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There are times when the classic way is the best way. Hands down, The Wet-shave is the best way to groom facial hair: a solid, tried and true method to getting a close, clean, fulfilling shave. The Wet-shave holds the blessing/curse of being considered old-fashioned, to varying degrees of praise or detriment. Class anxieties/prejudice aside, try out this classic shave in a barber’s chair and you’ll appreciate the value of a good shave: not just for the results, but for how the effort feels. It takes a bit more time than shaving for the sake of shaving, but the experience is man’s reward for dealing with facial hair maintenance.
The Wetshave does better for sensitive skin. It offers better control when shaving around a beard. It reduces the chance of razor bumps to ‘nil’, and ingrown hairs become a rare occurrence when done right. The Wet-shave is smoother than efforts from a disposable razor, an electric razor, and of course, any dry shave.
Here’s how to get it done.
First Element: Hydration
- Keep surface wet: before, during, and after. The key is to have your razor feel like it’s ‘sliding’ across your face rather than ‘tugging’ at the hairs when it comes time to bring the blade.
- The best time to shave is after a nice hot shower. Your pores are open and your hairs have softened up. The shaving process will feel less abrasive if you keep your face well-hydrated.
- Wash face with hot water before anything else. You’ll be doing this again between passes, and once more at the end. Aside from helping the shave along, it’ll also get you to slow down: the hot water relaxes your muscles.
Second Element: Shaving Brush
- Applying shaving cream with a proper brush not only keeps the hydration going, it also gets your whiskers aligned.
- Soak your brush in hot water. Keep it there for a few seconds, then remove, hold bristles-down.
- Let the water ‘fall’ out of the brush for a moment before dipping it into the shaving cream. Work up a slight lather on the brush. Then apply to face.
- Get your stubble brushed in a straight direction that goes with the direction your hair naturally grows. This will make it easier on the blade, allowing it to more naturally ‘slide’ along the face rather than ‘tug’ hairs off the surface.
- When you’ve worked up a solid white lather going in that direction, you’re good. Rest the brush on its handle.
Third Element: The Safety Razor
- Walk into a classic barber shop and you’ll see that safety razors can still cost a pretty
penny. There’s a reason whythe ‘classic model’ still holds its value: it’s in the quality of
- shave you can get. The trick is in the technique.
- Hold your safety razor under hot running water for a second or two. Again, this keeps the first element, hydration, going.
- Once it’s out from the running water, run the blade gently down in the direction of your hair growth. No pressing down: the blade should feel like it’s ‘sliding’ across the surface.
And that’s the trick. When you get it done the first time, you’ll be surprised at how close the shave is without putting any pressure on the blade. For most of us, that should be enough. For an even closer shave, rinse, then repeat hydration and brushing before going for a second pass. Second pass can go against the grain, too; even lighter pressure than the first for best results.
Once you’re done, close up shop. Wash the face one last time with cold water to close the pores up and ‘temper’ the surface. Pat down your face and use a non-alcoholic aftershave to prevent drying out.
Rinse out any remaining shaving cream from your brush and shake it dry; when you store it, place it on its handle or – even better – on a hook stand, bristles hanging down. Letting your brush air dry will have it last for at least a few good years. Remember to rinse out the safety razor, cleaning off anything left from the shave. Dry before storing. You’re done!
To get it done right, tools can be expensive to start. Consider it an investment in the long run. Roughly $25 will get your supply of disposable blades for the year, versus, say, $150 if you’re going with a higher-end disposable razor. (Note that the difference there is about $125, or a pair of shows from Aldo.)
Essentials to Buy.
In order of importance
Price: between $40-$200
Pick a badger hair brush. Badger hair naturally retains water; you’ll see this when you soak your brush in the hot water during your first go. Badger hair brushes are available at ‘entry-level’ prices.
Price: between $60-$400
The best kind of razor is of the all-metal variety. The weight of an all-metal razor is key in getting the wet-shave to work well. Stainless steel models make cleaning easier and ensure years of good use.
Price: between $10-$18 per pack
Pick them up from a reputable barber store, if possible. Each blade lasts for at least a few shaves at peak performance.
Price: between $10-$100
A quick note about shaving cream: it’s not an essential element. Once you get really good at the technique, if you find yourself at a foreign washroom somewhere and you don’t have it, you can get away with using a plain bar of soap and you can still get the clean shave. Again, it’s not essential, but it does add to the experience.