Chris Walker, from Hungry, asks:
“Hi there, I was wondering what next to invest in to upgrade my shaving kit? I currently own 2 DE razors (A Merkur 11c and a Muhle 89R) and these are great but I have a very cheap drugstore brush and cream. Which would you recommend buying first? A quality shaving brush or quality shaving cream to upgrade?
Many Thanks, C.”
I would recommend upgrading to a better cream next. Using a better cream will much improve your shave and you can still use the inexpensive brush for quite some time and still get good results. I would suggest you try Bluebeard’s Revenge, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Edwin Jagger, Truefitt & Hill and many others you will find here. Good luck and enjoy the new cream!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
Called a modern Renaissance Man by many, Aaron has many interests including music, science, theology, his family, camping, backpacking, style, grooming, and of course wet-shaving. His love of wet shaving began as a teenager when he was gifted a brush, mug, and soap set for his birthday. He can be found on many online wet-shaving and men’s forums and on Twitter as @KiltedShaver.
Aaron is here to answer your questions, which might include:
How do you get rid of shaving rash?
What are the pros and cons of blade shaving?
What should I look for in choosing a razor?
Which is the best shaving direction – with the hair growth or against it?
What are razor bumps?
How many times can I use one blade?
How to not cut yourself while shaving
How to stop bleeding from shaving nicks
Will shaving daily make my hair grow thicker?
Please note that we can’t guarantee that all questions will be answered. Questions that are answered will be published on this blog in the ‘Ask Aaaron Q & A’ section, so please bookmark this page.
As Gillette launches its much-hyped Fusion ProGlide Power razor in the UK – I take a quick look at why a double edge razor is still technically superior to a ProGlide or any other cartridge based razor system out there.
For those who use double edge safety razors for shaving on a regular basis, the answer to the question “Why is a double edge razor technically better than a cartridge based razor system?” may seem quite obvious: ‘because you get better results’. However, for the rest of the men out there who use multi-bladed cartridges instead – and let’s face it that includes the vast majority of men in the Western world – they may wonder why they should ever consider changing their shaving method?
Well, the real answer to the question above lies within the technology of the types of razor on offer. From a scientific standpoint double edge safety razors certainly have the edge over cartridge based razor systems like the Fusion ProGlide Power razor, Wilkinson Sword Hydro and the King of Shaves Azor.
I recently spoke to American wet shaving expert Mike Sandoval, who runs the Shaving101 website, about why the cartridge razor system was so popular.
“The cartridge razor system is appealing to many men because it is advertised to be modern and high performing with innovative designs and multi-blade cutting action,” he said. “High-dollar marketing campaigns feature celebrity athletes that promote modern cartridges as the only masculine option.”
So why do double edge razors produce a closer and more rewarding shave?
The cartridge system razor generally works by using its hinge or pivot point to maintain a constant angle on the face while shaving. And while there may be many other features or gimmicks they offer, this pivoting mechanism is the most important aspect of the razor at making the shave quick and easy to use – which is the key advantage of these razors.
“The problem is that the blades of a cartridge are close together with extremely small spacing between each cutting edge,” explains Mike. “The razor is unable to cleanly cutting hair without requiring multiple passes along your skin, catching and pulling long stubble, as well as constantly clogging during the shave.”
On the other hand, while double edge razors may take longer to get used too – with a short learning curve to overcome – you have far more control over the razor and the closeness of the shave itself. Therefore, with DE shavers the process may take longer, with shorter strokes, but you will notice an improvement in the (even more crucial) performance aspect of the shave.
Mike adds: ”The double edge safety razor uses a single cutting edge that tracks along the skin at a much more comfortable angle and cuts the hair cleanly without grabbing or pulling excessively (provided you choose the right blade for your beard and skin type).
”Although you won’t find many celebrity athletes promoting the double edge razor, there has been a strong resurgence in traditional shaving. Many men are returning to old-school shaving because it is more comfortable and more economical.”
If time really is the most important factor when shaving, a Hydro, Azor or ProGlide may be the answer, but if you are a man who likes to work with engineering excellence that has stood the test of time and has the patience to learn, then maybe it is time to think about leaving those expensive cartridges behind and opt for a results-proven double edged razor.
Gillette launched the new Fusion ProGlide Power razor in the UK this month. It is the latest addition to its growing family of Fusion razors with Gillette’s thinnest-ever blades. The firm says the ProGlide outperforms its existing Fusion razor.
There are two versions of the Gillette ProGlide, a battery-powered model and a manual version. The battery-powered Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power comes with one blade cartridge and is available priced £12.99. The manual version comes with two blade cartridges and costs £9.99.
Over the last few years, I have used many different brands of cartridge based razor system, including the Azor, Gillette Fusion Power Stealth and Gillette Mach 3 Turbo, Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium Energy and Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 and Boots’ Hydro and Titanium Triple Razor, but personally still prefer the excitement and closeness of a DE razor.
