Meet Your New Toys
There's an awful lot of stuff out there to shave with. Getting into wetshaving can become almost like an expensive hobby if you're not careful.
Boutique creams that smell like unconditional love, samarai swords disguised as straight razors, safety razors that look more like ray guns than the Fusion, and $500 brushes whose hair was individually plucked with tweezers from the neck of the Premier of China's pet badger.
Like all hobbies, you can either be sensible and go with the basics, or you can scour eBay, flea markets, and antique shops hoping to snag that mint condition pearl-handled excalibur of a razor, knowing that only by finding it will your brain ever release more endorphins.
Personally, I got a little overzealous and went ebay crazy, picking up the real deal carbon steel straight razor, old barber leather hanging strop, a brush that came with a mug and two soaps (which were older than me and thus pretty useless for shaving, but still pretty cool).
Of course, I wanted to do this whole thing on the cheap just in case it didn't take, and I subsequently had to replace everything but the razor. I bought two brushes I was unhappy with and haven't used since before I sucked it up and dropped the $25 you really need to spend to get a decent entry-level badger hair brush.
A stiff boar bristle (or worse, synthetic) is great at quickly whipping up a usable lather from a cake of soap, but after that you may as well go outside and gather up a bunch of twigs with which to apply that nice frothy lather.
My recomendation is to start small and stay away from eBay (or any used gear for that matter) entirely, no matter how tempting.
Trust me, during this wetshaving renaissance there are currently very few bargains to be had on auction.
My recommendation is to start with the cheapest — but still excellent — razor that Merkur makes and a tube of Musgo Real.
I'm recommending this cream because it works quite well without a brush, so you're saving yourself some upfront investment there. It's also one less thing to learn, assuming that you're already quite comfortable smearing Edge's pressurized jizz all over your face.
Then go to Kmart and pick up a ten-pack of no-name safety blades (yes, they still sell those) for $3, and away you go.
If you already have styptic pencil or alum block, fine, but you don't need to buy one under the assumption that you'll begin cutting yourself more. You will, but that's not the point. The point is that real men don't apply first-aid with what looks like women's cosmetics. Real men bleed into small squares of toilet paper.
So that's it. Razor, cream, and blades, for a total investment of $39, about the cost of two 8-packs of fusion cartridges.
If you're super cool, you'll eventually want to make the leap of manliness into straight razor shaving. When you're ready to take the blade guard off, I'd recommend trying Dovo's Shavette (about $32), just to see if you're into this sort of thing.
If you ever need more background info than I have on this site, this book is now in its second edition.