Traditional Wet Shaving, a How-To

A traditional wet shave is an opportunity to unplug from our fast-paced digital lifestyles, to reconnect with our bodies and manual skills, and take a moment for our own care and fulfillment. This brief guide is not exhaustive, and should serve as a starting point for those interested in learning more about traditional shaving methods.

Wet Shaving Gear

Safety Razor or Straight Razor & Strop
Shave Brush
Clean, Soft Towels and Washcloths
Access to Hot Water
Shave Bowl or Mug (recommened)

Wet Shaving Supplies

Shave Soap or Cream
Preshave Oil (recommended)
Aftershave (recommended)

How to Wet Shave, Step by Step

  1. Pre-Shave (recommended). Apply pre-shave to soften your beard and moisturize and protect your skin. Proraso pre-shave has hair-softening compounds to decrease resistance, while pre-shave oils like this one from Taconic provide extra lubricity. 

  2. Face/Beard Prep. Apply a hot towel or take a hot shower to open the pores and soften the beard, making the hair easier to cut and helping to minimize tugging and pulling.

  3. Razor Prep. A sharp, clean blade is absolutely essential to getting a comfortable wet shave! Change blades frequently in your DE safety razor and strop your straight razor before and after every shave.

  4. Lather Up. Using a shaving brush (we prefer badger hair or synthetic, “angel hair”, fibers) and your shave soap/cream, add water and work the brush into the soap until a thick lather with tiny bubbles is created. Apply this lather to your beard.

  5. First Pass. Shave with the grain (direction of beard hair growth). Maintain light pressure and a proper angle to minimize irritation. Don’t worry too much about getting every hair on the first pass, and shave only where there is fresh lather! You will have an opportunity to clean up wayward whiskers on the next pass.

  6. Rinse and Re-Lather using your shaving brush.

  7. Second Pass. Shave across the grain, pulling the skin tight with your free hand and addressing any difficult areas left over from the first pass. Take your time and re-lather as necessary.

  8. Rinse and Pat Dry with a soft towel.

  9. Apply Aftershave. Shaving has removed the uppermost layer of skin, exposing it to the elements and the risk infection. Aftershave is an important last step and contains mild antiseptics and astringents to disinfect, close pores, cool, and tighten your skin for a clean, refreshing finish.

Remember that your first wet shave will not be your best shave, and it will take time and practice to master the art of the wet shave. While the barrier to entry is a bit higher than with a cartridge razor or electric razor, traditional wet shaving has the potential to deliver a far superior shave in every way. By having the right gear and studying, you are already ahead of the curve and on your way to the best shave of your life!