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Traditional Wet Shaving Terminology and Acronyms

Traditional Wet Shaving Terminology and Acronyms

Guest Writer Series |

If you are new to wet shaving, you may not be familiar with all of the various terms and acronyms that are used in various articles, forum posts, and even YouTube videos. In this post I try to compile a comprehensive list of the most common wet shaving/traditional shaving terminology and acronyms.


AC – Artist Club blade. These blades are narrower and longer than a regular DE blade. There are to main manufacturer of these types of blades: Feather and Kai. Both manufacturers also make razors that accept these types of blades, both are available in a western style or kamisori style grip. RazoRock also makes a razor that accepts these blades in a more standard SE form factor.


Across the Grain – This is the cutting across the hair rather than with or against them.


Against the Grain – This is going in the opposite way or perpendicular to the direction in which your hair grows.


Artisan – This is a person or company that produces products in small batches. This can refer to soap/cream makers, brush makers, and razor makers.


ATG – See Against the Grain


A&E – Ariana and Evans is an artisan soap/splash/balm artisan based out of Connecticut.


Backbone – How soft or stiff a shaving brush knot is.


Badger – Natural hair fiber used in shaving brushes that come from various breeds of badgers. There are different grades of badger hair that is used in shaving brushes based on where the location from which the hair is taken.


Balm – An ointment or something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect. It can be scented or scentless and is used to heal or soothe the skin after a shave.


Beard Mapping – Determining the way your hair grows. For an article on how to map your beard growth, click here.


Boar – Natural hair fiber that is used in shaving brushes that come from various locations of a boar.


Brush – Consists of two parts, a handle and a knot. The brush is used to generate a lather from a soap or cream and is used to apply the lather to the area to be shaved.


B&M – Barrister and Mann is an artisan soap/splash/balm artisan based out of New York.


BBS – Stand for Baby Butt Smooth. This is generally used to describe a shave that leave little to no hair left on the area being shaved (be it the face, head, legs, are armpits) when running one’s fingers against the grain.


Canned Goo – Generally considered a derogatory term for shaving foam or gel that comes in an aerosol can.


Cream – A special cream or foam that is spread over the face or another part of the body before shaving. Shaving creams can be brushless (meaning the use of a shaving brush is not needed to create a lather), or can be used with a brush to create a lather.


Cushion – A protective layer of soap/cream lather on the skin. The cushion provided by a particular soap/cream is something that can not be measured and is pretty subjective.


DE – Double-Edge. This refers either to the type of blade used or type of razor used. A double edge blade has a cutting edge on each side of the blade.


DFS – Damn Fine Shave. Generally meaning not quit BBS, but still socially acceptable level of closeness/visible removal of stubble.


Face Lather – The act of creating a lather on one’s face after loading from the tub, or a shave bowl.


Flow through – How easily a brush knot releases the lather during the reapplication of lather between passes


FLS – First Line Shaves is an artisan soap/splash/balm/beard care product artisan based out of Missouri


GEM – This is a type of razor blade that is a single edge blade. The blade looks similar to a box cutter blade that can be picked up at a hardware store. DO NOT use a hardware blade for shaving purposes. GEM was also a razor manufacturer that produced razor that accepted these types of blade.


GEM style razor – A vintage or modern production razor that uses Gem blades.


Head Lather – The act of creating the lather on one’s head.


Honing a Razor – The act of sharpening a straight razor using a variety of sharpening stones.


Injector – A type of single edge razors that accepts a blade that is in a holder that inserts the blade into the razor. For more information on the history of injector blades, click here.


Kamisori – A traditional Japanese style straight razor. A kamisori generally refers to a straight razor that has an asymmetrical blade and is designed to be held with only one hand and used by a barber to shave clients. A traditional kamisori


Knot – The part of the shaving brush that is made of the natural hair or synthetic fibers one uses to create the lather.


Lather – A frothy white mass that is produced by soap or cream when mixed with water and agitated with a shaving brush.


Lather Bowl – Any type of bowl that is used to create a lather after either scooping out some soap and placing it in the bowl, or after loading the brush know from the soap container and creating the lather in the bowl.


Load – The act of adding soap or a cream to the knot of a shaving brush either from a shaving bowl, or directly from the container of soap (tub).


Loft – How much hair/synthetic fiber is sticking out of the handle of a shaving brush.


MNM – Murphy and McNeil is an artisan soap/splash/balm artisan out of Texas. They also are a reseller of used shaving equipment.


Over Hydrated – Having added to much water to a soap or cream to the point the lather starts to dissipate, or the lather is too runny to be used effectively.


PAA – Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements is an artisan soap/splash/balm/beard care product/razor/brush artisan based out of Arizona


Scritch/Scrub – How harsh a shaving brush knot feels on the area being shaved. This is generally used to describe a knot that is pokey or very stiff.


SE – Single edge. This refers to a blade type as well as razor type. A single edge blade has only one cutting surface. The most common single edge types of blade are Gem blades, or injector blades.


Shavette – A type of straight razor, either with a fixed handle or a folding handle, that uses a replaceable blade. Shavette is a trademarked term by Dovo that refers to their specific replaceable blade straight razor. However, most people use the term to refer to any replaceable blade straight razor.


Slickness/Glide – How easily a razor moves across the area being shaved.


SOTD – Shave of the Day


SOTN – Shave of the Night


Splash – A liquid that is either alcohol or witch hazel based that is applied to the skin after a shave. Most modern artisanal splashes include some for of nourishing ingredients to help soothe the skin following a shave.


Splay – The act of opening up a brushes knot on the face or in the brush to create or apply the lather.


Synthetic – Non-natural, man made material. Generally refers to the materials used in a shaving brush knot.


Straight Razor – A razor with a rigid steel cutting blade hinged to a case that forms a handle when the razor is open for use


TOBS – Taylor of Old Bond Street is a traditional shaving soap/cream that was originally made in London, England in 1854.


Three Pass Shave – The process of progressive hair removal shaving with the grain, across the grain, and against the grain.


Thirsty – How much water a soap/cream will take to create a properly hydrated lather.


Under Hydrated – A lather that does not have enough water added. The lather will either be pasty or not provide enough slickness to provide for a comfortable shave.


Western Style Grind – A symmetrical blade where both sides are sharpened, or honed, to be used for shaving.


With the Grain – This is cutting with the growth of your hair.


WTG – See with the gain.


XTG – See Across the Grain


YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary



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Raymond Bradley,

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