Each time we prepare to put on make-up so that we can become our glamorous selves, we must contend first with that stubble we have on our face. After all, what’s the point of being glam if we have a face full of prickly?
I would like to offer my knowledge that I have gained through experience on how to get your face baby butt smooth. I own a small specialty shop and one of the areas that I specialize in is traditional wet shaving. That does not mean splashing your face with water, smearing foam or gel out of a can onto your face, scraping your stubble off and then rinsing with water again. I will discuss that process later.
Several years ago, before I seriously considered cross dressing, I got tired of shaving my face only to discover I needed to shave again. My multi blade disposable was not “cutting” it. I decided to go “old school” and try a safety razor with a double edge blade. When I finished my initial shave, my face looked like I had been in a fight with a cat and the cat won. Yikes! Time to go to the internet and do some research.
I thought I knew how to shave; after all, I had been doing it for years. The problem is, there is a big difference between using a safety razor and a disposable cartridge type. The biggest being the weight. With disposables, the whole thing is plastic unless you’ve invested in a metal handle. A safety razor on the other hand is all metal. With a disposable, you have to push harder to help the blades do the work. Not so with a safety razor. That is why my first try with a safety razor didn’t go so well. The weight of the head is your friend. You don’t need to apply that extra pressure for it do its job.
In spite of what many people think, all safety razors are not created equal. There is the twist to open, also known as butterfly, which most people are familiar with. There is also a two piece. The handle and the cap separate for loading your blade. Then there is the three-piece. The handle completely separates from the head and then the head separates into two pieces.
There are also different lengths in the handles averaging 3 to 4 inches or 80mm to 100mm. You also have different textures on the handles. Some have what is known as barber pole etching, then different types of knurling and then some that are smooth. Length and handle texturing is mostly a matter of preference.
The advantage of the twist to open is the simplicity. Twist it open, load your blade, close it up. However, there are many working parts so it is imperative to constantly rinse while shaving. I then recommend a soft bristle toothbrush to clean the nooks and crannies while cleaning after you have finished shaving. Gunk can build up in those nooks and crannies, especially the shaft, which can contribute to it not opening and closing smoothly. The two piece and three-piece razors eliminate the need for this extra attention. Simply take them apart, rinse them clean them and put them back together.
The ability to clean any of these razors is a major advantage over a disposable razor. Gunk builds up between the blades which inhibits the blades from doing their job. In addition, if you use the cartridge again without being able to clean the gunk, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
There are other advantages of safety razors over disposables. One is cost. You can purchase a very good safety razor, say in the $40 dollar range, and never have to buy another one. Of course, you can spend more. It will literally last a lifetime. I personally have one that was given to me and it is a model from 1955.
Another big advantage is the environment. Disposables go into your trash and then to a landfill. According to the EPA, it takes about 1,000 years for one to decompose. Think about how many you have personally used over the years. The stainless-steel blades that go into a safety razor can be recycled.
We have been sold a fantasy that we need more blades. I remember years ago, there was a commercial on TV for a multi blade disposable. The animation claimed that the first blade actually grabbed the whisker hairs, pulled them forward so the next blade could cut the hairs close. Really? Let’s think about that. A blade that can actually “grab” whiskers and pull them. That is some ingenious engineering. I call it bunk!
When you have a multi blade razor, all of the blades are scraping across your face. The more blades going across your skin, the more chance of irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs. It’s even worse on African Americans or others who have very curly hair. Simply by the nature of the way their hair grows, the multi blade significantly increases the chances of pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps).
There are several companies that manufacture excellent safety razors and of course some that don’t. Remember, most times you get what you pay for. I will recommend three razors in no particular order. All of them are in my personal collection.
The first one is a Merkur 34c Heavy Duty. This is the company’s most popular. It is a two piece with excellent knurling on a 3 inch or 76 mm handle and has plenty of weight. It comes in at 2.8 ounces or 79.3 grams
Next is the Muhle R89 Classic, again, the most popular. It is a three piece with a 3.7 inch or 94mm handle and some light knurling. It weighs in at 2.26 ounces or 64 grams.
My third recommendation is an Edwin Jagger DE89, also their most popular. It is also a three piece. The handle comes in a variety of styles. I would recommend the DE89KN because of the knurling on the handle. The handle is 3.3 inches or 83 mm. The total weight is 2.4 ounces or 68 grams.
Every one of these razors will deliver a close, smooth, comfortable shave with the correct blade.
Just like all razors are not the same, all blades are not the same. Furthermore, all facial skin and beards are not the same. The trick is to find the right blade for your razor, for your beard and skin type, that will give you that baby butt smooth shave without torturing your skin. I prefer a platinum coating. Websites such as Amazon and West Coast Shaving offer sample packs. And yes, all blades are universal.
Don’t forget to recycle your blades! Depending on how heavy of a beard and how often one shaves, will determine how many shaves on one blade. The routine I use for shave preparation combined with my beard type allow me to get an average of five shaves. Then the used blade is placed into a separate container, for example a blade bank, for recycling. As thin as blades are, it will take a long time to fill a container.
Now that we have talked about razors and blades, you can continue to use your foam or gel to shave with. I prefer not to use them because of the chemicals that go into them. Additionally, anything that comes from the can will generally contain propane or butane as a propellant. Remember, these are flammables and flammables dry your skin. I prefer to use a shaving soap or cream which requires a brush to make the lather. These will be better for your skin than those flammables.
Using a brush has advantages because it helps to exfoliate your skin as well as making those whiskers stand up. However, not all brushes are the same. We have synthetic, horse hair, boar hair and badger hair. Yes, they are made from actual animal hair. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Synthetic brushes are very soft and well suited to someone who has sensitive skin. On the downside, they do not exfoliate nor do they help the whiskers stand up. Also, my experience is that the bristles do not spread out to help with coverage. I generally feel as if I’m painting my face. If you are using a hard type of shaving soap, it takes longer to make your lather due to the softness of the bristles. They work better with a cream type of shave soap. In addition, they do not retain the heat from hot water.
Boar brushes are excellent for exfoliating and standing those whiskers up. Because of the stiffness, you can make your lather much faster. However, because they are very stiff, they do not suit sensitive skin. They will retain heat but not as well as badger which we will discuss shortly.
Horse hair brushes are softer than boar yet coarse enough to exfoliate and help stand the whiskers up. One of the best things is that the hair is simply cut from the horse’s mane or tail. They do a good job making a lather but as with the boar, they do not retain the heat as well as the badger brush.
More on the badger brush and other important info in Part 2.