Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Wetshaving

Sunday, September 30, 2007


After a gift of some basic equipment a few months ago, I decided to explore the world of traditional wet shaving. True, I've been "wet shaving" in some form or fashion since 13, but I've recently learned that there's much more to the experience than canned gel and Gillette's latest multi-blade razor.

First off, shaving for me has always been a fight. Razor bumps, razor burn, ingrown hairs and more. Since 13 I hadn't gone a day without dealing with one or more of those problems. This led to fewer shaves, longer beard growth, and general shagginess. Fortunately my job doesn't require a clean cut shave every day, but when you're 5 years out of college you want to keep from looking like a disheveled undergrad.

I won't go into specifics or tutorials -- other sites have done that much better than I could -- but I will list some basic equipment that can make your shaving much more enjoyable and leave your face much less irritated. In fact, I actually enjoy shaving now. What!?
  • Badger Hair Shaving Brush. This little guy is probably the best tool you can add to your arsenal for an immediate improvement. It gets rid of dead skin, and makes sure the shaving cream gets into and under your whiskers.
  • Shaving Cream/Soap. No, not aerosol gel. No canned goop. Good, old-fashioned shaving cream (or soap) will help the razor glide across the face instead of halting at every tough patch. Your brush will whip up a slick lather that is more than enough for a few passes of the blade. Yes, the good creams and soaps are more expensive, but a tub or a puck of soap will last for months and months.
  • Old Timey Double-Edged Safety Razor. Here's where it gets serious. You can take those first two items above and drastically improve your shave while sticking with your current razor. Or you can go the extra mile and use a razor like your grandfather and his father and before used. It's not scary light a straight razor (the word safety is in the title), but it does have a learning curve. The single blade will irritate your skin far less than multiple blades, which rip hair up and out of your face instead of slicing it. The initial investment is higher than today's razors, but here's the catch: replacement blades run $0.10-0.50 a pop. Compare that to Quad and Quintuple blade systems that cost about $5.00 per cartridge. For me that's about 40 weeks of shaves for the price of one Fusion replacement package.
There are great resources online, such as:

Guide to Gourmet Shaving

Getting the Perfect Shave

Wet shaving Youtube Tutorials

Still not convinced? How about the fact that your tub of cream and single razor blades are much more environmentally friendly than aerosol cans and uber-packaged cartridges? Or the fact that traditional wet shaving can make you more like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart? (Maybe).

So go ahead and try shaving the way it was done by generations of men across the world, for over a hundred years. More and more guys are finding out that the old way just might be the best way.