I started wet shaving with a safety razor (or a double-edged razor, DE for short) on Christmas Day 2013. That was because Father Christmas was kind enough to deliver me a brush, razor and soap. I’d never shaved with anything other than a cartridge razor and canned gel/foam before.
The past year has been something of a learning curve as I’ve stepped into the world of ‘traditional’ shaving. From humble beginnings I have jumped in with both feet though. I’ve been gripped by acquisition fever as far as blades and software (soap/cream) goes, I’ve even bought a few brushes. There has been so much in fact, that I put together a site reviewing the products as I go through them.
I’m still a novice in this area really, still learning the best techniques. I already have plenty more products lined up to try this year, and I might even try a new razor too (the one bit of my kit that has remained constant). Still, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what I’ve been through.
Many people have seen the barbershop method of a hot towel, though mainly in the movies. Most of the guys I’ve followed tend to go for a shower first, using that to soften up their bristles. There seems to be a growing fashion for cold water shaving though, especially by those with sensitive skin. Then there’s the people who wash with a normal face/hand soap or apply a pre-shave treatment (typically an oil or gel).
Personally, I simply wet my face with warm water, attempting to soak it enough to help soften the bristles and provide some hydration ahead of my lather. I’ve had some good results with this, though I should probably try some other techniques for comparison.
I did get some pre-shave oil for Christmas (2014), initial use has been inconclusive, but I need to give it a proper try.
I started with a badger brush, the undisputed top dog at any level (there are different qualities of badger hair, which affects the price). I have also tried some cheaper bristle and boar brushes as well as a synthetic brush. Not tried a horse hair one yet (something else that seems to be creeping up in popularity).
I have to say, my boar brush, which was much less expensive than any badger brush (under £10) has proved very good. It’s pretty big (has a lot of loft) and is sturdy (good backbone) so I tend to use it for harder soaps.
My synthetic is a small knot (i.e. is small) and doesn’t seem to either hold water or splay very well, so is my least favourite brush. I have heard good things about some of the bigger/more expensive synthetics, so may give one of them a whirl at some point.
I do have a craving for something with a big knot, but not so much loft as my boar, generally the price has kept me away from them though. Continue reading