The modern version of safety razors were introduced in the 20th Century by American businessman, King Camp Gillette. These designs revolutionized shaving, as most men had previously depended on their barbers for their shaves - this allowed men to enjoy a clean-shaven face as frequently as they liked. And, the small blades of the double edge razor could be changed at home, making daily shaving even more accessible. Double Edge refers to the fact that both edges of the razor can be used to shave. The Double Edge razor became the predominant type of safety razor during and after WW1 until the 1970s when cartridge and disposable razors were introduced.
However, there are a number of reasons why using a safety razor is a lot better than using the cartridge and disposable razors. For one thing, they make a closer shave compared to the 3 to 6 blades that the typical cartridges have. The more blades your skin is exposed to, the more friction that could occur, which could lead to razor burn and in-grown hairs.
Using a safety razor is also a lot more inexpensive in the long run. Even though the disposable blades seem like the immediate cheaper option, a four pack of cartridges could set you back about $20! Safety razor blades, on the other hand, are priced at about $30 for a pack of 100!
Lastly, safety razors are a lot better for the environment - and that's thanks to the fact that the only waste they produce come from the single metal razor blade. In addition, the double-edged blades can easily be recycled!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Now, picking up that safety razor can be a little intimidating - it may look the same as the disposable blades, but it's definitely a lot sharper. Here are some beginner points on how to use a safety razor.
1. First things first - you're gonna need the safety razor (obviously).
Safety Razors should be tools that last the rest of your life, if not decades. That being said, you want to invest in a quality handle. Safety razors should feel comfortable in your hand and have some weight on it. We recommend our King’s Crown Double Edge Safety Razor.
Now, there are a number of blades out there, and all safety razor blades fit all razors - this gives you a chance to experiment with what brand or blades works best for you. We recommend the Astra Double Edge Razor Blades - our barbers use these blades in the studio all the time for clean shaves and lineups. We also carry ERBE Double Edge Safety Razor blades, which are made in Germany.
Safety razor blades are easily available at drug store, pharmacies, speciality stores, etc. Grab a few different varieties and see which one you like best!
3. The right shaving cream/soap makes a huge difference!
Shaving cream/soap/gel is used as a barrier between the blade and your skin, acting as a lubricant as the razor glides through. This ensures less friction, which minimizes redness, razor burn, irritation, ingrown hairs, nicks and cuts. It also help's soften the hairs you want to get rid of. This barrier is essential to ensure your skin does not break out.
We carry a handful of quality shaving creams and soaps but we recommend using either our King’s Crown Ultra Deluxe Shaving Cream, Taylor of Old Bond Street (which comes in an assortment of scents), or Knightsbridge (which also comes in an assortment of scents).
(psssstttt we also have King’s Combos available, which includes our Ultra Rich Shaving Cream and our Double Edge Safety Razor)
4. (Optional) A Badger Brush and Shave Bowl.
Using a Badger brush and shave bowl makes for easier application, as opposed to getting shaving cream all over your hands. It also does so much more! It is also meant to lather the soap on your face, exfoliate your skin, and lift the hairs of your beard. Using a badger brush also helps put an even coat of shaving cream with every application.
The type of brush, and what they are made from is a whole other topic! If you are looking for a great brush that is reasonably priced, we recommend our King's Crown Aluminum Badger Brush.
Now, to actually begin shaving.
It is important to note that shaving with a safety razor requires your undivided attention, a steady hand, and some technique, so until you get the hang of the process, take your time with the blade. You may even want to practice on your arm or leg before your start with your face. Here are some suggestions for you to keep in mind before and while you shave:
1. Prep your face by rinsing with hot water;
2. Lather up with a quality shaving cream or soap;
3. Use a new and clean blade; never reuse an old blade. When replacing your blades, unscrew the head and dispose of the used blade in the appropriate way, such as a sharps container. These are readily available at your local pharmacy, often for free!
4. Angle the razor away from your face between a 30° and 45° angle; Then, slowly lower the handle of the razor to cut the hairs.
5. Apple little pressure and let the weight of the razor do the work;
6. Pull your skin taught when shaving; Doing so keeps your skin tight as you shave so you don’t drag the razor, lose your grip, or apply too much pressure.
7. Use straight and short strokes as you shave to minimize dragging;
8. Shave with the grain as opposed to against. Doing so prevents irritation, ingrown hairs, and the risk of nicks;
9. Flip the razor and rinse out residue throughout your shave; Because there are two sides to a safety razor, you do not necessarily have to rinse under the water as often when you shave, just flip the razor over and continue with a new blade.
10. Once you're done shaving, rinse your face with cold water and apply an aftershave lotion or balm. We recommend using the aftershave lotions and balms from Taylor of Old Bond Street or Neal's Yard!
It is also important to note that, depending how much facial hair you have, it is perfectly fine to go over with another shave. With each shave, the aim is reduction, not complete removal - especially on the first run. More often than not, skin irritations occur when one forces the blade to remove everything in one go. To avoid skin irritations and get that nice, close shave, make sure to lather, and expect to pass the razor over your face a couple of times. Each time, make sure you are protecting your face with a good quality shaving cream!
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