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Mens Shave - wet shaving without fuss or problems

Updated on February 26, 2014

When shaving, the simplest explanation is usually the best.

Getting a comfortable, close shave is something I’ve always had problems with. Annoyingly, although fair of hair, I have Italian genes and to keep clean shaven, I’d need to shave at least twice a day. Consequently I spend a fair portion of my life shaving and I thoroughly advocate wet shaving with a razor over dry shaving, either razor or electric.

I have an expensive electric shaver and its good at shaving, quick and easy and requires minimal input from me. However, it doesn’t exfoliate dead skin and I frequently find my face feels like somebody painted it in egg and left it to dry. In addition, I still get burn from an electric razor, although the types where you can wet the head before shaving help a lot.


Water, Water Everywhere!

Water: That’s the first point of call, if you don’t have access to good amounts of hot (and I mean add-cold-water-before-you-can-put-your-hand-in-it hot) water, the results are going to be at best, poor. I tend to shave most often in the shower, 10 minutes of steaming your face makes the process a million times easier.

Otherwise, swill your face well with hot water, two or three times at least.

At this point I'm revising this article to include an excellent tip somebody (wet shaving) posted in the comments section here. This is the use of a shave oil. I now encorporate this step every time I shave. You can see my review of shave oils and how to make your own in the hub linked below.

Foam Party

The next step is something foamy. I use foam out of a can, which I admit isn’t the best way to go but time is money and money is…well actually its not money at all, its sleep I’m bothered about. In my experience of using foam, soap, and gel, soap is the most troublesome but gives the best result. Foam is the quickest with the best results but burn can be an issue and gel gives a very smooth feeling while shaving but seems to do very little by way of promoting the whole hair cutting process. I still feel like a porcupine after shaving with gel. As far as I can tell, shaving soap does well because its grippy. Its smooth enough to allow the razor to glide but holds the hairs up much better than foam.

With any of the products, don’t just slap it on your face, massage it in. They all contain ingredients designed to soften the hair, some more successfully than others.

Blade Master

Then you take your razor (cartridge safety in my case). I’ve spent an awful lot of money on these little beasts and used every make going. (ok that was an overstatement but including disposables I’ve certainly used every make available in the supermarket and Boots. I’m writing primarily for the people who buy in normal places, not those who consider anything less than a personally fitted, hand crafted boutique bought piece sacrilege – ‘…perfectly balance sir, the tang is the full weight of the blade…exquisite sir…’). Although I’m not one for big brand names (and aren’t their new adverts really, really irritating?), but Gillette give me the best results by a long shot.

An interesting note is that whenever I use a non-vibrating razor, I cut myself. Far from being a gimmick for me, the vibrations from the mach3 and fusion models are very good at preventing me from looking like an extra off a kill bill movie. My dad still doesn’t believe that I can shave fully without a mirror and not cut myself. On razors, make sure its sharp, (yada yada), I know its expensive but shaving for two months with the same blade ‘aint gonna help you any.

Incidentally, the last rinse of the blade should be in cold water. I don’t know why but apparently this helps with razor care.

Gently Does It

Application of razor to face. This is the bit where it gets tricky. You’re all prepped, sluiced and foamed up but somehow (still after 5 years of doing this) putting a very sharp object near your face is quite daunting. You can get diagrams about which way you should shave (against the grain, with the grain, at a 53.739 degree angle to the way sunlight falls on your face from a south-east facing window at precisely 10.17am) but for me these are a little inaccurate despite their extensive instructions.

My hair grows in whatever direction it pleases. Generally, first shave in the direction the hair grows, then do a second, lighter stroke against the direction the hair grows. Try repeatedly adding water on your face once the initial foam has come off. Going over the same area is usually necessary. Most of the time you won’t get clean in one pass but you need to be careful of Razor Burn. Avoid stretching the skin if possible, this causes the hair to retract slightly and can cause in-growing hairs.

One of the main ways of cutting your self is allowing the razor to slip sideways. Its like testing an edge on a knife, dead straight across the blade, slightest movement along it and you’ll be minus a thumb. Keep the movement of the razor perfectly perpendicular to the line of the razor on your face.

Red Neck

Necks are always razor burn central. Try to avoid shaving against the grain on your neck unless you really have to. If you do get razor burn, you'll probably be best cutting down on the hot hot water and applying something like aloe vera gel to the area. Avoid touching it afterwards, you'll only make it worse. If you're particularly prone to this, try using a light scrub before shaving, apply gently though! A lot of mens scrubs are very sharp edged though, see if you can find one with more rounded beads in it.

I've recently tried a shaving oil, one that replaces foam. I'm still in the test phase (used different ones for a number of months), and  the results are very encouraging. A definite reduction in general soreness of skin and around the neck in particular! I've used a King Of Shaves Azor Hybrid and Alpha shaving oils. The hybrid I found could replace shaving foam for me but the Alpha was not nearly viscous enough. Both worked amazingly well under foam. I'm currently using a home made variety which while can't be used by itself, is the best of the lot under shaving foam.


