Below is a guide to the equipment you will need if you are new to traditional shaving
When talking about traditional wet shaving we are talking about a razor that your grandfather’s generation would have used, either a “safety razor” or a straight razor. Not one of the plastic handled 5 bladed products from the local supermarket.
For a beginner it is recommended to use a “safety razor”
A “safety razor” is traditionally of metal construction and uses a single replacement blade. These blades are also very economical.
There is a wide choice of “safety razors” available to choose from
Points to consider when choosing a razor
The best quality razors come from the Solingen region of Germany
Handle length is normally short, typically 75mm or large typically 95mm. It’s a personal preference
Handle style. The common type of handle is plain metal often with a pattern to help improve the grip, but there are also a range of coloured handles and some made from wood or plastic
Adjustable heads: twist the handle to one of its settings and you can change the angle of the blade inside the razor head for the desired shave
There many manufacturers offering blades and it is recommended to buy a branded blade as the offer better quality.
Shaving Soap or Shaving Cream
When thinking about traditional shaving we are not thinking about canned foam from the supermarket, we are considering protecting and lubricating the skin with a much higher quality
of soap or cream. They are often produced to moisturise and sooth the skin making the razor glide easily producing a better quality of shave with less irritation.
Points to consider when choosing your cream or soap
Both shaving cream and shaving soap are designed to soften the hairs while providing protection from your razor blade. Which you use is often down to personal choice.
There are a variety of different soaps and creams available and come in a range of fragrances, Sandalwood being one of the classics.
A shaving brush is used to lather your shaving soap or cream. Some people will lather using
their fingertips, but it is much easier with a brush.
Points to consider when choosing your brush
Can be made of a coarse boar bristle, badger hair (available in 3 grades) or synthetic. You can also get a mix of boar and badger. As a beginner you can’t go far wrong with a pure badger hair shaving brush (economy grade)
The most popular handle is synthetic. Advantages of the synthetics are moisture resistance, colourfastness, and breakage resistance.
Wooden brush handles can split without appropriate care, so they should be allowed to drip dry in a “bristle downward” position after use.
Handles come is a variety of different shapes and styles and which one is best is down to personal preference. With an important decision being the length of the handle
You can get a variety of colours but traditionally them come in black or ivory.
The use of a drip stand for your brush will help prolong the life of your shaving brush by allowing it to dry between uses. Often the brush will be sold with a drip stand.
Styptic pencil or alum block
These are both astringent and antiseptic and are excellent for immediate remedy of nicks and cuts
There are number of different styles of shaving bowl on the market. The reason for a bowl is to make it easier to produce a lather with you soap/ or cream. I would recommend a bowl especially if using a soap, but once again it is down to personal preference.
There are other items associated with the traditional wet shave such as pre-shave oils and gels, and aftershaves and balms. These have their place but they are not essentials for a starter kit
The recommended kit you need for traditional wet shaving
Razor such as the Merkur 34C Double Edge Safety Razor Short Handle
Soap or cream such as Taylor Of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream Sandalwood