Today, we going to cover a few things; electric razors vs blades, shaving cream vs soap, and aftershave. A lot of men debate about how to get the best shave. They buy a multitude of products, always looking for something better. They switch from regular blade razors to electric razors, from soap to shaving cream, from a wet shave to a dry shave, in the shower to out of the shower. I am no different. I have tried them all, in every combination you can think of, and I believe that I have found the best combination of products possible.
The sad truth of the matter is that shaving is a personal thing, and every man’s face is different. Our beard hairs have different coarseness, different thickness, and grow at different rates. Not to mention the direction in which they grow. If you are lucky, you beard hair grows in a uniform pattern that is easy to maneuver and get a close shave without having to change direction and go over the same spot again and again. Then there is skin type. We all have different skin that may be drier, oilier, or easier to irritate than the guy standing next to you. The type of skin you have can greatly affect how you should shave and what products you will enjoy.
I have spent years trying different methods, changing shaving tools and gadgets, and switching up my various shave products – pre-shave lotions and balms, aftershave lotions, splashes, or gels, shaving cream, shaving soap, brushes, kits, wet shave or dry shave, hot or cold… the list goes on and on. Finally, after many failed attempts, tons of rashes, itchy skin, bottles, tins, tubes, and cans of products, I believe that I have something that works for me.
The first big choice that there is to make is whether or not to go electric or stay with the blades.
Electric Razors vs Blades
If you think the electric shave is better for you, and your long-term budget, there are a few choices. First off is rotary or foil shave. What you choose will probably depend on your beard type. Thicker, coarser, beards that grow faster tend to be better with a rotary electric razor. If your beard doesn’t come in so thick and you aren’t needing to shave a lot every day, then the foil electric razor is most likely for you.
On top of those two choices, there are new wet/dry electric razors on the market, but I personally haven’t tried them. With my beard type and shaving habits (I tend to skip a day or week of shaving from time to time, depending on how necessary it is for me to look presentable at a given time), I went for a rotary electric razor.
Now with blade razors, there are a bunch of choices, from cheap disposable single or double blade razors to blade “systems” that use refill cartridges that usually have three to five blades and can even be found with up to seven blades for that really, really close and smooth shave. One of the main problems with these refill cartridges is that they can cost an arm and a leg for a pack of refill cartridges.
The disposables, being the most cost-effective option was my first choice, but they had a similar irritating effect on my skin, so they only lasted a few shaves. From there I tried some four, five, and six blade “systems” that seemed to grow exponentially in price with the addition of each blade. While I did notice minor improvements in the ease of the shave with the added blade, there was little to no difference in the closeness or comfort that they provided. Other add-ons that some of the razors had were things like aloe strips to help soothe as you shave. I found that these made little difference and were definitely not worth paying extra for. With those factors in mind, I settled on the four blade rig that was in the middle price range of the options out there.
The next step in this highly controlled experiment was to determine which worked better for me, shaving cream or shaving soap. I had tried both in the past, but neither attempt was part of such a controlled experiment, so I decided to try a few different options.
Shaving Cream vs Soap
When you are choosing shaving cream, the first thing to do is completely skip the stuff in an aerosol can. It is the bottom of the barrel and contains propellants and chemicals that you don’t need involved in your shave. Avoid these shaving creams, as it is common for them to have triethanolamine, also called TEA which is a skin irritant.
They also commonly contain sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) which carries ingredients that are considered to be possible carcinogens. Mineral oil is another common yet unwanted ingredient, as it is a petroleum product that can leave you feeling greasy and prone to pimples and ingrown hairs on your face.
There are a ton of shaving creams available out there in all different varieties. Choose one that you like based on its smell, how well it lathers, or how it affects your pocketbook. Some good ingredients to look for are shea butter for moisture, marshmallow extract for inflammation, and essential oils such as peppermint oil or cinnamon oil that not only provide some pleasant scents and tingles but also have positive effects on your skin. They’re natural and good for you and your skin.
To help make my choice, I went on a little shopping spree and bought a number of different shaving creams with various fragrances and at a range of prices. They all seemed to do the job, so after much sampling and testing, I chose the one that had the best price but also had shea butter and cinnamon oil.
If you haven’t used shaving soap before, it can be a little tricky the first time. But after a little practice, you can get a good lather and for some people, they find that it helps them a lot when it comes to increasing the closeness of their shave.
When you go to buy shaving soap, there are definitely fewer choices available than shaving creams, but there is still a pretty wide selection available for you to choose from. Basically, there are two main types: hard and soft. A hard shave soap is usually a hard puck of soap that comes in a tin, tub, or mug. A soft have soap has more of a putty-like consistency that is quite a bit softer than the hard option. Both of them require a brush to help produce the lather, but the soft soap will lather a little more readily than the hard soap.
I found that after a couple practices with each one that getting a good lather wasn’t difficult. In the end, I really found no difference between the hard and soft shaving soap. The shave that I got using both types of soap was good and close, but I did find that the hard soap lasted a little longer than the soft soap. In the end, I went for the hard shaving soap, and I chose a brand that contained natural ingredients including aloe vera, coconut oil, and bergamot (bergamot is an essential oil that is good for your skin, amongst other things).
Experimentation with both hard and soft shaving soaps as well as shaving cream continued for a few weeks. I finally decided that the hard soap with the natural ingredients was best for me. It fit my needs as far as comfort and closeness of shave were concerned, and was well within the budget that I had set out for myself.
The only thing left to think about now is after shave. Of all the shaving products out there, this may be where there are the most variety of choices available. You can go with a balm, a lotion, or straight up liquid splash aftershave that you splash on your face. A good aftershave should have some antiseptic ingredient that works to reduce skin irritation, as well prevent infection to any nicks or cuts that may have occurred during the shave. The most common agents are denatured alcohol, witch hazel, stearate citrate, or even menthol.
They all work and are what give you that tingling, warm, almost burning sensation when applied after a close shave (think the classic image of the kid from Home Alone screaming after splashing it on his face.) Over the years, I have had more aftershaves bought for me as gifts than I could shake a stick at. At times my medicine cabinet has seemed to overflow with assorted aftershave, but I have managed to whittle it down to one or two go to aftershaves for different occasions. Currently, my favorite and most used aftershave is a balm containing aloe, chamomile tea, and witch hazel amongst its ingredients. When you are choosing your aftershave, it is a good idea to avoid ones that contain too much alcohol or camphor.
Once I had finished all of my experimenting, I was set. I had the razor, the shaving cream and the aftershave that really worked for me. It took a while and there were a lot of wasted products and money spent, but when it was all said and done, I was able to come up with a set of products that left me feeling like I was finally getting the best shave possible.
We all have our own personal preferences, so hopefully knowing the difference between electric razors vs blades and shaving cream vs soap, you now have a clear idea of what products will suit you best. With all of the choices out there and the number of different ways to go about getting a good shave, it can be a little overwhelming to know what to choose with your current situation. With just a little research, and perhaps a little experimentation, you too can find the right combination of products that leaves you feeling like you have gotten a great shave every time.