By: Matt Vice
(Pictured above is Matt's collection of WSP products that he posted to our WSP Club on Facebook - join now to chat with our fans and get access to special WSP content!)
- Many of you reading this may not have skin issues or already know a lot about the topics I will be bringing up. Others may have further items and tips that help them which are not included in this entry. However, every person's skin and hair growth can differ from one another. Personally, I have been through quite a few negative experiences over the years, but I figured out what works best on my end.
- Double Edge (DE), Single Edge (SE) and Straight Razors will be the focal points when it comes to the aspects of wet shaving. The same goes towards shave soaps and creams. You will not find me discussing shave gels and foams that are purchased from a grocery store. I suppose cartridge razor users can use this as a guide, but I have a very good feeling those who are reading this aren’t using cartridges.
Now I think we are ready to get going! We will be starting at the bottom and working our way upwards. It will make sense, though, I promise. Do keep in mind that several of the topics I will be bringing up are from my own personal experiences, so your mileage may vary.
Do You Really Have Sensitive Skin?
Allergies: For a while, I was using basic and cheap badger brushes. I never purchased pricier and potentially improved badger brushes such as Silvertip, Finest and Super Badger knots (I never bothered with boar or horse hair knots). While using those badger brushes, I would notice and feel that my skin was inflamed, irritated and uncomfortable. Eventually I found out that my skin was having mild allergic reactions from the badger brushes. Thank goodness for synthetic brushes/knots! I never have any allergic reactions with the several synthetic brushes I own, and they provide fantastic results in every way. So, if you are experiencing any sort of strange irritation, it could be from the type of brush you are applying to your skin.
There is also the potential of wet shavers who could have allergic reactions from shave soaps, creams and aftershaves. Artisans have been adding all sorts of different, natural ingredients over the years. Therefore, I highly recommend taking a good look at the ingredients to make sure your skin will not have any allergic reactions. Another option is using unscented soaps/creams. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but it can be very helpful for your skin.
It is imperative to hydrate your skin as much as possible before you begin shaving. Having a nicely slick, dense lather loaded on your skin is extremely crucial. Do not be hesitant towards adding more water to your brush or bowl before you begin your first shave pass. You will really want to dial in the right amount of water for the extra slickness and cushioning to protect your skin. Be aware that artisans create different bases, so the amount of water to add can vary quite a bit. The same can be said with brushes, as well. Some brushes hold a lot of water extremely well, while others may dry out more quickly or require more water. The aim is to have a yogurt-like consistency towards your lather.
Taking Care of Your Skin
I could be wrong, but this may very well be the most ignored area for people in general. However, I fully believe it is just as important as a great lather and razor/blade combination for everybody. Even though it doesn’t technically have anything to do with the actual shaving experience, these types of products can improve your shave due to your face and neck being in better condition.
To be honest, any moisturizer will be beneficial for your skin. Nivea products are quite popular amongst wet shavers in various ways. That being said, my personal favorite are the options from WSP (No, I am not being biased). I primarily use the unscented version, but their moisturizer for problem skin is great for those who are having tough shaves and/or skin issues in general. All of the benefits are at your disposal with their moisturizers. Very smooth, hydrated skin. No clogging of the pores and a bottle will last for quite some time. It is highly recommended to use it twice per day. Once in the morning and again at night.
Face Wash: Another highly recommended type of product to assist with better skin results in several ways. Again, it is rather self explanatory. It will wash away any dirt, oil, skin cells and more that should be removed. There are literally tons of face washes available to purchase, but I have settled on Blackwood as my go-to for a face wash.
Shower/Bath Soaps: There are many all-natural and safe bar soaps created by shaving artisans (such as WSP) and others. They provide excellent results towards lathering, skin smoothness, hydration and scent. Absolutely perfect to use just before you begin your shave. But what about those, such as myself, who prefer “body washes?” Literally all of the body washes you see at grocery stores have chemicals within each bottle. Thankfully I came across one that is fully natural, which comes from a very popular shaving company, and that would be Stirling Soap Co.
Pre-shaves - Are They Worth Your Money or Even Necessary to Use?
As some of you are aware, using a pre-shave can provide you with a few benefits towards your shave. The hairs on your face and neck will become more soft, you should receive more slickness and pre-shaves can create an additional layer of protection for your skin. Pre-shaves may provide positive results for some people, while others would not have to worry about using one at all. I do believe pre-shaves are worth a shot to try out, though.
Oils: As far as pre-shave oils go, I have only used one brand, and that is from WSP. A primary reason for that is because I will/would purchase their fragrance sets. Their pre-shave oils have been a large success for me when using their shave soaps (again, not being biased). They aren’t absolutely necessary, as WSP soaps are slick, but I can confidently say their pre-shave oils have provided excellent results.
Soaps: On my end, I have only tried two pre-shave soaps. Both of them come from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements - The Cube 2.0 and Tube 2.0, which are literally the same in terms of performance. Even though they are great products, it’s a bit difficult to recommend if you are able to receive very slick and hydrated lathers from your shave soaps/creams.
Soap Blooming: Here is your option which will not cost any additional money, it is simple to work with and performs very nicely. It is also the option I use as a pre-shave when I am not using WSP soaps, since I have quite dry skin. All you have to do is add some warm-to-hot water on top of the soap inside of the tub for a few minutes or while you are taking a shower. Once you are preparing for your shave, simply pour the water and soap blend into one hand and then scrub it together with your other hand. Finally, rub mixture onto your beard. You should easily be able to feel your skin becoming much more slick. Just be sure to do this before lathering in any way! Using this method could arguably be better for your skin, as there are not any additional ingredients. I would not recommend using this method with shave creams, though, which I will get into very shortly.
Creating a Great, Slick and Safe Lather for Your Skin
When I first started the traditional wet shaving experience, I went into it with a rather naive mindset. I wasn’t reading articles that are similar to this or watching guidance videos. I was only aware of shave creams at the time, and the one brand I always went with was TOBS. They create great products, but I wasn’t using them correctly. I used a very basic lathering bowl. Amazon was my go-to place for products of this type of shaving. At first, I was using very little water towards the lather. Then I was using way too much water. I nearly gave up, because it was not a pretty sight or comfortable in any way once I was finished with a shave.
However, I knew I had to be doing at least one thing incorrectly since so many people provided rave reviews on the products I started out with. I started to search on Amazon for unscented products, and interestingly enough, I came across WSP’s unscented rustic soap. That was the very first time I had ever seen or heard of any sort of a soap for shaving. From that point forward, everything changed.
In part two of this blog series, I'll be talking about creating the best lather possible and what kinds of razors you should use for sensitive skin!