How to Get the Perfect Lather for Wet Shaving

man shaving lather

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and so does wet shaving. When most of us make the bold step to start wet shaving the conventional way, the first few wet shaving experiences are not usually comfortable and relaxing. From having imperfect lathering to scratches and cuts, our faces go through a lot before you perfect the art.

But the problem you might be having is to get a precise and consistent lather on your face before the shave. That is understandable, particularly if you are a newbie, as there are various factors that contribute to giving you the coveted smooth shaving experience. Real wet shaving requires you to develop some skill, which might take some time before you can master the art.

Even the best wet shavers still discover useful tips and tricks all the time. So, if you are an expert already, you might still find this guide useful in improving your shaving experience!

Tools You Need

Shave bowl: Which you’ll use for swirling the brush in during the wet shaving process. A wide and short bowl selection is optimal for producing the best possible lather. Buying one might not be necessary if you are able to build lather directly on your face. Also, you could utilise a mug if needs be.

Shave Brush: Is the main player that will carry the lather from the bowl and apply it to your face. High-quality ones like badger shaving brushes will perform better than synthetic brushes. If you are using unnatural brush options, you’ll want to decrease the amount of water that you’re applying to shaving creams as they retain less of it.

Shave Soap/Creams: These create the foam you need for your shaving. You’ll find many varieties of soaps and creams on the market. You can choose your favourite soap with ingredients and scents that are preferable to your skins needs. Even though soaps and creams can bring about the same, or even identical results if used properly, note that soaps last longer and are more affordable.

Water: Don’t use hard water with lots of calcium and magnesium because it will take longer to generate the lather you want. Ideally use soft water instead or add some water softeners (which might be expensive). Distilled water is also a good alternative, however. The problem with water that is distilled is that you’ll have to warm it to achieve the results you might with water softeners.

There are two methods you can use achieve the perfect lather for wet shaving. The first one requires that you make the lather separately and then applying it on the face. The second option is to apply soap using the brush directly on the face as you make the lather. Everyone has their individual preference.

Prepare the Lather on the Bowl or Mug

Soak your brush in water so that the bristles soften and are ready to hold lather like a sponge. Warm water is best for this. Alternatively, you can soak your brush in running hot water. Pour it on the bowl and swirl your brush in it for about two minutes. Take your brush out and swipe away any excess water. Dripping wet brushes will dilute your foam further making it thinner and harder to apply.

Insert your brush in the soap to pick the paste on the brush bristles. If it does not pick up the soap, add a little water until it does. Once you have the soap on the shaving brush, add a teaspoon of water on the bowl and swirl in the soapy brush. Do about 50 revolutions which might run for half a minute or so. You’ll see a creamy lather at the beginning and eventually, notice a billow over the bowl. What you want to achieve is a thick foam that does not drop off the brush easily. The ideal lather should be able to transfer onto the skin easily without sliding.

Shave after taking a shower or wash your face with warm water before shaving to open up the pores. Your face needs to be wet with warm water right before you apply the lather. You can use pre-shave oil in this stage. This preparation stage is essential to ensure that you avoid razor bumps and irritations after the shave. Apply the brush to your face and ensure you lather every place you want to shave. Swirling is not the only way to move the shaving brush on your face; moving your hand in a painting motion is also fine to ensure an even coating.

While applying, ensure you move the bristles against the hair growth. The raising of hair prepares your face for a clean shave with fewer razor movements.

shaving brush in shaving foam with a safety razor

Form Lather Directly on Your Face

Some people find this method easy to build up lather because it involves a few things – shave brush, shaving soap, and water. Many people, both new and seasoned shavers, prefer this method.

The first step is to wet the brush in warm water (or soak it in hot running water). You don’t want it too wet and so, tap it several times until there isn’t any dripping. You don’t want it too dry either.

The second step is to wet your soap with a few drops of warm water to ensure that your brush is better able to pick up the product.

Now that you have a wet brush and soft soap, it’s time to swirl the shaving brush on the soap. Make about 15 moves using top edges of the brush (no need for much pressure here). Swirl till brush bristle tips are soapy.

Next, ensure your face is wet using warm water or take a warm shower right before you shave. Now you can continue with the swirling on your face for about thirty seconds, spreading it evenly across the face.

If the lather is too thick on your face, add a few drops of water on the bristles, and continue swirling. If, on the other hand, your swirls are forming a watery lather, go back to the soap and rub the tips of the brush on it several times and whirl it on your face again.

man applying shaving foam on his face with a shaving brush


Because you only use soap, brush, and water, you have one less thing to clean. It will save you time if you are in a hurry.

The continuous swirling on the face until the lather builds up reaches deeper pores and makes the face moist which results in a much closer shave and smoother skin afterwards.

Regardless of the method you choose, the key point is to ensure you are keen on the lather thickness you want. Those who use a bowl and those who lather directly on the face will achieve similar results, some prefer the experience of using a shaving bowl and feel that it adds to the ritualistic feel of their routine.

Tips to Make Your Wet Shave Experience Smooth

Gently squeezing the bottom part of the shaving brush with soap lather will bring about a thicker layer of lather on the bristle tips. Add it directly onto the areas you want to shave.

Though most men prefer to lather using painting motion, you might actually prefer to use circular motions or zig-zagging. Using a range of different motions can improve the way in which the skin is exfoliated during the process.

Don’t press the brush too hard on your face or the bowl. Doing it this way might cause some of the bristles to snap. In addition, the brush will develop a dip in the center over time. The best way for you to maintain a strong core to your brush is to be gentle when forming lather each time and taking proper care to clean your brush when you are finished. Clean and rinse your brushing equipment after every use, you will prevent bacteria growth and unnecessary shedding. All brushes will begin to shed over time, even the most expensive models, but you can slow this process down dramatically with proper care and attention.

In Conclusion

Creating the perfect lather doesn’t have to be difficult – but it will provide the perfect base to get the best shave possible and enjoy the experience. Begin by buying the right shaving equipment (shave brush, razors, shaving soap, and bowl), and then practice creating lather on the bowl or face. Pay close attention to the blade you’re using during your shave as the perfect lather won’t help if you’re using blades that are too blunt. Dragging of the blade is the worst cause of irritation and skin bumps.

In the beginning, it might take a while before you create the perfect lather for a wet shave. But as they say, practice makes perfect. Once you master the skills, it will take you a few minutes to come up with the perfect lather and close shave every day. And remember, you should not be in a hurry. It isn’t a race. Over time, you will start to enjoy every grooming process thanks to the even lathering you can achieve.


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