The Merkur 33C Classic will always be my all-time favourite, but I would also highly recommend the Merkur Futur 760, Goodfella, Muhle R89 and the relatively new Bluebeards Revenge “Scimitar” Double Edge Razor.
Follow Nick Gibbens on Twitter @nickgibbens
Double edge shaving tips
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DE RAZOR? LET US KNOW BY COMMENTING BELOW
More articles by Nick Gibbens
As mentioned previously I don’t see myself as a wet-shaving expert. But like anyone learning a new skill or way of doing something I did make mistakes and learn from them. So here are simply some pointers which I found worked for me. Naturally, and you’ll see this said on all the shaving sites and forums, your-mileage-may-vary. What worked for me might not work for you, just try things out and see for yourself.
Don’t be stingy with your soap or cream. Particularly at the beginning I found it’s better to have leftover lather than poor quality lather through not using enough cream or soap. So keep swirling your brush on the soap for a full thirty seconds, try a dollop of cream larger than the recommended “almond-sized” amount. If using a stick of soap be generous as you rub it over your stubble, go against the grain so your bristles pick-up a good layer. You can always scale it back afterwards.
Face-lathering is my preferred method of generating a good lather. I tried bowl-lathering and found I got airy, light lather that disappeared inside the brush and had to be squeezed out to be of any use. Swirling my brush on the soap or putting a dollop of cream inside the brush and then lathering directly to my face gave me better, faster and more consistent results.
When working out which blade works best for you try the same blade in different razors. I found this out when testing Crystal-brand blades. In my Lord razor with its Merkur-style head the blade was just average; decent results but not particularly smooth. In my Gillette slim adjustable razor it turned into the smoothest blade I’d tried up to that point.
Listen to your face. When I first got into shaving with a DE razor I was so pleased that I could shave across and against the grain of my stubble that I became obsessed with trying to get closer and closer. This just lead to redness and irritation. I now know that on my neck and my moustache going against the grain is just not possible. I’ve therefore not experienced that holy grail of wet-shavers, the BBS (babies’-bottom-smooth) shave. But that doesn’t matter, because I can still get close and comfortable shaves just going across the grain in those areas. Besides, I’ll have to do it all over again the next morning, so why risk the irritation.
Try different brushes. I started with boar, but found that a badger brush gave me better results and was more enjoyable. If you’ve only known boar, try badger, and vice-versa. You can always revert back to your original choice.
When I first got my badger brush it went through its initial shedding stage that most new brushes do, but then continued to lose a hair every-other shave. I was soaking it in the sink in the same hot water I used to heat-up my face cloth. I then read that some folk used warm water and only soaked their brushes up-to the base of the bristles, saying that submerging the brush in hot water loosened the glue used to hold the bristles in place. I tried this and found that it worked; my brush has now stopped losing a hair here and a hair there.
Take advice, read the reviews but go with what works for you. Many on the forums say that Feather blades are very sharp but quite a rough blade to use, I happen agree with this. Many also say though that Supermax-super-stainless blades (blue packaging) are very poor blades, I happen to disagree with this. Many say that a lack of bristle density in a brush is a bad thing. I happen to prefer a floppier, less densely-filled brush that splays on my face as I lather. Don’t be put off by what the majority think if what works for you is different.
More articles by Richard Wall
For many people who don’t make the time to prepare when shaving, they may not be getting the most out of the experience. The application of the shave cream to work up a lather is, in fact, an important part of the wet shaving process and should not be taken lightly.
If you put a bit more thought into this, you can perfect your shaving performance and get the close shave you desire. You need to start by looking at your pre-shave preparations.
By working the lather into your face you can offer your face protection from the razor and the lubrication allows the blade to glide smoothly across the skin. Once you get this right, you will also notice your skin looks great as the lather moisturises and exfoliates the skin.
The process should begin with the use of a badger brush as this type of shaving brush can get the best results. Choose the brush carefully for a more luxurious and softer feel on the skin. Also, be sure to select shaving soap that allows for a moister and richer lather. This does three things; moisturises your face, lubricates the beard and softens it, giving it the best preparation for the shaving experience.
If you have followed the advice so far, you will have gathered all you need to make a good lather which is ideal for getting the most out of wet shaving.
The next stage is to run the hot water, getting it as hot as you possibly can. If you have bought a decent badger brush that holds moisture well then you will find that as you turn the brush slowly in the water, it absorbs and holds plenty of water.
After this you need to use the tips of the badger brush to permeate the ends with the shaving soap. A lot of force does not need to be applied here, so only do this until lather starts to form in the soap mug.
