If you’ve developed a new interest in wet shaving, you may have stumbled into a few of the excellent websites and forums that discuss the topic. You’ve probably discovered, pretty quickly, that the gents in these forums basically speak another language, using shaving terms and shorthand you’ve never heard before. For instance, one guy may post the following:
“Just took my newest DE—pretty aggressive—went WTG, XTG, and ATG, and got my very first BBS shave! Not a single weeper!”
And then you’ll find a number of comments offering praise. What’s all that about?
In this post, we’ll put together a glossary and deconstruct some of the more common terms used in wet shaving forums, so you can jump in and discuss your new-found love of shaving with like-minded men. Some are funny, some are odd, and most are difficult to figure out without a little guidance.
If you’re new to shaving, reading the glossary beginning to end is a fantastic way to get comfortable with some of the terms related to shaving (and general grooming) and create a foundation on which to build your knowledge.
Definitions and Terms
Here are some shaving slang terms:
AD: “Acquisition Disorder.” This is pretty common among men who become very interested in wet shaving—buying a number of different safety razors and straight razors, and even beginning to collect razors from different eras in history.
Adjustable: A razor that allows the user to decrease or increase the blade gap, so that the user may get a closer/less close shave. Adjustables tend to be aggressive, and an aggressive blade will give a closer shave, but is more likely to cause some facial nicks (aka, “Weepers,” see below). Opposite of aggressive: mild.
AS: After shave. Also—ASL: After shave lotion.
ATG: Against the grain. Traditional wet shavers lather up, shave with the grain (WTG), lather up, shave across the grain (XTG), and then lather up a final time, and shave against the grain. Wet shaving ATG can cause irritation in some men, and shaving ATG with disposables or cartridges can cause irritation in a LOT of men.
B&B: Badger and Blade, a popular shaving forum. “Badger” refers to the badger hair that is used as bristles in expensive shaving brushes and “blade” refers to razors.
BBS: Baby-butt-smooth. This is an oft-use phrase that means a very, very close shave, where whiskers can’t be felt on the skin and no weepers (small cuts) are present. This is a very frequently used phrase in forums and on men’s shaving sites. In shaving parlance, a BBS smooth shave is the closest shave possible; a DFS (Darn Fine Shave) would come in second place; a CCS (Close Comfortable Shave) would be third; and a SAS (Socially Acceptable Shave) would come in last. See—SAS. Keep in mind: some guys whose skin is irritated may not try for a BBS, and instead may shoot for a DFS or CCS or SAS.
Blade Buffing: Repeatedly dragging a razor blade over an area of the skin. If there’s a patch of whiskers that simply won’t be removed, even after multiple passes, the shaver may engage in a blade buffing technique to remove the whiskers.
Cart: Cartridge Razor. A razor with a disposable head. Keep the handle, replace the head. On the low end of shaving tools; widely despised by men who are really into shaving.
CCS: Close, comfortable shave.
DFS: Darn fine shave. Example: “That last shave wasn’t BBS, but it was a DFS.”
EO: Essential oil. Used in all sorts of soaps, creams, and lathers, essential oils usually have a very pleasant smell.
Goo: Refers to any type of mass-market shaving cream or gel.
OC: An open comb razor, which is a type of safety razor.
Pass: Applying lather to the cheeks, mustache, chin, and neck, and then shaving the skin beneath it. Multiple passes are used to remove stubble. WTG, XTG, and ATG are all passes. Example: “I finished my ATG pass with zero weepers. Win!”
Pay It Forward, sometimes “PIF”: In general, the act of doing an unwarranted good deed for another person; in shaving forums, the practice of gifting shaving equipment to other members (including new members, who are new to shaving and wet shaving). Forums, by and large, are a treasure chest of information, but more importantly, they create a community for people who want to learn about shaving, share their knowledge of shaving with others, and just simply enjoy talking about shaving-related issues. The “Pay It Forward” dynamic seems to rise and fall a little bit—sometimes, it seems like there are a lot of people gifting and re-gifting items on forums, while at other times visitors seem to forget the practice—but it’s proof that forums create an incredibly supportive and open community. PIF is a really cool aspect of shaving forum culture.
SAS: Socially acceptable shave. A shave that’s good enough so that you can leave your house and go about your day, but not great—there may be some short whiskers remaining and perhaps some weepers. See—Weepers.
SC: Shaving cream.
Scuttle: A clever little device that allows a shaver—basically little bowl inside a bigger bowl—wherein the shaver puts warm/hot water in the lower bowl to keep the shaving cream in the upper bowl warm.
SE: A single edge razor blade, which is another type of safety razor.
Shave Ready: Used to describe a straight razor that has been sharpened (honed) by a professional. Some straight razors are sold as shave ready, but purchasers choose to bring them to a professional nonetheless.
Shavette: A straight razor wherein the blade can be removed and replaced; commonly used by barbers, who need to use new blades for every new customer they see.
SOTD: The “Shave of the Day.” Used in forum threads where people discuss that day’s shave.
SR: Straight razor.
Strop: A long piece of leather that is used to sharpen straight razors.
Three Ts: Refers to three British companies that have been making wet shaving supplies and products for more than a century: Geo. F. Trumper, Truefitt & Hill, and Taylor of Old Bond Street.
TTO: Refers to “twist-to-open” double edged safety razors, where the silos in the head of the razor open. Occasionally called “butterfly” razors, because as the silos of the razor twist open to expose the blade, they (kind of) resemble butterfly wings. Here’s a photo of a TTO razor.
Weeper: A small cut resulting from a shave.
Wet Shaving: One of the main focal points of this site! Wet shaving refers to the use of traditional shaving tools and grooming products to achieve an extremely close shave.
YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary. A phrase that means, basically, “Results may be different for different people.” It’s usually used when someone is describing their experience with a product or technique, but reminder others that the outcome may be different for other people. Example: “The Merkur Progress Adjustable Safety Razor worked great for me and now I’m BBS, but YMMV.” Another phrase that’s used quite a bit. Also—YKMD: “Your Kilometers May Differ,” use by our friends abroad who use the Metric system, instead of the Imperial system that people in the U.S. use.
There you go! Some intro shaving slang. Believe it or not, there’s a LOT more, but this is a good start.
Some Excellent Glossaries
Blade and Hollow isn’t the only men’s site that has a glossary—there are a few others that are pretty darn good. The ones we’d recommend are:
Reddit’s Wet Shave Glossary: Covers all the basics, but also includes some name of shaving companies and shaving products;
The Shaving Glossary at BirchboxMan: This one is pretty basic, and covers some pretty intro terms (like cream, foam, gel, etc.). More of an intro dictionary, but still pretty helpful;
The Acronyms and Abbreviations List at Straight Razor Place: also excellent.
What’s interesting is that some of the better men’s shaving sites DON’T have a glossary. Shave My Face, Sharpologist, and Against the Grain Shaving are all excellent sites, and they haven’t included any sort of glossary. Kind of surprising—those are fantastic sites.
Anyway—we kept the list short, to keep it simple and easy. Hopefully it helped a little bit. Happy shaving, fellas!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.