Getting started in the world of wet shaving can be intimidating for any beginner. There are various different pieces of equipment required of various quality along. Making sense of the world of razors requires some knowledge, but thankfully that information is readily available.
For a beginner there are some essentials that you should purchase straight up to help ease your way in – and there is equipment you will need in a few months that you do not need to purchase immediately.
Choose your razor
The first step is to decide on the type of razor – double edge, shavette, straight razor – and there are a multitude of variations within each type.
- Safety razors with disposable blades are the most common starting point for a beginner moving from a disposable safety razor. They use a very similar technique to that most people already know, and so are easier to learn.
- Shavette’s are a razor in the shape of a straight edge razor but with a disposable blade. They are the next stepping stone in the world of wet shaving because they give the feel and technique of a straight razor without the maintenance requires of stropping and honing.
- The final razor type is the straight razor itself – and there are various options within this one category. Different blade widths, grinds, tips, and weights.
For a beginner I would recommend to learn all that you can but then jump in, try a razor and don’t get analysis paralysis. Too many people spend months researching every single straight razor available without ever actually shaving with one and they miss out on the enjoyment wet shaving can bring.
My one piece of advice would be to purchase a high quality razor – there are a large number of razors available online that are of a very poor quality, are extremely cheap, and are blunter than a butter knife. I have seen beginners purchase a cheap razor as a test but the experience was so poor that it puts them off wet shaving altogether. A quality razor may cost more initially, but the shaving experience and the maintainability will really justify the expense.
Choose your brush
The second piece of gear to consider is a shaving brush. The premium brushes are made from badger hair, although boar and synthetics are also available. Different brushes have different bristle stiffness which will impact on their ability to store moisture and to lather soap. It will also depend on what soap you intend to use – a hard soap would require stiffer bristles to bring to a lather, whereas shaving cream could be used with gentler bristles.
Choose your soap
Shaving soap or cream are a great way to add an element of luxury to your shave and there are as many different textures and scents of soaps available as there are razors. Most wet shaving enthusiasts prefer specially made shaving soaps as opposed to creams and gels that come out of a can. This is purely a personal preference and I would encourage everyone to try as many different shaving soaps and creams as you can get your hands on to find what works for you.
Maintain your equipment
If you have selected a straight razor then a strop is also a requirement. A strop should be used before every shave to ensure the blade is sharp by aligning the metal edge. Most strops are made from both leather and fabric. Consider the width of the strop and whether it is suitable for your razor.
The ongoing maintenance of your straight razor will require more intense sharpening methods whether that is the purchase and use of honing stones or sending it away to a profession, but this decision does not need to be made immediately.
The final question you need to ask yourself is how will I to store my razor. Depending on the type of steel your razor is made from, the risk of rust is always present, particularly because most razors live in extremely humid bathrooms. Even stainless steel is just ‘stain less’ not ‘stain free.’ We store our razors in wooden boxes which have a felt inlay to absorb any excess moisture and keep your razor dry, but other options include leather cases or travel kits.
Your straight razor kit should now contain the following essentials – a razor, a brush, a strop, and some shaving soap. This is all that is needed for your first wet shave. There are numerous other items that you may consider using in the future, but that is for another time.
Getting started in the world of wet shaving is an extremely rewarding experience, and is a great way to turn a daily chore into something fun.
Russ is the founder of Cut Throat Club, an Australian company who sort through the vast range of straight razors available worldwide to find high quality blades and build premium cut throat razor kits. We construct pre-made packages to give you everything you need to either get started with cut throats or to upgrade to the highest quality gear worldwide.