FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I'd like to start shaving with a safety razor. What do I need to get started?
A: You will need to purchase a safety razor and safety razor blades. For beginners, we recommend the Merkur 34C, Edwin Jagger 86, 87 or 89 series, or any of the Parker lines. For blades we recommend starting with Derby, Merkur or Personna. All double edged blades universeally fit the safety razors regardless of brand. You can also purchase one of our sampler blade packs, which include a few different types of blades, to figure out what works best for you. If you are currently using an aerosal based shaving cream, you can certainly continue. However, we recommend switching to a non-aerosal based shaving cream or soap due to the low quality of cream in aerosal cans and the high volume of air in the foam. Non-aerosal based soaps and creams will require you to create the foamy lather yourself, so you'll need a shaving brush and mug. For starters, we recommend any of the Taylor of Old Bond Street creams and any D.R. Harris soaps.
Q: I'd like to start shaving with a straight razor. What do I need to get started?
A: You'll definitely need a straight razor, shaving stone and strop to get started. The shaving stone is used to sharpen the straight razor, similarly to how you would sharpen a regular kitchen knife. The strop is used after the stone to smooth out the edge of the blade. These two steps are integral to providing a close new shave. Dovo razors are the most popular in the industry and will last a lifetime if cared for properly. We recommend using the double-sided 4000/8000 grit Norton shaving stone and any of the Illinois or Dovo strops.
Q: Why should I use a double edge safety razor versus a traditional cartridge razor such as a Gillette Mach3 or Fusion?
A: The short answer: 1) You’ll experience a closer shave with a safety razor 2) Your shaving costs will be decreased by about 85% using a safety razor 3) Safety razors cause a lot less irritation and ingrown hairs 4) It's more eco-friendly.
A closer shave is achieved because double edge razors are geometrically designed to glide over the skin more closely. Regarding costs, replacement blades cost typically between .15¢ - .50¢ each compared to $2.00 - $4.00 for a cartridge razor. Typically a double edge razor blade lasts 4 – 5 shaves and can last for an extra shave or two if you flip it over. As for irritation and ingrown hairs, the first blade of a cartridge razor (think Fusion and Mach3 razors) does the majority of the cutting causing it to become dull sooner than the others. After a few shaves this dull blade begins to cause irritation because it’s constantly being dragged and pulled over the skin and hair. Additionally, the multi blade system in cartridge razors allows the subsequent blades to knock the hairs down into the skin after being cut resulting in ingrown hairs.
Q: Why aren't safety razor and straight razor shaving more popular if they provide for a much closer and affordable shave?
A: Safety razors and straight razors were previously the only forms of shaving available up until the 1950's. During World War II, soldiers were provided with disposable razors for a quick and easy shave and were introduced to the general public after the war. Since the 1950's, large corporations - predominately Gillette, Procter and Gamble, Schick and Bic - have controlled the shaving industry by heavily marketing disposable blades. In reality, the majority of countries outside the United States use safety razor and straight razor shaving methods due the number of benefits they provide including a more closer, affordable, enjoyable and eco-friendly shave.
Q: How often should I change my double edge blade?
A: About every 4 - 5 shaves depending on the thickness and density of your facial hair. This applies to both double edge blades and cartridge blades (e.g. Mach3 and Fusion). This can also vary depending on the quality and sharpness of the blade purchased - the sharper the blade the longer it will last. Typically, after a few shaves you can flip the blade over and get one or two more shaves before replacing it.
Q: Should I use an adjustable double edge razor?
A: The purpose of the adjustable razor is to allow you to vary the amount of blade exposure and thereby change the aggressiveness of your shave. A more aggressive shave is sometimes needed when hair is more dense and/or and thick. Nonadjustable blades are set to the equivalent of a medium setting on an adjustable razor,and if you pursue a more aggressive or less aggressive shave, we typically recommend changing the blade itself or consider using a slant razor such as the Merkur HD slant or Merkur. The adjustable DE razors were originally designed when there were less blade options available and you could not adjust the aggressiveness of your shave by just switching blades. The adjustable razors are still in production today for those that actually prefer this razor option.
