The Not So Sacred Rules Of Wet Shaving October 16 2014

The odds are that if you're reading this then you have an interest in traditional wet shaving. This could be a passing interest or full on obsession or somewhere in the middle but you probably do have an interest. If you don't and you're just idly seeing what the internet has to offer there are probably more entertaining pages you could go and look at. Click on it. I promise it's safe and nothing terrible*

But back to the issue at hand - Wet Shaving.

 Now there are a lot of articles around the internet on wet shaving and a lot of them are informative and full of sound advice. There are however quite a few that are written by people who clearly know very little about their chosen subject. A whole class of writers who just seem to write articles on wikihow and other dubious advice sites with little or no quality control and seem to write articles just for the sake of writing articles.They've never held a safety razor in their life but will still write an entry about how you should do it. Their usual journalistic modus operandi is to read a few articles themselves and then regurgitate them into something that they can claim as their own.

This lazy way of writing isn't confined to open source internet sites either. A huge number of newspapers, magazines or TV shows will occasionally run features on wet shaving and many other subjects with a similar lack of effort going into doing any research into the issue. More often than not these will either just be a massive plug for someone,  flavour of the month reporting or a quick way to fill a page or a couple of minutes.

 For my first blog entry on Bobbyshave I thought I'd address 3 of the more often repeated sacred rules that aren't actually all that sacred. Or even a rule for that matter.


1 - Opening and closing pores

Many will tell you that you should start a shave with a hot wash and finish with a cold wash. The reason being that the heat will open your pores to help get the gunk out and the cold will close them up to keep new gunk from getting in. This reasoning is incorrect however because pores don't actually open and close. They may sometimes appear smaller or larger, especially if clogged up with this gunk, but they don't actively open and shut. Pores are holes in the skin that let sweat and sebum (aka gunk) out.

A good warm wash to start with is a good thing but nothing to do with opening pores. It'll help you get clean, soften the hair and hydrate the skin. All great things to do when prepping for a shave. And a cold splash afterwards will help get rid of any residue of soap or cream and will help soothe any minor nicks or burn you might have if your shave hasn't gone perfectly. It certainly won't close the pores. The overall truth with pores is that you don't want them to close. If they shut then you can't sweat. And then your body won't regulate temperature very well and you'll be very uncomfortable and quite ill indeed.

And then your head will explode. That's a stone cold fact**

2 - Always with the grain

Only shaving with the grain (WTG) of your facial hair, or any other hair you choose to shave (It's cool, I'm not judging you***) is all good and well. But you may be able to get a closer shave by also shaving across the grain (XTG) and against the grain (ATG). Many badly researched articles will tell you XTG and ATG only guarantees irritation, bumps, burn and all manner of horrors. This is not true in a lot of cases so long as you're pairing a good razor angle with a good protective lather then you should be OK.

A 3 pass shave going WTG, XTG and then ATG is very often the way to a fantastically smooth shave.

There are some people who have difficulty with ATG regardless of how well they prepare and how good their technique is but to suggest it is unsuitable for everybody is just plain wrong.

3 - Old fashioned razors aren't as safe as modern cartridge razors

Again they're wrong. DE or Safety razors, or indeed any other tool which features very sharp and erm...slicey metallic edges, are perfectly safe so long as they're used correctly. You'll need to use a different angle to cartridge razors and different techniques but they are perfectly safe and there's no reason for your bathroom to look like an abattoir. It's true that you can't attack your face in a carefree manner with a DE razor but so long as you pay attention to what your doing you'll be OK.
That's not to say you won't cut yourself. You probably will at first but due to the very sharp single blade you'll be using they're usually very small and very fine nicks which heal instantly. You probably won't notice most cuts with a DE razor until they start bleeding as they are incredibly fine. Unlike if you accidentally cut yourself with a cartridge blade which then leaves you with 5 parallel cuts like a miniature Freddy Krueger has been at you.


And there you have it, three oft-repeated falsehoods completely obliterated. I'm going to go on Wikihow now and find out how to write a snappy last paragraph which reinforces the main article and neatly ties in with the opening paragraph. You can either go and have a shave, frolic under a moonlit sky or look at some more entertaining internet pages.


*It's just terribly adorable
** May not actually be a fact at all.
***I am actually judging.