A Professional Guide To Razors And How To Use Them
For many men, the morning shave - even during lockdown, when faces are decidedly shaggier - is an unthinking act. Possibly taught by his father in his teens, it is a daily ritual that has most likely become automatic, and the type of razor is an old faithful that has been relied upon for decades - the same version replaced time and time again. And while it is familiar, that doesn’t mean it is the right razor for you. It might not be something you dwell over, but that little device has a huge effect on your skin and the definition of your face. Our Master Barber Michael Symeon lends his advice on how to choose the right razor.
Know your blades
“Here at Truefitt & Hill, we work with three varieties of blades, and each is unique in what they achieve with your shave”, says Symeon. These divide into the Gillette Mach III, which has three blades, the Gillette Fusion, which has five, and then a double-headed blade. The differences are subtle but important, explains Symeon. All of these can be applied to Truefitt & Hill’s range of razors.
“The Mach III is great for sensitive skin, it’s an easy one because it allows a quick shave, which most gentlemen need in the morning, thanks to its three blades working in unison”, says Symeon. There are various advantages to the Mach III; an aloe vera strip soothes the skin as it glides, and there’s a strip to catch bristles. The design also allows easy pivoting around jawlines. However, says Symeon, the extra addition of that aloe vera strip can - for some men - get in the way while shaving underneath the nostrils and on sideburns. In which case, consider the Fusion.
“The Fusion has five blades, making the shave even smoother”, says Symeon, but its secret weapon is a single blade on the back, which when turned around can be used for those tricky areas above the upper lip.
The most traditional and perfect for everyday use, says Symeon, is the double-edged razor. “It is a more economical choice because a man can buy the blades in bulk at little expense. This allows the gentleman to change the blades more frequently, which is great for hygiene, and perfect while travelling”.
And what do the different blades achieve?
The Mach III and Fusion help with smoothness and provide a close shave for a clean-cut jawline. The double-edged razor lends itself to thicker stubble and beards. “It helps with the definition of beards giving them shape and form, and cuts through tougher stubble that the Mach III or Fusion won’t”, he advises.
Leave cut-throat to the professionals
While there is a certain swagger and what Symeon terms “bragging rights” to employing a cut-throat razor, tread with extreme caution. It is lethal in untrained hands - quite literally - and to get to a level of competency, there is a lot of trial and error so one may expect some slashes and cuts. If aspiring Sweeney Todd’s remain undeterred, Symeon recommends booking an appointment at Truefitt & Hill barbershop when normality resumes, for a series of cut-throat razor masterclasses.
Consider the weight of your razor
This is a key element of choosing a razor that goes unnoticed by most, but the weight determines the amount of pressure you apply to your skin. “The weight of the kit should match the level of weight you use in pressing the blade against your skin. Effectively, the heavier the better, because it means the razor itself is doing the work and you’re not forcing anything”. All Truefitt & Hill razors are carefully designed to offer the proper weight and balance in the hand, allowing better control of the pressure applied to the skin while shaving and thus ensuring the most comfortable shave.
Preparation is key
Preparing your skin, says Symeon, is the essential factor in all shaving. “Heat is incredibly important. Heat your skin well before shaving with a towel or hot shower, which will open up the pores and make the bristles more pliable”.
He also recommends using a pre-shave oil to soothe the skin, because shaving cream itself is designed to lift and coat hairs, which will provide a man with smooth, close shave but will not cater to the needs of the skin, that should be protected from irritation and dryness. Our Pre-shave Oil contains ten essential oils to ease razor glide and to moisturise, heal and condition the skin.
“These are the things that gentlemen don’t necessarily think of that make the world of difference”, says Symeon, ensuring your shave is quite literally a cut above.