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Getting starting with wet shaving

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As if cigars weren’t hobby enough, you’ve been thinking of starting wet shaving. Good for you, and let me give you a gentle push down the slope.

I am by no means an expert, but an enthusiastic amateur. You’ll find that wet shaving is very similar to this cigar hobby of ours with lots of price points and tons of stuff to play with, not to mention that everyone has their own opinion. There are a ton of great brothers here to lean on and resources on the web. I also learned a lot from the book Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving.

Please note, I’m not affiliated with any brands and I don't run an eBay store, so when I do mention something specific, it’s because I have experience with them. I’m not posting any referral links. I am constantly humbled by the generosity here at BOTL and I owe much more than I could ever pay back. I’m not here to sell you anything, except the idea that you might like wet shaving. With that said, let’s dive in.

A word on Lingo
What we are talking about here is “wet” shaving which typically describes using shaving soap or cream, applied with a brush to the face, and then shaving with a “safety” razor. Safety Razors are called that because they were the next evolution in shaving, moving away from straight razors. Safety razors can be single, but are usually double/dual edge (“DE”) razor blades, set in a handle. These handles were/are built very well, meant to be re-used over and over again with just some gentle cleaning & a new razor blade. I’ve shaved with razors that were from the 1940’s and they shaved like they were brand new.

So, what’s the big deal?
There are two main reasons to wet shave. First, is the cost savings. No more razor blade-heads for $5+ that only last a few shaves, no more cheap handles that get gross after a month and have to be tossed, no more $7 cans of gel that smell like perfume. My daughter shaves her legs with “fancy” colored and disposable razors that are $20 for 4 at the store, plus some pink nightmare goop in a can for another $10. No thanks, I’ll shave like a man. You can get a gently used razor handle for $10 and blades range from 25 to 75 CENTS. Add some shave soap for a few bucks and for $20 you are set up for weeks, if not longer.

Second, there is something to be said for taking a ritual that you used to rush through in the morning and turning that around to something that is pleasant, if not right down luxurious. There is something to shaving with a razor like your father or grandfather used to. If you enjoy kicking back with a cigar, I’m certain you will like the ritual of wet shaving.

Kits
Since posting threads about wet shaving, I’ve gotten quite a few emails about starting off “I’m not sure how to get started and found this kit or razor on BLANK, for $XX.XX. Is that a good deal?”

Most kits I’ve seen from major shave retailers are just fine, and usually are a decent price point for what you get; within a few dollars (+/-) for what you would get if you bought the pieces separately. The main issue I have for brothers just starting out is it’s highly unlikely that you need all the toys and goods that come with a kit. Just like you probably wouldn’t suggest a cigar novice go get every cigar cutter and gadget out there, you probably are getting too much with the kit. As you branch out and get comfortable, a kit might be a decent next step. Also, if you are gifting (or asking for a gift) it’s always nice to have the toys and the one-stop shop. Personally, I’m a value hound (read: cheap) and before I dive in, I want to test the waters. Like I said, for the few key pieces you need, you’re wet shaving for about a twenty dollar bill.

Razor Handles
Unfortunately, I’ve not found any reliable retail shops (outside of major shave stores in large malls, and those are few and far between, not to mention expensive) that sell razor handles. The best bet, if you are looking retail, would be “Sally Beauty” or similar barber or salon supply stores. At Sally Beauty I’ve found they may have one, maybe two, wet shave handles and run about $15. {They are usually kept with the scissors, sometimes behind the counter; probably best to ask the cashier.}

Your best bet, and the one I recommend, would be find a razor handle on eBay. You can get a gently used Gillette razor handle for $10 or so. I like Gillette’s because they are work horses, and the basic ones are as simple as can be. I personally like the butterfly opening razors, but non-moving ones (usually 3 pieces: the handle, then a base that holds the razor, then a part that goes through the razor and base and screws into the handle, bending the razor at the correct angle) are just fine too.

Just starting out, I would stay away from anything with a dial. The dial sets the razor angle for a more or less aggressive shave (good for heavier beards). In my experience, even the lowest setting is too aggressive for a beginner. I would also stay away from any razor that is color coded, usually a colored band on the handle (red or black being common), which is again to designate for a more aggressive shave. So you are looking for your plain chrome or black handled Gillette in the $10 range. Also, I’ve not found any difference if your razor handle is “comb” or flat style, they all shave the same to me.

The other option, also on ebay, is new razor handles based on the Gillette styles. I’ve personally bought a few “Weishi” brand razors and been very pleased. These will run $10+ and while similarly simple to use, they come in different finishes (colors) and often will come with a sample of razor blades. These razors are made and shipped from over-seas; so if you want something new, perhaps as a gift in a ‘cool’ color, and are willing to wait for shipping, you could do a lot worse for your $10.

There are a number of great razor handle manufacturers today, more than I could ever list here. You cannot go wrong with a Merkur, an Edwin Jagger, a Parker, etc. and many of these have decent starting price points, $30+, but again trying to get you in the door inexpensively and without you buying too much razor.

Razor Blades
As difficult as it is to find a razor handle in a retail store, you can find DE razor blades nearly everywhere. Wal-Mart, Walgreens and the like all usually carry at least one brand (usually a store brand, sometime others); you’ll find them with the other razor products (which hopefully you are now passing over.) For the life if me, I don’t know why retail stores don’t carry razor handles, seems like a big miss to me but things will be different when I rule the world.

