STEP 1 – Proper Beard Prep
One of the best ways to avoid razor burn, irritation, and post-shave discomfort is to make sure your beard or facial hair is not just wet, but saturated.
It’s called wet shave for a reason.
Facial hair absorbs moisture up to 1/3 of its volume.
Thick beards soak up a lot of water and even a five o’clock shadow can absorb a ton. A few splashes isn’t enough because swollen saturated hair is easier to cut.
Wet Shave Perfection
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FACT: Heat softens facial hair which is why barbers use a hot towel before giving you a close shave.
Many guys just throw some water on their face before getting started but this often comes with unwanted consequences like razor burn, itchy skin, irritation, pimples, and in grown hairs.
Make sure to take a hot shower and use a face wash to remove the oils, dirt, and dead skin before you shave as this will help soak and soften your facial hair while prepping your skin for a close cut.
To make a home-made hot towel just run a towel under hot steaming water for a minute or two or pour hot water from the tea kettle onto a towel in a bowl or for the quickest option just microwaving a wet hand towel for around 30 seconds.
To avoid burns, make sure the towel is not too hot.
Start out just letting it sit on your skin and then as it starts to cool make sure to rub the towel against your beard to lift the hairs.
STEP 2 – High Grade Lather
Wet Shaving Brush Importance
There is a reason that every barber uses a shaving brush, and if you want a good reliable close shave…
You need to be using a wet shaving brush too.
After your beard is soaked and heated, and your skin is heat prepped, it’s time to apply shaving cream.
Shaving cream locks in moisture and lifts the whiskers up and away.
Make sure to leave the shaving cream on your face for a full minute (if you have the time) to allow it to fully soak into the coarse hair follicles.
Good shaving creams have a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers, which transform into a rich creamy lather (rather than foam) to allow your razor to glide smoothly across your skin.
Your skin is your largest organ, averaging around 8 pounds and 22 square feet.
Normally the human skin has a low permeability to keep unwanted pollutants and toxins out, but the heat and wet that is softening your whiskers is also somewhat increasing your skins permeability.
You may want to consider investing in a higher grade organic shaving cream with better ingredients.
Not only does the wet shaving brush create a rich thick lather that helps raise the hair and stay close to the skin, but it cleans off dead skin cells to give your face a cleaner healthier appearance. Just make sure apply the shaving cream in an upwards circular motion to help lift the beard.
STEP 3 – The Right Razor
Wet Shave Razors
A high quality razor will give you a better shave because it starts sharper, cuts better, has the right weight, and lasts longer.
The right razor is going to be a combination of a type, weight, handle, and blades.
If you are going with a safety razor, then it is simply a matter of selecting your model and buying the associated high quality razor blades.
For example, some safety razors come with a guard to reduce the risk of nicks, and include options for open or closed tooth combs.
• The R89 Safety Razor is a closed comb, which is less aggressive, allowing for better control during the shave and giving you a barrier between the blade and your skin.
• The R41 Safety Razor is an open comb razor, lined with teeth that comb through the hair as it cuts, giving you an aggressive shave meant for thicker tougher hair. These are not usually recommended for men with sensitive skin.
If you prefer a more mainstream shaving performance, then it is simply a matter of selecting a good handle in the color and finish you prefer.
Once you have the handle you prefer, you simply attach high quality 3 or 5 blade razor heads (blades) to it as needed – such as the Gillette Fusion, Mach3, or similar.
Whichever razor you end up settling on, just make sure to always use sharp blades.
Dull razor blades will scratch at your skin and tug at the hairs rather than cutting smoothly through them.
NOTE: A high grade shaving cream will extend your razor blade’s lifespan by several shaves.
No matter how good the blade, you will have to replace it every three and twelve shaves when it dulls.
STEP 4 – A Smooth Technique
Wet Shave Techniques
There is a great deal of conflicting information about whether to shave with the grain or against, and ultimately it will be up to you to decide what works best for your face.
Here are the basic tenants:
FACT: Most experts recommend shaving with the grain, ie. the direction the beard is growing.
If it grows downwards, shave top down, and start with your sides, cheeks, and mustache areas to give the shaving cream more time to soak into the thicker coarser hairs on your chin.
Some men shave against the grain to acquire a closer shave, but the risks of getting cut are higher and there is a fine line between a nice close shave and cutting your whiskers below skin level which can result in razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and redness/shaving rashes.
So proceed with caution.
No matter whether you go with or against the grain… DO NOT push the razor into your skin.
The value of a high grade razor is that it will do all the work for you. Just let it follow your face and keep the movements smooth and even.
FACT: 99% of razor burn and bumps can be avoided by using a good razor, sharp blade, quality shaving cream, and NOT pressing too hard.
There is only a small line of difference in pressure between a close shave and over-shaving.
To go closer, just add some more lather from the brush and give specific areas a second shave (with the grain). But make sure your skin is moist and don’t overdo it or the scraping will result in skin irritation.
STEP 5 – Post Shave Skin Care
Wet Shaving Supplies
Shaving removes up to two layers of top skin, exposing fresh new under-layers to the environment.
Good post-shave skin care will protect these layers (and your face), leaving the new skin looking soothed, smooth, clean, and healthy with a glow others will envy.
On the flip side, poor post-shave skin care will aggravate these new layers and leave your face raw and sensitive, problematic, and worse for the wear.
The 5 good post-shave skin care steps are simple:
1. Rinse with warm water
2. Use a facial wash with witch-hazel or a similar soothing astringent/antiseptic.
NOTE: The right face wash helps remove leftover shaving residue, oils, bacteria, dirt, and other junk while tightening your skin without drying out your face.
3. Rinse off the facial wash with cold water to further tighten the skin.
4. Lightly pat your face dry with a clean towel.
NOTE: Patting is better than rubbing because your skin is fresh and sensitive.
5. Finish with a strong moisturizer, shave balm, or after shave lotion designed for men.
NOTE: Moisturizers designed for women are too oily for a man’s face and will leave you looking greasy.
The best after-shave balms and lotions not only soothe your skin (and replace lost moisture) but reduce over-sensitivity with a blast of post-shave cooling and refreshment.
STEP 6 – Equipment Care
Wet Shaving Products Care
Now that your face is smooth, clean, and ready for the world…
Make sure to take the same good care of your shaving gear.
The razor blade care is simple.
It requires a good final rinse in hot water to get rid of any remaining shaving cream, hair, and gunk.
But don’t wipe the blade on anything as this will just dull it faster.
Simply shake off the excess moisture and put it in a dry place to air dry before putting it away.
A razor stand is perfect as it allows both the razor and brush to slowly air dry after each shave.
Caring for your shaving brush is a critical step.
A thorough rinse that gets the cream off the top of the brush and cleans out the residue at the base of the bristles will maintain the quality of your shaving brush over time. Go gentle with it, but make sure to get the shaving cream, hair, and skin that will try and settle into the middle and around the base.
Then leave it out to air dry fully before you put it away.
If the bristles start to lose their suppleness or you start to get nasty buildup, you will want to give it a soak in warm water, then wash it with a small dollop of shampoo to restore the flexibility and soft conditioning.
There you have it. Super simple and yet ultra effective.
These elements are the cornerstone of the wet shave culture and your starting keys to getting the best shave possible every time.
You will quickly find yourself moving into more advanced wet shaving and enjoying the full benefits of the luxury shaving experience.
Follow these 6 solid steps to the luxury shaving experience that your face wants and needs.