Wet Shaving

Lifehacker has started the wet shave argument back up.  I’ve been shaving with a safety razor for about three years now.  This is what I’ve learned.

Your razor sucks.  Really.  Maybe it has been “good enough” for you because you don’t have much hair management to worry about, but I do.  I have a real five o’clock shadow at five o’clock.  I used cartridge razors for a long time.  They would sorta shave me, but if I wanted a close shave, I had to slice my face into pieces to do it.  So I stopped bothering with a close shave.  (More about this later.)

I also tried electrics, because I was getting eaten alive by cartridges (financially and physically.)  After about three days of getting used to it, I was getting a great shave out of the electric.  For about two months.  After about eight months, the razor was pretty much useless.  The blades were way, way too dull to do any good.  The price to replace the blades?  About the same as I would have spent on cartridges.  Bust.  And, I still wasn’t getting a very good shave.

rz-mer-34cI had pretty much resigned myself to that fate when I saw some articles on teh interwebs about wet shaving.  I had disposable income, so I bought a razor and a brush.  I bought this razor and a 100% Badger brush.  I later upgraded to a Pure Badger brush and bought a travel one for my Dopp bag.  I think I went through various cremes and soaps, but I’ve settled on D.R. Harris soap after trying the cream.  A cake of soap lasts me about one to two years.  I bought a package of the 100 Israeli blades (the only ones sharp enough for me) and I still have about 1/3 of the package left.

138-02It’s been three years.  I’m still using the same $40 razor.  I imagine I’ll still be using it in 30 years — the damned thing doesn’t wear.  At all.  I’m still working on my same $15 box of blades after three years.  I’ve spent about $60 on soap and don’t expect to have to spend any more for another year.  Meanwhile, the stuff at the supermarket is $10 a can for soap and $20 for about a month’s worth of blades, and does shit work.

It takes me about three minutes for a “normal” shave.  It’s as good a shave as I could get in five minutes with a cartridge razor (see above), and my face isn’t hamburger at the end.  I rarely cut myself anymore, and I actually move faster than the guy in the Lifehacker video.  It really isn’t that hard once you get over the fear. I shave right after my shower. (I leave the door open to the bathroom to keep the mirror from fogging up, if you have a separate vanity room then you will actually get better results from the shower steam.)

If I’m going out, then I’ll do the long shave.  It’s just like the video.  A normal shave, then a relather and go against the grain.  I almost never need a third pass — just a couple of touch ups under my chin and around my mouth.  And it’s smoove when I get done.  (For a couple of hours.)

Maybe your stubble isn’t the razor destroyer that mine is.  But I bet that you’ll save money and have better feeling skin i you switch.

The only thing I can think of that I do that is unorthodox is that I don’t use aftershave.  I like the smell of the soap, so I just towel my face dry at the end instead of rinsing.  It seems to keep my face in good shape.


  1. Rabbit says:

    I used to use the mug-and-shaving soap thing, but mispacked my fine badger brush a couple of moves ago. Over the past couple of years I’ve been using the cream shaving goop from Bath and Bodyworks. First I used the Dr. Galen’s concoction for sensitive skin, then found the eucalyptus stinky stuff in the green box/tube. Sounds like your beard is like mine- Makita grinder grade. The green tube stuff is nice and slick, doesn’t cost a ton of money, and I’ve yet to cut myself terribly with a Mach 3; I use too much pressure, I know.

    In the past I’ve had great luck with Shave Deluxe, which has the added benefit of being a local (to DFW) product. Whole Foods has it, which opens up the added benefit of hippie punching while there.

    Now you’ve got me interested in obtaining a double-edge razor. Israeli blades, you say? Hmmm….


  2. Phelps says:

    Yup, search “razor blades israel” and you will see them. The platinum ones. They are usually up for less than $10 for 100. And like I said, I’ve used about 70 in three years.

  3. […] looks at wet-shaving with a detailed post on his set up. As for me, I don’t quite have the beard Phelps has. I […]

  4. Less says:

    I had similar issues…

    So l learned how to use an old style safety razor. Lately, I’ve been using older Rolls Razors (they’re just kinda neat) and they seem to last for a really really long time…

    I need 3 passes, minimum to keep clean every morning… I can grow a pretty full beard in about a week (and actually look good).