Wet Shaving

Last Update 01 June 2007

This page is broken up into three sections:

The Shaving Process: How to Wet Shave
Products/Brand Listing: Listing of manufacturers, products, and resellers
Links for More Information : Links to Shaving forums and information sites

A Note about Electric Razors vs. Straight Razors:

Electric shaving can be faster and easier than wet shaving. However, the action of an electric razor pulls the hair and skin, leaving the face dry and sore. Wet shaving is preferred.

The Shaving Process:

Introduction: Don't shave first thing upon waking up, when your body is used to lying down. Wait a bit until your blood flow is back to normal, perhaps after breakfast or after walking the dog.

Hot water is the key to getting a good, close shave. You are going to want to apply lots of hot water to open the pores and soften your beard. You will need to keep your face moist during the entire shave.

Thus, the best time to shave is after a hot shower. Some prefer to shave in the shower, but this uses more water and may tend to make you rush the process. It is also harder to handle the brush and razor with wet hands.Also, if you don't have a mirror in the shower it is also harder to determine what you are doing for those detail areas. Note: there are shower mirrors available on the market designed not to steam up.

You should use quality products to shave and after-shave with. Most drugstore products contain lots of alcohol that dries the skin and artificial ingredients with questionable usefulness. The PRODUCTS area below lists many quality shaving creams, soaps, and aftershaves that have been recommended by various sites on the Web (please note that I have used only a few of these products so the listing of a product should not be taken as a personal recommendation unless so noted).

Preparing the Face: After the shower, you will need to re-wet your beard using hot water from the sink. Wet your face by cupping hot water in your hands (as hot as you can stand) and press against your face. Repeat to ensure your entire shaving area (face & neck) is wet and warm. You could also soak a towel in hot water and wrap it around your face for 30 seconds or more.

If you have sensitive skin (or simply because you like it), apply a pre-shave oil to your beard. This adds an additional layer of protection and helps the razor glide over your face. Pre-shaves are made by The Art of Shaving, Proraso, Musgo Real, Trumper's Skin Food, King of Shaves, and Total Shaving Solution, among others. Be sure there is no alcohol in the products you apply to your face at this point in the shave process.

Fill the sink with hot, hot water. This will be used to rinse your razor during the shave. Some prefer to rinse the razor under flowing water, feeling that the running water is more sanitary than continual rinsing in a static puddle. In my experience, it seems that rinsing in the filled sink allows the razor to get "wetter", and it seems to glide and cut better on my face. Use whichever method you prefer.

As mentioned above, use a quality shaving cream or soap. Many drugstore soaps are drying, and many Gels and Foams contain numbing agents, petroleum products and artificial ingredients. Most of the articles I've read prefer Shaving Creams over the Shaving Soaps, but the soaps are more economical and can be good for travel. My own experience backs this up and I prefer creams over soaps. A quality cream or soap will benefit the skin and will keep the face moist during the shave, which is the main goal. Glycerine based soaps are reportedly good, though Charles Roberts of Enchantè advises against them. I have no personal exerience with shaving with a glycerine soap.

Next, you need to apply the cream to your face. A badger shaving brush is the key to keeping your face hot and moist during this process. Badger hair is the preferred shaving brush as it holds the water best. Boar's hair is better than nothing, but trade up as soon as you can afford it. Wet the brush in the sink or under hot running water. Place a small amount of cream in your shaving mug or the palm of your hand, and whip the cream (or soap) with the brush. Don't lather too much at this point. Rather, do most of the lathering of the soap on your face, taking at least 45 seconds for the process using an up and down motion. This invigorates your beard, thoroughly wets it, and helps it to stand up. Badger brushes are expensive (typically $50-$100 and more), but a quality brush should last you 10 years or more.

The Shave: Now you are ready to shave. You must use a good razor to shave with. The Gillette Mach3 and Sensor razors get rave reviews; I'm not sure how the Schick brands stand up. An aftermarket handle ($45-$150) is recommended to provide a weighted grip and enhance control of the razor, although I get buy with the standard metal handles. Avoid the lightweight plastic handled "travel" razors whenever possible. Wet the razor in the hot water in the sink.

