Just like almost everything else in this complicated world, you’ve got a few grooming tool decisions to make. Depending on the complexity of your look or how particular you are about your shaving results, you’ll probably need separate equipment for carving and detailing.
Your whiskers are born to be wild. They grow in different directions, come in varying thicknesses and like to both curl and grow straight. Some even like to grow back into your skin. Getting cooperation means grooming tools, and the patience to regularly put them to use.
At the very least, you’ll need a beard trimmer, a razor and a pair of sharp scissors. If you’re particularly fond of your mustache and sideburns, there are trimmers and trimmer attachments made just for those, too.
At times it might seem you’re picking between a Captain America shield and an Ironman suit, but there are good reasons for every choice.
Battery Powered and Plug In Equipment
If you’re going to have facial hair, a trimmer is one of those grooming tools you can’t do without. Most models come in battery-powered and corded versions. Definitely go for a battery-powered trimmer, a rechargeable version if possible. Rechargeable models are generally the most expensive, but add in battery cost, and you’ll see that they are the biggest bargain. You’re still looking at under $30 for a basic rechargeable trimmer.
A good beard look means facial hair that is trimmed to a consistent length. This is almost impossible to do with scissors. Beard trimmers do a much better job in less time, and they’re great for a first time style, regular maintenance and anytime touch-ups.
Don’t let the abundance of trimmer manufacturers, models and accessories make you want to give up before you start growing your beard. Here are a few things to look for in a good beard trimmer:
- Adjustable length settings
- Interchangeable trimmer blades
- A good grip – one that is comfortable for you to hold (You’re going to be a contortionist maneuvering equipment around your face.)
- A built in vacuum to minimize hair clean-up
- Wet/Dry shaving capability
- Stainless or carbon steel blades
- Self-sharpening blades
- Rechargeable with long-life batteries (lithium ion is the best choice)
- Short charging times
- Well-positioned on/off switch
- Attachments for nose hair, mustaches and sideburns
Don’t use electric haircut clippers on your facial hair. The teeth on the clippers are too wide for beard hair.
You’re going to need some green in the game. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but avoid making equipment decisions solely based on price. Your face is as tender as a baby’s but. If you want to keep it that way, it needs to be indulged. A disposable razor, a can of foamy chemicals and the scissors in your junk drawer aren’t going to do it.
With some shopping around, you can find good deals on trimmers, safety razors and barber’s scissors. These basics are much easier on your skin and provide a good groom. Check out eBay and bargain stores like Big Lots and Costco that should give you better prices than a department store or even Wal-Mart.
No Electricity Required
A trimmer is really handy for both major sculpting and getting that stubble just right. But, an old-fashioned safety razor is the best tool for giving you a shave that leaves your skin feeling pampered. If you want to go the throwaway route, cartridge razors have their uses, too.
Yes, the safety razor – one of those heavy silver razors that you’ve seen in your dad’s medicine cabinet. Jean-Jacques Perret invented them in 1762, and they’ve been scraping hairy faces ever since. You’ll also hear them called “double edge” or “DE” razors.
There are plenty of reasons for the safety razor’s lasting popularity, including that they’re durable enough to put in your will. Most of all, they provide one damn fine shave.
- The razor does more of the work. It’s heavier so you don’t have to apply lots of pressure against your skin to get a really close shave.
- You’re using a single cutting edge that easily tracks along the skin and cuts the whiskers without grabbing or pulling them.
- The two-sided design provides good balance in your hand.
- The razor is non-disposable and indestructible.
- Replacement blades are cheap.
Be careful when adding the safety razor to your arsenal. It’s going to take some practice getting the hang of pressing a sharp blade up against your skin without causing nicks and cuts. Once you’ve got it mastered, you’ll know it was worth it the breaking-in period.
A new safety razor is about a $50 investment, but, unless you lose it, it’s probably a one-time purchase. If you didn’t inherit one or can’t talk pops out of his, you can find some good deals on eBay or Craigslist.
