Guide to Wet Shaving for Women
Since hair removal isn’t just a man’s game, neither is wet shaving. Women the world over are finding the same affinity for brush, lather, and blade as their male peers. Bikini lines, underarms, and legs can benefit from better technique and tools as much as the chin, neck, and head.
So, why switch to wet shaving and how do you get the best results? Check out our Guide to Wet Shaving for Women.
Why Women Choose to Wet Shave
The same reasons that drive men to the classic shave, also inspire women.
If you struggle with razor burn, ingrown hairs, or unsightly bumps and redness, then wet shaving is for you. Using a brush and shaving soap/cream to prep your hair and skin is better than canned foams. The safety razor allows one exposed blade to touch your skin at a time reducing the trauma on your skin that comes from multiple blades. Over and over, classic shavers state this as their leading reason for ditching modern methods and embracing this age old practice.
Wet shaving is also eco-friendly. It reduces waste by eliminating cartridge heads, plastic disposable razors, and packaging from being dumped in landfills. These tools and products last a long time. Even the shaving soaps and creams often come in reusable containers. And no more aerosol cans to fill the dumps and pollute the environment with questionable chemicals.
While there is an initial investment in the correct tools, wet shaving is largely cheaper than continually replacing disposal razors or cartridges. After purchasing your razor, it is just a matter of replacing the blades, which are quite inexpensive. Pennies per shave really. Of course, you might fall down the rabbit hole of soaps, scents, splashes and all, but you don’t HAVE to (wink, wink).
But one of the most compelling reasons for women to embrace the wet shave is the experience. You get an extremely close shave with less irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. The lathering and prepping can feel like a spa day of pampering. Once you have the technique down, you can get the best shave of your life. And of course, the tools look pretty classy - sleek stainless steel, colorful brush, hand turned pottery bowl. Yes, please!
Tools for Wet Shaving
A classic, wet shave begins with lathering a protective cream or soap to protect your skin from the blade. Whipping that up requires a brush. Shaving brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and hair types. A larger head is great to produce a lot of lather and cover more area so woman shavers are generally drawn to something in the 26mm range. Whether you choose to create your lather on the soap, in a bowl/mug, or directly on your shave area is a personal preference, but a good brush is a key place to start. Badger hair is usually a well-regarded natural brush as it absorbs water to whip up an excellent later and a wonderful skin-feel. However, synthetic bristles have come a long way recently and offer a nice price point.
Of course, that brush needs to be used on something. And that something is a specially formulated soap or cream. Shaving soaps are crafted to create dense, rich lather with staying power. They provide the lubrication and protection that your skin needs during the shave. They also smell great! There are so many brands and scents to choose from that you could try a new one each day for a year. Old world European, up-and-coming artisan, tallow-based, vegan-based, simple, luxurious, there is something for everyone. West Coast Shaving even offers sample packs so you can get more bang for your buck.
This vitally important tool for a wet shave could be either a straight edge (cut-throat) razor or a double-edge safety razor. For women (and most men) wet shavers, the DE razor is the best choice. This instrument holds a thin razor blade with two sharpened sides (double-edge, get it). The handle and head sandwich the blade and allow it to be used at the correct angle to cut hair. When the blade dulls, it can be discarded and a new one inserted into the razor. The razor lasts a lifetime and only the blade gets thrown. Different razors have different ways of changing the blades - two or three piece razors and twist-to-open/butterfly heads are the most common.
While you could finish your shave with a rinse, why would you when you have so many wonderful post shave products. Women especially enjoy a balm to soothe and scent after a battle with the blade.
How to Wet Shave
When you are first learning how to use a DE razor, it is recommended that you do so in the bath for a number of reasons. A hot bath (or shower) opens your pores, softens your skin, and hydrates your hair which is an important prep for the blade. I also recommend the bath because you get audible feedback from the razor as it mows down your whiskers and that can’t be heard as clearly in the rushing flow of a shower. As you develop your technique and don’t need to “hear” your shave, you can transition to the shower if you wish. It can also be taxing/dangerous to stand on one leg in the shower while you perfect your strokes.
Learning to create a voluminous, dense froth takes a bit of practice. There are many videos and how-tos but essentially you will swirl your brush on a soap puck or cream and “load” it into the head. When the tips are pasty, you can proceed to develop your lather in a bowl/mug or directly on your leg/underarm. It can take a few minutes to whip up a decent lather (and not just a proto-lather) so don’t rush this. Add water slowly and watch it build. You want to make sure you achieve a state where the lather will provide glide and protection.
Take your time as you get started. In general, you are looking to create an angle where the blade glides along the skin, mowing down the hair as it goes. One rule of thumb is to place the head perpendicular to the skin and then tilt it to about a 30 degree angle until the blade makes contact. Razor heads are rounded to help with this process. Apply little to no pressure. Let the weight of the razor do the work. Proceed with short strokes.
This lovely step is when you get to apply your favorite scented lotion or balm. Aftershave balms are perfect for this as they restore moisture and nutrients to the skin, tighten and tone, and leave a fabulous scent.
Are you a woman who wet shaves? Have you introduced a woman to wet shaving? Let us know your experience in the comments below.