Do not use too much pressure. This is where a quality handle can help as the lighter handles tend to make you apply more pressure than necessary. The length of the strokes will depend on your face and where you are shaving, but don't make them too long or too short.

Never shave against the grain, it can cause ingrown hairs and razor burn. If necessary, you can shave across the grain for those particularly stubborn sections.

Rinse the blade in the sink of hot water (or running water) after each few strokes. This keeps the blade moist and cleans out the cream and hair that has accumilated.

After the Shave: When you are finished with the razor, empty the sink (and clean the ring left in the sink, your wife will appreciate it!). Rinse your face with lots of cool water to close the pores, and pat dry (don't rub). Clean the razor under running water and place on a stand to dry. Also rinse the brush under running water, flick dry, and run through your fist once to wring out the water. I usually give the brush a few slight swipes against a towel as well to remove even more water. Place the brush "handle up/bristles down" in a stand to dry. You don't want the water to run into the handle and weaken the cement.

Apply an after-shave to moisturize and protect your face. High alcohol products should not be used. Some quality aftershaves have a little alcohol, but it shouldn't be the major ingredient. A no-alcohol balm or cream is best. Also, colognes should be applied to the body, behind the earlobes, or the sides of the neck and not to your face as the ingredients can irritate the skin.

In case of a cut or a nick, use an Alum Block or Styptic pencil as per the directions.

You should change your blade approxiamatly once a week, depending on the quality of your razor and the density of your beard. As a general rule of thumb, as soon as you feel any pulling or tugging, it is time to change. As a cheapskate, I extend my razor to two weeks, and sometimes a bit longer by using a sharpener known as The Razor Saver (see www.thesustainablevillage.com or http://www.lehmans.com) that is designed to extend the life of your disposable razor blade.


Below is a small sampling of the many shaving products and brands available. Sadly, most cannot be found at the local drugstore, which carry mostly alcohol and artificial ingredient filled products. Also, I have found that the cheaper creams I have tried tend to be thin and don't provide a good shave. Please be aware that there are many other quality products that I have not listed here, mainly due to the amount of space and the amont of time it takes to compile such a listing. Some examples of quality products I have not listed include: Mason Pearson Brushes, John Bull Brushes, and Cyril R. Salter products, among others.

Personal Use Experience:

Creams: I have used creams from Trumper, Taylor, Salter, and Caswell-Masey. I like the Trumper creams the best, but they are on the expensive side. I rate Taylor and Salter about the same, and they are typically more economical. I don't really care much for the Caswell-Masey products I've tried as I find them thin in comparison.

Brushes: You can find Boar's hair brushes in some shops around the $10 price range. You can also purchase Badger hair brushes or $200 or more (such as from Trumper). I purchased a relatively low priced Badger brush by Savile Row in the $40 price range and have found it much nicer than the Boar's hair brushes I used previously. I would certainly recommend this level of  brush over the cheaper ones. I can't say how this brush compares to the $200 level brushes...


The Art of Shaving (USA): The Art of Shaving product and accessory line. Made of natural ingredients and essential oils, their premier shaving line guarantees optimal shaving results by catering to individual skin types and needs such as razor burn, ingrown hair, tough beard and sensitive skin. The aromatherapy-based products are formulated with natural ingredients and lightly scented with essential oils selected for their therapeutic properties. All the products are free of dyes, alcohol, and synthetic "fragrances". The handmade accessories are designed and manufactured with the finest materials available to ensure the utmost in comfort, luxury and quality shaving performance. The Art of Shaving stores are located in New York, Dallas, and Miami. Products are also available at Nordstrom's and Neiman Marcus.
The Art of Shaving (Miami, Florida): http://www.theartofshaving.com
Neiman Marcus: http://www.neimanmarcus.com
Nordstrom's: http://www.nordstrom.com

