wet shaving

A beginner’s guide to traditional wet shaving.

Whether you are a first-time shaver or you have been shaving for ages, this guide is designed to help you get the best from your daily shaving routine. This guide will cover the essential equipment needed for wet shaving.

Please note that when we talk about wet shaving, we are talking about a manual razor instead of an electric razor.

1 – The razor

The first thing to consider is the type of razor, which fall into 4 main types.

  • The disposable razor.
  • The cartridge razor.
  • The double-edge safety razor
  • .The cutthroat razor.

The cutthroat or straight razor is a specialist razor commonly used by barbers. As it is not recommended for beginners, it will not be discussed.

The other razors have similar anatomy. They have 2 parts. A handle and a blade.

With the disposable razor, the head is fixed to the handle. Once the blade has become dull the whole razor is disposed of. These are cheap to buy and are readily available. However, they have numerous issues. Not only are they environmentally unfriendly as many are non-recyclable, but the quality of the shave is also often poor.

Disposable razor

The cartridge razor has a handle (often made of plastic) and a replaceable cartridge head. The most common are the Gillette Mach3 and Gillette Fusion razors. With the cartridge razor, it’s just the head that is replaced, with the head often coming with 3 or 5 blades. These razors are readily available but can be expensive. The quality of the shave is OK but not as good as the double-edge safety razor.

The double-edge razor has a handle (normally made from metal) , a head and a disposable metal double-edge blade. This is all metal so can be recycled. Once you have purchased your razor then the replacements are much cheaper. A pack of 10 blades costs approximately £5 – £10. This type of razor will give the best shaving results of the 3 types of razors

Edwin Jagger 89bl de safety razor

2 – Lubrication

When wet shaving, some form of lubrication is desirable as it helps the blade to glide across the skin easily, preventing tugging and a shaving rash

Types of lubrication

  • Foam
  • Gel
  • Cream
  • Soap


A can of shaving foam is the most easily available and is the cheapest per can. However, it does not last as long, so over time it becomes a more expensive option. The foam in a can consist of a lot of air and may also contain undesirable chemicals. It is easy to use but the quality of the shave is poor while drying out your skin over time, necessitating the need of a moisturiser. The foam was invented for convenience, and not quality.


A gel produces less of a lather compared to the alternatives and can be used without water. It is often transparent, making it easier to create a stylized look.


A shaving cream will produce a thick traditional lather, helping you get a smooth shave. It can be applied with or without a brush. Additionally, they often have added ingredients to help the skin stay soft and moisturised, so no extra moisturisers are needed.


A soap will produce a lather like that of cream but will take more effort. It is ideal to use a shaving brush to do so, though this is an extra expense. If you are looking for a 100% natural product or one suitable for vegans, soaps have a much wider range of options than shaving creams.

3 – The brush

Edwin jagger synthetic shaving brush

A shaving brush is an optional extra, but can make producing a thick creamy lather easier. Traditionally a good quality shaving brush that absorbs water well, was made from badger hair. Recently, synthetic hair brushes have become much better. There are many different styles, colours and sizes available, starting from under £10.00. You may also want a drip stand. This is used to hang your brush and allows your brush to drip dry, helping prolong the life of the brush.

4 – Styptic pencil

If you are new to shaving or have a dull blade you may get the occasional cut or nick. The styptic pencil is both antiseptic and astringent. Dab it on to help the healing process.

5 – Shaving bowl

Edwin Jagger shaving soap bowl

If you are using shaving soap then having a bowl is an essential piece of equipment. Often you can buy a shaving bowl and soap with one purchase to get started.

The Groomed Man recommendations

Razor: Edwin Jagger DE89 Chrome DE Safety Razor

Edwin Jagger 89bl de safety razor

Cream: Taylors of Old Bond Street sandalwood shaving cream

TOBS Shaving Cream

Brush: Omega shaving brush in a variety of colours

omega blue shaving brush

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