There is not much more you need to do now until you begin the shaving process. First, you just need to check that the badger brush is warm and full of water and soap, and that your face is still warm and lubricated. If this is the case you can now apply the soap using just the tips of the brush in an unhurried circular motion on the facial area.
As you start to build the lather, the soap is worked deeper into your skin, achieving what you wanted at the outset: a clean face that is exfoliated and protected from the razor blade. Make sure you work the lather evenly on the face to get the best shaving preparation.
If you follow these tips for a good lather technique you can get a much closer and better shave, plus you reduce the need to spend your hard earned money on an excess of other shaving products. However, a pre-shave moisturiser may still be required and a quality aftershave.
We’ve managed to get a Question and Answer session with double edge shaving guru Mantic, a veteran of the BadgerAndBlade and ShaveMyFace forums.
Mantic has helped thousands of wet shavers with their technique with his YouTube videos and forum postings. We thought we would give our readers the chance to ask Mantic a question.
To spice things up we’re offering a prize of a puck of Mitchell’s Wool Fat (worth £4.99) for every question that gets published and the best question will receive an additional tub of Truefitt & Hill 1805 Shave Cream (worth £14.99).
Click HERE to ask Mantic a question.
In our fourth article on common shaving myths, we ask the question: Should I use soap on my face before shaving?
The problem with soap is that it dries the face and strips away the moisture content. It is still worth washing the facial area prior to shaving, although it is recommended you try using a cleanser instead.
Missed the first three shaving myths? We have already looked into the following:
Is it always necessary to shave downwards, or ‘go with the grain’?
Do you need to use a lot of foam when shaving? and
Should I use the same brand for all my shaving products?
Please check back on Friday when we take a look at our fifth and final common wet shaving myth.
In our latest article on common shaving myths, we ask the question: Should I use the same brand for all my shaving products?
The simple answer to this popular question is no, there is no rule about sticking to one particular brand. In fact, it is more interesting to create a cocktail of products through trying out different ones from each brand. As long as the product is quality, then you should have no problems mixing and matching.
Missed the first two shaving myths? We have already looked into the following:
Is it always necessary to shave downwards, or ‘go with the grain’? and
Do you need to use a lot of foam when shaving?
Please check back on Monday when we take a look at another common wet shaving myth.
When wet shaving, if you try and follow the tried and tested approach we have been talking about, you are more likely to have a pain-free experience that goes easy on your skin. However, there are a few extra techniques you can use if you are a more experienced shaver, while there is also help out there for blokes with sensitive skin.
Immediately after you have finished shaving you will usually rinse the shaved area with cool water. If you find that this approach frequently leaves you suffering from razor burn and dryness, you can always try a final rinse with hot water instead, before dabbing a cloth soaked with witch hazel across your face.
There is also a number of soothing after-shave treatments available to buy which contain aloe to help calm the effects of shaving and alleviate any dryness. These creams, gels, balms and lotions can also encourage the healing of any minor nicks and cuts. You can apply a small amount of lotion evenly onto freshly-shaven skin straight after shaving.
A few final points
While you are shaving it is important to regularly rinse your razor in hot water.
As you become more experienced shaving with the grain, you can always experiment by passing the razor against and across the grain. These techniques are only really advised for those who are skilled at shaving and willing to try different combinations to find out what works best for them.
Everyone’s hair pattern grows differently, therefore it is often only through trial and error that you can determine what gives you a great smooth shave, by finding the right combination of passing the razor that works for you.
The pressure you apply, the amount of lather used and the angle of the razor are other factors that can influence the quality of the shave.
Again, it all depends on your skin, and smoother shaves often come at the expense of skin irritation.
If you have purchased a cut-throat or safety razor but are still not 100% when using it, then the following advice may be of some use to you. There may be a number of wet shaving techniques out there that experienced shavers will swear by, but the basic principles are still generally the same. A wet shave can be divided into; pre-shave, shave and post-shave.
The key to an effective shave is to prepare well beforehand. Firstly, you will need to soften the bristles, opening up the pores of the skin. This can be achieved by having a hot bath or shower, but if you do not have the time, you can always make use of a warm or hot flannel. Preparing in this way will increase the chances of a painless shave. If you have particularly sensitive skin or a heavy beard, it may be worth purchasing pre-shave oil and lubricate your whiskers with just a small amount, before the next stage of the process.
When you are ready to begin; slowly, and remembering to use short strokes, shave with the grain. By shaving in the same direction as the hair growth, especially when fairly new to wet shaving, you are minimising the chances of causing razor burn, redness and rashes on the skin. The neck area is particularly sensitive and should be treated with due care.
In the third and final article on this subject, to be published on Wednesday 5 May, we will take a look at some more techniques you can use when wet shaving, along with post-shave advice.
Missed part 1? Here it is > Simple shaving tips for the perfect wet shave (Part 1)