GENERALLY…

Single blade razors offer closer shave, less (if any) skin irritations compared to multi blades. Non-negotiable.
The sharper the edge, the safer, slicker, freer of irritations the shave. Contradictory as it might seem, it’s actually true.The less sharp blade pulls the hair to cut through, pulls the skin too.Thus, red skin, grazes, irritation, razor burn.A proper sharp blade glides smoothly on the skin, cuts hair effortlesly, not by pulling, but by the razor’s weight.
50% of a magnificent result is lathering. Ask any experienced wet shaver, Royal Shave Grand Master, old school barber. Unanimous agreement,, that simple. So, use good quality products (pre-shaves, soaps, creams). Consider the use of a sound shaving brush imperative. It enhances the effect of the lather, pulls up the facial hair as vertical as possible to the blade and irons the skin by massaging gently the facial muscles.
Take your time. Allow the lather five minutes to set in on your face before you reach for your razor. The effect of lathering is maximized. Should you be pressed for time, shift your shaving ritual in the previous evening or later in the day. Enjoying is better than rushing.
Now that we have established the basics, let’s proceed with the Categories and Choices.

DE RAZORS…

first appeared in 1880 and gained popularity in 1990s. No need for honing, easier to carry (travels), much more economical to use compared to disposable razors, safe and forgiving, they can deliver very close shaves and plenty of joy. The choice of a two or three piece razor, adjustable or fixed blade space, slant, butterfly, weight, handle length or design is a matter of personal choice.
What’s best, is what suits you best.
Closed comb or Open comb? Closed comb DE razors have a safety bar between blade and your skin. They are usually less aggreesive, but not always. It also deepends on blade spacing and the chosen blade’s sharpness.
Tip: Do not hesitate to try out your razor with different blades on your quest for optimal results. This applies to open comb too.
Open comb DE razors do not have a safety bar but comb teeth instead. Generally more aggresive.
Less aggresive razors are more suitable for ordinary facial hair or frequent use. More aggresive razors, on the other hand, are more suitable for thicker, harder, denser facial hair andor less frequent shaves. Gentlemen with ordinary hair will also benefit from aggresive razors by employing one pass shaves, instead of two or three passes.

STRAIGHT RAZOR…

the king! First appeared in its primitive form with the invention of tool making. The Egyptians used straight razors, exhibited nowadays in museums, in 5000BC. They are made of sharpened clams, obsidian or bronze. The final form of the straight razors, as known today, came at the end of the 18th century. As for the practical part…
Why king? No shave is closer than that. One pass is enough to get your face well shaved. Unless off course you want a BBS (baby butt smooth) shave. Then you need another pass or two. This is the ultimate shaving ritual, maximum pleasure. No expenses for any disposable parts as there is nothing disposable. Do they last? Oh, do they last. Enough to outlive generations in the family. Some use the straight razor they inherited from Grandfather.Yet, at some point you will need to hone your straight razor. Which is not rocket science, everyone can learn how to do it. For most fans it is part of the pleasure, it does require some care though. You will also need a strop to straighten up the burr before you shave.
The downside is that you pay upfront for your equipment, it needs some maintenance, is less forgiving to poor technique, and takes a few more minutes to complete the shave.
Worth the trouble? Absolutely! You are compensated every time you shave and it only grows greater with time as you improve your technique. Ideal for the perfectionists and the uncompromized ones who see shaving as quality time, equipment as pride and joy.

LATHER…

Two main categories of products, soaps and creams. Both create an alcaline environment so bacteria are eliminated. A vital role they play is lubrication. The razor glides on a thin lubricant layer on your skin. Radically reduced friction is what helps you avoid nicks and grazing. Soaps and creas come out in myriads of scents or unscented. Preferences, preferences…
Soaps last longer. As an indication, a 150gr triple milled soap will take you over a year no matter what you do with it. Creams usually last half time but are easier and quicker to load your brush. Soaps rinse slightly easier and leave a drier sense afterwards. Some prefer it to the subtle oily feel the creams leave, some the other way round. It’s not unusual, especially in warm climates, for shavers to use soap in the summer and creams in the winter. As for the recipe, makers have their own, the one each of them regards ideal. Some are tallow based (beef fat), some plant based, vegan, lanolin, all kinds of herbs, extracts, essential oils, you name it.
For the chemistry buffs:
Creams consist of a mixture of potassium and triethinolamine soaps, stearic acid, superfatting agents, fragrances and moisturising substances such as glycerol or sorbitol.
Soaps consist of sodium and potassium soap, humectants, water and fragrances.
So, what’s best for me? What suits your skin is something you’ll find out in practice. The only widely agreed rule of thumb is ingredients of high quality. Arguably more important than the recipe itself.

BRUSHES…

are essential to wet shaving. The handle is usually made of wood; other material is possible too, suh as resin, steel, aluminium, even carbon fiber. The knot could be synthetic or natural hair -boar, horse, or badger-. They all have pros &cons. Boar is the most economical source and works well with very hard soap. Not particularly gentle on the facial skin as the bristle is rather hard. One has to be cautious when masssaging the lather on the face. Horse hair is mid-way in everything. Not very popular as most shavers find it “indifferent”. Badger is admittedly the best natural source. It is categorized into four main classes of quality -badger, pure badger, best badger, silvertip- but labels may differ from one manufacturer to another. The higher the class, the softer the bristle. Badger hair is pricy, inevitably perhaps, and take a couple of days to dry. Synthetics have improved tremendously over the last years. Some shavers firmly believe they have marginally surpassed badger. Undisputably, no badger has to leave this vain world, no damping is needed before loading, neither hair shedding nor damp dog smell while breaking in. They also dry much more quickly than badger (in a few hours), which makes them suitable for travelling.

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