April 8th 2013 | Comments

How To Wet Shave

How to have a proper wet shave

When it comes to personal grooming, today’s gentleman has never had it so easy. There’s no end of electrical gadgets and manly-smelling products to give you that feeling of almost-but-not-quite gentlmanliness.

There are so many short cuts these days when it comes to shaving, the old art of the proper wet shave is in danger of being entirely forgotten. Chemicals claiming to be soap come out of a can, and whiskers are shaved off with a razor with so many blades, the whole effect is industrial. Let’s not forget the price of those tiny, tiny blades – for that money, I’d expect them to be diamond-edged.

How to wet shave

All that before we even think about the electric razor, which is fine if you’re a fan of having your face mangled. Which I’m not, on the whole.

No! The proper gent has a good old-fashioned wet shave which leaves his cheeks as soft as a baby’s posterior. Assuming that you do not employ a gentleman’s gentleman, and your local barber only offers haircuts and something for the weekend, you will have to undertake this delightful routine yourself. And if great-grandad Percy managed every morning in the trenches, you can manage it yourself.

(It’s worth pointing out that great-grandad Percy never actually served in WW1, but claimed insanity and lived in a number of holes and trenches dug in the front garden. Heaven knows how he managed to father nine children, but he never forgot to shave)

First, the gentleman must have the proper kit. We’ll have none of these disposal plastic razors with a billion blades, for you only need the one. We recommend a good old-fashioned safety razor for which replacement blades are readily available.

Then splash out on a good badger hair brush. Make sure the badger has finished with it first, for there’s nothing worse than enraged mammalia when trying to shave. And then some quality shaving cream. As in all jobs, avoid the cheap stuff and wallow in luxury.

First things first: Get your beard ready. I once had a long discussion about this with one of Britain’s best-known writers, who recommended shaving straight out of the shower, having washed and conditioned your beard at the same time as your hair. And – By Gad! – he was correct. A dry, unprepared beard is a road direct to Mr T’s good friend PAIN.

Put some cream in your shaving mug, and lather up with the brush and a little water. There’s no feeling like fresh lather on skin, and if you sit on your hand for ten minutes before, you can pretend that somebody else is doing it.

Now shave. With a properly sharpened safety razor, you don’t need to press down, the blade itself should be sufficient to remove the beard. You may need to go over the same spot several times to shave down to the skin. The golden rule is not to be impatient. Get the angle of the blade right, and go with the grain. That way you won’t end up with blood everywhere and facing the day looking like an explosion in a tissue factory.

Finish off by rinsing with a bit of cold water, then applying a splash of after-shave. I don’t know about you, but I get after-shave every Christmas and birthday, not to mention an Old Spice Easter Egg every spring. I’ve got so much after-shave my bathroom is a major fire risk. Now’s the time to use it up, either splashing it all over, or as exotic cocktails for your house guests.

Having wallowed in decadence, you are now ready to face the day. Remember to dress first before leaving the house – after a good hard wallow, this is an easy mistake to make.