One of the great things about running my business, is talking to men and women who visit our stall when we do our monthly markets. After working up here in the hills behind Byron all week, I enjoy a chat and getting insight into how men shave (they are all different) and what issues they face, with regards to shaving and skin care. Usually, they want information about natural products or they are not getting good results from a tin of spray foam and a disposable triple mach razor! I get young guys wanting to go down the traditional path and I get older guys who may have started out using safety razors then have gone for the disposable mulit blades and are now looking to return to a simpler, more effective tool. The partners usually want them to smell good too!
A story that I often recount,(because it is relevant! I promise!) is from a couple of years ago. We were very busy at our stall – its was a few people deep waiting to be served. I noticed a dapper older gentleman waiting patiently until I was able to speak with him. He picked up the Merkur 1904 razor and waved it at me saying. “ Im 72 and Ive had a razor like this for 52 years!” He had that beautiful smooth skin that reminded me of my Dads, straight after a shave. I got the feeling he hadn’t even skipped a day in those 52 years. As we chatted I reflected on how high the pile of disposables he would have thrown away would be after 52 years! The Earth already has so much plastic that will be here for eons. Anyway, he said his goodbyes and I wished I could have taken him with me as a great example of a traditional shaver using basic equipment.
Most men I talk to have done some research, and are interested in getting started with a traditional style safety razor. Often, they end up buying the Merkur 1904 (a reproduction of the original Gillette safety razor made in 1904) or one of our other styles. Whats interesting, is we have had quite a few come back in and say they are getting a better shave than they ever got with their previous triple mach or similar. With all that technology, why would this be so?
Razor manufacturers would have you believe that every new fad they market will give you a better shave. Well, if you look at your grand dads face, like my friend above, you will see their faces couldn’t get any smoother. Firstly, a multiple blade disposable is designed to shorten your shave time due to the use of multiple razors. The problem is, the more often a blade is pulled across your skin, the more irritation will ensue – each additional blade will aggravate that irritation. They often are made from inferior steel and the cartridge is designed to be thrown away after a short time. Multi blade razors can be a problem for thick whiskered men – they block up easily, requiring cleaning multiple times throughout a shave and as the first blade dulls it basically renders the cartridge obsolete – no matter how many blades follow! These razors appear a more economical option at the original purchase…but having to repeatedly buy expensive replacement cartridges is the catch.
A wet shave with a safety razor is still the most painless and efficient way to shave and multiple blades and turbo pivots aren’t going to change that. Buy good quality stainless steel blades and you wont find anything sharper. And its going to be a lot cheaper and environmentally friendly, than replacing those disposable plastic cartridges!
If you have never used a safety razor, they will take a bit of getting used to. They are sharp and you will probably nick yourself at first! Be patient, and take your time. You will become more skilled! Read my top 5 tips here or google some wet shave videos.
Like all tools, your razor and blades need to be cared for. Wash and dry your featherweight stainless blade between uses and loosen the razor whilst being stored.
As for what to shave with: Naturally, we endorse our shaving soap which is blended by hand from a range of nourishing organic oils – Coconut, Olive, Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Avocado, Rice Bran and Castor Bean. You can read more Here.
To sum up, technology is grand and a good brush is essential – we recommend some excellent synthetics such the Italian Zenith brushes, which have hydroscopic qualities (ie they hold water) and lather well just like Badger bristles, but without a Badger having a terrible life and death in a cage in China. The main thing is that you can gather plenty of the the juicy soap blend, then lather it well with water. Re-lather as you go if necessary. The lather from the above oils is fine and creamy providing an excellent layer of glide and leaving the skin feeling nourished afterwards.
Tips for minimising sensitivity and razor rash:
- Use a sharp single razor – either a safety razor or straight edge blade: shaving with a single pass then repeating the process at the end, if necessary;
- Care for your tools – wash and dry your blade (loosen the razor slightly so the blade can air);
- Shave with the grain not against it;
- Avoid Palm oil based products (can be drying and Palm oil plantations are a massive problem for the environment);
- Avoid synthetic fragrances (the number one cause of irritation for sensitive skin) including “hidden” ones which you find when a product says it is “unscented” – synthetic fragrance is often used to mask other scents.
It’s a good feeling to have a tub of shaving soap that will last you 6 months to a year (depending on how and how often you shave) and a razor that you will keep for the term of your natural life, just changing those fine steel blades.
Life just got a whole lot simpler.