Razor burn. Irritation. Chafed skin. Bumps. Whiskers subtly buried just under the skin. Even zits. That was occasionally true of cheeks and jawline but pretty much always true of the area when chin and neck merge.
Maybe it’s because my face is more sensitive. Maybe it’s because I am too rough with the razors. Shaving irritation is just something I figured was part of the deal. When I used an electric foil razor, the irritation was probably due to me mashing the foil against my face to convince myself I was cutting as close as possible.
The three blade cartridge made me feel the burn. Then they invented the five blade. Surely that would reduce irritation. Nope. But they have lubricating strips! But I used “sensitive” gel! Nope. Irritated. Bumpy. Alas, it was just part of the bargain. If you shave, you’re going to get razor burn and irritation.
One of the benefits claimed for double edge razor wet shaving, however, was a reduction of razor burn. Well, THAT’S something! And I kid you not, the very day that I began shaving with a safety razor and a nice cream (it was Proraso cream at first)…I tell you, the very same day I used a safety razor for the first time, my face wasn’t red and bumpy. At all.
I know what you’re thinking. “Just like that? No more razor burn?” Yes. Just like that. Even with more than one pass (I sometimes use up to four passes when I want a really close shave) I rarely get any irritation. Generally speaking, the more passes you make, the more chance for skin irruption to develop but these blades are just so sharp that it’s really not the case.
If you’re ever wished that shaving didn’t leave you with razor burn on your face, chin, or neck, then perhaps it’s time to switch to double edge wet shaving. It’s so close but with no bumps!
And because shaving no longer brought that irritation, I began to slow down and actually enjoy this morning ritual. More on that in another post.
One of the greatest benefits of wet shaving with double edged blades is how inexpensive the blades are.
A fancy electric razor will set you back $100 or more. Sure, you can find cheaper ones, but the old adage is true that you get what you pay for. Even then, after a year of use, you’re looking at around $15-30 to replace the foil. That works out to be around $2+ a week per shave.
If you buy the latest and greatest cartridge razors, well…check this comparison out:
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a typical five blade cartridge could last for a week of shaving. (Of course you could go longer but let’s compare apples to apples). This product, for example, would give you twelve cartridges for $36.99. At 12 weeks of shaving, that breaks down to just over $3.00 per week. That’s $150 a year of blade costs!
Let’s assume also that we can use a double edge razor blade for a week of shaving. (Again, this too varies, but for comparison’s sake…). Now, let’s look at a product like this double edge variety pack . For $24.99 you get 100 blades. That’s just short of two years of shaving which breaks down to about a quarter ($.25) a week. That makes it right around $13 a year!
Based just on the costs of razor blades alone, you can see that double edge razor wet shaving is a far less expensive alternative. And when you’re saving that kind of money and still getting a great shave, that’s shaving with swagger!
But double edge razor blades have another advantage which I will cover in my next post!
So you’ve had it with electric and cartridge based razors and are ready to enter the world of wet shaving. Where do you begin? We fully intend to analyze all facets of wet shaving in detail, but we thought it also might be best to start of with some core tools of the trade, we call them the basics.
Fundamentally you need the following in order to start wet shaving:
- Soap or cream
We recommend using Proraso for soap. There’s no bowl or prep involved, this is an easy to use soap for beginners and it makes your skin feel great after a good shave.
There are lots of brushes out there, the important thing to remember is badger hair. (It’s better than boar hair). We’re not picky about the brand, but the type is important. Don’t be fooled by imitators, something like this Escali brush will do the job and not break the bank either. And if you have any doubts, just trust us: Badger hair.
Believe it or not, this is easy an one for us to recommend. Merkur is the standard, and we strongly recommend the Merkur 178 Classic. You have some choices to make, short or long handled and weight. We say short and we say heavy. The bottom line is you want the weight of your razor to do the work for you. It’s the safest way not to cut yourself. The 178 is on the heavier side of straight razors and provides a manageable grip without getting in the way. You’ll find that your razor is the most expensive item you’ll buy, but keep in mind this thing will last forever. It’s about the same price as that cheap Phillips Electric razor at Walmart, but it’ll still be around in six months.
Every face is different and every blade is different too. It’s hard to recommend a specific blade for general use, but we personally have had positive experiences getting started with the Crystal (Israeli Personna). We’ve found it to be sharp, with almost no tugging and yields an absolutely pleasant shave in single or multi-pass approach. That said, don’t necessarily limit yourself to just one brand of blade. The pack we’ve linked above has 240 blades in it and normal use means that this set should last you more than a year. So consider a sample pack like this one or this one (which includes the Crystal) so that you can experiment and find out what works best for you. Even if you pick up a sampler and then use the Crystal you’ll still find you’ve paid less than an eight week cartridge refill for that fancy Gillette you’re giving up. We’ll spend some more time analyzing a bunch of these blades in the coming weeks, but we consider this to be a good place to get started.
Remember, your gear is important! There’s a little bit of a buy in but it’s worth every penny and saves a lot in the long run.
I have been known to grow a beard, or two. In fact this past summer I went six months without brushing a blade across my face. It wasn’t because I like beards per se. I don’t dislike them either. For me a beard was a matter of necessity. The growth on my face prevented me from enduring the chore of shaving. Does this sum up your life? Do you wake up and deride the thought of lathering up to clean off your whiskers?
The truth is I hated shaving. I really honestly hated it. I tried the fancy expensive electric razors. I even ponied up for a Braun with one of those rinsing stations. What I learned is that the razor was satisfactory out of the box, disappointing after a month and expensive by two. Then there was the skin irritation I would get, the lack of smoothness against the grain and the constant need for lotions and after shave to appease my damaged face.
I also tried one of those multi-bladed cartridge type razors. They come in the nifty packaging and do double, sometimes even triple the damage every time they roll across your skin. They require expensive chemical foam to get the job done too. I have to confess while I felt this cut was far closer than what I ever got from an electric razor, it simply didn’t accomplish what I craved for: A face my kids could touch without getting hurt.
But I have seen the light, and my whiskers are gone I tell you. There is an alternative to the medieval ways we brutalize our flesh with so-called modern gear. There is simply no reason to shave with third world equipment when you can enjoy the clean, cool and supple cut of a double edged razor and a wet shave. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Stay tuned…
It’s there again, that dark shadow, that carpet of bristle, your beard trying to break forth into the light and commandeer your face. But that’s not going to happen. Because you are going to shave it. Expertly. With care and precision, you are an artist ready to use your tools to carve away the material of your facial hair and reveal a face that is smooth, smells great, and is the object of envy to that poor multitude of souls whose morning shave is a unwelcome exercise in aggravation instead of a pleasurable indulgence.
At Shave With Swagger, that’s exactly what we’re here to help you do.