The men’s traditional shaving movement, which began a few years ago as the interest of a few individuals, is about to go mainstream, if it hasn’t already.
Online US shaving forums such as; Badger and Blade, The Shave Nook, Wicked Edge (reddit), Straight Razor Place and Damn Fine Shave, to name a few, are vibrant communities with huge membership numbers of "wet shavers" and growing daily. International shaving forums are also big, The Shaving Room and Afeitadoclassico are but a couple of examples. Let's not forget about Facebook, yes Facebook! There are hundreds of wet shaving groups with huge amounts of members, talking daily about their gear, favorite shaving soaps, brushes or razors. Feeling adventurous? Here a couple of popular choices; Razor & Brush and Shave The Man.
Then we have online retailers like Cold River Soap Works Shaving Soap, Maggards Razors, West Coast Shaving and Bullgoose Shaving, which are a few of the more popular and trusted shopping sites. Of course we cant forget to mention at least one brick and mortar shaving shop, Art of Shaving or how about Pasteurs Pharmacy? There are simply too many examples to list. From large storefront specialty operations to your neighborhood barbershop that carries a few shaving soaps and creams, brushes and other mens grooming supplies.
Shaving soaps and creams are wildly popular. From the trusted, tried and true shaving soap producers such as Cold River Soap Works, Martin de Candre, Truefitt & Hill, Proraso, Taylor of Old Bond Street, to your artisan makers like Stirling Soap Company, Mikes and Barrister and Mann.
This is great news, an example of the market and common sense working with consumers to give them more choice and better products that cost less. Men’s traditional shaving is shaving with a single blade inserted into a safety razor (it’s different from both modern plastic shaving and a straight razor, which is a step beyond safety razor shaving).
Single-blade shaving cuts across political lines: traditionalists like it because it’s a throwback to a time when a man had to use something resembling a weapon to shave himself (and it’s a guy thing that, feminism or not, women can’t emulate); yet it’s also a reaction to disposable consumer capitalism, which pushes products meant to eventually break and need replacing. With the return of traditional shaving – also called “wet” shaving or DE, for “double-edged” shaving, – a man can make a fairly expensive initial investment and then pay pennies to shave for the rest of his life. His face will also look and feel a lot better.
The best way for the uninitiated to understand wet shaving is an analogy: it’s like the clothes you wear. Just as a tie reflects the personal preference of a man, traditional shaving is all about tailoring to the individual – it’s why every dude’s “shave den” has his personal stamp on it. There are a few basics, but after that you can experiment and mix and match to fit your own style.
The basics: a safety razor, the kind of steel and chrome tool your grandfather used. My preference is the Merkur heavy duty double-edge safety razor, but I’ve also experimented with some others.
Next are the blades. Again, you need to experiment. And be ready: first time DE shavers will get cut. (But you’re a man, right?) Just remember: when you get the hang of it, the blades will cost you pennies. My preference are Feathers, which are known as the sharpest and are made in Japan. A little less aggressive are the Gillette Silver Blue blades. You can get one hundred for about twenty-five bucks.
Next: a shaving brush. Again, there are a lot of choices out there. To simplify things, I’ll stick to what in wet shaving circles are referred to as “the best YMMV". The British have a centuries old tradition of men’s grooming and France and Germany and Spain, well you get the idea. Simpsons, Plisson, Semogue, Omega, Thater, Shavemac, all of these companies are great. Then you have the artisan shaving brush makers like Rudy Vey, Paladin and my personal favorite, Morris and Forndran.
Pick a shaving soap or cream, razor, shaving brush, and you’re ready. Oh, and I almost forgot: the shave is a lot less irritating than with plastic store bought razors, no matter how many blades and pivoting heads!