Before wet shaving, the area to be shaved is usually doused in warm to hot water by showering or bathing or covered for several minutes with a hot wet towel to soften the skin and hair. A lathering or lubricating agent such as cream, shaving soap, gel, foam or oil is normally applied after this. Lubricating and moisturizing the skin to be shaved helps prevent irritation and damage known as razor burn. Many razor cartridges include a lubricating strip, made of polyethylene glycol, to function instead of or in supplement to extrinsic agents. It also lifts and softens the hairs, causing them to swell. This enhances the cutting action and sometimes permits cutting the hairs slightly below the surface of the skin. Additionally, during shaving, the lather indicates areas that have not been addressed. When soap is used, it is generally applied with a shaving brush, which has long, soft bristles. It is worked up into a usable lather by the brush, either against the face, in a shaving mug, bowl, scuttle, or palm of the hand.
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