If you have trouble with your skin after you shave, you may be shaving with the wrong type of razor. There are other things that can cause skin irritation and ingrown hairs but I’ve found that the cause of mine was the multi-blade razors like the Fusion and Mach III. These products have been promoted as the ultimate shaving experience. The marketing behind this has enabled companies like Gillette to sell expensive blades, when there is a much better and cheap alternative available.
The good ol’ double edge safety razors that people used decades ago, are becoming increasingly popular lately. This is due in large part to the fact that these razors deliver a much better shave than expensive multi-bladed razors. The marketing behind the multi-blades has been that the first blades lift the hair up a bit before the next blade comes along and cuts it. Whether this is true or not, one thing is for sure. The shave tends to cause irritation of the skin, and it causes the hairs to regrow under the skin.
My theory is that the hair is indeed lifted before it is cut, and this produces a super smooth shave but also causes the hairs to sometimes grow back under the skin producing ingrown hairs. The multiple blades also cause skin irritation and razor burn. To alleviate this issue, razor manufacturers add a lubricant to the blade itself, but this lubricant doesn’t last very long. After about one or two uses, the blade is not very good for shaving any longer.
The solution, as I stated earlier, is to switch to a double-edge safety razor. The up-side to safety razors is that they alleviate the issues with razor burn and ingrown hairs. However the process of shaving is a bit more involved, but it’s actually more enjoyable. When using a double-edge, it is important to keep your face wet with warm water and to keep it covered with shaving cream or shaving soap. A good lather is important to keep the razor burn down. Proper use of the razor is important as well.
I switched to a double-edge about four months ago and I haven’t looked back since. It’s a much better shave, and it’s way cheaper. A good quality safety razor costs about $35-$50, but the blades cost about $10 per 100. That’s right, around ten cents each. Compare that to the cost of four Mach 3 blades. Amazingly enough, a single blade lasts longer on the safety razor too. I shave my head and face three or four times with a single blade before I require a replacement. There is actually a honing technique one can use with their shower towel that can lengthen the life of the blade even more.
Here are some important things to note about shaving with a safety razor:
- Use the weight of the razor to cut through the hair, don’t put a lot of pressure on it.
- Always warm your skin up with some warm water or a warm towel.
- Use plenty of lather
- Make multiple passes (three seems to work well for me)
- Shave with the grain first, then across the grain, and finally against the grain if needed for a super close shave.
I should also mention that shaving soap in the bar form is much more economical than shaving creme from a can. I’ve been using a single 1.75 oz bar of Williams’ Mug Soap for the past four months and it’s about halfway gone. I should be able to get another four months or so out of it. A 1.75 oz of this shaving soap costs about 99 cents. That’s a far better deal than a single can of shaving creme from Gillette.
I can not stress enough how awesome this switch has been for me. As someone who regularly shaves his head and face, this has been both a money saver and pain saver, since my skin is no longer irritated from shaving.
I started out with an Edwin Jagger DE89 razor and I highly recommend it. Here are some good deals on it and other quality double-edge razors and supplies.