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WHY USE A SAFETY RAZOR
When it comes to the debate of safety razors vs. cartridge razors, there's no-contest - the safety razor wins each time. Let's compare the safety razor to the cartridge razor along the key factors.
Note: We also have a guide on how to use a safety razor.
What to realize before anything else
Safety razors have been around for a long time. The unfortunate truth behind the introduction of our "modern" cartridge razors is that it came from the notion of wanting a disposable razor. While he was working for Crown Cork & Seal Co. of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, King Camp Gillette (yes that Gillette) recognized that there was no money in a product that was going to be re-used forever. After all, a product that needs to be replaced on a consistent basis also means a consistent income from repeat sales. This disposable razor would need to appear as if it was an improvement over what was already. The important thing to take out of this little history lesson is that the disposable razor (which later turned into cartridge razors) was not an actual improvement, but only made to look like one.
The amount of blades on a razor is unrelated to the smoothness of your shave. Do not let any amount of advertising tell you differently. The truth is that these multiple blades actually cause more irritation because they damage the upper surface of the skin. This leads to ingrown hairs. You want a close shave, not razor burn and cuts. Shaving with a safety razor is also a lost art form, a ritual that you get to perform daily. Most men that use a safety razor find the shave relaxing. So you not only get a smoother shave with a safety razor, there is less chance of irritation and razor burn.
It is true that there is no account for personal taste. When you hold a chrome safety razor in your hand, you know you are holding something sturdy. Some of the brand name three and four razor cartridges look colorful and flashy and have plenty of advertising behind them, but they do not compare to the heavy feel of metal in your hand. With the cartridge razor, you are holding mass-produced plastic, with a safety razor you are holding solid metal, like a true artisan would . The safety razor has worked for the most influential men in history, and it works just as well for us today.
This is where most people realize that they have been a slave to marketing for too long. While the initial investment of a safety razor seems high to some, take a moment and realize how much you paid the last time you bought a cartridge pack for your razor. Oftentimes you only get three blades and they can run upwards of $4 per blade. Keep in mind that you are going to throw these razors away after a few uses – there is no way for you to sharpen them. Compare that to the $0.80 per blade for a safety razor blade and you will realize why a safety razor is an investment that pays for itself.
Let's do some simple math. If you shave eight times every two weeks, (say you like stubble on your casual Fridays) that means a new safety blade or cartridge every two weeks.
After a month, the safety razor costs $1.60, the cartridge costs you $8.
In a year, you pay 12 x $1.60 = 19.80 for safety razors. Compare that to the 12 x $8 = $96 and you will notice that safety razors save you $96 – 19.80 = $76.20 in just one year. Less money and a better shave - easy isn't it?
Ignore the Marketing
They'll tell you myths like more blades = a better shave or that have some weird vibrating piece on your razor makes it more effective. If we take marketing out of the equation, it should become clear to most men that cartridge razors are simply inferior products. They represent a billion dollar industry with a marketing budget to boot, so getting the truth out will be a uphill battle. But with your new knowledge, this guide on how to use a safety razor,, you'll know the truth better than your friends.
How to Shave Step by Step
Shaving used to be an art form – a ritual. Today, most men just run a blade past their skin quickly or use an electric shaver. Big money marketing has taken over the industry and robbed guys of the best shave possible. No matter what the manufacturers of those cheap, disposable razors tell you, there is no substituting a well-executed, safety razor shave.
Step 1 – Preparation is crucial
If you want to use a safety razor, the first thing you need is the right equipment. A generous lather is going to be one of the most fundamental aspects of using a safety razor. Once you get proficient using the razor you can start cutting corners (if you so choose). The first few times you should make sure you have a quality lather that is going to treat your face and your razor right.
Start by lathering up after your shower to make sure your hairs are nice and soft. Make sure you apply a nice, thick lather to your face. Ensure everything is evened out so you have the same quality lather all over your face. If you do not have time to shower, running a towel under some hot water, and applying it to your face is going work too.
Step 2- Realize that this is a skill
Why do you think that barbers that offer a shave do so with a straight razor or safety razor instead of those cartridge shavers? The reason is that the safety razor offers a much smoother, closer, shave. However, it does take some skill. Unlike these disposable cartridges most men just run across their face almost like on autopilot, you need to pay attention to what you are doing. These are some critical steps to remember.
Pressure: However much pressure you are using now, it is probably too much. Most men push down on their cartridge razor because these razors are ineffective. Let the safety razor do the work for you. There is a reason safety razors are heavy to begin with - they work more effectively. One quick way to combat putting too much pressure on your razor is by holding it further down on the handle.
The angle: If you are used to cartridges, this may be the most difficult step. You want the handle of the razor parallel to the floor, and the razor against your face. Now you tilt the razor downwards until it meets the skin, and then go straight down. Try to keep each stroke to an inch, no more. Short strokes will give you precision.
Go with the grain: Many men shave against the grain because they want that "baby's bottom" smooth feel. Unfortunately, the only thing they are inviting is irritation and cuts. As long as you make sure you pass over the same area again, you are still going to have that smooth, close shave.
Go for step-by-step reduction, not instant removal: Many men try to shave as quickly as possible. This means that they want to remove all their hairs with one swoop. They mistakenly believe it helps them reduce skin irritation. What they do not seem to realize is that this technique, due to the increased pressure, is actually what causes most of the skin irritation during shaving. You want to reduce, not try to remove it all at once. There is nothing wrong with going back over your skin a second time as long as you have a good lather.
Use sharp blades: This is not exclusive to a safety razor but still a step many men tend to forget. Make sure you have the best possible blade by changing your blade every eight shaves or so.
You are not done yet
Most guys slather on some aftershave after their shave and call it a day. You are selling your face short. Make sure that you run a towel under some cold water and dab it over your face. This closes your pores, meaning your skin is less irritated and it reduces your chances of breakouts. Now use a aftershave you like. A good aftershave not only reduces possible skin irritation, but also restores the moisture in your face.
If you want your blade and your safety razor to last as long as possible, you are going to need proper maintenance. To reduce bacteria and keep your razor clean, apply a few small drops of rubbing alcohol occasionally to your razor. This ensures that your blade not only lasts longer, but also keeps your safety razor clean for future use. If used properly, a safety razor can outlast its owner.
Practice makes perfect
If this is your first time using a safety razor, you may nick yourself. Don't worry - it won't be a bloodbath. Again, this is a skill that requires practice. This means that if you have a crucial meeting first thing Tuesday morning, it is probably best to wait until Saturday or Sunday morning for you to try your safety razor the first time. If you are not comfortable with trying the safety razor on your face, practice on your arm until you get the right angle. Remember, that you are essentially re-learning how to shave. Give yourself a few days to get the hang of it and it will pay off for a lifetime.
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