Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wet Shaving

When did our dad's decide that throw away razors and shaving cream out of a can was the right thing to do?. What was it that made them think that a not-so-close shave was an alright trip? Yes, we like the rugged look, but if you have a job in a field other than hunting guide, archaeology or beard model you have to go under the knife on a regular basis. I know, it is a drag--literally--a daily chore we painfully endure. Without the right tools, we are doomed to a life of razor burn and styptic pencils.

Alas, there is wet shaving. "What is this you speak of?," you ask. Wet shaving is how our fathers were brought up shaving. It involves a straight razor or safety razor (my preference), some shave soap and mug or shave cream in a bowl, and a shave brush. The method is simple. You soften your beard with heat and water (the shower works best for me), you keep your face wet, you lather on some soap or cream and you shave it off. You can find several more detailed descriptions of the process on MSNBC and .

I have been wet shaving for 6 months, and I actually enjoy shaving now. I borrowed an old Gillette butterfly safety razor from my dad, bought a cheap boar's hair brush, some awesome shave cream (more on this later) and some $1.99 Personna razor blades. I used to use a Gillette Fusion. The replacement blade cartridges would last me maybe a week if I was lucky and at $4 per cartridge, shaving was getting expensive. Besides that I wasn't getting a close shave after the first two shaves. I was introduced to wet shaving and I won't go back. The closeness of the shave, the fragrance of the shave cream and the absence of razor burn have made me a believer.

I recently replaced my hand-me-down razor with a new Merkur Futur safety razor. I picked it up from Vintage Blades . I went with an adjustable razor just so I could fine tune the shave. I am looking for the closest shave I can get. There are many much less expensive models out there as well as non adjustable models all giving a quality shave. The Futur is super heavy and glides across my face. When I upgraded my razor, I also upgraded my brush from a boar's hair brush to a pure badger brush from Vulfix . The reason you need a brush is two reasons, first the brush exfoliates your skin to allow the shave cream or soap to better penetrate your skin to help moisturize and it allows for a closer shave. If you start looking at brushes, you will find that they can get pretty expensive, but pure badger brushes are immeasurably better than boar's hair. Badger hair is softer and holds water a lot better than boar's hair, and the boar's hair brush I had lost bristles all of the time. Last, I upgraded my razor blades to some Feather Hi-stainless blades, and according to are some of the highest rated blades for closeness. I haven't tried these out yet, but I will update my findings.

I wanted to set aside a paragraph about the save cream that I use because this is some awesome stuff. After reading the MSNBC article, I bought my first brush and continued to use my regular shave cream out of the can until my first tub of Taylor of Old Bond Street shave cream arrived. I didn't notice a huge difference using the brush with the canned cream. I could not believe the difference when my tub arrived. This stuff is awesome. It lathers like no other shave cream I have ever tried. The other big difference I noticed was when I used the Taylor cream, my face was still moist after shaving. With the canned stuff my face felt dried out like I just washed my face with alcohol. Their fragrances are something also. The first tub I got was lavender, and you may laugh, but that scent was pleasant when going through my morning ritual before work. That tub has lasted me 6 months, so you do get your money's worth out of it. The most recent scent I picked up from Vintage Blades is Shave Shop. This fragrance reminds me of the smell of the barber shop my brother and I went to when we were little. It is great.

If you are tired of hacking through the underbrush during your morning routine, try wet shaving. For a small investment, you will have a more enjoyable experience and will start your day on the right foot.


  1. Sounds interesting, my recent shaving habits have been "not shaving" and Amy's not too keen on it.

    I am also fascinated that badger hair is an upgrade from boar hair.

    One issue though, if you are blogging about "Manly Men Stuff" ... the word "exfoliating" can never appear again :-)

  2. Started my son off on the right foot in the shaving world. He's only five, so I figure it is time to get him started with some good habits. I had him use my old Gillette razor without a blade and we had a good time shaving together this morning.