What is wet shaving?
- Wet shaving at its simplest, is just that--shaving with water, a razor blade, and some sort of lubricant (lather, soap, etc.) on your face. Men have shaved this way for centuries, starting early on with a sharp knife or stone, progressing to the straight razor, safety (double-edge) razors, and eventually cartridge razors from companies like Gillette, etc.
Why wet shave?
- To remove facial hair, of course! Less facetiously, a closer shave can generally be had from a wet shave versus an electric razor. Perhaps more importantly, the ritual, scents, and connection to the past associated with using high-quality wet shaving products can turn what is generally viewed as a chore into something pleasurable. Many men also feel their skin quality is improved by the exfoliating nature of the wet shave and the moisturizing nature of the products used.
- You are thinking about your first shave. What do you need? How do you proceed? Any tips? Have a look at the Getting started wetshaving page.
- Mostly for women but some might like to know the process of shaving their legs. Here's a Link.
What tools do I need?
Double edge razors
- Double edge safety razors are the kind of razor your father and grandfather most likely used. The blade itself is a thin, flexible, two sided metal blade made to be used in a safety razor. These blades have a standard dimension of 42.75 mm long, 21.98 mm wide from cutting edge to cutting edge and they are approximately 0.11 mm thick. A safety razor holds the double-edge ("DE") blade in place, and can be either fixed or adjustable in how much blade edge is exposed. Common brands include the currently manufactured Merkur and Mühle-Pinsel, and vintage Gillette and Schick razors. The patent on Gillette's safety razor dates to 1901.
- In 1921, Colonel Schick (who else?) invented a safety razor inspired by the army repeating (magazine-fed, bolt-action) rifle. It had replacement blades stored in a clip in the handle ready to be fed into shaving position by pivoting the head and stroking a built in lever, without the chore and danger of handling a sharp blade. This was the forerunner of the Schick Injector Razor. The razor blades are stored in a separate magazine, which is used to eject the old blade and inject the new one without touching a sharp blade.
- While injectors are technically also "single-edged" razors, common parlance distinguishes "SE" from "injector" based on the difference in the blade replacement technique and size of the blade. SE razors (the large majority of which were made by the American Safety Razor Company or one of its satellite brands like GEM or PAL) use larger blades, identical in design to "paint scraper" blades. Note that paint scraper blades are not intended for shaving. SE razor blades are still manufactured and are available in drug stores and from online resellers such as Ted Pella.
- Straight Razors (cut-throats) were among the first metal implements fashioned specifically for shaving. They are sharp, open metal blade with a handle to protect and store it. It needs considerable care to keep sharp enough for shaving. Excessive and deep wrinkles may cause shaving difficulty.
Which razor should I use?
- Much of this is personal preference. Many men choose to shave with a disposable or cartridge razor with some sort of canned foam or gel. While easy to use, this method has several negative issues:
- cartridge razors are expensive
- aerosols used to dispense the cream or gel from the can are not good for the environment
- aerosol foam and gel are generally viewed as poor lather
- a cartridge razor is made for the "average" male face, leaving little room for superior results. Furthermore, multi-blade razors can be quite irritating to many men due to repeated shaving of the same area by the multiple blades and the possibility of ingrown hairs due to the alleged "lift and cut" operation called "hysteresis" by Gillette.
- Side note: "Hysteresis" means "a delay in the system" or "shortcoming"; from the Greek hysterein, "to fall behind" and hysteros, "later,"  though the common modern usage means systems that have a memory or lag.
- The use of a double edge (DE) or SE razor can alleviate most of these problems for most users. The blades are inexpensive, sharp, and when properly used can provide an extremely close shave with little or no irritation. The same can be said of straight razors, though they have a higher learning curve.
I was told to get a razor blade sample pack, what's that?
How long will one razor blade last?
- Experience differs here, but a good average is to change your blade once a week. Consult this page for more information.
How should I clean and maintain a razor?
- A shaving brush consists of a handle containing some sort of animal hair, usually boar or badger bristles. These animals are somewhat unique in that their hair absorbs water rather than repelling it. This allows water in the brush to mix with the shaving cream or soap to create a lather suitable for shaving. There is also a third kind of brush, one with synthetic fiber instead of hair. These brushes generally are cheapest and of lesser quality, but of use particularly for people who object to using animal products. The B&B wiki contains an incomplete list of brush manufacturers.
Why use a brush?
