Everyday in our DC and VA stores, we shave the faces of powerful men – political figures, captains of industry and guys who are just really, really strong. Through these interactions we’ve learned one thing – while men know a lot about government, business and sports – they’re just a little perplexed in regards to shaving basics. That’s where we come in.
Below please find answers to the most commonly posed questions we get from our customers about anything and everything men's shaving from safety razors to straight razors to shaving tips to shaving oils.
While not great for our business, shaving every single day is just too much for some men's mugs. In that case, it's OK to skip a day here and there to allow for healthy healing.
A: The majority of every shave should be done in the direction of hair growth (most commonly downwards, but sometimes diagonally). It is important for a man to diagnose the direction of hair growth prior to blade touchdown – and to take note that hair often grows in different directions in different areas. Occasionally, shaving against the grain is required at the end of a shave to get tuff-to-reach or stubborn spots. Of course… slicing is major snafu.
A: Before we answer that question, just think of the other stops that bar of soap has been before it hits your face... yes, like your rear. Once you’ve dry heaved and learned a lesson, we can move on to tell you that a targeted face cleanser or face scrub are the only things that should be used on a face prior to the shave routine. These cleansers are made for faces, while regular bar soaps are super-drying, can cause breakouts and might have just been on your privates.
A: Nonsense. Excess lather is just a waste of money! Why keep piling on foam that will never touch your face? For the best shave, we recommend a shave oil, gel or moisturizing cream (there's no need to put so much on you look like Santa).
A: The razor should be angled at about 30 degrees. A lower angle (15 degrees) will be too aggressive on the skin, while a higher angle (60 degrees) will tear the hair as the razor head flattens hair before the blade can make contact.
A: It’s hard to say, as some men like to enjoy this most masculine of experiences, while others are shaving against the clock. That said, our Guide To Getting The Greatest Shave Ever dictates it takes about 10-12 minutes.
A: It takes a couple times to get the hang of it. You may get a couple of nicks here and there but remain patient and grab an alum block or styptic pencil at first in case you have any bleeding. Once you feel comfortable, you’ll be pumped you chose this route.
A: Some people will tell you NO… but here at the Grooming Lounge we know there is a difference. Once mastered, using a safety razor can provide a closer, more comfortable shave. Safety razors are also better for sensitive skin and avoiding irritation since the first blade of a multi-blade razor picks up most of the shaving product, the following blades are going against more vulnerable skin. Our top safety razors are the Merkur 34C and Parker 99R. Multi-blade razors leave you less likely to nick the skin and are typically better for shaving in a hurry.
Q: Are all safety razor blades created equal?
A: The sharpness, materials and coating of the blade all have an effect on how the blade performs. Every guy’s skin is different, so we recommend picking up our Double-Edged Razor Sampler Pack to try out a wide variety and best determine which blades suit you best.
A: Traditional razors have one blade that is set in the razor and cannot be taken out. Instead, the blade must be sharpened using a strop, which is a strap (often leather or canvas) that you slide the blade against to refine. Shavette/disposable straight razors have the same basic design and appearance of a traditional razor, except they use disposable blades that are swapped out after a few shaves.
A: The difference between these three razors is how they are opened to change blades. A butterfly has a notch to twist at the bottom of the razor that split the head of the razor open. A three piece razor twists the handle off in order to put a new blade in – these razors when taken apart are in three pieces. Two piece razors twist to unscrew the head of the razor in order to exchange blades. There are no functional differences between the three and therefore it’s left up to your personal preference.
A: This terminology refers to the head of the razor. Closed-comb razors have a straight bar beneath the blade that lifts the hair to shave. Closed-comb is perfect for beginners since it’s the least likely to cause nicks. Open-comb razors have teeth lining the bar to allow more hair to make contact with the blade – this allows for more hair to be cut at once, but at a higher risk for cuts. Adjustable razors can alter the blade angle to adjust the closeness of the shave.
A: We recommend going with the Merkur 34C Safety Razor. The heavy weight of the razor will steady your hand for more controlled strokes and the short length makes it easy to maneuver and manage tricky spots.
A: When it comes to double-edge shaving, it’s all about making sure the razor feels good in your hands. For gents with big hands we recommend the Parker 96R, which is a long-handled razor that will feel comfortable to hold and manipulate.
A: In order to travel with a safety razor, it’s important to make sure you leave all blades safely stored in luggage. The straight razor can be included in carry-on, however a blade cannot be loaded into the razor.
