As we continue with Part II of the Wet shaving 101 series, we come to the heart of the matter: the shave itself. Our materials are our Prep’d face from Part I: a brush, shaving soap or cream, a razor and blade. Each one of these elements could easily have it’s own article, but we’ll do a quick overview here to get you familiar with them:
The brush can be made of several differing materials but the basic composition consists of a handle and bristles. The handle may be made out of acrylic, types of plastic, wood, horn, or a variety of other media. Bristles can be made out of synthetic material such as nylon, or natural material such as boar, or badger hair. Badger hair is most sought after for its water retention, softness, and ability to quickly and easily generate lather.
Razors can be three, two, or one piece and are often made out of metal (although there are a few vintage and modern ones made of Bakelite). Some famous brands are Merkur, Weishi, Edwin Jagger, Parker, Feather and in vintage models Gillette. The most important thing to consider when getting a razor is how “mild,” or “aggressive” a shave they give. This feeling is determined by the gap between the blade and the safety bar. It is recommended for a beginning wet shaver to start with a more “mild” razor such as a Merkur 34c, Edwin Jagger 89, or Gillette SuperSpeed.
Arguably the most subjective part of all wet shaving is the razor blade. The key is finding a blade that possesses both sharpness and smoothness in the right amounts for your beard and face. Unfortunately the only way to find this out is to try several different brands for yourself and see which feels the best. I highly recommend buying a blade sample pack from one of the many fine vendors to see which blade works for you.
Now to the shave itself: load your brush with soap, or dollop of cream into a bowl and whip it into a thick lather. Use a swirling motion to distribute the lather across your face. This does a few things, it lifts the hair, it places lather all around the skin and hair, exfoliates the skin and cleanses it. Smooth and even out the lather using a painting motion.
To start shaving, place the razor with blade loaded inside at a 90-degree angle (with the handle sticking straight out from your face) on your face. Slowly drag the razor down and bring the razor down to a sharper angle. When you feel the blade start to catch hairs, you’ve reached the right angle! This should be somewhere around 30-degrees, give or take. Continue to shave your face with short quick strokes in the direction of the hair growth. Then repeat the process and go across the grain. For beginners I would not recommend going against the direction of hair growth until you have become more comfortable with the process of Wet Shaving. Now you’ve completed your Shave…well almost! We’ll look at our last step – Defend in our last installment of Wet Shaving 101.
Join me next time and until then, Happy Shaving!
This article originally appeared (although still authored by myself) at MaleStandard.com