Ok I have been think of this for some time so off I go,
I am going to address in my opinion, through my own research and personal study, the different levels of shaving. This will take into account three things cost, comfort, and longevity. Cost of course is how much it is to get the equipment needed to shave. Comfort will be base on how your face feels during and after the shave. Lastly longevity, how long does your shave actually last. This will start from the average daily shave to the best shaving experience you can get.
Here we go. For our first shaving setup we will call it the drugstore shave. You can get every thing you need at your local store nearest you. This is the only way you will be able to shave without having to order any equipment. Here is your list;
Modern type razor, mach3, fusion etc.
Shave gel or foam, gillete, barbasol etc.
Finlay an after shave if you choose, nivea, oldspice, etc.
The shave part. First you wet your face, or shower first, however you choose. Then you apply the gel and get it foamy on your face. Take your mach3 and start whacking at your face. Here is where you might get some irritation, the gel is a chemical and can case redness and irritation. The blades on a razor make a difference to, from a single blade disposable to the multi blades monsters of today. I will say that the more blades does not mean a better shave, actually the worse is more likely the case. From what I have read what a modern razor does is this: It lifts the hairs up of your face and cuts the hair bellow the surface of your skin. Thus when you razor makes its pas your skin may feel smooth, but it is also prone now to that hair becoming ingrown and painful, this was my face. The add campaign of the above picture is far from the truth, it is not the best shave made better.
Also with this type of razor sometimes you still need to touch up areas on your face with a different stroke like against the grain. By doing this you are further scraping your face raw with multi-bladed heads. With one swipe of a mach three you are shaving three times in essence, three blades. So with multi passes it multiplies how many times your face gets scraped. This can and did leave my face very raw sometimes as I shave every day. I cherished the weekend since I did not have to shave. Longevity is always an issue with shaving this way as well, usually I had a pretty good 5 o’clock shadow going before I left work each day at 4pm. That is a total of about 9 hours on a good day of shaving. Not the best.
Ok so you bought the equipment, shaved and now if you like put on some aftershave and feel the burn. I would count this experience and average at best. There is not pleasure in the experience, no fun and you sometimes feel worse after shaving. This is what made me seek out different options to make my face happier. This set up cost around $20-30 to start out with. Maintenance cost are anywhere from $10-30 a month depending how often you need shave gel and replacement cartridges. So say 150-300 a year on shaving cost. Not to mention just a mediocre shave.
Second way to shave. This takes less equipment than the first but can cost considerably more. Electric razors, my face cringes at the thought of an electric razor. I used an electric when i first started to shave. It is what my dad used and probably what most of our dads used or use today. This was to be a more effective and efficient way to shave. I will say if you have a face that likes an electric razor you are luckier than some. This way of shaving can promote ingrown hairs and irritation in some electrics worse than just a regular razor.
All depends on what type of electric you use as well. Also how much you spend, can range from $20 to in the hundreds for a good quality electrics. Again this is just an average shave, that I think even promotes greater growth, or at least doesnt give as close as a modern razor can give in some cases. 5 o’clock shows up earlier with electrics in my experience, and you sometimes have to shave a couple of times a day. Blades are more expensive to buy as well for these razors, can cost up to $50. Say about three times a year, that’s $150, plus the initial cost of the razor. That is just too much for a mediocre shave. So this way of shaving, depending on how your face takes your razor, is about the same or worse than a modern type razor.
Ok on to a better way to shave, this is a step up in quality, experience and actually can cost less. This is what is known as wet shaving, with a Double edge razor or DE. This shave can be expensive if you get into it, or reasonable if you just want a good shave. This is where you start getting into what I like to refer to as a custom shaving experience. You make it what you want it to be. To be fully honest, I have not done this myself to myself, I had a barber do it. So that in and of itself should go to show that if a barber recommends a DE that it might be better than just your local drug store shave. At any rate, here is your equipment list.