- The bristles in the brush aerate/hydrate the water and cream (or soap) to form lather. This is used to lubricate and protect the face during the shave. In addition the bristles have a mild exfoliating effect on the skin. Perhaps most importantly, the brush feels very good on the face--a very soothing feeling indeed when warm lather is applied.
What kind of brush should I get?
- There are many types of brushes at many different price points. The handle should be comfortable to hold, and the bristles tightly packed. "Knot size", or the diameter of the bristle mass at the handle end, is a measure of how large the brush is. Larger knot sizes make it easier to create large quantities of lather, but can be somewhat unwieldy on a small face. In the end, personal preference and aesthetics will determine what one person prefers versus another. Have a look at this page for more information.
Badger, boar, or synthetic?
- Boar bristles are thicker, stiffer and hold less water than badger, and the brushes made from them are generally cheaper. Many men feel boar bristles are well suited to hard soap due to the stiffness of the bristles. Badger bristles, however, are much softer than boar and feel more luxurious on the face. Synthetic bristles have been improving in recent years and are now more than shave worthy.
Where does badger hair come from?
- Yes, the badger is killed to get the bristles. Most badger hair is harvested in China where the animal is also consumed for its meat. Certain premium badger hair grades (e.g. 'white badger') are harvested in Europe, but how the remains are disposed of is not popularly documented.
Grades of badger hair
- There are several grades of badger hair, but unfortunately the nomenclature is not standardized. Generally, "pure badger" is the lowest grade, coming from the back of the animal. Pure badger is a dark color, and is the least soft of the grades. "Finest" (sometimes "best" or "super") badger is the middle grade, and has white tips with a dark band below. "Silvertip" is the highest grade, with very soft white bristles, also with a dark band below. Silvertip is harvested from the animal's neck area. More information on badger hair grades can be found here.
Oooh that smell! / Brush Care
- Please refer to this section of Wiki for more information on the shaving brush.
Soaps and creams
Types of soaps/creams
- Soap making was an established craft in Europe by the seventh century, and were the first products used to create shaving lather. More than likely whatever hand/body soap was around the house was used to create a lather for shaving. Later, soaps specifically formulated for shaving were created. Shaving cream is even a more recent phenomenon, only having existed for the past two hundred years or so. Creams have a soft consistency, containing glycerin, naturally occurring saponified fats, and added scents. Hard soaps are generally poured into a container or formed into cakes.
What to look for
- Skin can react quite differently to different products, so what works well for one person may not work for someone else. In general, the more lubricating the material is, the better the shave will be. Of secondary concern is the scent of the product. These fall into several categories, including floral, woody, cologne-scented, etc.
- What is it? It is the foundation of a good shave. A bad prep will equal a bad shave, guaranteed. The required actions to prepare the skin to the shave are detailed here.
- Regardless of whether you use a soap or a cream, soak your brush in hot water. This warms the bristles and loads them with water. If you are using a bowl fill this with hot water also. Get your face nice and wet; it is best to shave after a shower, when your beard is at its softest. At the very least, apply a hot towel to your face for a few minutes before shaving. See the Lathers page for more information on lathering.
- To learn how to make great lather, follow these tutorials.
Shaving with a DE
- Before you even pick up the razor, consider two important factors: (1) use as little pressure on the razor as possible, and (2) angle the razor handle away from your face as much as possible (more parallel to floor). Remember that pivoting-head cartridge razors are very forgiving: it is difficult to cut yourself with one. This is not the case with a DE. You want the razor to glide over your beard. Don't press down, but let the weight of the razor do the work. Don't worry. It will work. For the right angle, try this: put the top of the razor head directly against your cheek, with the handle completely parallel to the floor. At this angle, no part of the blade is in contact with your beard, and nothing will cut. Now slowly lower the handle until the blade just can cut the hair. This is the proper angle (approximately 30 degrees from horizontal) so you are cutting, not scraping the whiskers. These two practices together, no pressure and angle, will prevent you from getting irritation and razor burn. I like to think of keeping my elbow high to get the angle right. After you are done shaving, splash some cold water on to close up your pores, and proceed to the after shave treatment.
- If you are new to DE shaving, keep it very simple and short at first--one N-S pass. Your face will take time to adjust to your new routine, so don't worry about closeness at first, only technique. Beginners should not attempt to shave against the grain, only with it, and, after a little experience, across it. As you get better, you can add multiple passes (re-lathering in between) to get a very close shave.
- It's best to stick with a single razor while learning. The correct angle and handling can be quite different from one razor to another, so changing razors too early or too often can make it harder to learn the skills you need for a good DE shave. Many users branch out in search of the razor which gives them the best results, but this is something better left until you can competently use just one.
