10 Best Shaving Sets | March 2017
- butterfly-style razor
- textured grip on brush
- rather expensive even given special soap
- comes with ceramic lather bowl
- rubber coated razor handle
- gives a very close and smooth shave
- extra heft provides a smoother shave
- extra long handle
- razor is easy to clean
- includes a pack of 100 blades
- snap lock secures blade in place
- razor and stand made from steel
|Brand||Parker Safety Razor|
- twist to open butterfly head
- razor wonderfully balanced at 3.0 ounces
- brush creates a dense lather
|Brand||Parker Safety Razor|
- 100% badger hair shave brush
- easy break-in instructions included
- heavy duty chrome stand
|Brand||Mid Century Shaving|
- solid mahogany wood handle
- beautifully decorated storage box
- robust leather strap for sharpening
What is a Shaving Set?
A shaving set will be the best friend of anyone experiencing a wet shave. A wet shave, as the name suggests, is a method of shaving that includes a straight or safety razor, a shaving brush, and a host of other optional items. The recent trend of wet shaving has companies reintroducing a host of shaving sets.
The set itself resembles a toothbrush holder, and it is designed to hold the razor and the brush. The brush must be hung upside down in the set after a shave in order to properly dry. Also, given the semi-dangerous properties of open blades, the razor is safe and secure in the set as well.
Some sets may chose to include additional items: disposable blades, shaving soap or cream, or a leather strop. It will seem overwhelming for the beginner to juggle all of these accessories. In anticipation for this, some sets are designed with the novice in mind to make the wet shave experience as easy as possible.
The razor in the set should always be the first item in consideration. A shave set will include either a safety or straight razor. If you are new to this type of shaving, I personally recommend a safety razor. Pressing a straight razor against your throat a la Sweeney Todd can be nerve wracking if you are not properly trained. A safety razor will have a guard to protect your skin from an open blade. The safety razor, however, will require you to replace disposable blades after several shaves. They are extremely cheap to purchase and in the long run they're more cost-efficient than disposable razors.
The second component is the brush. This is used to create a lather in the soap to apply to the face and ease the shave. You could simply use your hands, but it's more irritating on the skin and creates an irregular uneven lather. The brush is designed to soften the hair and raise it as it exfoliates the face. This advantage beats the multi-blades you see disposable razors boasting.
The Nitty Gritty
Since every shaving set will include at least a razor and a brush, how can one decide which to purchase? Your level of experience with wet shaving should determine the type of razor you'd consider. Since most safety razors will use disposable blades interchangeably, the selling point of the safety razor is usually the handle. The handle should be long enough to fit your hand and navigate across your face, legs, or wherever else. Some handles are ornately designed and flaunt luxury, while others suggest practicality. A rubber handle is extended for grip and precision, yet won't look as inviting as a chrome plated handle.
The straight razor can have a disposable blade as well. Though many will argue this is not a true straight blade, it offers the best of both wet shavers: a reliable sharp blade and a maneuverable handle. The straight blade has greater agility than its cousin, however, the risk of nicking one's skin is high. Keep styptic handy.
The safety razor usually is less expensive, but requires purchasing additional disposable blades frequently. As the name denotes, they are relatively safe to use, however, most beginners will want to train if possible. The Art of Shaving is an excellent source of information for those delving into wet shaving. A good safety razor properly cared for can last decades and they are worth the investment.
If you thought the shaving brush would be an afterthought, you could not be more mistaken. The grading system for shaving brushes is excessive. The standard classic for material is badger hair. The hair of a badger is ideal for smoothness and water absorption. There are tiers of badger hair quality: pure, best, super, and silvertip badger. A rule of thumb is you should like for all natural badger hair that tapers to an off-white color at the tips. This means it is not machine cut and it comes from a rare breed of badger.
Boar's hair and horse's hair are other acceptable materials for a shaving brush. For those of you squeamish using animal products, many synthetic brushes are available on the market. They primarily use nylon and the quality can vary as wildly as their animal counterparts.
The set is designed to hold the razor and dry the brush. Other than that, its up to one's personal taste. If your set will be on the bathroom sink, I would advise against a wooden set that can absorb water and get warped.
A Brief History of Shaving Set
The shave brush originated in France in the 1750's. They called the brush blaireau, which is French for badger; the primary material in the brush. These brushes were the most expensive, while boar and horse hair brushese were of lower quality and lower cost.
The other component of the brush is the handle. The handle showcased a shaver's wealthy or luxurious taste. Originally handles where composed of ivory, porcelain, silver, tortoise shell, and even gold. When the popularity of home shaving rose in the 1800's, a shaving set was seen as a status symbol to be viewed by guests.
Given the resurgence of wet shaving, thanks to hipsterdom, the shaving set is seeing a comeback. A delicate balance of practicality along with aesthetic should be observed when making your purchase. I commend all of you that chose wet shaving, as it will provide a closer shave with less long term cost. Good luck and happy shaving!