Classic and time-honored wet shaving methods and tools have made a major comeback as of late. And no matter what the reason for jumping on this worthy bandwagon – cost savings, closer shaves or simply the experience– newbies to the double-edged razor game always have questions on where to start. So, if you’ve been using cartridge razors since whisker #1 (and there’s NOTHING wrong with that), and are looking to make a move, here’s a guide to picking the proper tools.
While there’s no one “best” or “right” razor, individual shavers do tend to gravitate toward particular brands, grips, weights and looks. We can’t recommend the best tool for your particular mug and lifestyle via an article, but can recommend you consider the following when choosing your double-edge.
COMFORT: Look for something that will be comfortable in hand. Double-edge razors come in a variety of handle lengths and varying weights that can mesh better with men depending on their hand size and steadiness. For instance, a man with large hands might choose a longer handled model to most closely replicate the feel and ease of using a cartridge razor. Similarly, some men prefer a heftier razor that handles whiskers without requiring them to exert as much pressure and is easier to balance.
FORMAT: Razors come in two basic formats: 3-piece or twist-to-open (TTO/butterfly). A 3-piece razor has a blade housing that comes completely off to replace the blade, whereas a TTO has a knob on the handle’s bottom that causes the blade housing to flip open like butterfly wings. The chosen model or format doesn’t have much impact on shave quality, but a TTO generally makes for quicker and simpler blade changes.
LOOKS: Since it’s going to be sitting or hanging in your bathroom, the new razor might as well look nice. From textured handles to laser etching to unique finishes and colors, it’s worth picking a look that fits your lifestyle, bathroom aesthetic and personality.
The great thing about double-edge razor blades is that they fit every double-edge razor, unlike standard, drug store razor cartridges that only fit certain handles. This allows you, the new double-edged shaver, the ability to mix things up a bit and try a lot of different blades. What’s the difference in blades you ask? While perhaps not recognizeable to the untrained eye, some blades:
Are super sharp, but dull more quickly.
Last forever, but each shave is just not as close as with a sharper blade.
Sport friction-less coatings.
Look cooler and come in fancier packaging.
With your new razor and blades of choice in hand, it’s time to start thinking about a shaving brush, another wet shaving staple. In addition to looking cool and retro, a quality shaving brush will also exfoliate dead skin beneath the beard and help to “loft” beard hair for an easier and smoother shave. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your “brush with greatness”:
HAIR GRADE: The hair in shaving brushes comes from a few different animals and in several different grades. Badger hair brushes are pretty much the standard in quality, but gents often say good things about lesser-respected animal hair. Anyway, in order from stubble-sanding bristly to puppy soft, the grades of shaving brushes are:
Boar > Horse > Badger > Pure Badger > Best Badger > Super Badger > Silvertip Badger
Different brands will often have different naming conventions, but the basic distinctions in quality are based on where the hair comes from on the animal.Standard badger hair comes from the most common hair on the forelegs/haunches/underbelly, while pure badger hair comes from the flanks, which are a little softer. Best and silvertip badger hair uses hair from the back/neck of those stinkin’ badgers.
HANDLE: Handle preference is based mostly on aesthetics and performance. Brush handles are offered in varieties from the traditionally luxurious (ebony/ivory/horn) to the modern (chrome and marbled plastics) to the outright extravagant (rose, bubinga and other exotic woods most commonly found in guitars or dashboards). Regardless, a quality brush will have a solidly weighted handle that provides a sturdy grip and base.
Since you’re going all in on wet shaving and using a brush, it’s essential to find a shaving substance that leverages your previous purchases.
We’re talking about a good shaving soap or a pre-lathered cream. A cream will be quicker to apply and possibly lessen the lathering workload, while a shaving soap offers the ultimate in customization in terms of consistency, temperature and lather.
The cherry on top of your new morning ritual are the accessories that enhance every wet-shave experience. While most aren't "required", grabbing a few of the most popular items can certainly kick things up a notch.
A bowl or mugfor lathering your soap with your brush.
A stand to keep your razor and brush off the countertop and in good shape.
A travel pouch to take the razor on the road without damaging it or cutting up hands.
A razor bank for used blades
(because cutting yourself on a sharp razor when taking out the trash is no fun).
An alum block or styptic pencil, because, unfortunately, cuts will happen as you perfect your craft.