A pack of 10 DE blades will run you $5-7 at any of the big-box stores. I’ve found grocery stores are a good place for very inexpensive blades. Depending on how often you shave, a blade will last you a week+. Usually I toss mine after a week/when I remember to do it. The blade will start to drag a bit as you shave, that’s the sign to toss it and get a new one.

A couple of notes here, these things are wicked sharp. There is no need to wipe them down or anything when loading into your razor handle; a good blast of hot water once safely in the handle will take care of any oils from the package. When they are done in, I put my used blade in a soda or beer can with the tab turned over the opening and then right into the garbage (you are having a beer in the shower right?)

As with handles, there are a million razor blade manufactures, and if you ask 5 guys what brand they like, you might get 5 different answers. A number of on-line shops, including many on eBay, sell samplers. I suggest you get a sampler of 5-10 blades and see what you like.

Shave soap/cream
Just like with razor blades, you can find inexpensive shave soaps and kits at several retail locations. Wal-Mart near me sells the “Van Der Hagen Premium Shave set” in a green box (I believe Van Der Hagen stands for “sold at Wal-mart) for $9 which includes a brush, a bowl and shave soap. While I feel the soap is nothing to write home about, it’s a great place to start for $9.

You’ll find the Ven Der Hagen Soap by itself at places, as well as other brands. I personally like “Williams” brand for its classic scent and it costs $1.77 for a cake at the CVS near me.

And yet again, just like the handles and blades, there are many, many soap brands out there in all sorts of configurations. Experiment and find what scents and types you like.

Thanks
With your razor handle, blades, and brush you are ready to dive in, so for $20 you are started on the slippery slope to wet shaving. I would be happy to answer any questions if I can and thanks for taking the time, I hope you found this useful.
 
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I have been using a safety razor for awhile, but with regular Barbasol. I need to step up my game and get a brush and try the soap. Thanks for the inspiration Tim!
 

Hoshneer

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I can't believe I've never used a DE razor. I have used the same razor since my 18th birthday. Gillette sent me the edge for a bday present and I have stuck with it ever since.
 

King Kill 33

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Tell us more Tim! I just hope I can take all this in. Dig the sticky idea!


KK33
Not being a smart ass, well I was, but when I first saw this post it was blank Tim! If you look at the other 3 posts ahead of me, I thought they saw it blank and were being smart asses too! LOL
Now that I see the content, definitely a good read. I gotta take the plunge and do this.


KK33
 

Hot_Sauce

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Great post Tim:applause:

2nd the leisuregy's book.

You can find this info on the web, but it's alot of looking around. Much easier to just get the book. It also make for a good conversation piece.

Will we be seeing more posts about Pre shave, brushes, aftershaves?
 

TravelingJ

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Shavingcreams.com is owened by one of our site sponsors. I haven't bought from them yet, but I'm all for buying shaving supplies from a B&M. I've been to a few other B&M's that have shaving goodies-and reasonable prices. It's nice to be able to check things out before you buy em.
 
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Great post Tim, you have sent me down this slipper slope for sure. Its a great shave and I don't shave but maybe once a week. I have already been on the hunt in hopes to stop in to an art of shaving store and am interested in some pre shave rituals and aftershaves as well.

Thanks for the heads up on some local shops that care things, to be honest I never noticed blades at say wally world or Sallys.
 

Jfire

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Thanks for the post. Definitely would like to see recommendations for soaps (naming sites is fine IMO) just no links. Brushes, razor blade brands razors as well. Hook the guys up with as much info as possible. If someone told me to buy a Palio in 08 instead of 09 I wouldn't have 4 other cutters. And thanks again to Hotsauce and Bigfoot for the generosity. Razors, creams. Even a badger brush from Jose. I've been using it for 6 months and last night I finally went for a 3rd pass and loved every minute of it!!!!
Btw, what brand of those fancy bowls with the hot water thingy should I get. Those hand fired bowls are the shit!!!!!! (put hot water in the inside 5 mins before using the bowl.)
 

Hot_Sauce

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Btw, what brand of those fancy bowls with the hot water thingy should I get. Those hand fired bowls are the shit!!!!!! (put hot water in the inside 5 mins before using the bowl.)
Sounds like you are looking for a scuttle

Two very popular makers of scuttles are Georgetown pottery and Dirty Bird pottery:yes:
 

Hoshneer

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Okay man. I have a brush and shaving soap and I think I'm gonna try to find a bargain DE razor to start with. I eventually want to try a straight razor as I progress but I am going to try my luck on a DE razor first and try my luck. I will let you know how it goes in a month or so. ;)
 

cgraunke

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Best piece of advice I received was (like in cigars) to go slow.
Remember the objective is to gradually reduce the hairs, not completely eradicate them in one fell swoop.
Don't hit an area twice without re-wetting/lathering. The idea behind the "wet shave" is that your skin & beard are always lubed up (wet) when the blade makes contact. This is why the 3-5 blade cartridge rigs cause so much irritation, the first blade removes the lubrication and the remaining blades are essentially dry shaving. Ouch!
It's better to complete 3 or 4 passes (wet, lather, shave, repeat) than destroy your face trying to get it all at once.
Hope this helps someone else getting started as much as it helped me!
Clint
 
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Anyone want to try Feather blades?

I bought some but I prefer Gillette Silver Blue. For anyone that hasn't ill send out the 20 I have left. If you haven't tried the blues ill throw some of those in too.


This is done.
 
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Anyone want to try Feather blades?

I bought some but I prefer Gillette Silver Blue. For anyone that hasn't ill send out the 20 I have left. If you haven't tried the blues ill throw some of those in too.
I haven't tried either and wouldn't mind paying for them
 
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