Razors | A Complete Guide
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Why is it so challenging to get a close shave?
The key to a great shave is to get as close a shave as possible while taking care to avoid irritating or nicking the skin. By doing so, the goal is to minimize the chances for ingrown hairs to develop while still avoiding the look or feel of stubble.
The real challenge in tackling shaving with the ideal tools and technique is understanding the topography of the hair-bearing areas. Shaving hair is not like mowing the lawn on a baseball field! Skin with thick coarse hairs is not a smooth surface studded with hairs that can be closely shaved easily. When hair grows out of the skin, a portion of the epidermis and keratin can stick or adhere to the hair shaft before being released as the hair grows out. As the razor glides across the skin, the goal is to cut the hair as closely as possible without cutting the skin as it adheres at the base of the hair follicle.
To figure out which razor to use consider how each gets the job done to find your best pick…
What is the anatomy of a razor?
Depending on the type of razor, there are different components that make up the anatomy of a razor. Some of the main components of modern razors are broken down by the blade(s), leading-edge, and handle.
The leading edge is designed to gently flatten, smooth, and stretch the skin taut prior to the blade’s arrival. This can help address the raised “mounds” of keratin and skin that can still surround some hairs as they are growing.
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Blades can be single or multiple and spaced in different ways. Multiple blades can achieve a closer shave with fewer strokes. The first blades will lift the hair gently while the following blades can cut the hair further down the hair shaft to allow the cut hair to fall back into the skin. Ideally, the blades should be spaced closer together to avoid nicking the skin. If the blades are too widely spaced then after the first blade pulls the hair, the skin attached at the base of the hair can start to bulge or protrude slightly and risk getting nicked by the next blades. Closely spaced blades are less likely to do so.
The handle itself is ideally comfortable enough to allow the user to shave without needing to vary or adjust the pressure they apply during the shave.
What is a safety razor?
Safety razors are composed of a handle and blade but do not tend to have the soft leading edge of modern-day razors. They are composed of a metal handle giving them a nice weight for even light pressure. They often have a double edge blade that is replaceable with a protective guard for the razor to minimize the chances of nicks (or worse:) The shaving effect is that of a fine flat cheese grater.
What are the benefits of safety razors?
The benefits of safety razors are that they tend to be safe to use, affordable given the low cost of the blades, and work well to minimize nicks and cuts after some practice. Men will tend to prefer these over women as they are better suited for the face compared to the body. The legs will have lots of contours to maneuver.
Benefits of Safety Razor
Tend to be safe to use
Minimize nicks and cuts
What is a straight razor?
A straight razor is precisely what it sounds like- a blade and a handle. The blade is not replaceable but can be sharpened. There is no protective guard or leading edge.
The straight razor is as the name implies, a blade on the skin. The use of a straight razor can take some getting used to and a lot of practice. It is also important to maintain the blade which involves cleaning and sharpening although several do have the option of switching out the blade.
Faces and necks are ideal due to the need for a smooth platform to glide the razor across.
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What is a cartridge razor?
A cartridge razor consists of a handle and leading edge with the blades located inside a disposable “cartridge”. The cartridges contain 2 to 6 blades closely spaced for a quick close shave. The cartridge often may be flexible or able to gently bend to allow the blades in the cartridge to curve with the curves of the face or body. Cartridge razors offer a safe, close, but potentially pricey shave. The cartridges should be changed routinely and can add to the cost over time of maintaining this option. Hairs often become trapped between the blades making them less effective over multiple uses.
Cartridge razors are the option that is probably best suited for women’s needs. Given the gentle bend of the cartridge, it can be used in areas that require the blade to move with the contour of the skin. The other key feature is that it permits a fast shave because multiple blades are at work!
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What is an electric razor?
Electric razors are what they sound like- a blade with a motor. They fall under either foil or rotary electric razors.
Foil electric razor has a “foil” or thin metal sheet with holes overlying the blades. The tiny holes in the foil capture the hair and the oscillating blades come by and cut it. This makes for a safe and fast shave but not necessarily as close as with a traditional razor. Also, remember that even though these are thought to be less irritating, they still can be. If you remember that the hair as it grows has potentially adherent skin or keratin, as the hair is pulled up to be cut, the skin may be nicked as well.
Rotary electric razors have three circular heads spaced like a triangle. The round guard of each head captures hairs and an internal spinning blade or cutter shaves these hairs. This is also a safe and fast shave that also permits quick movement around the contours of the neck and jawline with hairs being captured at multiple angles.
Electric razors tend to be favored by men on the go that need to get a quick shave in! They are not necessarily great at catching fine or peach fuzz types of hair growth. Coarse thick hair is ideal for these as the blade of hair can get trapped in the mechanism to allow it to be cut.
Do you have any recipes for DIY shaving cream?
Shaving Creams are primarily used to help hydrate the skin while shaving. Razors can often lead to skin being dry, rough, and irritated. If your skin gets too uncomfortable, the inflammation can often result in ingrown hairs. Try out this shaving cream recipe especially during the winter to help reduce inflammation from shaving.
DIY Recipe for Shaving Cream
Melt the Shea butter and Coconut oil together. I usually fill a bowl with boiling water and use a measuring or mixing cup in the water to melt these. This can also be done in a double boiler. Add in the Avocado Oil, baking soda, and essential oil. Use a hand blender to blend until you get a nice creamy texture. Place the mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes to thicken. Transfer this to a container to use when you are ready!