Here we go again, talking about shaving with a safety razor.
Before I started using a DE razor, I educated myself about the razor and the shaving experience that one can get. Especially for someone that was just starting out with wet shaving, it was kinda scary that you would use this type of razor.
Think about it.
Exposed blades? Double edged? Aggressive shave?
You get the picture…
See, I was so brainwashed by all this advertising. The ones that convince you that the more blades a razor has, the smoother the shave. And to take things further, the smoother the shave, the less irritation.
And here comes what I tend to repeat and recommend. Don’t believe anything that you hear or read until you try it for yourself. There’s no better way to find out the truth.
Remember! We’re only talking about shaving with a safety razor. Don’t try something you’ll regret…
Anyway, I didn’t even begin writing and I’m already getting off track.
In this post, I’ll include a few myths about shaving with a safety razor that I busted. You’ll also get the chance to read a few other facts that confirmed things that I already knew, read or heard.
What did we say before? Try it yourself and form your own opinion. Attaboy!
So, let’s get to it!
1. You need at least 3 passes for a decent shave
This really depends on many things.
First, your beard growth.
The thicker and denser your beard is, the more passes you need for a smooth shave.
How often you shave
If you shave every day, it means that your beard doesn’t have the time to grow very long since your last shave. And as you can imagine, you need less passes to get clean shaved.
Even though I wouldn’t advise it, the pressure that you apply on your face with the safety razor can make a difference on the number of passes. However, it’s highly advisable that you don’t apply any pressure on your face while shaving with a razor.
Apart from the pressure, it also depends whether you’re shaving with the grain, across the grain or against the grain.
A combination of the above
For example, if you don’t have very thick beard and you shave every day, even one pass could be more than enough for you.
I can’t say that there’s a general rule for the number of passes you need to get a clean shave with a safety razor.
Personally, I tend to make three passes and maybe a fourth one if I haven’t shaved during the weekend. As mentioned, it really depends on your face and experience.
Hence, a three pass shave with a DE razor is a mythical fact… Say what?
2. Shaving with a safety razor will save you money
In principle, this should be a FACT. But what I’ve learned the… expensive way, is that it’s a MYTH but only if you’re a wet shaving fanatic.
And I explain what I mean.
If you’re interested in buying one safety razor and replace the blades as a rational consumer, you can achieve great costs shavings. With the proper maintenance, a good razor can last you for life.
Let’s say that you buy a simple Merkur 34C, which is one of the standard ones. This might cost you somewhere around $40 for the razor and add $10 more or less on top for 100 Astra safety razor blades. With rough calculations, if you shave every single day and you use one blade per two shaves, you should expect to invest $50 in total for 200 shaves (one blade for two shaves).
Now, if you use a decent (and not the most expensive) Gillette Mach 3 razor, which I personally like a lot, it’s around $9 just for the razor. And the cartridges cost?
If you buy the economic package with the 24 cartridges, this will set you back approx. $50. For the same number of shaves as with the safety razor, we will need 24 cartridges x 4. And the total is around $200…
Sorry, did you say something…?
Why am I saying that it’s a MYTH that you save money with a safety razor then?
In theory, for someone that wants to save money, shaving with a safety razor would make total sense.
And many guys actually think this. Some may actually achieve it.
In reality however, this isn’t the case.
Once you get started with a tool such as this, you get obsessed for real… You want to try everything and from every brand. They look pretty, they feel awesome, they shave great and your bathroom looks beautiful.
And your wallet looks emptier than ever before…
3. Safety razors are good for shaving faces prone to skin irritation
That’s so true. However, there’s a catch here.
When I first started shaving with a safety razor, I couldn’t see the difference.
See, I’ve got sensitive skin myself and I was convinced that my shaving would get better with a safety razor.
And it actually did, but it took some time.
The reason is that new safety razor users, tend to shave in the same way, same technique, that they did with cartridge razors. And this means, with the same angle and more importantly, with the same pressure on the face.
But here is the big mistake. Shaving technique is much different between the two razors. Once you get it right, you’ll see big changes in your shaving and way less irritation and razors bumps.
