Steve Connelly is like most men, he has to shave regularly and for years he hated it. Every time Steve shaved he got a rash and red blotchy skin. He didn’t like the cheap shaving foams and creams available at his local supermarket but didn’t know of any alternative. That was until his friend mentioned a traditional barber shop that had opened across town.
Steve made an appointment and visited the barbershop, the result was a clean smooth shave unlike anything Steve had experienced previously. Was this just due to the skill of the barber or the expensive tools he was using? He got chatting with the barber and realized that good a good quality double edged razor and tools was what he needed, and that it didn’t have to be expensive.
That same day Steve bought his first traditional double edged razor, a Merkur Classic which he picked up for about $50. Along with it he bought a shaving brush, a shaving bowl and some good quality soap, all up he spent about $120 getting set up with his first traditional wet shaving kit. The next day he was back at it but this time he wasn’t at the barbers, he was at home shaving in his bathroom. The result was the same, a good quality clean and close shave that he never thought was possible with the normal disposable cartridge razors and cheap supermarket shaving foams.
Traditional wet shaving methods have been making a comeback in recent years and for good reason. There are many men and women like Steve who either don’t realize or have forgotten that a good quality shave isn’t hard to get and can be done at home. A traditional wet shave done by someone with a little experience and practice will give you a clean, smooth shave that can’t be matched by disposable cartridge razors. While there are many barbers out there that will offer a quality traditional wet shave with a bit of practice and patience you can master the art yourself. So do yourself a favour, buy an old fashioned safety razor like Steve did and begin practicing your wet shaving technique. Still not convinced? Then continue reading for our Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Try Traditional Wet Shaving.
What is Traditional Wet Shaving?
Before you try traditional wet shaving it helps to know what it actually is. When we refer to traditional wet shaving we are typically referring to the use of a double edged safety razor and associated tools such as shaving bowl and shaving brush. The use of s straight razor also falls under traditional wet shaving however straight razor use requires a little more practice and skill that double edged razors so in this article we will focus on just double edged razors as they are easier to master.
A basic setup for traditional wet shaving will include a double edged razor such as the Merkur Classic or the Muhle R89 Traditional Double Edged Razor both of which can be bought for $50-$60. The importance of a shaving bowl is often underestimated, a good quality shave is in part due to the soap lather you can create and apply to your face. The shape of a shaving bowl is designed to allow you to whip up a good lather. Of course in order to do so you will also need a shaving brush and you can’t beat a good quality badger hair brush. Finally you will need some razor blades which most safety razor manufacturers will produce. Safety razor blades are a consistent shape so they are generally interchangeable between brands so you don’t need to stick to the same brand as your safety razor.
The main reason why most are reverting back to traditional wet shaving methods is that the quality of the shave simply can’t be matched with cartridge razors and cheap supermarket soaps and foams. There are many quality companies out there producing double edged safety razors such as Merkur Solingen and Muhle from Germany and Edwin Jagger from the UK. Each offer a range of double edged safety razors from entry level razors starting at approximately $50 to full double edged safety razor kits costing several hundred dollars. It’s easy for people to get started as the entry level razors such as the Merkur Classic are top quality razors that will give you a close clean shave for years.
Create Your Own Ritual
Shaving for many people is a chore and one they don’t enjoy, why would they? What’s enjoyable about covering your face with cheap foaming chemicals and then hacking away with a dollar razor that leaves you with skin rash and blotches? Nothing! However, swap the dollar razor with a good quality traditional double edged safety razor and some shaving soap made from all natural ingredients and you change your shaving routine from a chore to an enjoyable ritual. There are many guides online to shaving including our own Orcadia Wet Shaving Guide, but the point is you are completely free to create your own shaving ritual that is suited to your skin, your hair and your likes. What was once a chore is now an highly enjoyable experience with a result well worth the extra effort.
Carry On Tradition
Traditional wet shaving is, well traditional. It’s how your grandfather shaved when he wasn’t busy fighting a world war. There is an art to wet shaving and that art could be mastered and past down the generations from father to son. However with the advent of mass produced disposable cartridge razors this art and tradition has almost been lost. This comes back to shaving ritual whether its pre-soaking your face with warm water, how to mix the perfect lather and whether to use a clockwise or counter clockwise swirl at the end.
Skin benefits deserves a special mention of its own. While it could easily be lumped in with superior shave the fact that shaving rash is such a common issue with poor shaving methods means that skin benefits gets its own entry. Shaving rash is largely caused by irritation to the skin as the razor blade crosses it. If you are using a dull or rusted blade then that blade will not move across the skin smoothly or evenly as you shave. It will not cut your hairs cleanly or easily and will tug at them as you move the razor across your face. With repeated strokes and thousands of hairs being tugged it is easy to see how using even a slightly dulled blade can result in shaving rash as your skin is damaged with every stroke and your hairs are tugged and pulled. Generally the razor blades used on double edged razors are superior quality, they are also dirt cheap and have two edged to them. All this means that by using a double edged razor you can sap out a new blade with every shave. Its not uncommon for people to try and maximize use of their disposable cartridge razors by using them several times, there are even gadgets out there that promise to re-sharpen the disposable razor blades for you. All this is a recipe for disaster if you are trying to avoid razor burn and shaving rash.
Other skin rashes from shaving are caused by the use of chemicals in shaving foams and creams. The pores on your face are opened when shaving and using warm or hot water and any cream or foam applied during shaving will enter those pores. Go grab your can of supermarket shaving foam and look at the ingredients, how many of those on the list are you happy to have seeping their way into your skin? Part of the traditional wet shaving tool kit is a good quality 100% natural shaving soap that won’t damage your skin and isn’t full of nasty synthetic chemicals. By using a natural shaving soap you won’t be exposing yourself to these chemicals and in turn will reduce the chance of skin irritation from the compounds entering your skin. Many natural shaving soaps will actually benefit your skin as they can contain natural oils such as Jojoba Oil or Shea Butter.
While the initial outlay for traditional shaving products may be higher than the purchase price of a pack of disposable cartridge razors over time reusable razors are far cheaper. You can buy a quality double edged safety razor such as the Merkur Classic for around $50 and a pack of 10 blades for $15. With proper care an entry level double edged razor will last several years, even up to 10. Some quick math and you can see that over the duration of those 10 years the cost of a double edged razor and blades will be about $2,500, assuming you replace the blade every second shave. In comparison if you were to use one disposable cartridge razor per day then over the same 10 year period you are looking at the same cost, around $2,500. So you can see that there really isn’t any cost difference between using disposable cartridge razors and a traditional double edged razor.
Finally, traditional shaving methods reduce waste and in turn your carbon footprint. With the use of disposable cartridge razors you are regularly throwing away a chunk of plastic that is put to landfill, never to be used again. In contrast a traditional double edged straight razor is reusable and will last you decades with proper care. The only waste material from a double edged razor is the used blades which being metal can be recycled.