What Are Common Wet Shaving Mistakes? Skip to content
12 Days of Christmas Daily Deals! Day 1: 30% Off WCS Shaving Soaps!
12 Days of Christmas Daily Deals! Day 1: 30% Off WCS Shaving Soaps!
What Are Common Wet Shaving Mistakes?-West Coast Shaving

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 

  1. Feel the Pressure - New wet shavers often feel the need to push with the razor
  2. 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.
  3. Under water - A first time latherer often doesn’t add enough water to create an adequate lather.
  4. One and Done - New shavers can have the mistaken belief that all blades are equal; therefore, they only try one.
  5. 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

  • Less is More
  • 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.

  • Work the Angle
  • 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.

  • Keep Calm and Hydrate
  • 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).

  • Meet your Match
  • 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.  

  • KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)
  • 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.

    Previous article The Safety Razor Design Evolution


    Ned Leonard - February 12, 2021

    I think “beard mapping” helped me early on. Not all facial hair “lays down” the same way all across your face. “Against the grain” on one side of your face might be “with the grain” on the other while your chin is “whorled” with the grain going every which way and, meanwhile, your throat varies depending whether you are right under the jaw or further down. Simply using your fingertips rubbed across all areas of your face and throat while applying what you learn about grain direction can make a nice “map” using an oval for the face and “trunk” for the throat with arrows indicating grain direction in each area.

    Terry - February 11, 2021

    Excellent tips. I’ve been shaving for over 70 years & still learning.
    My tip on hydrating; On second shave when the soap foam loses some of its moisture & heat, I give the tip of the brush a quick pass under the tap running hot water. Then swirl in the bowl for a foam reload & on to the second against-the-grain pass.
    DE shaving is a good time for cleansing the mind & creative thoughts. Gotta head the grandboys off of multi blades though.

    Denny - February 24, 2021

    You guys don’t get enough love for the no-non-sense anti-clickbait quality articles you write. Well done!

    Peter - February 11, 2021

    Thanks for this. I agree that it takes a while to get the angle right and that is varies from shaver to shaver. I would also add that when starting to use double edge shavers and also later as an experienced person initiating a shave, always shave with the grain. It may take a while to determine the grain, but if there is excessive tugging from the blade, you are probably going against the grain. If you use a light touch, you can re-shave any unsatisfactory areas. Also, it is not necessary to get super close. Facial hair retracts a bit after shaving, so a clean shave will be closer still soon after shaving. Attempting to get closer while shaving will lead to irritation and ingrown hairs.

    jerry santen - February 4, 2020

    You nailed it again…I swear , you folks at WCS are the absolute best! I mean, what other, who else, and how many companies take the time to educate their customers to the extent that that you do?… none that I know of. Closed comb, open comb,proper hydration, do tips, don’t do tips and and a down to earth, straight to the point explanation that keeps the proper way to wet shave alive and well, which in my opinion has the potential to go the way of what I see as “lost arts”. Thank you West Coast Shaving !

    Randall - January 27, 2020

    Thank you.

    Leave a comment

    Comments must be approved before appearing

    * Required fields