Geo. F. Trumper (England) Aftershaves & colognes, razors, shaving soaps & creams, skin foods. Geo F Trumper is recognised as the finest traditional gentlemen's barber in London and is known throughout the world for its matchless range of gentlemen's fragrances and grooming products. Established 1875 in Curzon Street, Mayfair, by Mr George Trumper, the business has served the needs of London gentlemen and members of the Royal Court for over 125 years, and has been honoured with the Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria and five subsequent monarchs.
Geo. F. Trumper (England) home page: http://www.trumpers.com
Enchantè Online (Austin, TX): http://www.enchanteonline.com "Men are known to spend money on quality and hang on to the thing forever. A fine razor is such a thing or we wouldn't offer Trumper's, crafted for balance and control. Trumper's shaving creams and soaps are exceptional too... A word about Trumper's Skin Foods: fabulous. Apply immediately to freshly-shaved skin to seal and protect. Glycerin- and gum-based for a non-greasy finish that's smooth, not sticky."
QED, Inc: (Rhode Island): http://www.qedusa.com
London's Bathecary (Charlottesville, VA): http://www.shoplondons.com 
Gentleman's Shop (Berkshire, UK): http://www.gentlemans-shop.co.uk
The English Shaving Company (Sheffield, UK) http://www.theenglishshavingcompany.co.uk

Taylor of Old Bond Street (England): The Taylor Tradition was founded on September 1st, 1854 by Jeremiah Taylor, the great grandfather of today's Chairman. Taylor's features Straight Razors, Mach3 handles, natural Shave Creams & Aftershaves, quality Badger brushes. Web page includes a nice collection of hints and tips for shaving
Taylor of Old Bond Street (London, England): http://www.taylorbondst.co.uk
Sesto Senso (Frederick, Maryland): http://www.sesto-senso.com
Black Cat Cigar Comany (Philadelphia, PA): http://www.blackcatcigars.com (full line)
Trafalgar Shop (Canada): http://www.trafalgarshop.com 

D.R. Harris & Co. Ltd. ( England). Chemists and Perfumers. D. R. Harris has been grooming men since 1790, when Henry Harris, a surgeon, and Daniel Rotely Harris, a chemist and the company's namesake, opened their apothecary on London's St. James Street. in an area of Mayfair still known as Men's Clubland. "Our variety of After Shave preparation encompasses the range of skin types from the After Shave Milk which will sooth chapped or razor irritated skin or the virtually alcohol-free Pink After Shave for tender, sensitive skins to the classic Bay Rum & Sandalwood."
D.R. Harris home page: http://www.drharris.co.uk/drharris.htm
Enchantè Online (Austin, TX):  http://www.enchanteonline.com "proudly offer D. R. Harris's wet shaving soaps and creams, formulated to produce a thick, rich lather that makes for a clean shave and smooth skin.carries , hard soaps (triple milled), creams with high glycerine content."
The English Shaving Company (Sheffield, UK) http://www.theenglishshavingcompany.co.uk 

Coates of England (England): Quality shaving creams
QED, Inc (Riverside, RI): http://www.qedusa.com (complete line) 
KnoxCigar http://www.knoxcigar.com

Muehle-Pinsel (Germany) Range includes shaving brushes, razors, shaving kits and various accessories. All shaving brushes are finished with fine pure badger hair. All handles are handmade. Shaving kits and razors are completed with 2 blade (Sensor®) or 3 blade (Mach3®) razor systems. The production of brushes also has a long tradition in the Mueller family. These items were produced and traded already in the fourth family generation. The Mueller company was founded under difficult circumstances by Johannes Mueller in 1945. In the beginning the bristles were boiled and prepared in the wash-house. Business expanded and specialisation then followed in shaving brushes. Their website includes a newsletter The Shaving Mirror (in German and English), as well as other information on shaving.
Muehle-Pinsel home page: http://www.muehle-pinsel.de
Enchantè Online (Austin, TX): http://www.enchanteonline.com States Muehle-Pinsel "produces the finest shaving system available for the beginning shaver."

