So I’ve hit a breaking point; I finally ran out of the razor blades that I bought in bulk last year and took a quick trip to Sam’s Club.
Only this time I lost it, I don’t know what it was that hit me but as I stood there scratching the razor burn from the last shave with my “ultra high tech razor with five blades for the smoothest shave you’ll ever get”; I just could not bring myself to shell out 40 dollars for razor blades.
I’d had it!
I was through!
I was growing a beard!
Well two weeks later, a combination of severe itching and a wife that is not a fan of the “Grizzly Adams” look sent me high tailing it back to the store.
But to be honest I had never planned on keeping the beard, and had been trying to figure out a more efficient and cost effective way to manage my facial hair.
And then it hit me, I found a way to stock up on supplies that are useful to me now, will be useful to me later, last a very long time, and will save me money in the process.
And it something that was completely normal just a few generations ago but is now seen is more of a novelty than a functional ( and better) alternative.
I’m talking about wet shaving
Sounds silly right?
My wife thought so too at first, but then we did the math.
A pack of my normal razors cost $38.98 for 16 blades; that’s $2.44 per blade and each cartridge lasts me two shaves; so thats $1.22 per shave.
A pack of double bladed razors for my safety razor runs $2.48 for 10 blades; which is $..25 per blade; after testing I can comfortably say that I get one shave per blade. ( and you can buy them even cheaper in bulk)
The math alone makes this a completely logical investment, as long as you learn how to use it properly.
Also, manufacturers are hyping up the “more blades equal a better shave B.S.”, pretty soon we’ll all end up with razors like this…:
I have been wet shaving with a safety razor and boars hair brush (the image to the right) for about a month now and couldn’t be happier with the results.
Yesterday I actually went back and shaved with my old razor and I think it is safe to say that I am now a life long fan of wet shaving and will be ditching my disposable.
With that being said, there are a few pro’s and con’s you should know about if you are interested reviving this lost art.
A better shave; even with one blade I noticed that my skin was much less irritated that when using my normal 5 blade model.
Economical; the double edge blades are much more economical than the cartridges.
Shelf Life; Did you ever stop to think that your razors have a shelf life? Most of the fancy razors have lubricating strips and rubber pieces that can go bad over time.
Multiple uses; these double bladed razors are ultra sharp and can be used for more than just shaving your face, unlike their cartridge cousins (minus a few prison modifications of course).
Nostalgia; something about holding one of these reminds me of watching my Papa shave when I was young and makes me feel connected ( this is more of a personal pro but some of you may feel the same).
Shock factor: The initial cost of a handle can be very expensive, but unlike modern razors, these are meant to last a lifetime. I purchased my razor from a beauty supply store for around 12.00 just for testing purposes and while it seems to be pretty sturdy, I will soon be switching over to a Safety Razor from Merkur. The only problem is picking which one I want. A good handle can cost you anywhere from $20-$100 and the sets that include the brush, stand, and lather cup, start at around $60 and go upwards of $200. BUT if you buy a good razor it is something that you will be able to pass down for generations.
Time: Shaving used to be an art. Now it is a pain in the rear. To properly wet shave you need to set aside time so if you don’t think that you can set aside a good 15-30 minutes for a thorough shave, you might want to keep at the hack and slash method. ( see below for the technique that I use)
Learning curve: Properly learning the technique to a wet shave is not something you pick up overnight. There is a definite learning curve that I am still trying to get over. Check out below and see the technique that showed me how to get started. (Thank you Art of Manliness)
More chance to cut yourself: You are much more likely to cut yourself with a one of these butterfly type safety razors than with a cartridge, Not necessarily because the blade is more dangerous but because they are far less forgiving than a modern razor.
The Bottom Line
Wet shaving may not be for everyone, but it is a great skill to have. The two main things you need to concern yourself with are the initial cost of purchasing the supplies and whether or not you are willing to dedicate the time required to do a full shave.
You can stock up on razor blades now and even buy a few extra cheap razor handles to keep stashed away. That way you can have them for your personal use now and as a bartering tool after TSHTF. Never under estimate the face value of a clean shave. If you want to get started and skip going the cheapest route I would suggest getting this kit (it is probably the one I am going to end up with):
P.S. Like I said earlier there is a technique and finesse that you need to learn in order to be successful with this type of shave
Prep your beard. If you want a clean shave, you need to prep your beard adequately. The goal during beard prep is to soften your whiskers so shaving is easier and causes less irritation. The best way to soften your beard is to to shave right when you get out of the shower. The hot water from your shower should hydrate and soften your beard enough for shaving. If you haven’t showered, at least wet your beard with some hot water. A hot towel is a great way to soften your beard.
Lather up. Take a small dollop (about the size of nickel) of your shave cream and place it in a mug. Take your brush that you’ve pre-soaked with water and swirl the cream around until you get a nice thick lather. Apply the lather with your brush in swirling motions. When your face is nice and covered, take a few strokes to smooth everything out.
The shave. Unlike shaving with cartridge razors, shaving with a safety razor actually requires some skill and technique. Once mastered, though, you should be shaving effectively in no time. The four keys to a successful shave with a safety razor are 1) use as little pressure as possible; 2) angle the blade as far away from your face as possible; 3) shave with the grain; and 4) go for beard reduction, not beard removal. This will take some getting used to if you have used cartridges your entire life.
You don’t need to use pressure because the weight of the safety razor is sufficient to cut your beard. If you press down, you’ll end up hacking up your face. To help counter the tendency to apply pressure, try holding the razor by the tip of the handle.
Angling your razor is probably the trickiest part. The proper angle is somewhere around 30 and 45 degrees. To get the proper razor angle, put the top of the razor head directly on your cheek, with the handle parallel with the floor. Now slowly lower the handle until the blade can cut your whisker. Practice on your arm if you’re not comfortable practicing on your face.
While shaving against the grain can get you that smooth feel, you risk slicing up your face and causing ingrown hairs. When you’re first starting out, shave with the grain of your beard. If you lather up and pass the razor more than once over your face, you’re guaranteed to get a smooth finish.
The goal with shaving should be gradual beard reduction, not beard removal in one deft swoop. Most men try to get rid of their beard in once pass of the razor. This hack-and-go technique is what causes the majority of skin irritations. If you want to avoid skin irritation, lather up and pass your razor over your face several times. Your face will thank you.
Post-shave. Rinse your face off with some cold water to close your pores. Treat your face to a nice aftershave. There are several to choose from, so pick the one you like best. Aftershave helps reduce any irritation that may have occurred and will leave your skin looking healthy.
There is much more to a shave than just the technique:
Be sure to read the full article written by Brett on The Art of Manliness
Anyone else practice wet shaving?
Or if you have a suggestion for a good razor handle model, leave me a comment and let me know!