Hopefully by the end you’ll be without. Without facial hair is good, without nicks and cuts is also good, without skin can lead to all sorts of nasty things. Remember, water, water, water, hot first, and a light slosh of cold after you've finished. After shaving products are up to you. Personally I hate greasy moisturisers so I use a nice light Boss Skin gel. Good luck and if anybody has any tips I’d be ever so grateful to hear them!

Random fact of the day, laser power is measured in gillettes, a one gillette laser is so called because it has/had the power to burn through one gillette razor! cool!


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    • Denis Lubojanski profile image

      Denis Lubojanski 

      2 years ago from 7 Station Street, London

      Great hub Lymond. Well, basically I am an electric shaver guy and I like dry shaving than wet shaving. It saves my time and I can really use it when I am in my office! (Actually in my office washroom!)

      Happy shaving guys.

    • Lymond profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      Hi Stevieh2000, thanks for that, much more practical and on the money! On the down side I would imaging a mirror is a must have? I do have a bathroom mirror however, not visible from the shower :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You can pick up a Wilkinson Sword Classic double edged razor for under a fiver at Boots. If you don't like the blades you can try all sorts of alternatives from Feather, Merkur, Derby, Personna etc. at typically a few pence per blade. Shaving brushes also start from under a fiver in Asda or Tesco and you can pick up Palmolive Shaving Cream for £1.00 or go to Home Bargains and get an Erasmic stick for 49 pence. Watch Mantic on youtube and see how you can get a close, even wet shave in ten minutes. You get less burn and, with very little practice, fewer nicks with double edged razors.

    • Lymond profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Wet Shaving, thanks for your comment! excellent advice, this hubber is all for making it easier and this tip is a worthy addition!

    • profile image

      wet shaving 

      8 years ago

      Great hub,

      Seems to me that simplicity is the key when engaged in a activity you do every day. One quick note on razor burn. Pre shave oils can help cut down on their frequency. Not terribly expensive. So if your prone to this particular malady it would be worthwhile taking a look.

    • Lymond profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Vodnik, Thanks for stopping by although I do wonder at commenting seemingly without having read the article. As stated, it is about wet shaving and it was primarily intended for those who don't want much fuss with shaving, for whom it is not a ritual and in my case, who's mornings are not times of leisurely pace where a half hour minimum with the soap, brush and razor is an option. The kit you're advocating will get you a better shave. It'll get you a deeper cut if you slip and much less time for other things but you'll probably be better shaved. As you would for using say, Edwin Jagger kit.

      Added to this is a quick look at the Merkur site where midrange kit of a razor, some blades, a brush and the necessary stand comes to an obviously affordable £156.53. I was going for good British understatement when I opted to use 'a bit expensive'. I know you can get this cheaper, opting for the more basic models and maybe somebody elses badger brush, but the point is made. Also... when was the last time you shaved in the shower, without a mirror, in about 4 minutes, with presentable results and no cuts... with your Merkur kit?

      As a final point, why is everybody touting Merkur? If you're going to spend that amount of money you might as well get the best and opt for Feather, after all its the blade that counts.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Also, you write that the Merkur is a bit expensive. It might be more expensive to START shaving, but in the long run you will save money. Getting and "ordinary" blade costs about two cents (for me anyway), while the plastic fantastic equivalent is about three or four dollars. Also, the "ordinary" blades last longer.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You should try wet shaving. Try googling it (there are quite a few forums about it) or looking at this guys videos

    • KingDrew profile image

      Drew Bobbitt 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Very informative article and well written. I remember when I was younger and couldn't wait til the day I could shave. Now that those days are here, I despise shaving. It is so time consuming. I'd grow a beard to avoid this whole shaving ordeal, but I'm a blonde. A week or two without shaving and I just look unkept like a hobo who hasn't shaved in a while lol

    • Lymond profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Stevesays: you are quite right, short slow strokes do work better, and while sometimes I have the motivation to get out of bed 5 minutes early, it's not often :-)I usually find I need to keep some shaving foam in my hand and re-apply it when I shave like that, as water running off the rinsed razor takes the foam off or thins it down.

      Perfectshave: you could indeed be right, as stated in my article, I found that shaving soap gave the best result, but it does take more time not to mention the cost of merkur kit is a tad expensive - £64 for a shaving brush? This blog was specifically written for items commonly available from highstreet outlets such as Boots and supermarkets.

    • perfectshave profile image


      9 years ago from US & Canada

      Shaving used to be a hated task for me. I couldn’t wait until the weekend to skip a couple of days. Now I look forward to this little routine. And why? I’ve replaced aerosol cans and disposable razors with a Merkur double edge razor, a good shaving soap and a pure badger shaving brush. Three simple elements that are not only able to give me a bettter shave, but that put together create a moment to unwind and do something for myself that I can enjoy and feel good about. I got my Merkur razor at

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have to shave everyday which is a big pain..but I found that short, light strokes with the razor work much better than hurried long strokes for me. That's why I take my time now when I shave even when I'm rushed. This really was an informative article. Good work!


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