If you’re just now taking a deeper dive into the world of shaving, shave brushes, marble bowls and single blade razors, you might be asking yourself “What even is wet shaving?”
It's the answer to your shaving problems. If you've spent years dealing with irritation or razor burn, ingrown hairs, annoying nicks and cuts, or just a long run of subpar, dissatisfying shaves, this guide is here to set you free.
By the end you'll be on the road to becoming a shaving expert who wakes up looking forward to their morning shave. Let's do this.
What is wet shaving?
It’s a solid question and one that most people out there don’t take the time to answer.
Wet shaving is the process of using water, a shaving cream or butter to lather up (preferably with a brush), then shaving with a manual razor (aka not electric).
That’s it. Now you know more than 90% of men who routinely take a razor to their face. It’s funny how you can add one word and everyone gets confused.
Wet shaving is just shaving with water and shaving cream.
It’s the way all our Supply shavers take the hair off their face (or any other part of their body). If you’re going to get the best shave out of your Supply SE or Supply Pro, you have to wet shave. You can’t just start going at your skin if you haven’t lathered up with a real shaving cream. The blade is too sharp and will cause damage to your skin.
The lather creates a cushion between your skin and the blade. You need this cushion to protect your skin from our extra sharp razor blades. It ensures that you only cut hair and never your skin.
It also gives the smoothest shave with the best feeling afterward. If you’ve never experienced the satisfaction of a truly premium wet shave, you’ve been missing out.
The average man shaves around 20,000 times in his life. That’s too many shaves not to enjoy the process. This guide is going to help you get the most out of your shave. Let’s keep moving.
What is traditional wet shaving?
Apparently shaving experts wanted to cause even more confusion about how to get a great shave, because they created another category “Traditional Wet Shaving”.
When you hear or read the words “Traditional Wet Shaving”, think wet shaving with a straight, double edge, or in our case, a single edge safety razor.
It’s using real shaving cream, a brush, a single blade razor and post shave that isn’t filled with alcohol to give your face the highest quality shave.
It’s wet shaving without the unnecessary extra blades.
Why Single Blade Razors are Better than Multi-blades
Yes, we said unnecessary extra blades. You’ve been told for years razors with 3, 4 or 5 blades are the key to getting a smooth shave. The truth is, you only ever needed one extra sharp blade at the right angle to get a shave you love that’s actually good for your skin.
But why do multi-blade razors make your skin feel so smooth? That’s if you don’t deal with the irritation and ingrown hairs millions of multi-blade shavers suffer from.
The multiple blades cut your hair beneath the surface of your skin. This might sound impossible, but it’s not about how deep the blades cut. Multi-blade razors shave below the skin because the blades are so close together.
It’s a process called hysteresis.
Wet shaving veterans call it the tug-and-cut method.
This is how hysteresis works with your shave. The first blade pulls the hair up and makes a small cut. The second, third, fourth and sometimes fifth blade repeat the process. Each one pulls the hair up a little more and cuts it a little shorter until it’s so short that it falls below the surface after the last blade passes.
We give you the full story here: Why One Blade is Better than Five
This is why multi-blades cause irritation and ingrown hairs. Shaving with them is a traumatizing experience for the skin. The hair is ripped out and forced to grow through a new layer of skin just to reach the surface again.
Traditional wet shaving solves this problem because a single blade razor only cuts hair at the surface of your skin. It gives you a smooth, irritation-free shave. It’s not traumatizing for your skin, so there’s no long-term damage.
Speaking of long-term damage, let’s talk about dry shaving.
Wet Shaving vs. Dry Shaving
Since wet shaving exists, dry shaving has to exist, too. However, there are so few people who recommend it, it’s almost not worth mentioning.
Dry shaving is shaving without any water. The shaving cream is optional, too. The most popular way to dry shave now is with an electric razor. If you’re going to dry shave at all, we highly recommend using an electric razor. Using a multi-blade or single blade razor to dry shave is terrible for your skin.
You increase the risk of nicks, cuts and long-term damage to your skin.
But if you want to try dry shaving with a non-electric razor, here’s how it goes. Use your non-razor hand to pull the skin taut and slowly work the razor over that area until you have achieved your desired level of smoothness. Do this until you have shaved your entire face, or whichever part of your body you’re dry shaving.
We know, it sounds crazy. That’s because it is. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and needs to be treated with care.
Dry shaving does not do that.
That’s why we never recommend dry shaving with our razor. The Supply SE and Supply Pro are designed to be used with hot water, shaving cream and a brush. The blade is sharper than almost anything else on the razor market. You need the protective cushion the cream provides.
But if you don’t dry shave with it, how do you wet shave with a Single Edge.
How do I get started with wet shaving?
Now that you know the difference between wet shaving and dry shaving, let’s talk about how to get started wet shaving.
