The Renaissance of Wet Shaving
Far from becoming extinct, an ever greater number of men are revelling in the luxuriousness and ritual of a proper shave
Article by Nick Gilbert of Pall Mall Barbers
Wet shaving has been a traditional part of men’s grooming routines for as long as humanity. The barbering tradition dates back as far as Ancient Egypt, where scholars or priests would perform shaves. In Roman times, shaving and visiting the barber was an important part of the everyday ablutions. Throughout history, barbers would provide surgery, bloodletting, and even dentistry – the red and white barber’s pole representing these additional trades.
There are wet shaving communities throughout the internet – forums such as Badger & Blade, to the growing number of YouTubers reviewing products and wet shaves – and the fans keep growing. They can tell you which shave soap will create the most lather, which shave cream is most effective, recommend different razor manufacturers and even describe the qualities of the various grades of badger hair – and then which fragrance they’ve chosen. These guys share their ‘Shave of the Day’ with their communities.
Self-taught experts are passionate about wet shaving, as it’s a way for them to take pride in their appearance. And what’s more manly than dragging a blade across your face?
With a wet shave, men take time out of their schedules and disconnect, creating a sanctuary and a ritual that is careful and considered. A friend describes shaving every day as ‘a thankless chore’, yet every Sunday morning will lock himself away in his bathroom for a proper wet shave with a straight edge blade.
The rate at which technology is improving is a potential cause of this backlash against electric shaving or multi-blade razors. And our collective conscience tells us to impact the environment less: wet shaving produces with a proper razor creates far less waste than disposable blades, for example.
So, what makes a wet shave so fantastic compared to cracking out the Mach 3 or Braun?
Firstly, a wet shave begins with a shave brush. Using a shave brush brings immediate benefits to simply rubbing foam into the skin – it helps create a rich lather, and lift hair away from the skin, meaning a closer shave from the outset.
Using a shaving cream that creates a dense lather can make it difficult to see the direction of hair growth. The Pall Mall Barbers Shave Cream was designed to show the direction of hair growth and visibly lift hair from the skin – making it perfect for a close wet shave.
Application of a shave cream should start on the neck and beard areas, followed by the moustache and then the sides of the face. The hairs on our necks and beard areas are much denser than those on the cheeks. Ideally, the cream will be allowed to soften the hairs for a few minutes.
Then, taking either a double edge razor or a straight edge blade, remove the hairs starting in the opposite order: from the cheeks first, the moustache second, and the beard last.
Take a cool towel or flannel and hold over the face to remove any excess shave product. Depending on how your skin reacts to shaving, follow with a cooling gel to counteract any irritation, or a post shave balm to protect and repair the skin.
By taking time to wet shave, you’ll find that any irritation you do experience will reduce, and your shave will leave your skin much smoother and cleaner than with a typical shave. If you’d like to learn more about how to achieve a wet shave at home, our friends over at Pall Mall Barbers offer shaving lessons – more information can be found here.
Enquiries: Pall Mall Barbers, 27 Whitcomb Street WC2H &EP / 0207 9307787 / 123 Houndsditch, Bishopsgate EC3A 7BU / 0207 6260123 / 45 Fitzroy Street W1T 6EB / 0207 3878787