Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the deal with blade angle, anyway?
The pivoting head of a cartridge razor maintains a consistent angle of the blade to the whiskers for you. When using a double edge safety razor or straight razor, however, the head does not pivot. You maintain the angle of blade to whiskers by simply raising the blade 30 degrees from your face. Like anything else this will take some getting used to but it is just a matter of practice. You will know that you have achieved the proper angle when you can hear the whiskers being sheared. That is the key - listen and you will know if the angle is right. When maintaining the blade angle, those new to wet shaving discover that after a few times it becomes second nature.
Should I begin with a mild or an aggressive Double Edge razor?
It is best to start with a mild razor, which ensures a good shave from the get-go. If you desire an even smoother shave and have mastered the fundamentals with the mild razor, you may opt to move on to an aggressive razor.
My lather is not working for me - what am I doing wrong?
It is your soap to water ratio that needs to be adjusted. Be sure to thoroughly soak your brush ahead of time, then gently flick off excess water. Now load the wet brush by moving it back and forth across the surface of the tub of soap. If your lather is too runny, simply add more soap; if too dry then add a bit more water. When bowl lathering, pick up the lather bowl and swirl your wet brush using quick circular motions to create your lather. Gradually add more water if needed, several drops at a time, until your soap reaches a firm consistency. Apply the warm lather to your face and you are all set.
Will I really save money wet shaving?
Depending on the type of razor you use, it is quite possible to save money wet shaving but not with cartridge razors. The replacement cost of blade cartridges will prove to be expensive - about $3.00 each. Here is where you can save money: Shaving with a double edge (or DE) razor. The DE razor will cost more initially but the replacement blades cost as little as $0.10 each. That is a huge savings but to get there you need to buy some equipment. A double edge razor, boar brush, and a lather bowl can be one-time purchases totaling, say, $100.00. A tub of soap can be another $15.00. Now you are set up to save money in the long run. However, (cue the theme song to the movie Jaws) see the following entry...
Why are there so many types of badger brushes?
From entry level to high end, the grades of badger are: Pure, Best, Super, and Silvertip. Each brush has unique features that affect its look, feel and performance. Entry-level badger brushes produce a more bristly sensation on the face, whereas higher end badger brushes are known to be pillow soft. Do not feel limited to just one brush though. Wet shavers often embrace variety with their morning routine by having several brushes. And multiple razors. Oh, and a few soaps too. Plus a number of aftershaves. Often there are several shave creams. And then there are the shave balms too. At this point, of course, you are not saving money but you have picked up, yes, what some would call a new hobby!
This is the least expensive and most readily available type of badger brush. They are made using the most abundant type of hair from the badger. These brushes vary in color from dark tan to black, are by nature coarse in texture, and you will feel some "scritch" when lathering up.
These brushes range in color from light tan to gray with even lighter colored tips. The hairs are more tightly packed, are less coarse than Pure Badger brushes, and have somewhat less "scritch" when lathering up.
Characteristic of Super Badger brushes are the very light tips and black “band” running through the middle of the knot. These hairs are finer, softer and more luxurious than the first two types. The Super brushes excel at whipping up lather and retaining water, and are priced accordingly.
Considered the crème de la crème of the badger brushes, Silvertip brushes possess a black “band” that fades to white at the tips and are made from the least abundant neck hair. They are the softest and most luxurious of the brushes, and deliver a face feel without equal.
Do you have any pre-shaving tips?
Before putting that razor to your face, prepare your skin and soften your whiskers by taking a shower first. At the very least wash your face with a gentle facial soap and place a hot moistened towel over your beard for a few minutes to soften the whiskers.
While use of a pre-shave oil is optional, it does provide an additional protective layer and helps the whiskers and skin retain moisture for an incredible shave.
My three-pass shave works well overall, but a few areas still need touching up. Any suggestions?
It is common for some areas of beard growth to make it a challenge to get smooth skin all over. This is where “clean up” comes in. With these small patches remaining, first ascertain how best to go against the grain in that specific area by rubbing with your forefinger. Then lather up just that area and go over it one last time in the direction that is against the grain. As you do so use your free hand to pull the skin taut.
Any advice for my shaving issues?
Whether you have sensitive skin or are seeking relief from razor burn or ingrown hairs, these tips are for you:
Softened whiskers are essential to a successful shave.
Then make sure to use a good quality shaving cream or soap, as well as a clean sharp razor. Top off your shave with a favorite aftershave or shave balm to moisturize, nourish, and protect your skin.
Ingrown hairs can often be alleviated by upgrading from a cartridge to a double edge razor. The nature of the single blade helps minimize ingrown hairs. No longer is the first blade of a cartridge razor pulling the whisker so the next blade can cut it off below the surface. Instead, the single blade cuts it off at the surface. This helps prevent the whisker from becoming ingrown in the first place.
An alum bloc can be applied post-shave. Its antibacterial properties and usefulness as an astringent help to tighten the skin and close the pores. To use the alum bloc, wet it and rub it onto the skin, then allow your face to dry for one or two minutes before applying the aftershave and/or shave balm.
For the occasional nick, a styptic pencil is ideal. Apply the tip of it directly onto the nick and wait (about five to thirty seconds).
How many shaves will a single razor blade provide?
A typical blade should give you about five shaves. However, replace the blade as soon as you feel any slight tugging during the shave or you believe it has become dull. Of course, whisker coarseness and density will vary from person to person and affect blade life.
How should I care for my brush and razor?
To extend the life of your brush, rinse it thoroughly after each shave. Then squeeze out excess water and wipe off the brush handle with a towel. Suspend the brush upside down to dry.
To care for your Double Edge Safety Razor, rinse it and pat it dry after each shave. For a deeper clean, when changing blades simply use an old toothbrush and mild cleanser like dish washing soap.
If using a Straight Razor, you are going "old school" to be sure. Check with the seller/vendor to ensure that your razor is both honed and shave ready. You will need a strop in order to maintain the razor’s sharpness between shaves. Be sure to wipe the razor dry between uses. It is normal for a razor to need to be honed on occasion. This is something you can learn yourself or simply send out to be done. For learning more about all aspects of using a straight razor, youtube is a terrific resource.
Do you have any websites you recommend?
One of the very best is Badger and Blade. The guys on the forum are quite helpful - highly recommended!