Even though you’ve probably been wet shaving in some way or another your whole life, there’s a better way to go about it.
If you’re ready to really get started with wet shaving here are the steps.
1. Map Your Beard Grain
You need to know which direction your hair grows in order to get the closest shave possible. Become a full-fledged beard cartographer here.
Single blade shaving almost always requires two passes to get a smooth shave: one pass with the grain and one pass across the grain. If you don’t know how your beard grows, you might not be happy with your shave. Read our What is Two-Pass Shaving blog for a more in-depth guide.
The easiest way to map your beard grain is to let your facial hair grow out for 2-3 days. Once you have the correct beard length, look in your mirror at different areas of your beard: specifically your neck, chin, left cheek, right cheek, and under your nose. Notice which direction the hairs grow in each of these areas.
To confirm, grab a business card, credit card, or even the back of a comb and pass it lightly over each section of hair. Hair growing with the grain will feel as if you are just combing it down back into place. Hair growth that is against the grain will feel like you are pulling your hair follicles upright.
Now you know how your beard grows, it’s time to start shaving.
2. Prepare your skin
We always tell our customers “Don’t Skip the Prep”. A single blade shave is a new experience for your skin and can take some getting used to. If you properly prepare, it makes things easier and smoother.
Starting by cleansing your skin. We recommend using a good face scrub or face wash to remove oil, dirt and any other build-up that will stop the hair from reaching the blade.
If you’re looking for a solid face wash or face scrub, check ours out. They’re plant-based and filled with ingredients that will cleanse your skin without drying it out.
What most men don’t realize is the dirt and oil on their face makes their hair stick to their skin. If you start shaving without cleaning your face first, you could leave stubble behind. A lot of people want to blame their razor when they really just skipped this step.
When you take time to prep your skin, you’ll get a shave you love.
3. Lather Up
A thick lather is essential for a smooth, safe shave. It creates a protective cushion between our extra sharp blades and your skin. It also allows the blade to “glide” across your skin as you shave.
If you have a thin, watery lather, you will have a harder time guiding the blade over your face.
A brush is an absolute necessity for the best lather. We go even further and tell everyone to get a marble shave bowl as well. Our bowl is lined with micro-ridges that allow you to create a thick, foamy lather in a matter of seconds. The marble also retains heat. So, if you run hot water over it before you start lathering, it will keep your shaving cream warm throughout your entire shave.
To start making your lather, take fingertip of real shaving cream like our Ultra Lather Shaving Cream and place it in your shave bowl.
Run your brush under hot water until it’s saturated. Squeeze out any excess water. Leaving extra water in your brush will give you a thin lather.
Put your brush in the bowl and start lathering. It might take a little extra muscle to get the consistency you’re looking for, so don’t be shy about going for it.
Take your warm lather and work it over your face with the brush. Make small circles all over your face. This won’t just continue to lather your shaving cream, it will help exfoliate your skin before your shave. It lifts the hairs from the surface of your skin, further prepping your face for a smooth single blade shave.
The Supply SE and Supply Pro use an extra sharp blade that can mow down the thickest beard out there. There's no need to press on the razor while using it. Think of shaving as sweeping or slicing the hair off your face - allow the weight of the razor to do the work for you.
Using the correct angle is also very important for a close, comfortable shave with the Single Edge — it's somewhere between 10-15 degrees rotated from your skin.
The easiest way to find the correct angle with your SE or Pro is to place the Supply Logo on the head of your razor flat against your skin. That angle will ensure the blade is making the perfect amount of contact with your skin. The result: a shave you love.
Once you find it, be sure to maintain the angle of the razor around the curves and contours of your face. It will take a few shaves to train your muscle memory, but it will become second nature in no time.
Guide the razor slowly over your face. If you’re using the SE, it could be anywhere on your body: your legs, head or anywhere in between. The blade and weight will take care of the rest.
Take your first pass with the grain, shaving with the direction of the hair. Shaving with the grain is key to getting an irritation-free shave. It won’t pull or tug the hair as the blade cuts it cleanly at the surface.
After you take your first pass, run your fingers over your skin. If there is stubble left, lather back up and take another pass across the grain. This is more aggressive than shaving with the grain, but still mild enough not to irritate the skin.
If you need a third pass, lather again and go very gently against the grain. This is the most aggressive way to use your Single Edge, but if you’re going for a BBS shave, you might need one pass against the grain.
Want to see a wet shaving pro use our razors?
5. Rinse and Post Shave
When you’re finished shaving and satisfied with how wonderfully smooth your skin feels, turn the warm water back on and rinse.
You can rinse with cold water. Some people have found this is another way to fight irritation. But the cold water will cause your pores close back up quickly and will reduce the effectiveness of your post shave routine.
