As Patrick and I have been designing and building Razorpedia, we've done a lot of research on trends in the shaving industry to make sure we're keeping the site's content relevant and valuable. One of the major trends we've noticed is that traditional wet shaving is quickly shifting from a niche market of hobbyists to a more mainstream phenomenon. Whether it's the astronomical growth of Procter & Gamble's "The Art of Shaving" retail stores, the six million views on the YouTube channel Shave Tutor, the use of a straight razor by James Bond in Skyfall (pictured above), or the increasing interest of the media from the US (Chicago Tribune) to the UK (BBC Radio), it is clear that traditional wet shaving is making a comeback.
Back up a few months to New Year's Eve 2012, and while many of you were drinking champagne with eyes glued to Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve, I was in the middle of a two hour conversation with my friend Travis who was vigorously convincing me to trade in my Gillette Fusion cartridge razor for a double-edged ("DE") safety razor. Now that conversation may sound slightly pathetic, but I was completely wrapped up in it! What can I say? I love talking about razors.
After this conversation with Travis, I bought a badger brush and a few high-end shaving products from The Art of Shaving along with a Merkur Futur adjustable DE razor with Feather blades to give traditional wet shaving a try. While using high quality shaving products (brushes, oils, creams, soaps, etc.) has significantly enhanced my shaving experience all around, the verdict is still out on whether the nostalgia and low cost of shaving with a DE safety razor outweighs the convenience and ease of shaving with a cartridge razor.
What is the traditional wet shaving market? Well let’s break it down. Wet shaving basically just excludes electric razors. All other shaving methods are considered “wet shaving” since the process requires water. Wet shaving can be further split into "modern wet shaving" which includes cartridge razors (Picture 1 below) and disposable razors (Picture 5), and "traditional wet shaving" which includes double-edge safety razors (Picture 2), straight razors (Picture 3), and injector razors (Picture 4).
Do you know anyone who uses a DE safety razor or a straight razor to shave? Have you tried it yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
If you want to learn more about traditional wet shaving, here are some links to get you started:
Mark Herro, the most-watched shave expert on YouTube, has a great website called Sharpologist that offers traditional wet shaving tutorials and detailed product reviews. He recently posted an informative Q&A session discussing the resurgence of traditional shaving methods. Of course, you also need to check out his YouTube channel, Shave Tutor, which boasts over six million views.
Badger and Blade Forum
Badger and Blade is one of the largest online forums for traditional wet shaving enthusiasts. There are literally over a million posts on topics ranging from product reviews to grooming tips.
Straight Razor Place
Straight Razor Place, founded by Lynn Abrams, is the original and oldest online community devoted to straight razor shaving.
The Art of Manliness
For an excellent tutorial on shaving with a straight razor, check out this post by The Art of Manliness: "Shave Like Your Great Grandpa: The Ultimate Straight Razor Shaving Guide."
The Art of Shaving
The Art of Shaving was founded by Myriam Zaoui and Eric Malka in 1996, and the company has since grown into a retail powerhouse dedicated to traditional wet shaving. The stores sell a variety of men’s grooming supplies including pre-shave oils, shaving creams, after-shaves, badger brushes, and premium razor handles. Many stores also have in-house Barber Spas offering traditional shaves and haircuts. In June 2009, when it had 36 locations, The Art of Shaving was acquired by Procter and Gamble. Less than four years later, the retail chain has almost tripled its presence to 99 stores with another 10 on the way.
Wall Street Journal
Want to know more about straight razor shaving? Just last week, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the return of the classic wet shave. In it, the journalist richly details the experience of receiving a professional straight razor shave from a skilled barber.