Body hair can be problematic for some people. This is not a new problem; humans have practiced hair-removal since as far back as the Neolithic era. For those who decide to shave, there is the question of how. The range of modern options includes depilatory creams, electrolysis and waxing. For those who prefer something less permanent, there is shaving. Below is a quick primer on the tools used to do it.
Shaving is a simple and very old method of removing hair. The technology used to shave has evolved, but the principle remains the same: blades are used to cut hair down to the level of the skin. People shave for aesthetic reasons or for personal comfort; clean-shaven skin feels better to some.
- Safety Razors
This type of razor consists of a handle and a replaceable double-edged blade that fits within it. Only the outer edges of the blade protrude, which limits the potential for deep cuts (“safety”). These razors prevent skin irritation and razor bumps since it is not necessary to exert a lot of pressure to get a close shave.
- Cartridge Razors
The handle on this type of razor may be made of plastic or metal. The blades come in disposable cartridges that may contain between two and five blades. The cartridges may hinge or pivot so that the blades can follow the contours of the area being shaved.
- Electric Razor
The two main types of electric razor are foil razors and rotary razors. Foil razors have a thin sheet of metal over the blades. The metal sheet has slots to capture the hair. Because the blades never come into contact with the skin, foil razors are particularly useful to people with sensitive skin. Rotary electric razors have spinning blades that are designed to follow the contours of the area being shaved. With most electric types, the user simply moves the razor around on their skin without lubrication. The drawback for some users is that electric razors do not give the same close shave as a standard razor.
- Straight Razor
This type of razor consists of a single straight blade that folds into the handle. Straight razors are widely known to provide a closer shave than other razor types; however, they require patience and skill to use. The blade can cut into the skin at any depth and can cause serious wounds if mishandled. Concerning maintenance, a straight razor must be stropped and honed often to maintain its edge.
Along with blades, here are a few other things that are important for shaving:
- Shaving Soap and Shaving Cream/Gel
When running a sharp blade over skin for a wet shave, some form of lubrication is essential. Ideally, there should be no sensation of the blade rubbing against the skin. Shaving creams, gels and soaps provide the necessary lubrication. Shaving soaps can provide a thicker lather and thus a greater degree of protection for the skin when compared to shaving creams. A shaving brush may be used to create this lather and to apply it to the face. Shaving creams are an easy-to-use, inexpensive alternative to shaving soap but they are not always the best thing for skin. Some contain chemicals that numb the skin in addition to causing dryness and premature aging.
- Shaving Brushes
A shaving brush helps to create lather for shaving lubrication, but that is not its only function. Shaving brushes also help to prepare the skin and hair for shaving. They remove dead skin (exfoliation) which helps to prevent clogged pores and ingrown hairs; they also help to stand the hair up so that it can be easily cut by the razor. The bristles and the handle are the most important factors here. The material used for the handle should comfortable in the hand and hold up to moisture. Popular materials for shaving brush handles include porcelain and plastic. While synthetic bristles will get the job done and will hold up over time, those who take shaving seriously tend to prefer boar or badger bristles. Both are good for creating a thick, fluffy lather but boar bristles are more brittle and likely to break.