The Gentleman’s Guide to Traditional Wet Shaving 101


Recently, traditional wet shaving is seeing a renaissance. More and more Gentlemen are coming to see that traditional wet shaving with a straight razor or safety razor provides a closer, more comfortable shave than cartridge and disposable razors. On top of looking better, men have realized that the daily routine of wet shaving better helps them get their day started and boosts confidence.

By the purest form of the definition, wet shaving is shaving with water. But we’re going to take it a little further and talk about traditional wet shaving. Traditional shaving refers to the use of warm water and a straight razor or safety razor along with natural shaving cream or soap.

Over the years, traditional wet shaving had become a lost art. If you’re looking to upgrade your shaving routine but unfamiliar with the process, here’s the rundown on the basics of wet shaving. If you’ve only been using a cartridge razor to shave, then you’re not going to want to jump right out of the gates and try to use a straight razor. Here, we’re going to focus on using a safety razor. If you are using a Shavette, the basics will also apply. We will talk about using a straight razor in another article.


A quick hot shower is the best way to prepare your skin and soften your facial hairs. If you’re not able to shave directly after your morning shower, applying a hot, wet towel to your face for a few minutes will do the trick. Natural bacteria on your face and neck can cause razor burn and skin irritation while shaving. Use a mild facial cleanser (not a scrub) prior to applying lather. Regular body and hand soaps can remove too much of the natural oils from your face and cause irritation during shaving.

Aerosol cans are full of propellants and unnatural ingredients that are toxic and obviously not good for your skin. Instead of using canned shaving creams and gels, you’ll get a much cleaner and healthier shave with natural shaving soap or cream applied with a quality shaving brush.

  • Wet your brush thoroughly with warm water.
  • Create a lather in your mug or soap bowl by moving your wet brush in a circular motion over the shaving soap. Don’t worry if it’s not a thick, rich lather; at this point, you’re really just trying to get some soap onto your brush.
  • Apply the soap to your face and neck in a circular motion. This is where the lather magic happens. You might need to add more soap to your brush a few times to get a rich, even lather.

You can read more about shaving brush care here.

If you’ve never used a safety razor before, you’ll quickly see that it is a fairly heavy, substantial piece of shaving equipment. Use the weight of the razor and let it do the work instead of applying a lot of pressure like you would with a cartridge razor. You may not remove all the hair from your face in the first pass and that’s ok. Don’t try to do multiple passes at once or drag your razor over dry or un-lathered skin. Lightly shave your face and neck and rinse off any remaining soap.

Now, lather again with the brush and run through with a second pass. This is the best way to get a super-close and clean shave with minimal irritation. If you try to run multiple passes at once, you will cause unwanted irritation and more than likely cut yourself.

Traditional wet shaving is an art and in itself a meditative practice. The ritual of prepping, lathering, and shaving causes you to take a moment every morning to slow down, focus, and get prepared to take charge of the day ahead.

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