Classic Shaving - Past and Present

By Toni C

Classic shaving, also known as traditional or wet shaving, involves using water, a sharp blade, and lubricants to remove hair or whiskers from the surface of the skin. While modern shaving products include a wide variety of items to assist with this task, the earliest shaving implements included sharp knives, sharp stones, or any other edge that could complete the job.

Traditional Shaving Implements

The first blade officially recognized as a shaving implement was the straight razor. Also known as the “cut throat,” this long, straight blade was difficult to keep sharp and equally difficult to use by the novice. Next, the safety razor was invented. This was considered a major improvement over the straight razor and was constructed of a thin, double-sided blade inserted into a holder that looked much like the typical modern razor.

Photo of Straight RazorIn 1921, vintage shaving gave way to modern shaving. Colonel Schick introduced the injector razor that was modeled after the repeating rifle. Instead of handling the extremely sharp razor blades, this model used a device that allowed the gentleman to change the blades without ever touching the dangerous metal items.

During the 1960s, the popular injector razors began to lose market share to an even newer product. The cartridge razor allows the user to remove the entire top, or cartridge, of the razor and install a new one. Today, this configuration can be purchased with variations of one blade to five and often include lubrication strips to make shaving even easier. The purely disposable razor was also invented during this time. Simply use it one or two times before throwing it away.

Soaps, Creams, and Brushes

The classic shaving enthusiast has several options when it comes to lathering up for a smooth shave. The vintage shaving method involves using a bowl with a small piece of soap inside. A small amount of hot water is added, and a rich lather is created using a shaving brush. Although any type can be used, most pharmacies carry soaps designed especially for shaving.

Most modern wet shaving fans have eliminated the soap, bowl, and brush method in favor of the more convenient canned shaving cream option. This product comes in a wide variety of creams, lotions, and gels with a vast array of scents and formulations for any skin type. Some shavers prefer to simply use their hands to create a rich lather before applying it to their face, while others continue to use the brush method.

Photo of Shaving BrushBrush advocates swear by this technique due to the exfoliating effect and the luxurious feel of the brushes on the surface of the face. Many shavers who continue to use a hard cake of soap prefer boar-bristle brushes, while the softer badger brushes are recognized as a premium product. When purchasing a badger brush, note that “pure badger” is the lowest quality product followed by “finest badger” and “silvertip badger.”

Classic shaving can include a wide variety of razors, lubricants, and brushes depending on the individual shaver’s preferences. Regardless of the products used, this method is preferred by many as the best way to achieve a perfectly-smooth result.