What Are Common Wet Shaving Mistakes?
Having some problems honing in on your technique? Even if you love the idea of classic wet shaving, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few hiccups along the way. Like learning any new skill, it takes some practice before you’re perfect.
So whether you are struggling with redness/irritation, bumps/ingrown hairs, or just longing for a Baby Butt Smooth (BBS) shave, look no further. Here are 5 wet shaving mistakes commonly seen by WCS gurus. Even if you’ve been wet shaving awhile, brushing up on these tips might be a good reminder for you as well.
5 Common Wet Shaving Mistakes
- Feel the Pressure - New wet shavers often feel the need to push with the razor
- Finding your Angle - A newbie who holds the razor parallel will find the blade never makes contact with the hair. Conversely, too acute an angle can cause excessive contact and irritation.
- Under water - A first time latherer often doesn’t add enough water to create an adequate lather.
- One and Done - New shavers can have the mistaken belief that all blades are equal; therefore, they only try one.
- It’s Complicated - Simply making things more complicated than they need to be is a danger for first time shavers.
How to Correct These Wet Shaving Mistakes
First, and arguably the most common mistake made by new wet shavers is that they apply TOO MUCH PRESSURE. If you are changing over from a cartridge razor, this is particularly problematic. With a cartridge razor, you are trained to apply some pressure; but that is not necessary with a double-edge safety razor or straight razor. These razors are designed and balanced so that the bulk of the work is done with the weight of the razor itself. Applying more than due pressure results in a raw, irritated face. If this seems to be a common problem with your shave, try backing off on the pressure. Hold the razor a bit looser (release your death grip) and let it glide along your skin.
Along with a gentle touch, it is important to get the angle right. Most cartridge razors are designed with tilted heads that take the guesswork out of the correct angle (but also limits you to their standard one-size-fits-all design). When working with a safety razor, you don’t want to hold the tool parallel to your face - then the blade never contacts the skin. But you don’t want too steep of an angle - then you are pressing the blade directly into your skin. The top cap should serve as a guide to tilt the razor to about a 30 degree angle (give a take a degree or two) so that the blade brushes the skin and mows down those whiskers. A closed comb head is often recommended to beginners as it prevents too much of the blade from contacting the skin and helps during the learning stage. A light touch and finding this angle are probably the two biggest learning curves of wet shaving.
Another frequent mistake that new wet shavers make involves their lather. Since your lather is such an important part of a good shave, it is vital that you create an adequate lubricant to protect your face from the blade. Between proto-lather and full, dense, rich, protective lather with staying power, there is a huge difference. And often the difference comes down to the right level of water. Many newbies simply aren’t adding enough hydration to their creation. There is a bit of an art to a good lather. If by the time you shave one half of your face the other side is dry, you need to add more water. Now, don’t nobody out there go adding cups of water to their lather. Go slowly, adding only a few drops at a time. An appropriately hydrated lather can be the difference between irritated redness and baby butt smooth (BBS).
Don’t assume that one size fits all. Taking a little time to try out a few blades goes a long way in preventing wet shaving mishaps like irritation, razor burn, and rash. Believe it or not, a blade can be too sharp (redness, rash, nicks & cuts) or too mild (tugging & catching, irritation) depending on your hair type and razor. Trying out a few different blades is doing yourself a favor. West Coast Shaving carries a number of razor blade sample packs for just this purpose. Try the blades from mildest to most aggressive as you learn what works best for your face.
If possible remove as many variables as you can during the learning stage of wet shaving. Pick one safety razor, one razor blade, and one shaving soap for the first few shaves. Then begin by just changing out the blade until you find the right match. After that consider trying different soaps & creams. This is where your sheer force of will needs to come into play as there are, of course, so many shaving soaps & creams begging for your attention. But stay strong and keep it simple.
Add new variables slowly and only after you feel you’ve mastered different techniques. You might even need to start this over again when you introduce a new razor, as it might need to be paired with a different blade. However, these changes will come more quickly as you hone your technique.
Initially, simply learn to shave “with the grain”. If you shave in the direction of hair growth, you are less likely to cause irritation and redness. Save “against” and “across” the grain passes for once you’ve gained some experience.
Likewise, keep the shave itself simple. Try to be as efficient as possible by going over each area only once with slight overlapping so that you aren’t making repeated strokes over the same spot. Get your first pass at removing as much hair as possible and then re-lather and try again. This will prevent repeated strokes on the same pass.
What were your first classic shaving sessions like? Any advice you wish you had received? Any advice you give regularly? Are we missing any other important common wet shaving mistakes? Let us know in the comments below.