Updated: December 17, 2016
The switch from cartridge shaving to classic wet shaving isn’t as straight forward as it may seem. With the exception of using a blade (or blades) on a handle, the approach is quite different. Here are some errors to avoid when you are just starting out.
Prep Prep Prep
Not that preparation can be ignored when cartridge shaving; but it is absolutely essential for wet shaving. I remember some shaving in the shower some mornings when running late using nothing but the water falling on my face and my multi-blade cartridge razor. Didn’t get a great shave, and it wasn’t painless, but it got rid of some of my beard. Trying to do the same thing with your DE razor would not be recommended.
First thing you want to do is get rid of your canned shaving cream. Shouldn’t be used with cartridge shaving – definitely not with a DE razor. The added chemicals are simply not needed, plus you will get a nicer lather and shave with shave soap like Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream or something like Proraso Shaving Cream which comes in a tube. Rinse your face using a cloth and apply the shaving cream with a brush (a great inexpensive option is the Ecotools Bamboo Finishing Kabuki or spend a bit more and go with something like the Parker Pure Badger Bristle Shaving Brush). More on shaving brushes can be found here.
Here is a video on building lather from Michael Freedberg:
Take it easy. Only the softest amount of pressure is needed when using a double edge razor. Most who are used to cartridge shaving tend to use pressure when shaving, trying to get a closer shave, or make their cartridge last longer because they can’t bear the cost of having to purchase more – resulting in irritated skin. You want to shave the hair on your face – not your face. Let the weight of the razor do the work, you just glide it along.
The angle you are holding the head of your razor is also important. Be sure to always have part of the cap of the razor touching your face. Part of this is practice and being and paying attention to the angle of the blade vs what part of your face you are shaving. After a couple of weeks it will become second nature.
The Grain of your Beard
Another important aspect of DE shaving, and often ignored by cartridge shavers is the grain of your beard. For the closest shave you want to make one pass with the grain, another across the grain, and finally one against the grain. Sounds like a lot of work but it is really only a couple of minutes to get a great shave. Use the chart found on Mapping your Beard Grain to help you map the grain of your beard.
These points should get you started. Here is more information on choosing the right blade.