A Love Letter To The Safety Razor

Photo: Courtesy of Oui Shave.
There are those who embrace their body hair in all its glory, and to them I say: You go, girls, keep on fighting the good fight against the patriarchy. I, however, am not one of them. My aesthetic is Chinese Crested (bare below the head), and my idea of a good time is the scene in The Hunger Games in which the tributes are taken to The Capitol, strapped down to tables, and buffed, waxed, and lasered within an inch of their lives. Like Chrissy Teigen, I shave my entire body every day.

So, yeah, I consider myself somewhat of a hair-removal enthusiast, if you will. But until a few months ago, I didn't really know what a safety razor was, other than old-fashioned and terrifying — and I certainly didn't think using one would change the whole damn shaving game. I was wrong. And now, I've made it my mission to spread the word.

Let's begin with a very brief history lesson: The term "safety razor" first appeared in an 1880 patent application, but it was Gillette that really got the ball rolling with its single-blade, double-edged design, which ended up in the supply kits of World War I soldiers. The big idea behind the razor was sustainability: Here was a tool that would allow men to give themselves the barbershop experience at home — or on the battlefield.

Today, there are slight variations to the safety razor, but basically, you've got a heavy, solid-metal handle, the base of which unscrews to lift the protective-guard top on the other end, between which you sandwich your disposable blade. I know, it sounds...sharp. I left my Oui Shave razor sitting in its box under my sink for weeks because I could envision The Post headline: Girl Bleeds Out In Bathtub In Pursuit Of Smooth Bikini Line. No one wants to go that way. But trust me, you're not going to Sweeney Todd yourself.

The golden rule of safety-razoring is "Thou shalt apply no pressure." That's why the handle is weighted — to do the work for you. You just apply your shaving cream or oil (and oil gives a better glide, so I endorse that), and shave as usual, minus the pressing-down, dragging-along-the-skin part. Ask yourself: How might a ballerina shave her legs? Then do that. (But what if I accidentally press down?! Then I cut myself?! No. You'll probably be fine. I use too much force 99% of the time. What I'm saying is, you just don't need any for it to work. But still, it's a razor, so start slow and be careful.)

The question of the hour: Why is the safety razor far more magical than the regular ol' razor? Well, how much time do you have? First, you need to understand that most of the marketing around hair removal is bullshit. Women and men do not need different razors. Our skin is the same. (And FYI, gender-divided marketing of razors isn't new either.)

No matter our gender, much of our hair is the same (coarseness, of course, varies depending on the area of focus and genetics). And if there's one thing men have been doing longer, it's shaving. Now, go ahead and stay loyal to your pink, shea-butter-surrounded, three-blade razor if it's working for you — and for a lot of people, it does, so that's great — but it never has for me. Ingrowns, irritation, bumps — I just assumed they were a fact of life until recently.

That's because more blades lead to, yes, a closer shave, but also, a hell of a lot more irritation, according to most derms. Here's why: Multi-blade razors use a combination of blunt and sharp blades. The blunt one hooks onto the hair and pulls it up, while the sharp one comes from behind and slices it, which causes it to retract below the surface, into the follicle. If you've got five blades, that process repeats itself over the hair until it's way deep down there. That's all well and good — unless the razor cuts through too many layers of skin (razor burn), or cuts the tip of the hair too sharply, causing it to pierce through the follicular wall and grow into the surrounding skin (razor bumps). And it does. Often. In my experience, the more blades, the more friction, the more irritation.

But a single-blade razor will never do you wrong like that. It'll cut off the hair bluntly in one pass — no catching or dragging. It won't clog, meaning less bacteria buildup. In fact, my skin has never been this clear and even-textured. I'll admit, by the end of the day — because it doesn't cut quite as deep — I'll notice the slightest hint of a 5 o'clock shadow on my legs from the safety, but I'll take that over red bumps any day.

Finally, let's swing back to that marketing bullet point. Shaving companies need to make money. To do that, they need to be selling you replacement razors and/or refills every few months. When they realized that safety razors weren't good for business — because they never need to be replaced — the multi-blade disposable was born. Sure, it seems expensive initially — the one I use is $85 — but do the math: A pack of five double-edged razorblades costs under $10, and you can get around 200 shaves out of one if you use both sides.

Bottom line: Playing it safe has never worked out so well.
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