Wet shaving is a very different experience from using electric razors. It might seem like a good idea to just jump into your first manual shave, but if you do, be prepared to handle some serious cuts, scrapes, bumps and missed hairs.
Two of the biggest wet shaving mistakes happen before you ever grab a manual razor.
You need to soften the bristles on your face, and clean and hydrate your skin. A few splashes with hot water is nowhere near enough. Always wash with a soap designed for your face, and be sure to extend your wash down the neck.
Don't scrub too hard to avoid irritating the skin. Your shaving cream is another place to really pay attention. Pressurized cans are easy to find, but the propellants and extra chemicals don't always make for a good trade-off.
The last thing you want is an allergic reaction to your shaving cream. Whisking up your own lather using a brush might add a minute or two, but it is well worth the effort.
Wet shaving is done in several passes. The first pass should always go with the grain of your hair. That doesn't give you the closest shave, but it does get rid of the most hair with the least risk of nicks and cuts.
After you've taken the worst of the hair off, you can shave across the grain, or at a right angle to the grain. Need to get even closer?
Shave across the grain from the opposite direction. If you're obsessed with the smoothest shave, you might then try going against the grain.
It doesn't work well for everybody, so don't shave against the grain for the first time before a busy work day. Always re-lather between passes.
Wet shaving takes a light touch. It may seem obvious that pressure will result in cuts. Too much pressure can lead to serious cuts and a lot of missed hair.
Razor blades cut best across a flat surface. Pressing down on skin creates depressions that hamper the razor. A light touch across the surface of your skin will give you a much nicer and safer shave.
Also, watch the angle. If you come in too steep, you're likely to cut yourself. You want to line the top of the razor against your skin and rock downward until the blade just makes contact. With light pressure and the right angle, you can walk out of the bathroom without thinking about hamburger.
After you finish the first pass, always re-lather before going in for a second stroke. Even if it's just that one spot by the corner of your mouth, add more lather.
Running a razor over your face without lubricant leads to cuts. Not easily hidden nicks. Cuts. Repeated passing over the same skin can also lead to razor burn and bumps. Map out your approach ahead of time and try to minimize your passes.
An electric razor might leave behind a hint of stubble, but a well done wet shave leaves your skin silky smooth and completely hair free. In fact, shaving takes the first layer of skin off, giving you exfoliation and hair removal in one. If you like a smooth, fresh face, wet shaving is the only way to go.