Safety razors don’t operate on their own. They need double edge blades, which come in more flavors than Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Manufacturers claim that many types of blades have a unique sharpness, cutting ability and shaving life. Most brands have inexpensive options, so it’s easy to experiment until you find what you like.
Stainless steel blades are the most common. They won’t rust and are pretty cheap. Expect a decent quality blade to last through about a week’s worth of shaves, but mileage may vary.
Cartridge razors occupy the middle ground of quality between safety razors and disposable razors. The handles are reusable and the blades are disposable.
Razor manufacturers keep adding to the number of edges (blades) in the cartridges. What started as double-edged has morphed into triple-, quadruple- and even quintuple- edge cartridges. The theory is the more blades the closer the shave. So many other factors like material used in the blades and how well you can grip the handle affect the quality of the shave that it’s hard to tell how many blades are overkill.
When compared to a safety razor, a cartridge razor can seem ridiculously easy to use. Cartridge razors with a pivoting head are great for maneuvering around the curves in your face and neck. The pivot head is probably the best cartridge razor for shaving the area under your nose.
Cartridge razors are convenient, but be prepared for just an ok shave. Particularly if you have a coarse bead, a cartridge razor will likely leave some stubble behind, even after multiple swipes. Don’t worry, it’s not you. The problem lies in the design of the blade.
The blades in a cartridge are tightly packed together to form the cutting edge. They leave little room for gaps between edges. If your whiskers aren’t short enough to fit between the edges, the blade can’t cut them cleanly. You’re left making multiple passes with the razor along your skin -a process that is time consuming and irritates your skin.
A cartridge should last about 4 to 6 shaves, but if you have coarse hair or lots of real estate to shave, prepare for more frequent replacements.
Unless you have absolutely no other choice, keep disposable razors away from your face.
Grooming scissors are indispensable for trimming jobs, particularly with longer beard styles. There’s no better tool for clipping mustache hair that’s grown over your lip and snapping off those random stray hairs anywhere on your face. Consider purchasing a pair of professional barber’s scissors. They are sharp and designed to cut hair. Just like knives, they’ll need to be sharpened now and again.
Using a shaving brush and latherable cream or soap is like adding foreplay to your shaving experience. It is unmatched in its ability to liven up a boring routine. Plus, lathering up with a brush just feels nice on your face.
When paired with just about any natural shaving soap, a good shaving brush can create a rich, thick shaving lather. Swirling the brush around in it hydrates the shaving cream. That extra air helps get the shaving cream up under each whisker to protect your skin from the friction caused by blades.
The bristles in a shaving brush also work to exfoliate your skin. While you’re spreading the soap around, you’re removing dead skin cells that tend to clog the razor and prevent a smooth glide. If you’ve got acne, exfoliation can help to clean up your pores.
Brushes are made out of two types of animal hair: boar and badger.
A badger hair brush will give you the nicest shaving experience. Its bristles are the best at absorbing water and creating the highest quality lather. The brush also softens the whiskers, which helps to lift the beard for the shave and lets the razor get closer with fewer passes. Besides, a badger hair brush just feels great on your face. You can find a good quality brush for $50 or less, but it’s an investment. That quality of a brush could last 30 years or more.
Boar bristles are stiffer than badger bristles and hold less water. They’re an option of you’re limited on cash. There are really cheap shaving brushes made from synthetic materials, too. You can find a boar’s hair or synthetic brush for about $5.
Combs and Mirrors
A beard of any substantial length is going to need grooming with a wide-toothed comb. For lighter beards or your mustache, you’ll need a fine-toothed comb or a mustache comb. A comb you use to comb your hair isn’t a good substitute. A comb for beard trimming has teeth that are narrower and easier to use on your beard.
Obviously, you’re going to need a mirror. You might want to accompany that big one on the wall with a magnifying mirror and a three-way mirror – all the more angles to see your face, and where you’re aiming all those sharp tools.
You’re going to need some soaps and creams to ensure a nice healthy face and beard. It’s time to Assemble your Products