Despite the recent beard trend, I still prefer shaving. But I’m like most black men. I get razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Until a friend asked me what kind of razor I used.
It never occurred to me that some razors are better for black men. Ingrown hairs are a thing of the past. It was a game-changer for me. Now I want to share my knowledge with you about the different types of razors.
The Four Types of Razors
There are four different types of razors, with dozens of variations for each type. Doing a quick Amazon search for razors will return enough results to make your head spin. It’s hard to know which one would be the best choice so you tend to stick with the same familiar one. But if you’re honest with yourself, you’d admit you’re not satisfied with the performance.
The most common type of razor is a cartridge razor. You may also call it a disposable razor. This type of razor has many blades, which you would think is great. Right? Wrong! I’ll explain why in a minute.
If you’re old school, you might use a double-edged, or safety razor. Welcome my brother. You’re already on the right path. But stick around and see if you can still learn a new thing or two.
You younger bucks might be keeping it smooth with an electric shaver. It might be quicker, but it’s not the best choice. Read on to find out why.
And there might even have a select few reading this who kick it way back by using a straight razor. You got more balls than me, my friend. My hat’s off to you because you’re getting the best shave possible. To recap, here are the four common razor types:
- Straight-blade razors
- Cartridge razors
- Double-edged razors
- Electric razors
Cartridge razors have plastic housing and handle, which holds 2 to 5 carbide steel blades. After a few uses, you can throw them away without hurting your penny counting heart. Some types have detachable cartridges (hence the name) that can be replaced as they wear out. With other types, you toss away the whole razor.
One of the most appealing features of cartridge razors is that they have more than one blade. You can pick from two blades up to five. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to use five when given the chance? Well, actually, the more blades you have, the more likely it is that you’ll get razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
Are Cartridge Razors Good for Black Men?
If you’re a black man with curly, coarse beard hair, you might have sensitive skin. Skin that doesn’t appreciate you scratching it with a bunch of sharp metal blades. Your skin gets payback by catching on fire with razor burn as soon as you’re done. And then you end up with the ingrown hairs.
As each blade passes up your skin, it tugs at the hair and cuts it. By the fifth blade, the hair has already come out of your skin four times. That last stroke made it way too short. As it starts to grow back up, it’s going to curl. Often times, it will curl under the skin, causing ingrown hairs. Or it comes out but then grows back in. Both are painful. And both are a result of so many blades.
How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of cartridge razors will depend on the brand you buy. The number of blades will also play a big factor in the cost. A pack of disposable razors can range anywhere between $5 and $20. Remember that this is a repeat investment. You should only use disposable razors between five and 10 times before you replace it with a new one.
The double-edged razor, which is also called a safety razor, only has one double-edged blade. The entire razor is metal and has a safety guard, which can help protect you from getting cut. Rather than toss away the whole razor, you only change the blade.
It does take a bit of work to get used to using this razor compared to a cartridge. And this type of razor won’t cut your beard any shorter than 1 mm from the skin. You will still have a bit of stubble instead of a silky-smooth feel, but it won’t be noticeable by looking at it.
By keeping a bit of hair above the surface of your skin, you’re reducing the chances of ingrown hair and razor bumps. One blade means it’s one stroke and you’re done.
How Do They Work for Black Men?
If you want a good shave without irritating after-effects, consider a safety razor. They’re recommended as the best choice of razor for black men with coarse, curly hair. This type of razor is also good for men who have sensitive skin and get razor bumps or ingrown hairs.
With a safety razor, you have more control over the angle of your cut compared to a disposable or electric razor. This allows for a smoother, closer shave. You should always shave in the same direction that your hair grows. This can be difficult to do with other razors but not with the safety razor.
What’s the Price?
Disposable razors cost a bit more upfront to buy compared to disposable razors. But your future costs will be pennies compared to how much you’ll have to spend each month (or sooner). You’ll spend more on the pre-shave oil and shaving cream than on replacing the blades. Which you should do once a week to avoid skin irritation from a dull blade.
I was a big fan of electric razors back in my younger years. I was always on the go so I needed a way to get a quick shave. Electric razors seemed to answer all our prayers. We could shave while driving down the road, without having to use shaving cream or even water.
The razor bumps and ingrown hairs that occurred later seemed to be typical whenever I shaved. It didn’t occur to me to think that electric razors were adding to my skin irritation. But we get wiser as we get older. Now I know that there are a few reasons why using an electric razor, and dry shaving are a bad idea.
When you use an electric razor on your face without any kind of moisturizer, you’re begging for trouble. Your skin is too sensitive and too dry. You may be asking, what if I use an electric razor with shaving cream and water. This should prevent any irritation, right? Nope.
Most electric shavers will cut your hair at an angle. This technique can cause the hair to grow beneath the surface of your skin. Hello, ingrown hair. Electric razors also have trouble trimming hair that grows in different directions. This can make you shave the same area a few times, which increases your chances of irritation.
Foil Electric Razors
Foil razors are better for black men than rotary trimmers. A foil trimmer cuts your hair in one stroke, like a safety razor. This technique will provide a less irritating shave, although don’t expect it to be smooth. Electric razors do not provide a close shave.
Rotary Electric Trimmers
Rotary trimmers are better for straight hair. They trim your beard by going over the same area a few different times with rotating heads. As explained, too much attention to one spot can cause razor burn and ingrown hairs.
What’s It Going to Cost You?
Electric razors can be pricier than all the other razor types listed. The brand will always play a factor in how much you’ll spend. As do all the extra features you can pick. There is also a price difference between a wet and dry electric razor. You’ll also have to pay for batteries if you don’t have a charging station. And you’ll also need replacement blades or foils, and cleaning cartridges. You can buy an electric razor for around $30 and up.
Straight Edge Razor
If you’ve ever gotten a shave at the barbershop, you know what a straight edge razor is. If you haven’t, let me paint you a picture. You have a long blade that folds into the handle for safe storage. There is no guard to protect you from getting cut. This issue can make some people feel uncomfortable using this type of razor on their face or neck.
Plus, using a straight edge requires a whole different shaving technique than we’re used to. I tried using a straight edge once. My hand shook the whole time. Just to let you know, a shaking hand and a sharp blade near your throat is not a good combo. After the fourth cut, I gave it up.
It does take a lot of practice to get the hang of using a straight edge. But there are plenty of articles and videos on the web that can teach you how to do it. If you enjoy a baby-smooth feeling after you shave, a straight-edge razor might be for you. It provides the ultimate close cut with minimal irritation or ingrown hairs.
Straight-edge also lets you have complete control over the angle you shave. You’ll have no problem following the grain, no matter which way the hair grows. But you do have to devote a bit of time to get a good shave with a straight edge compared to the other types of razors.
Which Razor Do You Think Would Work For You?
Each type of razor has benefits and cons. But after trying them all, my personal preference is the double-edge, or safety, razor. It provides the right shave without making my skin go into shock. And I don’t have any more razor burn or embarrassing ingrown hairs.
By picking the right type of razor, I get to look as good as I feel. Try changing your razor and see what it can do for you. But remember to follow a good pre and post-shave routine for the best results.