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Shaving 201: 7 Intermediate Tips For Beginning Wet Shavers

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You’ve taken on old school shaving and know the basics but aren’t ready to tackle more advanced things like J-hooking or slant-bar razors.  What can you do in the meantime?  Here are 7 tips.

Admittedly, some of these tips are subjective: what works for someone else may not work for you.  Still, here are some things worth trying.

1. Alter Your Prep

Or maybe I should say expand your prep.  Just splashing warm water on your face?  Try adding a face cleaning product.  Cleaning but just doing it briefly?  Add one minute to the routine.

You have a leisurely prep but still not getting good results?  Try adding a pre-shave oil to your prep routine.

In any case ALWAYS wash your hands first!

2. Use A Good Shave Brush

[Note: PAA and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]

Odds are you’re starting off with a “cheap” shave brush.  And by “cheap” I don’t necessarily mean “inexpensive.”  Many beginning wet shavers, excited to start their journey, settle for what may be readily available.  In my own case I bought an inexpensive boar hair brush from the department store and struggled with it for ages.

These days it’s just not necessary to settle for a poorly-performing shave brush.  There are excellent examples of well-made, top-performing shave brushes that are also inexpensive.  For example I recently reviewed a synthetic shave brush that costs under US $20 and works as well for me as brushes costing much more.  The latest generation of synthetic brushes from sources like Yaqi, Maggard Razors, and Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA) are well-made, perform very well, and can be found at a very reasonable price point.

3. Take More Lathering Time

While I’m on the topic of lathering, try taking a little more time doing it.  If you’re building your lather with a brush in a bowl, try building the lather directly to the face.  The extra “face time” may help your skin and stubble get more hydrated and lubricated for the razor to track across.

If you simply must use that nifty scuttle or lathering bowl to build lather, or if you’re just applying a product “brushless,” just let it sit on the skin for 30 seconds before you begin shaving.

4. Replace Your Blades More Frequently

There’s a tendency with many shavers to continue to use a blade beyond its useful life.  Yes, there are ways to extend a razor blade’s life, but is it really necessary to squeeze every last bit out of one?  When your shave starts to subjectively degrade on you, replace the blade.

5. Subtly Alter Repeat Strokes

It seems to be second-nature for a shaver to go over the exact same spot over and over again.  It can be a tough habit to break.  If you’re going to do it, try changing the position of the razor slightly.  This way you approach that rough spot a bit differently and may track the blade over a more level field instead of going over the same “hill” or “valley” repeatedly.

6. Thoroughly Rinse After Shaving To Reduce Ingrowns

I used to be a lot more susceptible to ingrown hairs and other post-shave irritations until I discovered that I was occasionally leaving a bit of lather residue on my skin.  Instead of just splashing on some cool water after shaving I started thoroughly rinsing the skin with warm water and I noticed an immediate improvement.

Then I added a tone/Witch Hazel wipedown by soaking a cotton cosmetic pad and wiping down the area.  Then I did my cool water rinse.

Now ingrowns and irritation are rare (and I’m always trying new shaving products that might otherwise cause problems).

7. Fidelity

I just mentioned that I’m always trying new products.  But I have to do that as part of running Sharpologist.  You?  I know you’re excited and want to explore your new shaving “hobby” but there’s a good case to be made that it is probably more beneficial to stick with one set of products for a while until you get your shave technique down.  That way there are fewer variables to confuse the results of your shave and you might just achieve that elusive “baby’s butt smooth” shave without really thinking about it.


As a wet shaving “newbie” there is a lot to explore.  As you learn your technique you will pick up tips and tricks to help you on your way.

Do you have an intermediate tip that a beginner can use?  Leave a comment below!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

4 thoughts on “Shaving 201: 7 Intermediate Tips For Beginning Wet Shavers”

  1. Some really good advice here. One of the reasons I got into traditional, wet shaving was to save money. I can’t very well do that if I’m buying razors, soaps, brushes, shave bowls, blades, etc., all the time! I only buy stuff when I need it (aka, almost run out). I’m a pretty loyal guy; if it’s working for me I stick with it. So, I really appreciate the Fidelity point. I was talking to a traditional, wet shaving friend just the other day and told him that I’ve settled in on my “go-to kit.” I’ve found I get better results from my vintage Gillette Adjustables (currently I’ve been using my Super-84 for a couple of months now) than any of my other razors (although a couple of them do come in a very close second). I also use the same soap (PAA Scentsless CK-6) and brush (PAA Peregrino). While I do change about the blades (every Sunday whether they need it or not), I only have small pack of different ones to go through and will settle in on a couple (Feather and something else).

  2. Another face cleaning technique is to use “Cottonelle-style” butt-wipes… (Yes clean ones) to wipe your face.

    I always pour extra Witch-Hazel in the tub when installing a new refill.

    As a bonus, they are great to use, after wiping your face, to clean soap/whisker residue from the sink.

  3. Thanks for the great article. I enjoyed it and gleaned some good information from it even though I’m not a novice. I have two hobbies, wet shaving and chess. In both there is great value in staying well grounded in the basics.

  4. For anyone shaving be they noob or seasoned vet, the only advice I can offer is “slow and easy wins the race”.
    Take your time when prepping, shaving and cleaning up (and that includes your workstation ie, sink). Do you feel rushed in the morning getting ready for work, or what used to constitute as work before this whole pandemic nonsense. Before going the traditional route it was wake up, fall out of bed, shower and scrape a disposable across a gel smeared beard. With traditional wetshaving and the realization that I’d need to take my time doing it while not being late to punch the clock at my office. Solution…set the alarm ten or fifteen minutes earlier and savour the waking up process which includes a good, proper shave.
    By the time it’s time to punch that damn clock at work, you’ve hit the ground running.

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