There are two real risks when it comes to starting wet shaving. Both involve spending money. If you started wet shaving because you want to save money, you’ll want to be careful to spend your money wisely. You’ll want to buy quality equipment. The other risk is that you buy way too much, things that you don’t really need or won’t be useful.
Here’s the essential gear you need:
Double Edge Safety Razor
All Safety Razors are different, that’s why when you meet someone who has been wet shaving for a long time, they may have a whole collection that they rotate through.
Razors are can be either very mild, or very aggressive depending on the design. The space between the guard and blade is what determines how aggressive a razor is. The larger the gap between the guard and the razor, the more bite it has, and the closer it can get to the skin. A large gap means a closer shave without as much touch up work, but it also means more skin is exposed to the edge of the razor. That means more cuts.
Unfortunately, there’s no real standard for measuring aggressiveness. Shavers also tend to disagree on how aggressive a razor may be. If you read the reviews on our razor kit, you’ll find people who claim it’s too mild, and others who feel it’s too aggressive for a beginner.
You’ll want to choose a razor that is relatively mild to get started, and you can increase aggressiveness as you perfect your technique.
The Razor in our Complete Shaving Kit is mild to medium aggressive, and is selected to be good for beginners, but not so mild that you outgrow it too quickly.
Shaving Brushes are primarily made of 3 different materials, and each have distinct properties.
Badger Hair brushes are the most popular shave brushes for good reason. Badger Hair, similar to human hair, retain water when wet. That water then gradually releases while you’re frothing your soap, making a rich luscious lather. Badger brushes are typically a bit more expensive than other types, but are still approachable in price. There are several grades of badger hair, depending on what part of the badger the hair came from, and the texture of the hair. The lowest grade, Pure Badger, is very approachable in price, but not nearly as soft as the highest grade, Silvertip, brushes. A Pure Badger brush is still softer than a boar brush.
Boar Hair brushes are made from hair from hogs. They are naturally a clear or blonde color, but are sometimes dyed to look more like a Badger brush. These budget brushes start off pretty stiff, and as you use it, the tips split and get softer. Boar hair doesn’t retain water like badger hair. Some people strongly prefer the stiffness of the badger hair brush and the scratchiness on the face.
Synthetic brushes are created with man-made materials. They are very soft, and if you’re concerned about animal welfare, it could be a good choice for you. The downside is that the brushes don’t hold water as well as a natural fiber brush. They are very dense and well made brushes.
Horse Hair was used until the mid 1920’s, when there was an anthrax scare. Horse Hair brushes are slowly making a come back. They make good brushes, very soft, and retain water well. They’re also humane, because the animal isn’t harmed in the collection of the hair.
Shave Brushes should be stored with the bristles pointing downward to allow the water to drain. If you set them on the bottom of the handle, bristles up, gravity pulls the excess water into the handle, where it can go stale, or mold.
A shaving stand will also hold your razor off of the counter to allow air to dry it out nicely.
Shaving Bowl or Mug
When it comes to creating lather, you can do it on your face (the hard way) or you can create lather in a bowl. I started off using a thick, hand made ceramic bowl that I bought at an art fair. The bowl should have texture on the inside, unlike a regular cereal bowl, to create friction when creating the lather.
Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into buying one of those cheap tin bowls. They aren’t big enough, and they don’t retain heat.
For the ultimate shave experience, use a Shaving Scuttle like the one pictures above. Scuttles hold water in a reservoir that keeps the bowl, and your lather, warm throughout your shave.