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Tutorial: Understanding Traditional Shaving Terminology

Tutorial: Understanding Traditional Shaving Terminology

Jason Riegle |

Understanding Shaving Terminology

When entering the world of traditional shaving, you will likely encounter a variety of terms and phrases that may seem confusing at first. This tutorial aims to clear up that confusion by explaining some of the most commonly used terms in traditional shaving.

1. Alum

Alum is a type of mineral that has astringent and antiseptic properties. In traditional shaving, an alum block is often used after shaving to soothe the skin, prevent irritation, and stop any minor cuts or nicks from bleeding. After rinsing off the shaving soap or cream, you simply wet the alum block and gently rub it over your face, then rinse again after a minute or two.

2. Slant

A slant razor is a type of safety razor where the blade is not straight but slanted. This unique design allows the blade to cut the hair at an angle, similar to the cutting action of a guillotine, which can provide a closer and smoother shave. Slant razors are especially beneficial for people with coarse or thick beard hair.

3. Adjustable

An adjustable razor is a type of safety razor that allows you to adjust the blade gap, which is the space between the blade and the safety bar. By adjusting this gap, you can control how aggressive or mild the shave is. A larger blade gap (more aggressive) will remove more hair in one pass but increases the risk of cuts and irritation, while a smaller blade gap (more mild) is safer and more comfortable but may require more passes for a close shave.

4. DE Razor

DE stands for double edge. A DE razor is a type of safety razor that uses a double-edge blade. As the name suggests, both edges of the blade can be used for shaving. This not only extends the lifespan of the blades but also allows for more flexibility as you can alternate between the two sides during the shave.

5. Shavette

A shavette is essentially a straight razor with a disposable blade. It provides the same close shave and precision as a traditional straight razor without the need for honing or stropping, as you simply replace the blade once it becomes dull.

6. Wet Shaving

Wet shaving is the traditional method of shaving with a safety razor or straight razor, using shaving soap or cream and a brush to create a lather. The term "wet" refers to the fact that you keep your face wet throughout the shave, which hydrates the skin and hair, making them softer and easier to cut.

7. TTO Razor

TTO stands for twist-to-open, also known as butterfly open. A TTO razor is a type of safety razor that opens from the top, allowing you to easily replace the blade. You simply twist the bottom of the handle to open the doors at the top of the razor, insert the blade, then twist the handle again to close it.

8. Pre-Shave Oil

Pre-shave oil is a product used before applying shaving soap or cream to prepare the skin and hair for shaving. It provides extra hydration, softens the hair, and creates a slick layer that helps the razor glide smoothly, reducing friction and irritation.

I hope this tutorial helps you understand the terminology used in traditional shaving. With this knowledge, you can more confidently navigate the world of shaving and find the tools and techniques that work best for you. Happy shaving!

9. Balm

In the context of shaving, a balm is a soothing, hydrating product applied to the skin after a shave. It often contains ingredients like aloe vera, witch hazel, or various oils to calm and moisturize the skin, helping to prevent irritation and dryness.

10. Aftershave

An aftershave is a product used after shaving to soothe and disinfect the skin. Traditional aftershaves usually contain an antiseptic agent like alcohol or witch hazel to prevent infection of cuts, a perfume to provide scent, and an astringent to reduce skin irritation.

11. Pass

In shaving terminology, a pass refers to a single application of the razor across the skin. For example, a typical shave might include a first pass with the grain of the hair, a second pass across the grain, and a third pass against the grain for the closest possible shave.

12. Lather

Lather refers to the frothy foam created when mixing water with a shaving soap or cream. This foam is applied to the skin prior to shaving to hydrate the skin, soften the hair, and provide a smooth surface for the razor to glide over.

13. Open Comb

An open comb razor is a type of safety razor where the safety bar has gaps or teeth, resembling a comb. These gaps allow for more lather and hair to pass through, making open comb razors more aggressive than their closed comb counterparts. They can provide a closer shave and are often preferred by those with thicker or denser beards.

14. Closed Comb

A closed comb razor, also known as a safety bar razor, is a type of safety razor where the safety bar is solid with no gaps. These razors are considered to be milder and are generally more suitable for beginners or those with sensitive skin.

15. Stropping

Stropping refers to the process of maintaining a straight razor by running it back and forth along a leather strop. This action realigns the very edge of the blade, helping to keep it sharp and prolong its life.

16. Honing

Honing is the process of sharpening a straight razor on a hone or whetstone. Unlike stropping, which is done regularly, honing is only needed when the razor becomes noticeably less sharp, typically every few months.

This tutorial should give you a solid foundation in understanding traditional shaving terminology. Whether you're shopping for new shaving tools, trying out a new technique, or simply learning more about the hobby, it's always beneficial to know the lingo. Happy shaving!

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