Q: What is the difference between a carbon steel and stainless steel straight razor?
A: The primary difference between them is the hardness of the steel. While the stainless steel edge is more difficult to sharpen, its sharpness lasts for a longer time. Conversely, it’s easier to achieve an edge on a Carbon Steel, but at the same time the edge dulls more quickly and therefore requires more maintenance. Both razor types should be completely dried after daily use prior to storing to avoid water spotting and rusting. For long term storage it is recommended that you wipe the blade with a non-petroleum oil, such as camellia oil.
Q: Why would I consider an open comb razor?
A. Open comb razors are appropriate for people with thicker beards or who shave less frequently. The open comb helps direct the beard hair to the blade for a more efficient shave.
Q: What double edge blades should I use if I am new to wet shaving?
A: We recommend starting with a more mild blade such as the Derby, Merkur, or Personna until you get basics of safety razor shaving down. Due to the uniqueness of each person’s hair thickness, hair density, and skin type it’s difficult to recommend one blade over another. As a general rule, stay away from the Feather blades if you are new to wet shaving as they are the sharpest and typically recommended for those with thick beards and skin.
Q: Should I use a soap or cream?
A: It really comes down to personal preference. Generally speaking, soaps produce a slicker and richer lather compared to creams, however, the process requires a little more time and effort. Creams still produce a rich lather and usually do so more quickly and easily. Generally people new to wet shaving start off using creams and then switch to soaps as they become more experienced.
Q: Is there a difference in the quality and performance of one brush compared to another?
A: Yes, what distinguishes one brush from another is the the quality of the badger hair which equates to how it feels against your face and its ability to produce rich lather. Think of it as buying a steak. Just like there’s a difference in the quality of steak, such as t-bone, porterhouse, rib-eye, and filet mignon, there is a noticeable difference in quality of the brush.
Q. What determines the quality of a brush?
That’s driven by what part of the body the badger hair comes from. Typically, a lighter hair color on the tip of a brush indicates a higher quality brush. Even with the noticeable quality differences in the brush grade, it boils down to personal preference. Below is a list of highest to lowest grades of badger hair along with a brief description of each:
Silvertip Badger - Found only in the neck area of the badger, silvertip is the rarest, highest quality, most expensive grade of hair, and can absorb the most water. It has a distinctive luxurious and gentle quality feeling against your skin and produces a rich and dense lather.
Super Badger - Harvested from the back of the animal, super badger is very soft against your face with a luxurious feel and little to no scratching on the skin. Super badger is the most delicate hair type and the brush is more susceptible to damage if the brush is abused or not dried properly after each use.
Best Badger - Harvested mainly from the belly of the badger, this grade provides a good water absorbing capability and is less scratchy than pure badger.
Pure Badger - The most readily available grade, pure badger hair covers a very large portion of the badger's body and is the least expensive type of brush. This makes it a great starting point for a beginner. Tips of the hair are blunt and can occasionally have a slightly scratchy feel on the face. With that said, some experienced wet shavers still find pure to be their brush of choice due to the exfoliation it provides on the skin and the ease of use on lathering soaps.
Q: My tracking information shows my order has shipped, but when I track try to track the pacakge I don't see any updates.
A: If you placed your order from outside the United States or Canada, when the parcel leaves the Unites States Postal Service and enters a foreign system, the package can no longer be tracked USPS. Please contact Custom Shaving directly for any questions you may have regarding your international orders.
Q: How quickly is my order processed and shipped?
A: We process all orders the same day they are placed. All orders placed before 4pm EST are shipped out the same day; for those orders placed after 4 pm they are shipped the next morning. Because we’re located in New York City and our orders are shipped out same day, you should receive your orders quickly.