Soap or cream
All of this can cost to start out with about $130 for all of the above. You can find websites like classicshaving.com that provide shaving sets that come with everything you need to get started at very reasonable prices. The nice thing about DE’s are the maintenance cost, it can reduce your shaving cost up to $200 a year, reported by some on the forum. All you need is just new soap, that is from $1 to a lot more depending on what you want, but for the most part cheap, also you will need replacement blades, $6 for 10 blades, and a blade last you a while.
The shaving experience. From the shave I had it was very enjoyable, from the start to finish. It is a different way of shaving all together, it is enjoyable for one thing and it is an actual experience not a chore that you have to perform daily. With DE it does not take long to shave either, I would say no longer than you did with a modern type razor taking your time, 10-15 minuets. This is probably the kind of razor your grandpa used. From the start you are pampering your face, you clean it however, hot towel or shower. Then you build a lather from the soap that is much more comfortable than the can junk and better for your skin since most soaps are natural or very close to it. Then you apply the lather with your brush, badger is a good brush, and just feel the comfort and smell of it all. The shave part, once you set up the razor, is just awesome. The blade glides on your face no pulling, tugging or irritation once you get the basics down.
The cutting part is the big difference with a DE razor. It cuts the hairs at the surface, not below, of your skin. It reduces irritation since it’s a single blade doing the work of what you use to use 3 or more for. Plus this single blade does a better job than multibladers. It is a bit riskier than a mach3 because it can cut you easier, but that all comes with practice, doesnt take that long to learn either. So this is a major improvement in experience and comfort already, along with cost. Say it only cost $20-50 a year to maintain your razor and equipment.
As for longevity of a DE shave, well I didnt have to shave for almost 2 days after mine from the barber. That is a shave that would be presentable at work, and I’m in the military. initially my face was baby smooth for the first whole day, the second you could feel a slight stubble trying to grow, but the second morning it was defiantly time to shave. So for bang for your buck, DE’s are the way to go.
Now onto my kind of shaving. This is still wet shaving, but a different razor, the Straight Razor. This razor is most likely the type your great grandpa used. They have been around for hundreds of years. This is what I am currently learing to do, if you couldn’t tell by my other posts. This way of shaving is the most expensive I would say to get into, but not much more than a DE. The maint cost are less expensive than all the others in the long run though. The shave is next to none once you get it down. Nothing like it. Here is your list:
Mug or scuttle or bowl
Soap or cream
Strop, later on down the road a hone
Ok so you have your stuff. Here is a good place to get some straight stuff if you want it, http://www.straightrazordesigns.com/ . They have straight razor sets as well that start out at $160, good deal for all that you get. They also offer a great deal with a free honing with your purchase and have the best support. Just need to get your pencil and aftershave locally and that’s it.
For the shave, I will spare you the prep, same as the DE with one exception, blade prep. You have to strop the blade to keep it sharp. Once you are lathered up you grab that manly piece of steel that has be made into a fine piece of shaving equipment. Let the razor do the work, do not use any pressure and stretch your face nice and tight. Same as the DE this just cuts the hairs at the base of your skin. This helps tremendously with ingrown hairs. I have not had one since I started to shave with a straight. Also now that I have more experience and better technique my shaves are very comfortable. Once well-practiced there is no irritation or burn. After shave should not burn either, only tingle.
As for longevity, I would put it slightly above a DE, but I havent experienced this myself yet. It is supposed to last a long time, the other day i got a good shave in that lasted me from the night I shaved to the next night I came home from work, and without any 5 o’clock shadow. Equipment cost can be expensive to start, but the good thing is all you every have to buy again is soap once you run out. That’s it, so at what I am buying say $10-25 a year. Not bad, not bad at all. Plus you get the excitement and thrill of having a sharp instrument gliding on your face. There is a certain feel of shaving with a straight that boost’s how you feel about yourself as well. A little more daring, a little more adventurous, able to take on the world.
So there it is, my comparison from bad to awesomeness. Hope this helps, or at least is a good read for some. Happy shaving.