One of the most appealing aspects of wet shaving is that it slows you down enough to have a meditative experience rather than hurrying through another monotonous, everyday duty. Taking the time to learn about your face and how your hair develops is part of what makes wet shaving with a safety razor so much better for you and your skin.
Preparing Your Face for a Shave:
First, assess the condition of your skin. Is it sensitive or not that much? How about your hairstyle? Is it delicate or brittle? Which way is it growing? You must understand how the hair changes direction on different places of your face while deciding whether to go with the grain, across the grain, or against the grain.
Hair growth patterns on the cheeks, chin, and neck may differ slightly. It is critical to understand this in order to trim your beard in the most efficient and safest manner possible. Most guys do not have fragile hair and tough skin, so going at your face with a double-edged safety razor, like a weed wacker, will not be effective. Following a process will get you to a smooth wet shave in a systematic manner.
Using a Double Edge Safety Razor and Understanding Hair Growth
So, when it comes to hair, what is with, across, and against the grain? If your hair grows down, then shaving your face with a safety razor is going with the grain. It would go against the grain to use the razor to go up. Using your double edge safety razor perpendicular to the growth pattern is going against the grain. Even with the sharpest blade and slickest lather, going against the grain is the most dangerous pass since you are more likely to irritate the skin and cut yourself. Going with the grain may not always be achievable as you discover areas where your hair grows in various directions or twirls.
Pro-tip: When you have a small amount of growth on your skin, use a cotton ball to smooth it over your face until you figure out where it is getting stuck. Where the cotton ball gets stuck, your hair is going against the grain.
Getting Ready to Shave with Your Safety Razor:
Begin with a pre-shave. A pre-shave softens the skin and hair, making it slicker in preparation for the razor blade. Apply it to your face before creating a lather.
After loading the brush, apply it to your face and neck to continue building the lather, or make your frothy foam in a shaving bowl/mug. To make a lather, add water.
Pro-tip: A good lather is important for lubrication, but it is also great for raising the hair for a more effective shave.
Shaving using a Double-Ended Safety Razor:
Allow the weight of the double-edged safety razor to do the heavy lifting. Don't put pressure on the skin. Consider shaving off the lather you just created rather than shaving the hair (you will remove the hair, but consider removing the lather) and you will be closer to the proper pressure.
Begin by running the razor over your skin in small strokes. Keep in mind that you are only shaving off the lather. To begin, shave along the grain. Use a 30 degree angle, but as you shave, you'll discover what works best for you. To recap, when you shave with the grain, you move the safety razor in the direction your hair grows. If you wish to go against the grain, use the razor in the opposite direction of hair growth. This is a little riskier because you can "catch" or snag hairs and cause irritation if you're not careful.
A closed comb safety razor is an excellent method to get started with wet shaving. Apply no more force than the weight of the razor. A great audio feedback (a scratchy sound) adds another layer of sensory reaction to know what's going on with your shave.
Never use a double-edged safety razor horizontally. It's like taking a knife to your skin, so make sure you're going in the right direction with your razor. Take it slowly at first. There is a learning curve involved. Wet shaving isn't about getting a "two-minute" shave, but about creating a procedure that can improve your life.
Pro-tip: Allow the safety razor's weight to do the work! Never palm the razor (grab it the entire length), instead choke it up and hold it with two fingers near the head while allowing the handle to swing freely.