People have lost touch with what is the most important aspect of achieving a great shave – that it’s actually step-oriented. It’s a ritual.
It’s not every day you get to talk with a thirteenth generation sword maker about blades… let alone essential oils, ginger root and “lubricity.” We were introduced to Randy Weyersberg at the Gentlemen’s Expo in Toronto a few weeks ago, where he wasn’t shy when asked to unsheathe one of his family’s handmade sabers for us to admire.
Randy was representing King’s Crown, who have used 500 years of Wyersberg family sword making experience to move into the domain of hand crafted cut throat razors, which they’ve been making for over 100 years. “These are real shaving instruments,” Randy remarked when I talk to him again following the expo. “You cannot make quality cut throat razors with a machine. A craftsman has to grind it by hand and hone it by hand, then you have to strop it by hand every time you use it. It’s an instrument that hasn’t changed in 200 years.”
At the expo, along with showing off their infamous straight blades, King’s Crown launched their line of men's skin care products, stylish safety blade handles and accessories. The handles are really what brought us in. Made of resin, wood, nickel, and even ox horn and antler, these handles, which actually work with standard Gillette Mach III and Fusion cartridges, add all kinds of style to the regular monotony of retail shaving products. Marianne, partner and co-founder of King’s Crown, explained that these stylish razors, along with their other accessories, allow men to carve out their own place on the bathroom counter.
Randy and Marianne agreed to send one of these fancy razor handles along with their three step facial care line for me to try. For a guy who’s only ever used bar soap and shaving gel, the Enriched Papaya Enzyme Facial Cleanser, Ultra-Rich Shaving Cream and Enriched Vitamin C Moisturizer were a tad daunting. So I decided to chat with the expert, Randy, about what it takes to achieve a great shave, and this is what he told me:
Make it a ritual
Many men consider shaving a chore, something to be “gotten through.” Randy explains, “The marketplace has made shaving all about the convenience, get it done fast. The reality is, people have lost touch with what is the most important aspect of achieving a great shave, that it’s actually step-oriented. It’s a ritual. Three steps, pre-shave, shave and post shave.”
It’s all about lubricity, which means shave cream, not foam or gel
Having only ever used foam or gel, I was surprised to receive a shaving cream in my package. “Foam and gel are predominantly convenience products,” Randy explained. “They are made with a lot of air, which creates bulk. Just like how Coke created the vision of Santa Clause, marketing has created this belief that you need this enormous lather on your face. We worked with formulation experts and found that lubricity is the key to a great shaving experience. Lubricity is slide, the thin barrier between the sharp edge of the blade and your face and it is best achieved when your minimize water and air. When you talk cream, you talk extract and essential oils that not only achieve the optimal lubricity through ingredients like glycerine and cocoa butter, but also add conditioning properties that help avoid irritation.”
Avoid irritation and discomfort
All of the King’s Crown products are infused with ingredients like eucalyptus, menthol and ginger root to help avoid discomfort and actually treat your skin. “The reason why so many men say they don’t like shaving," explained Randy, "is largely because of discomfort. It can hurt! Particularly for those who have sensitive skin, or who are prone to ingrown hairs or razor burn, it can be very uncomfortable. That’s why it’s great to get all the feedback we’ve been getting – ‘love the shave, not only was it close but it was irritation free, no razor burn!’ That’s why we make our ultra-rich shaving cream.”
Choose products that are made for you
How many of us guys have used our partners silky, lavender-scented, pink packaged moisturizer or body wash in a pinch? “Our products are a reflection on what men have had to do to have a positive grooming experience. They’ve had to compromise. We want to design the experience for men and give them options. Why do I have to rely on women’s products when I’m trying to look after myself? That why our mission is to create an unforgettable grooming experience for men, only.”
And Randy explained that it’s not just about products that are for men, but for specific men. “We aim to meet the needs of different men. One of our lines is called oil defense which is for individuals prone to blemishes. We also have the ageless line, which is designed for more mature skin; primarily for age 40 plus, when skin typically has less moisture.”
I followed Randy’s advice in shaving off my Movember mustache with my new razor. Having shaved my whole life, I didn’t have high expectations that following the steps would make a huge difference. I was wrong. The cream made the shave so much smoother and the cleanser and moisturizer made my skin instantly softer. Having now shaved with the products for over a week, the irritation that used to appear on my neck has disappeared. In fact, the discomfort I used to think was just part of the process, is gone. Amazing what a little self-care can do!
Near the end of our conversation I asked Randy what the market was like for high-end shaving products. He explained: “In a world that is less tactile, less touch-oriented because of digital technology, there is almost a resurgence of what was old, things from our grandparents generation, things that were more tactile. Our parents wanted value (i.e. lower price) and convenience; quality and performance seemed to have skipped a generation, but now are coming back.”