A: There are a variety of different types of razors that deliver a different shave. Shaving can be monotonous, so owning a few will allow for different shave experiences, which is why guys love the adjustable razors.
A: If traveling, a leather pouch such as Parker’s allows for safe storage of your straight razor and replacement blades.
A: For best results, double-edge blades and cartridges should be swapped out every 3-5 shaves or when the blade begins to feel dull. Double-edge blades can also be flipped over after the blade dulls to make each blade last a few more shaves. That said, it’s beyond important to clean the blade in between each of those first shaves by placing it under hot water and running some liquid soap over the blades.
A: Shaving oil often needs to be reactivated with a splash of H2O. Also, make sure to rinse out the blade consistently throughout the shave so you’re not shaving hair with hair.
A: Shaving creams are generally thicker and richer. This is great for protecting the skin, however they tend to clog the razor more quickly and not all shaving creams go well with a brush. Shaving soaps come as a block or puck and require a brush to lather up with water. Soaps provide a slick surface for the razor to glide. Both shaving creams and soaps provide a great shave so it comes down to preference.
A: if your beard is pretty thin or you’re shaving a targeted spot, then the shave oil is good to go. However, if your beard is thicker or you have coarser hair then we recommend using the shave oil in conjunction with a shave cream.
A: Shave gels have a transparent formula , which allows you to see where you’re shaving, making it perfect for gents who have goatees, mustaches and beard lines they want to maintain.
A: Most traditional aftershaves have a large volume of alcohol in them. This ain't good for many reasons, just two of which are: 1) They sting a cleanly shaven face like crazy 2) They’re big-time drying to the skin. A better way to go is a soothing post-shave balm or a gel. These products calm down, soothe and re-moisturize the skin.
A: For disposing of old razors at home, don’t toss them in the trash and hope for the best. A Razor Bank provides safe storage of used blades so once the bank is full you may dispose of them safely all at once.
A: You certainly don’t need a shaving brush to get a good shave, but for many men, these hairy suckers are very valuable. You see, shaving brushes help to spread cream or lather evenly, but even more important, their bristles serve a valuable exfoliating function by lifting up tough and ingrown hairs. They also look pretty regal in a bathroom.
A: The most important aspect of shaving brushes is the type of hair used and knot size. The knot refers to the diameter of the base of hair – the larger the knot, the more hair it has. As for hair, cheaper quality hairs such as boar and horse are coarse and tend to fall out quickly. Nicer brushes have varying types of badger hair, which are much softer and last longer. Brushes also have different colored handles that are based on preference.
A: We recommend a brush made from Badger hair which is still very affordable, such as Parker’s Ebony Handled Pure Badger Shaving Brush since the bristles are much softer and last longer.
A: After continued use over time, fine badger hairs are worn down and occasionally fall out. It’s important to rinse a brush out thoroughly after each use, since shaving cream or soap residue that gets into the base of the razor can also cause the brush to lose hair.
A: When hair curls around and re-enters the skin (an ingrown hair), this creates a razor bump. To rid yourself of ingrown hairs and the resulting razor bumps -- use an exfoliaton to remove dead skin cells or a face scrub to free ingrowns. Also, warming the face thoroughly will make shaving kinder to existing bumps. If all else fails, pluck pesky ingrowns out with a tweezer or start using a targeted ingrown hair solution.
A: Try tenderizing the face a bit more prior to shaving -- possibly even shave in the shower. You also may be pressing too hard or using a dull blade. Most rashes are clearly the result of too much blade vs. beard friction. Some of that friction can be alleviated by combining a slick shave oil together with a shave cream or gel. Also, fend off redness by generously applying a moisturizing post shave solution.
A: First, take a look at the Guide To Getting “The Greatest Shave Ever.” This outlines a solid morning routine. Little tidbits for avoiding cuts include: 1) Using short strokes and cleaning the blade. 2) Heating and softening the skin more prior to shaving. 3) Using a see-through shaving solution such as an oil or gel, which allow you to see exactly what you are or are not shaving (gotta’ avoid that mole).
Finally, when slip-ups occur, stop the gushing with a moist alum block or styptic pencil. It's going to sting… but a real man can handle that… right?
A: Any persistent skin or shaving disorder should be looked at by a reputable doctor. If you don’t want to take that step, select a quality spa in your area and visit a skincare pro for a prescriptive skincare regimen. (the problem may not be your shave – but rather your daily skincare steps). If those two things are out of the question, first try to change up your daily at-home skincare routine. See this article for some tips. That’s often the core of the issue.