Musgo Real (Portugal) Fragrances Shaving Soaps & creams. Musgo Real of Portugal began producing fine men's shaving and grooming products in 1887. Fragrant musk, sensuous Portuguese coastlines and languorous tapas bars aside, Musgo Real draws its popularity among discerning men from the generous amounts of lanolin, glycerin and coconut oil that make shaving a pleasure. Musgo Real shaving cream is so thick with lanolin it can be used with or without a brush. Enchantè Online (Austin, TX): http://www.enchanteonline.com
Sesto Senso (Frederick, Maryland): http://www.sesto-senso.com 
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com 
QED, Inc (Riverside, RI): http://www.qedusa.com

Proraso (Tuscany, Italy). Pre/After Shaves & Shave Cream. Proraso cream is made in Tuscany, using the same methods and natural ingredients they used fifty years ago, and the distinctive green package reminds one of the Italian barbers of bygone times, when shaving was a ritual which men followed faithfully.
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com
Sesto Senso (Frederick, Maryland): http://www.sesto-senso.com
Trafalgar Shop (Canada): http://www.trafalgarshop.com
QED, Inc (Riverside, RI): http://www.qedusa.com

Edwin Jagger Ltd. (Sheffield, England): Established in 1993 to design and manufacture this high quality range of modern and traditionally styled razors, shaving brushes, soaps bowls and stands. Spinners, silversmiths, buffers and polishers use high grade brass, stainless steel and polyester to create flawless surfaces, coated with chrome or gold. Razors are available with either Sensor, Mach 3 or the traditional double edged Safety head.
Gentleman's Shop (Berkshire, UK): http://www.gentlemans-shop.co.uk
The English Shaving Company (Sheffield, UK) http://www.theenglishshavingcompany.co.uk 

A. Simpson & Co (England): Simpsons Shaving Badger bristle brushes. Simpsons Brushes are simply the finest shaving brushes made in the world today. They are hand made of the finest woods and Chinese badger hairs in a small town in the English countryside [Note: badger's are endangered in England, which is why Chinese badger's are used]
Lee's Razors: http://www.leesrazors.com
Gentleman's Shop (Berkshire, UK): http://www.gentlemans-shop.co.uk
Enchantè Online (Austin, TX): http://www.enchanteonline.com 

G.B. Kent & Sons (UK). Shaving Brushes. Founded in 1777 by William Kent, holders of the Royal Warrant and best known for their entirely hand made hairbrushes, G.B. Kent also produce top of the range and handmade luxury shaving brushes with traditional white hand turned barrels.
G.B. Kent & Sons (Hemel Hempstead) home page: http://www.kentbrushes.com
Gentleman's Shop (Berkshire, UK): http://www.gentlemans-shop.co.uk

Shavemac Blos GmbH (Germany): Brushes. Made with the best materials by our brush maker master - this is garantuee that it will become a product of highest quality and with a long lifespan. Also sells Gillete Mach 3 razor handles, and shave kits.
Shavemac (Germany) home page: http://www.shavemac.com  

Omega (Italy): A high quality of Shaving Brush with different model and colours. A great starter brush, the Omega Professional shaving brush transforms the soap into a denser, richer foam.
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com "This bristle brush sometimes has a slight "wet dog" smell which disappears in a couple of weeks. This is our favorite brush." (Proraso/Omega)
Sesto Senso (Frederick, Maryland): http://www.sesto-senso.com
Em's Place (Lincoln City, OR): http://www.emsplace.com 

Concord Shear LLC (USA): Since 1939, the craftsmen who work for Concord have created objects of unique style that are testament to a tradition of skill and quality. Shaving Sets.
Concord Shear LLC (Bridgeport, Conneticut) home page: http://www.concordshear.com 
E-Barbershop (Delray Beach, FL): http://www.ebarbershop.com

Savile Row (England): Shaving brushes with 100% Badger hair.
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com (single brush only)
QED, Inc (Riverside, RI): http://www.qedusa.com (complete line)

Col. Ichabod Conk Products, Inc. (USA): The only company in the U.S. that makes a complete line of wet shaving products. Soaps, mugs, etc.
Col. Ichabod Conk Products, Inc. (Los Lunas, NM): http://www.col-conk.com
Colonel's Shave Shop (Austin, TX): http://www.shaveshop.com 
Knife Center (College Park, MD): http://www.knifecenter.com
Amazing Shaving (Austin, TX) http://www.amazingshaving.com
Cool Shaving (Lexington, South Carolina): http://www.coolshaving.com 

