There are lots of great reasons to get started with traditional shaving, also known as wet shaving.
Maybe you’re a lover of beautifully crafted objects, and you find the flimsy-plasticky-aluminumy feel of your shaving implements immensely dissatisfying. That was why Dave Powell, our founder, started Grown Man Shave — to curate the finest grooming products on the planet.
Maybe your skin is irritated by the harsh chemicals in the shaving can and the five-bladed disposable razors you’ve been using.
Or it breaks your heart to think of all the disposables ending up in landfills. Billions do every year.
Perhaps you remember how your father or grandfather used to shave and you suspect that the chore of shaving can be a satisfying, pleasant part of your day, a way of communing with your masculine ancestry.
Whatever it is, Welcome! We’re super happy to have you here!
You don’t need too many things to get started—only a few, really. And the initial investment of getting a great grooming kit repays itself many times over not only economically and environmentally... but in sheer satisfaction.
Second, disposable razor blades. Yes, these are also thrown away, but there’s a massive difference between disposing the razor alone and the whole handle with a bunch of blades as well every time. Also, we stock some fantastically well-made razors that will stay sharp longer than you’d expect.
Third, your gentlemen’s grooming products:
Your facial hairs can soak up to about a third of their volume in water. This softens and makes your whiskers pliable, ensuring a smoother, easier shave. If you shower in hot water before shaving, this’ll happen naturally. Alternatively, you could apply a hot, wet towel to your face for a couple minutes (this feels really nice and relaxing!). Regardless of how you accomplish hydration, it’s good to wash your face and neck well with a good facial soap first for cleanliness and to remove dead skin cells.
Many wet shavers then massage a pre-shave oil such as D.R. Harris’s Almond Oil to further moisturize the skin and beard, ensuring an even better razor glide.
A badger shaving brush has hairs that will absorb water and soften just like your facial whiskers. So fill your shaving bowl, mug or whatever vessel you have appropriated for this purpose with hot water before you shower or apply a wet towel, leaving the brush inside to soak in the meanwhile. You could also use your wash basin for this. Flick away excess water before continuing.
If you have a synthetic brush, it doesn’t need to be soaked, only wetted.
In your empty vessel, dab about a dime’s worth of shaving cream inside, add a bit of water and whip up your lather with quick circular motions as if you’re beating an egg. This should take about a minute. If you have a solid shaving soap or bar, whip up the lather directly on it.
With cream, getting the proportions right might require some patience. You want to be getting a yogurt-like consistency, so add water or soap as necessary. Don’t worry if it’s more like a thick smoothie or melted ice-cream initially—you’ll get it right after a few shaves.
Finally, apply the lather liberally on your face and neck.
You’ll notice that your safety razor has a reassuring heft and a nice balance to it. It’s extremely important that you let its weight and gravity do the work, rather than trying to mow down your whiskers by dragging it across your face.
Holding the razor at about a forty-five-degree angle to your face, make contact and let it glide down in slightly overlapping passes. A decent blade should last for around five shaves. You’ll know it’s time to put in a fresh one when it starts pulling, instead of shearing, your hair. One easy way to make sure you’re using both sides of the blade evenly is to rotate the handle between each pass so that you’re using the other edge (remember, unlike disposable razors, both sides of a safety razor can be used, hence the “double-edge” in the name).
There’s a lot of advice out there about going with, against, or in all kinds of configurations in relation to the grain. A simple technique that works well is to first shave downwards, lather up again, shave across, lather up again, and finally, shave upwards. Unlike disposable, many-bladed razors, you will need to make a few passes.
Once you start getting the hang of it, feel free to experiment with different angles and directions.
If you cut yourself (and really, we all have in the beginning, it’s okay!), a styptic pencil will stymie the flow of blood and act as a natural antiseptic.
IMPORTANT! Don’t check your phone, invest in the stock market, or hold a conversation while you do this! It’s not just about handling a sharp object, but you want to be enjoying this! Remember, it’s about philosophy, mindset. Slowing down, making it into a meditative ritual, a pause in the day you enjoy and look forward to, a time all your own.
Wash your face or use the warm, wet towel to wipe away all the lather and shorn hairs.
Congratulations! If everything went according to plan, you should be looking at a handsome man in the mirror whose skin is baby-smooth!
This is a great time to apply a soothing, natural aftershave followed by a moisturizing cream. These will not only nourish and hydrate your skin, but protect it throughout the day.
Make sure you’ve cleaned both your razor and brush carefully. If you have a stand, leave them suspended to dry out fully until your next shave. You could also use a fresh, dry towel for this. If you have kids, make sure all your stuff is out of reach.
We’ve put together some fantastic, ready-to-shave sets with products carefully selected to complement one another if you’re happy to let us make the choice for you. If you have questions, not sure what to buy or want a more personalized recommendation, please contact us and we would be glad to help you find the perfect shaving set-up to get you started with wet shaving.
A long, long time ago, men would use sea sponges to lather up. Fortunately, the French came up with shaving brushes back in the middle of the 18th century, and that’s what we’ve been using since then—no need to go diving in the sea anymore to get started with wet shaving.
A shaving brush has one, integral role in the process of wet shaving—to whip up nicely rich and foamy lather and then spread it on your face, lifting and hydrating whiskers in preparation for a buttery-smooth razor glide.