Wet or Dry? It’s a Question of Smoothness

Shaving with a Straight RazorShaving with a Straight Razor

No question, all shaving methods have their advantages and disadvantages. However, the following can be seen as a basic rule: the simpler the technology, the greater the demands on the skill of the user. This is not a bad thing; what it means, nevertheless, is that the effect on the shave increases in direct proportion to the user’s ability and dedication to shaving.

Three arguments are usually put forward for dry shaving: it can be carried out independently of a water source, the result is obtained quickly, and, even in the case of somewhat frenetic use, it is hardly likely to cause injury. In short, it is comfortable. But this comfort is at the expense of thoroughness, which in turn is the most striking argument for wet shaving. The reason: while the latter cuts the hair smoothly as well as closer to the root, an electric razor rubs the beard off rather than cutting it. The consequence: a five o’clock shadow is quickly visible regardless of hair colour, but especially on dry shavers with dark hair.

Anyone who wants to draw clear lines with their shave, especially those who want to shave but only to sharpen the contours rather than getting rid of their whiskers entirely are ill advised to use an electric razor. The precision of the wet shave is clearly superior to that of dry shaving. And this superiority again increases when one chooses the classic methods of wet shaving with a safety razor or – and this is the true premier class – with a straight razor. The reason for this is unequivocal one fact: the more direct the contact between the blade and facial hair and skin, the more precisely the blade can perform. In terms of sharpness, none of the presumed state-of-the-art systems can compare with the blades of today.

As Keen as a Razor. Finding the Right Method.

Quite apart from the result, wet shaving can also score points in other ways: not only does shaving soap care for the skin and provide the optimal preparation for a shave, the foaming up of the shaving soap and the lathering of the beard – best achieved with a high-quality badger hair shaving brush – easily becomes a relaxing ritual, all of which can transform the shave from a unpleasant necessity to a soothing pleasure. The reviving interest in the barber's craft speaks for itself in this context. The former lack of hygiene and poor equipment are happily a thing of the past. A visit to the barber shop is therefore no longer an annoying duty but a pleasant alternative to the daily self-shaving routine.

In any comparison between dry and wet shaving, it is, of course, essential to talk about the skin – the trends of facial hair styles and the hair's specific needs is not all that should be considered here. Basically, any kind of shaving irritates the skin – the degree of irritation varying according to the method of shaving and the type of skin. However, the outcome depends on the amount of care given to the appliance as well as the care taken by the one performing the shave. A wet shave with a safety razor or even a straight razor generally exerts a greater mechanical stimulus on the skin than a dry shave, which may prompt men with particularly sensitive or even impure skin to reach for an electric razor. And this is not to mention of course the increased risk of cutting injuries that can result from the open blades on a safety razor or the edge of a straight razor.

For all those, who

  • have been thoroughly initiated into the basics of the classic wet shave,
  • prepare the skin before a shave and take the appropriate care of it afterwards,
  • take their time with each shave,
  • and, last but not least, clean the blades and regularly change or sharpen them,

the morning shaving ritual should not only be an extremely smooth and injury-free affair – it could easily transform them into shaving aficionados who can no longer do without it. There would seem to be no other clear explanation as to why shaving with a safety razor or even a straight razor has, just in the last few years, gone from an almost extinct art to a much-cherished alternative. Concrete questions about the classic wet shave are answered on our information page on safety razors and straight razors. And you can also find the right accessories here. One question remains, however: what method is meant for you?