If you are new to wet shaving, you have learned that some skill is required. Here are ten wet shaving tips to improve your shave today! “What is wet shaving,” you ask?
Check out this article for a definition and some tips on choosing your first razor. Once you have perused that article and are ready to start wet shaving, or are looking to improve your current shave, read on.
You may have started wet shaving because you were tired of razor burn, expensive cartridges, and dragging dull blades mindlessly over you mug multiple times a week.
Your first experience probably went a little like the following scenario.
Full of enthusiasm, you research products online and gather the items you need. You wait anxiously for the items to arrive. If you followed the guide linked above you receive your razor and get it shaving ready.
You gather your new toys around your bathroom sink and embark on your first-ever wet shave and. . . it’s horrible! Your face burns, you nicked yourself, and the shave wasn’t even close!
You stanch the bleeding and head to work with razor burn and unsightly cuts all over your face.
You contemplate going back to your cartridges and forgetting all about wet shaving. But, the dream is too good to give up, you head back to the web for some wet shaving tips that could speed your journey toward glorious shaving nirvana.
Of course, you probably didn’t mangle your visage quite that severely, yet your first attempt was likely neither comfortable nor close. This is not only normal, it is to be expected.
The shaving process with a DE razor is much different than with a cartridge razor. It will likely take a month or so before you start achieving consistently decent results. That brings us to our first tip:
Wet Shaving Tip #1: Don’t give up!
Wet shaving is an art. Like any art, it will take some time for you to learn your tools and how to use them effectively.
If you’re like me you mangled your face that first time, and you’ll likely do so again here and there.
Give your face a day off to heal, if needed.
If you must be clean shaven for work apply, some of the other tips below to your existing shave routine. Most of these tips will make shaving with any kind of razor less traumatic.
With persistence you can, and will, achieve a closer and more comfortable shave than you’ve ever had with that 30 blade cartridge razor.
Wet Shaving Tip #2: Engage the Community.
Again, wet shaving is an art. If you want to become a master artist as quickly as possible that’s your first step? Find an experienced teacher, of course!
So why wouldn’t you find a teacher to help you improve your shave? Joining an online forum or two will put you in touch with skilled teachers.
These forums will aid your learning in three main ways.
1) Browsing through a forum’s wikis and beginner threads; though the problems you are having seem mysterious, most are quite common and you will find solutions in these areas much quicker than by trial and error.
2) If you can’t find the answer, ask for help from the members; one of the best parts of wet shaving is the community; we wet shavers are very welcoming and love to help.
3) Because of the increasing popularity of wet shaving you will likely find an experienced wet shaver who lives nearby. Be sure to add your (general) location to your profile to streamline the search for a nearby mentor.
If you are fortunate to live in proximity to a mentor, arrange a meetup. An hour with an experienced wet shaver could improve your shave more than a week of online research.
Wet Shaving Tip #3: Develop a Good Prep Routine.
Much of the improvement you will see in the comfort of your shave will come from good beard preparation. Human hair has the same hardness as the equivalent thickness of copper wire!
The ONLY thing that will soften your beard is water and time. Soap can aid in the process by reducing the water’s surface tension and making it more readily absorbed by the whiskers.
Your stubble needs to be wet for about five minutes to soften sufficiently.
Best practice – especially at first – is to take a nice hot shower before you shave.
When you wash your face, make sure you really work at thoroughly cleaning your beard and pay special attention to the problem areas (usually under your chin and neck).
When you wash your face, be sure to use a facial cleanser.
Avoid using regular soaps, as they will dry your skin and cause unwanted irritation. After your shower, do not dry your face.
Try to keep your beard area wet throughout the entire shave.
Wet Shaving Tip #4: Map Your Beard Grain.
Wet shaving typically involves multiple passes. You will experience the least irritation when you shave “with the grain” of your beard, or in the direction of the hair growth.
A general conception of this growth is necessary to start, but the sooner you learn all the idiosyncrasies of your beard grain, the better.
