between. A good benchmark for men is to be a bit of an adventurer. You’ve already braved the treacherous world of disposable razors and umpteen brand-replacements. How about John Wayne-ing it and going the natural way? Oh yeah? Then, Giddy-up!
What’s sharper than a sword and mightier than steel? Clark Kent sporting glasses in disguise maybe, although his bespectacled persona masqueraded his true calling, as a “hero”. Your razor should double-up by how it handles the planes of the face while you shave and also keeping its edge without wearing out after regular use.
Remember the ‘disposable’ blade? Well here is where the blade meets the facial road. There are two camps on either side of the kinds of razors that can provide a closer shave. The first go for what’s called a safety razor. The second prefer a razor that’s straight.
The safety razor lets you place a double-edged and disposable blade into it. The idea is you switch between the sides of this type of razor. You swipe the hairs on one side. Turn the razor to the other side after washing, and continue, going from one side to the other until you finish shaving. A variety of choices in blades gives you an edge up on scoring the right one that’s unique to your type of skin.
The straight razor is exactly what it is—metal with a sure handle that a beauty with the likes Moneypenny can maneuver anytime, when you know how to accessorize—and now with this crystal intro, you expertly do.
Aftershave or not to aftershave
To use aftershave or not, is a wily question. We champion H20 for a fresh, perky face. Those who want the thwack from an aftershave lotion? Let’s get down to it.
Some aftershave balms or lotions can use synthetics that can cause eventual harm to the skin. Even your skin can make Vitamin D if exposed in short bursts. Can you say the say about your aftershave?
Think about how you like scents and then go for woodsy or citrusy. Consider the same with the aftershave. A smidge can go a long, long way!
Shaving is a fantastic journey for the skin and your senses. Remember this intro about wet shaving and in the future when you’re ready to keep it genius simple.