After you’ve rinsed off, spray on your Healing Post Shave. If you don’t use our Healing Post Shave, please use something that is not alcohol based. Your skin is extremely susceptible to whatever you put on it after you shave. Spraying a ton of alcohol on it right after a shave will dry it out. Doing this day after day could lead to early signs of aging.
Our Healing Post Shave is aloe-based and filled with other ingredients that will replenish your skin. And it smells pretty awesome, too.
This is the absolute best way to finish your single blade shave. It will lock in the moisture from our Ultra Lather Shaving Cream. It will help your skin hold onto all the nutrients in our Healing Post Shave and it will keep your skin moisturized and looking healthy all day long.
The long-term benefit of following each shave, or starting each day, with our Multi-Purpose Moisturizer is it sets up your skin for a great shave every time. It’s hard to get a good shave with tired, dried out skin.
It will also fight off wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage. The more you use it, the better you’re going to look.
How do I get smooth shave while wet shaving?
This is really all about the tools you use while wet shaving. We just went over all the steps. If you follow each one, we’re certain you’ll get a smooth shave.
But picking the right razor is just as important as using it correctly.
We’ve gotten hundreds of five-star reviews for both razors, but they give two different experiences.
If you’re looking for a safe, smooth shave in the same amount of time it took you to use your old multi-blade, go with the Supply SE.
The SE introduced the wet shaving world to NickStopTM Technology. We designed it to give you the quality, irritation-free shave you can expect from safety razors while reducing the risk of nicks and cuts.
We put 16 precision fins along the SE’s safety bar. The safety bar flattens your skin to create a smooth shaving surface. The fins lift and guide your hair to the blade, so you always cut hair and never your skin.
You can prep, lather up and shave in less than five minutes. The fins let you work around the difficult angles of your face with ease. The SE will have you loving your shave without adding 10-15 minutes to your morning routine.
Check out what Sharpologist had to say here: Supply SE Review.
If you’re looking to customize your shave to your face, go with the Supply Pro. It has 6 main settings and 30 micro-settings to give you shave that’s as unique as your beard map.
All it takes to switch settings is a move of your thumb. We built our Shave Dial right into the handle. You won’t even notice it’s there until you’re ready to dial it up or dial it down.
The dial lets you make your shave as aggressive or as mild as you want. Do you need to mow down a full-grown beard? Take it up to a six and go to work. Do you have sensitive skin, or just need to knock down yesterday’s stubble? Take it down to a one.
And there are 28 more settings in between. Your ideal shave is waiting on the Pro’s Shave Dial.
Sharpologist loved the Supply Pro. Here's what he had to say: Supply Pro Review.
If you still need help figuring out which razor is right for you, take our quiz. It only takes 30 seconds and will help you find your shaving solution.
Where do I buy wet shaving supplies?
From us, obviously.
Just kidding (sort of). There are a ton of great places to get high-quality shave gear. We respect everyone in this space and their commitment to making top-of-the-line shaving supplies.
Our goal is to be a one-stop site for everything you need to get a premium shave. We want to cover your entire morning routine.
Here’s the list of the Supply gear you need to build a solid shave routine (in order):
Feel Good Face Wash – to cleanse and prep your skin.
Super Fresh Face Scrub – for a deeper clean. It will also lift the hairs from your face.
Ultra Lather Shaving Cream – plant-based to protect and replenish your skin at the same time.
Marble Shaving Bowl – to create the thickest lather and keep it warm throughout your entire shave.
Silvertip Synthetic Shave Brush – lather up and apply with ease. It will gently exfoliate and lift hairs, fully preparing your face for a single blade shave.
Supply SE – for a safety razor shave that’s actually safe. Give’s a close, comfortable, convenient shave every time.
Supply Pro – customize your shave to your face. Switch between 30 settings with ease thanks to our Shave Dial
Black Label Blades – the sharpest injector blades on the market. Forged by one of the oldest steel manufacturers in Japan.
Healing Post Shave – aloe-based and filled with witch hazel to fight germs naturally.
Multi-Purpose Moisturizer – seals in moisture and keeps your skin looking healthy all day without the greasy feeling.
Razor Stand – makes your blades last longer and looks great in your bathroom.
We know it might look like a lot, but once you get into it, using all our gear is a simple, powerful morning routine that will give you great looking skin for years to come. You won’t just love your shave, you’ll love the way your skin feels and looks.
Now you know
You’re on your way to being an expert wet shaver. You know the difference between wet and dry shaving. You know the steps. You know the tools.
Now it’s time to try it. It’s a change in your routine, but one that will be well worth it. You can pass it down to your kids and your grandkids.
We’ve been saying “routine” but we believe shaving should be a ritual. It can be something you take pride in and builds your confidence. If you follow all the steps, that’s exactly what will happen. Good luck on your wet shaving journey.