Merkur (Solilngen, Germany): Double-Edged Safety razors
Knife Center (College Park, MD): http://www.knifecenter.com "We feel these are some of the finest shaving products available anywhere today and they are still reasonably priced!" 
Col. Ichabod Conk Products, Inc. (Los Lunas, NM): http://www.col-conk.com
Colonel's Shave Shop (Austin, TX): http://www.shaveshop.com 
Amazing Shaving (Austin, TX) http://www.amazingshaving.com
Cool Shaving (Lexington, South Carolina): http://www.coolshaving.com
Em's Place (Lincoln City, OR): http://www.emsplace.com 

Caswell-Massey: shaving creams, soaps, aftershaves, colognes (caution, some products are heavy in alcohol), and a Badger brush.Also features a Dr. Hunter's line of shaving creams as seen at Cassell-Wood, below.
E-Barbershop (Delray Beach, FL): http://www.ebarbershop.com
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com  
Cassell-Wood (Charlottesville, VA): http://www.cassell-wood.com 

Barclay-Crocker: Vitamin-E Aftershave Lotion. Vitamin-E, Lanolin moisturizer, Alcloxa astringent, cooling menthol
Barclay-Crocker (Southampton, NY): http://www.barclaycrocker.com

Speick (Germany): Each product is crafted with the rare Alpine valerian plant - Valeriana celtica - highly aromatic and healing! Shaving Cream with beeswax and glycerin, Shaving Stick, After Shave Lotion
Beauty Habit (Westlake Village, CA): http://www.beautyhabit.com
Em's Place (Lincoln City, OR): http://www.emsplace.com 
Trafalgar Shop (Canada): http://www.trafalgarshop.com

Total Shaving Solution: Shave Oil. See my personal review HERE.
Little Big Man Enterprises: http://www.allaboutshaving.com

American Crew: Herbal Shave Cream, Herbal Soothing Gel (no-alcohol), Aftershave Moisturizer, Essential Shave Oil (natural oils), Herbal Astrigent, and Classic Shave Cream
American Crew (Denver, CO) home page: http://www.americancrew.com 
Gentleman's Shop (Berkshire, UK): http://www.gentlemans-shop.co.uk
E-Barbershop (Delray Beach, FL): http://www.ebarbershop.com

For More Information:

The following is a list of interesting articles or web pages of interest to shaving, many with more specific details on the shaving process.

ClassicShaving.com: Reseller for Straight razors and more. Includes a section on "How to and Why"
The Roberts Method of Wet Shaving: Forum
Badger and Blade Shaver's Forum: FAQ's, forum, and more
ShaveMyFace: Guide to the art of shaving and men's grooming with forum
Head Shaver.org Head Shaver's Information. Although not specifically about shaving facial hair, this site features quite a few reviews of shaving products. http://www.headshaver.org/index.html
Cigar Aficionado Magazine: Articles London: Men's Style, Toiletries Sep/Oct 2001; A Cut Above Sep/Oct 1998
Enchantè Online Charles Roberts, "The Art of the Shave" (excellent, this full article is a must read)
Em's Place: "Information About Our Shaving Brushes" Info on brushes; other pages include information on essential oils and general shaving tips. http://www.emsplace.com/bcprod/brushesinfo.htm
Sharpman: Articles on Men's grooming and more.
Zaoui, Myriam and Eric Malka: The Art of Shaving Book. A gift book with good information on shaving.
Pinfold, Wallace G.: A Closer Shave; Man's Daily Search for Perfection. Another "gifty" book, this one written in a humerous tone
The Gentleman's Shop - Our Guide to Shaving. Also has a section on shaving with a straight razor.
Geo F Trumper: shaving tips. A good general article for reading and keeping as an overview.
The English Shaving Company: Shaving tips and techniques for a more comfortable shave (see Useful Information section)

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