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Razors : A Complete Guide

Updated: Dec 30, 2019


Razors The key to a great shave is to get as close a shave as possible while taking care to avoid irritating or nicking the skin and minimizing the chances for ingrown hairs to develop.  The challenge with shaving is understanding the topography of the hair bearing areas.  Shaving hair is not like mowing the lawn on a baseball field!  Skin with thick coarse hairs is not a smooth surface studded with hairs that can be closely shaved easily.  Have you every seen a jelly spike ball?  Imagine a hair growing out of each spike.  Now, imagine taking a razor and trying to shave those hairs without nicking a spike and still getting a close shave.  Every time we shave, that is exactly what the topography of the skin  is like up close! Puts this daily routine into a little perspective! To figure out what razor to use consider how each gets the job done to find your best pick… The main components of a razor are broken down by blade(s), leading edge and the handle. The leading edge is designed to gently stretch the skin taut prior to the blade’s arrival. (think if the jelly spike ball- if you want to shave it it will help to have an edge that uniformly stretches the surface flat to allow the blade to come through with minimal nicks). Blades can be single or multiple and spaced in different ways. Multiple blades can achieve a closer shave with less strokes.  Ideally, the blades should be placed closer together to avoid nicking the skin.  If they are too widely spaced, after the first blade drags across a hair, the skin can start to bulge slightly and get nicked by the next blade.  If the blades are closely spaced this is less likely to happen.  The handle is ideally comfortable enough to allow the user to shave without needing to vary the pressure applied during the shave.  Safety razor: A safety razor does not have the soft leading edge of modern day razors.  It is composed of a metal handle (tend to have a nice weight to them for even light pressure) and a double edge blade that is replaceable. They have a protective guard for the razor to minimize the chances of nicks (or worse:) to give the shaving effect of a fine flat cheese grater. These tend to be safe to use, very affordable as the cost of the blades in minimal) and work well to minimize nicks and cuts after some practice.    Men will tend to prefer these over women as they are not as well suited for the body that will have lots of contours to maneuver. Straight razor: This is exactly what it sounds like- a blade and a handle.  The blade is not replaceable but can be sharpened.  There is no protective guard or leading edge- its just blade on skin.  It will take some getting used to and a lot of practice.  It is also important to maintain the blade- cleaning and sharpening.  Faces and necks are ideal due to the need for a smooth platform! Cartridge razors: These consist of the handle and leading edge with the blades located inside a disposable “cartridge”.  There can be 2-6 blades in these cartridges closely spaced for a quick close shave. The cartridge can often be flexible or gently bend to allow the blades in the cartridge to curve with the curves of the face.  This is a safe, close but potentially pricey shave.  These cartridges should be changed routinely and can add to the cost of maintaining this option.  Hairs often get trapped between the blades as well making it less effective over multiple uses.  This is the option that is probably best suited for women’s needs.  Given the gentle bend of the cartridge, it can be used in areas that require the blade to move with the contour of the skin.  The other key feature is that it permits a fast shave because multiple blades are at work! Electric razors: Electric razors are what they sound like- a blade with a motor.  They fall under either foil or rotary electric razors.             Foil electric razor has a “foil” or thin metal sheet with holes overlying the blades.  The tiny holes in the foil capture the hair and the oscillating blades come by and cut it.  This makes for a safe and fast shave but not necessarily as close as with a traditional razor.  The other key to remember is that even though these are thought to be less irritating they still can be.  If you go back to the jelly spike ball analogy you can imagine that not only does hair get pulled into the foil but skin can as well.              Rotary electric razors have three circular heads that are spaced out like a triangle.  The round guard of each head captures hairs and an internal spinning blade or cutter shaves these hairs. This is also a safe and fast shave that also permits quick movement around the contours of neck and jaw line with hairs being captured at multiple angles.   Electric razors tend to be favored by men on the go that need to get a quick shave in!  They are not necessarily great at catching fine or peach fuzz types of hair growth.  Coarse thick hair is ideal for these as the blade of hair can get trapped in the mechanism to allow it to be cut. 




Read more at Allure Magazine as Dr ILYAS discusses more about razors!




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