Wet Shave Like a ProWritten by Advice Team on October 27, 2015
Gentlemen used to visit the barber for a wet shave at least once a week, but until recently this custom had all but disappeared. Over the last few years there has been huge resurgence of interest in traditional wet shaving and it is now enjoying a remarkable renaissance.
A quality, professional wet shave will set you back anywhere between £25 and £45 and will take around an hour but with the right tools and a bit of extra effort and care you can incorporate traditional wet shaving techniques into your morning routine or weekend ritual.
Here’s our guide on how to wet shave like a pro and the essential grooming tools you need to get started. It takes a little longer than your normal shave but it’ll be the best and closest DIY shave you’ll ever have - guaranteed!
Your Tools The perfect wet shave is all about your tools and that starts with your shaving brush. Most men simply dismiss this step as a waste of time but the humble shaving brush is actually the single biggest element in achieving an outstanding shave. The brush serves multiple functions; it absorbs hot water and infuses it into the shaving cream whipping it up into an impressive lather, it naturally exfoliates the skin keeping it smooth and hydrated and it lifts the hairs leaving them moist, smooth and ready to cut. Badger hair makes the best brushes due to its amazing ability to absorb and retain water combined with the softness and strength of the bristles, however there are also a wide variety of top-class alternatives including boar and synthetic brushes to suit your budget or preference.
To execute the perfect wet shave you need a good quality razor with a sharp blade. Unless you are a veteran wet shaver we suggest leaving straight razors to the professionals and opt for a double edged safety razor. There is a huge choice of options but a beginner should look for one with a fixed head and regular guard. A quality, metal double edge safety razor will deliver a much closer shave than cheap, disposable alternatives and although this involves an initial outlay for the razor, it will save you money in the long run as replacement blades cost peanuts! Shaving with a single blade safety razor will also reduce the skin irritation often experienced with multi-bladers.
Get Wet To get the most out of your wet shave ensure that you keep your face wet with water at all times. The best time to perform a traditional wet shave is immediately after a hot shower as the heat and damp will ensure that your stubble is soft and ready for the shaving process. After your shower, fill your sink with hot water, re-wet your face and drop your shaving brush in to soak.
Lather Up For the closest of wet shaves choose a glycerin-based shaving cream or soap over a foam or a gel. Soaps require a little more technique to get the water ratio perfected for a good lather so opt for a soft cream if you’re experimenting with wet shaving for the first time. A good lather provides a protective layer between the blade and your skin, allowing the razor to glide rather than drag or skip which will help reduce razor burn and redness and deliver a far more comfortable shave.
Once your brush is thoroughly soaked, flick off any excess water and dip the brush into a shallow bowl or cup containing your shaving cream and build the lather by whipping the cream with the brush. A perfect lather feels very much like whipped cream; add a little more water if it's not creamy enough. Ensure that the tip of the brush is evenly coated with cream and then apply to the face slowly (it should take at least a minute) and evenly, using gentle back and forth (not circular) motions until the area to be shaved is completely covered with a generous layer. By brushing it on, you ensure that you get the cream right down to the surface of the skin, lifting and suspending the hairs in the cream in readiness for cutting.
The Shave The key to a superior shave is to use slow, careful strokes and move methodically over your face. With a good foam, and a sharp blade you needn’t press the razor against your skin; go gently and smoothly and don’t scrape. Shave twice; on the first pass shave downward with the grain, rinse, lather up again and then on the second pass shave upward against the grain. If you miss a spot repeat as necessary and get it on the next pass.
Finishing Up Once you have completed the shave rinse your face with clean, cold water as it closes the pores and pat (don’t wipe) your face dry with a soft towel. If you have any nicks or grazes treat them with an alum block when rinsing to help heal the skin. Finish with an alcohol-free after-shave balm or cream to re-hydrate and condition your skin.
We promise that your skin won’t have felt this smooth since you were twelve years old, you’ll feel like a proper gent and the special someone in your life will love it! Enjoy.