- The brand of blades for your double edge razor is an important choice. Many new users are surprised by how much difference can be felt by switching from brand A to brand B. Beginners are often encouraged to try out several brands and select the one which works best for them. You may find that your taste in blades changes as your technique improves.
- On a clean shaven and lathered face you may want try out a DE razor's weight & balance using no blade.
Shaving with a Straight Razor
- Have a look at the Basic Straight Razor Shaving tutorial.
- After your shave, your skin is at its most vulnerable. Some sort of post-shave treatment (or Aftershaves) is in order. The simplest thing you can do is spritz on some hydrosol such as Witch hazel. Hydrosols are the byproducts of the steam distillation of plant essential oils. It is essentially water with the essence of the plant in it. They are very lightly moisturizing, soothing, and smell nice. Depending on your face, you may need some additional moisturizing. There are many products on the market, try them out to see what is best for you.
- Shaving soaps and creams are slightly alkaline by their nature (the saponification process uses a highly alkaline material to convert fats into soap). To return your skin to a neutral pH state and help remove any soap residuals, you can tone your face. Most toners also provide an astringent effect that helps close the pores that are usually wide open after the hot water and warm lather of a wet shave. The hydrosols mentioned above are good examples. Some shavers use Alum to seal small nicks, relieve razor burn, and tone the skin.
- See this page - Common Shaving Problems and Solutions
Traveling with your shaving gear
- Many shave products are now restricted by government authority and cannot be carried on an aircraft, including gels and liquids (shave creams, hydrosols, aftershaves, etc.) and razor blades (loose or in a razor). The only form of razor that can be carried on board an aircraft is a cartridge-type razor, or a safety razor with no blade in it. The wiki pages on air travel and travel shave brushes have more details.
Care and Storage of your shaving gear
I just opened a new shaving product and I wonder how long it will be good for?
- This question comes up often. To give you an indication, you will need to look for the Period After Opening (most common on EU products) symbol. The number in the logo will provide you with an indication on how long the product should be good for. This is an indication and it won't mean that the product will be bad when expired. 
- The Period After Opening (PAO) symbol introduced by the EU in 2005 under their Cosmetics Directive. The symbol must be indicated on products with a shelf life of 30 months or more. For products with a shelf life of 30 months or less the minimum shelf life must be stated; i.e. the date up until which the product, kept under the right conditions, can continue to fulfil its initial function without any harm to human health.
The labelling does not cover:
- products not at risk of deterioration;
- products which do not open (such as products in sealed packaging, or sprays)
- or products which are intended to be used only once.
- This page has a useful discussion on shelf life, expiration dates and PAO dates. It also talks about what to look for in a product that should not longer be used.
Additional Shaving Help at Badger and Blade
Badger and Blade
Getting Around B&B
There are two ways to attach a picture to a post.
One way is to click the paper clip icon in the Reply to Thread box. This will give you two options: you can upload a picture from your computer, or you can find a picture from the internet and insert the url address to the image. Once you have uploaded the file(s), it/they will display at the bottom of your post. If you want to place the images elsewhere in the text, you must determine the attachment ID of the image and then include the image thusly:
Another way to add a picture is to add the picture in the text of your post using the format:
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BBCodeBBCode is a markup code used to format the posts on B&B and many other message boards. BBCode is based on HTML but uses a different style of markup.
You can do most things without knowing anything about BBCode. The clickable icons in the post window create the BBCode for you. If you want to edit the code yourself, see the BBCode List.
Note: B&B's ShaveWiki uses a slightly different code known as wikicode. It's not the same as BBCode. There are some things you can do in the ShaveWiki that you can't do in regular posts. Most of it is used to organize the many pages of content in the wiki. HTML is sometimes found in both the wiki and the forums.
Badger & Blade Gallery
Supporting Badger & Blade
Meritorious Shaver Award
- More information on the Merit Award program could be found here.
Navigation on this site/Further Help
I don't understand the acronym or abbreviationMost groups use shorthand once common concepts are understood. You will get used to the quirky acronyms, abbreviations, and slogans found on B&B.
What's a "Sticky" thread"?
- A sticky thread is a thread that will remain at the beginning of the list when you are browsing a forum regardless if it was updated since your last visit. Those threads are the important threads of the particular sections of the forum. Have a look at them and ask questions if necessary.
How Can I Give Something Back?Running a busy web forum costs money. Feel free to send contributions to [email protected]. You can also PIF shaving gear to new members, and help with advice.