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Is a Shaving Bowl Necessary for a Wet Shave?-West Coast Shaving

Is a Shaving Bowl Necessary for a Wet Shave?

When did shaving get so complicated? Don’t you just need something sharp to get the hair off your face. Well, yes. . . and no. While a dive into wet shaving can seem like a portal to a new world, you can really keep it as simple or as extravagant as you want. All things to all people, amirite?

The bare minimum requirements for a decent wet shave are just a razor with blade, some sort of lubricant, and a way to apply it. But really, why stop there, because the wet shave experience can be so much more. You can delve into soap formulas and splash scents, blade/razor pairings, shaving bowls, mugs, and more. 

But do you really need a shaving bowl?

Well, no. . . 

  • You can create a lather with a brush by swirling it on your palm and applying to your face with your fingers.
  • You can also create a lather directly on your face by swirling the brush on your bristles.
  • Alternatively, you could get a brushless soap/cream which doesn’t require a shaving bowl or a brush for lathering and gets applied with your hands.

And, yes. . .

If, however, you get geeked about frothy, foamy lather, then you might want to consider a shaving bowl.

  • Design: a shaving bowl is engineered to get you the best lather possible. Generally, they are wide mouthed, sometimes with a lip to hold in the lather. Swirls/ridges on the bottom help to aerate for a well-whipped froth. Many shaving bowls also come with handles or brush rests for your brush to pause between passes. 
  • Control: A shaving bowl can help you control how much lather you create as well. Instead of lathering directly on the puck/tub, it is best to load the brush and then bring it to the bowl to complete the lather. You can add water slowly and watch it form the perfect lather. Getting a shaving bowl that fits in the palm of your hand also allows you to control your grip and whip quickly.
  • Longevity: Whipping up a shaving bowl of lather means that it can stay safe and warm while you do multiple passes. If you palm lather, you can’t really do another pass without also re-whipping and it creates a mess on your hands. Face lathering also requires additional whipping for every pass. But with a shaving bowl, you can create your lather once for multiple passes, and if the bowl is ceramic, you can warm it with hot water before the lather and it will retain heat and keep your lather warm. Win, win.

So, to bowl or not to bowl? What do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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Dustin - April 24, 2023

I am about to start wet shaving my head and this is the information I am looking for. Thanks for clarifying this question for me.

Terry - January 28, 2021

I’ve been shaving for 70+ years. Tried just about every kind of razor there is, including Gillette Red Dot Fatboy when they first came out (wish I still had that), cheapo plastics & everything in between. Finally back to the Merkur 34 for pleasure & a Harry’s for a quickie. Start with a shower, then DIY pre-shave oil – coconut, avocado & bergamot. Shave soap is supplemented with Dove bath soap, whipped in a Japanese hand made tea bowl with swirls in the bottom. Two or three pass short stroke, with the grain, against & then touch up. Wash up & DIY aftershave is Witch Hazel with a bit of powdered alum, bergamot & glycerin, “shaken, not stirred.” Finally, a bit of skin cream, above oil + a touch of honey. With the money saved on liquids, I buy fancy soaps, razors, brush’s, bowls & Dopp kits. Now I’m researching for a new adjustable – or another Red Dot? Treat yourself right. It helps your confidence.

rwg2137 - January 18, 2021

hot warm warming the bowl sounds like a good idea. I’ll try it tomorrow.

Brian - October 27, 2020
I have just started with your shaving kits and the container that the shaving soap came in works for me as I learn to become more proficient with the system. I want to thank you for the videos and blogs about how to shave, they have been helpful. I will admit I do like your razors better than Gillette Mach blades.

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