Apart from the technique, the fact that a safety razor has only one blade is makes it more “shave friendly” than a 135 blade ULTRA razor with a katana sword on the back for extra precision. More blades on the razor, means more blades on your face every time you pass it on your skin. And the more passes, the more chances you irritate your face.
Again, I’m saying all these from personal experience.
4. Making a 3-pass shave with a safety razor gets you a razor burn
This is another myth that many guys with not enough wet shaving experience usually believe.
The fact is that shaving with a safety razor is much different than with cartridge razor.
Your shaving routine changes.
With cartridge razors, you’re used to shave even when your face gets unlathered. To make things worse, right after the lather goes away from your face, you continue with the strokes.
You can’t just do that with a safety razor. And if you do, you WILL get a razor burn.
I’ve used a lot of safety razors and blades over the past few years. I also have a very sensitive face that gets irritated relatively easy. And I can tell you that since I started, I’ve never got a razor burn. And I doubt that I’ll get any, unless I’m not careful at what I’m doing.
On the contrary, there have been times that I got one when I was still using cheap razors with poor quality blades.
5. You can’t shave over unlathered skin
I guess that’s the case with any razor. Though, with a safety razor, it can get you a razor burn easier.
Since a safety razor is (most of the times) made of steel, without any lather, it can get stuck more easily than a cartridge razor with a lubricated tape.
What did we just say?
NO shaving without lather.
You still want to try shaving without applying any lather on your face? I would love to hear your story after you’re done shaving.
6. You should soften your beard before shaving with a DE safety razor
Again, this doesn’t apply only when shaving with a safety razor.
Softening your beard means smoother and comfortable shave. It’s highly advisable to do so, no matter the razor you’re shaving with. Needless to say, that soft beard is essential if you have sensitive skin.
7. You need to make small strokes
That’s not necessarily true.
When I first started using a DE razor, I used to shave with small strokes. The only reason really was that the naked disposable blade intimidated me and the idea of shaving with it.
Once you become comfortable with your safety razor and you get a couple of months of shaving experience, then you’ll see that small strokes will be a thing of the past.
In any case, small strokes mainly reflects a caution shave, which isn’t a bad advice after all.
8. The angle of shaving with a safety razor is important
Depending on the way you hold the safety razor you can get from no shave to a cut.
And I explain what I mean…
The way you hold the safety razor will determine the aggressiveness of the blade (if not both the blade and razor) during your shaving.
Therefore, using a safety razor requires more than just holding it but also keeping it at the right angle on your face.
9. Shaving with a safety razor takes too long
I wouldn’t say too long but certainly longer than with a cartridge razor.
Since a safety razor gives you a more aggressive shaving than a cartridge, you need to be more careful with your technique and your lathering. That being said, you shouldn’t shave unlathered face because, as explained earlier, you’re increasing the chances of getting a razor burn.
In principle, you’re supposed to shave with lather either with or without safety razor. With a cartridge razor you shave multiple times even when the lather goes away so you get your shaving done on one go. You simply don’t dedicate a little bit of time for a second shave.
With a cartridge razor, you might get away with it, but with a safety razor, you’ll get a razor burn.
Our lives have become so hectic that we don’t even find the time to have a proper shave with a nice soap or cream. We don’t get to enjoy the one thing that only a man gets to do in his life. Why not take your time with it?
Ultimately, the answer is yes, shaving with a safety razor takes more time.
10. Styling your sideburns is more precise with a safety razor
Personally, I can’t get my sideburns right with a safety razor. It’s a bit bulky and heavy compared to cartridge razor. I get the feeling that I can’t see through it so you see where your sideburns are at.
I don’t really find it precise unless I don’t care about a specific length of sideburns. But I do…
My experience tells me that you get better precision with the blade at the back of a cartridge razors and even better precision with a straight razor.
What’s your saying in this?
11. Shaving with a safety razor is the best!
You’re damn right it is!
Did I miss something? What’s the myth or fact about shaving with a safety razor that I haven’t included?
Image Courtesy: flickr.com/mthomps