If you follow the grain exactly you will get the most comfortable and closest shave for your current skill level.
When you are skilled enough to shave in three passes you will not even have to think about the beard grain and you will get effortless baby-butt-smooth (BBS) shaves every time.
Someone has prepared a interactive diagram you can use to map the direction of the grain.
Wet Shaving Tip #5: Practice Lathering.
Making a good lather from a shaving soap will take some practice. A good slick, cushiony lather will transform your shave in terms of comfort. This is generally one of the last skills learned by most wet shavers. This needn’t be the case for you, though.
I recommend you make practice lathers to speed your progress. It is irrelevant how expensive your soap is, this exercise is always worth it.
Just gather (and soak) your brush and bloom your soap, load your brush, and build a lather.
Try to build a lather that is shiny, slippery, and dense. While practice lathering, make sure that you add water slowly, thoroughly whipping the lather until there are no visible bubbles, then add more water.
Repeat the process until it develops a sheen.
When you pull your brush from this mixture there should be peaks of lather sticking out. You want your peaks to bend over like the top of a soft-serve ice cream.
These are referred to as “soft peaks.” Once you have soft peaks, take some of the lather between your thumb and forefinger and rub your fingers together.
If the lather isn’t slippery it has either too little(dry) or too much (runny) water. Use practice lathers to experiment with adding water, brush loading time, and time spent working the lather.
Do yourself a favor, though, and change only one variable at time.
Wet Shaving Tip #6: Try Different Blades.
Different people have different tastes. It is important you find the blade that works for you in the razor handle you own. You can find sample packs for sale on various shaving websites and E-bay, including here.
Wet Shaving Tip #7: Take it Slow.
Avoid the urge to rush through your shave. Cartridge shaving is generally a hurried affair – not so with wet shaving. Rushing is the best way to get razor burn and cuts.
Technique is of paramount importance when your start out, speed will come with time and practice. Unlike cartridge shaving, wet shaving does not benefit from added pressure applied to the blade. In fact, you want no pressure.
Hold your razor with your fingers perpendicular to the head, not parallel to the blade edge, and focus on maintaining good blade contact with your face without any excess pressure.
If the blade isn’t cutting, check your blade angle and ensure good contact. Never add pressure.
Wet Shaving Tip #8: Start With a Single Pass
The typical wet shave involves three passes: with the grain (WTG), across the grain (XTG), and against the grain (ATG). When starting out, do a single WTG pass.
Once you get comfortable with the WTG pass, add the XTG pass, and finally the ATG. Ensure each pass can be done with at least minimal irritation.
Don’t rush this process or you risk stunting your progress.
Wet Shaving Tip #9: Reduce the Beard.
When cartridge shaving hair removal is accomplished in a single pass – not so wet shaving. Never re-shave skin that isn’t covered with lather. Don’t worry about getting all the hair in the first pass.
If you miss a spot, get it either with the next pass, or do a touch-up by re-lathering the area and carefully re-shaving the area. Remember – no pressure!
Wet Shaving Tip #10: Use Aftershave.
Aftershave is a vital part of facial skin care post-shave; it soothes irritation, kills germs, creates a moisture barrier, and tones the skin. Get a good aftershave that isn’t alcohol-based to start.
There are various kinds of aftershave including: splashes, lotions, and creams. If you have normal skin, a splash will usually suffice; if your skin is naturally dry or if you live in a particularly dry climate, try a lotion or a cream.
Aftershave not only benefits your skin, it helps you assess your technique; even an alcohol-free splash will burn a little when it is applied to nicks and razor burn. Aim for no burn.
A burnless shave is a good indicator you may be ready to ratchet up your number of passes, as described in tip #8.
There you have it, 10 wet shaving tips to improve your wet shaving process. Apply these tips and you will gain great skill shaving in no time.
Don’t be surprised if shaving becomes a treasured ritual instead of mechanical drudgery.
Personally, I treasure my shaving sessions and take pride in my clean-shaven appearance. Come join me and the hordes of other proud “bald faces!”
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