blade buddy

I’ve been looking for a way to keep razor blades sharp longer for quite a while now. I tried a bunch of stuff that I read online such as:

– Blow drying the blades to keep them dry after use
– Wiping them on a piece of denim (a few people do this on YouTube)
– Wiping them on a towel after use
– Storing the blades in jojoba oil

Of the above methods, only storing them in jojoba oil seemed to keep them sharper longer. However, the oil would sometimes get a little gross so I decided to see if there were any other good options.

I recently purchased the Blade Buddy and decided to give it a shot. The instructions on the Blade Buddy tell you to apply some shaving cream to the Blade Buddy and gently glide the blade up the surface of the Blade Buddy 15-20 times before each shave. This sounds like it would be a pain, but it really wasn’t bad at all. I use Acne.org Gentle Cleanser for my shave cream so I just put some of the lather from that on there and did as instructed.

I started using the Blade Buddy on January 12. It’s been 1 month. I started with 2 separate blades which I exchanged daily. I alternated each day for the past month, one day using the first blade without the Blade Buddy, and the next day switching the blade to the second blade and using the Blade Buddy as instructed, then switching back to the first blade without using the Blade Buddy and so on…

I put a new blade under my microscope here at the office and took a picture of a new blade on January 12 before I started. Here it is:

new blade Jan 12

After 15 days of using the first blade without the Blade Buddy, this is how it looks:

no blade buddy blade

After 15 days of using the second blade with the Blade Buddy:

with blade buddy

You can see that the blade I used without the Blade Buddy has many more pits and imperfections. The blade that I used with the Blade Buddy appears smoother and newer.

This leads me to believe this product actually does do something. However, I really can’t notice a difference when shaving yet. If I were to try a blind shave test as it were, I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference. I’ll keep testing for another month and we’ll see how it progresses. This is kinda fun…

[Note: I am not in contact or related to Blade Buddy in any way.]

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razors

I try every razor that comes out in the futile attempt to find something that comes close to the Gillette Trac II, which is by far the least irritating razor on the market and the best for people who are acne-prone.

The commercials are so compelling. A FlexBall! It hugs the contours of the face! Well, not really. This razor is much like any other 3, 4, or 5 blade razor. It is much more irritating than the Trac II and doesn’t provide as good of a shave. For 3 days each, I tried both the manual version of this razor and the “power” version which vibrates when you press the button, and neither version seems to hug my face at all. To be honest, the FlexBall for me was just a gimmick and did nothing special. The same goes for the power vibrating version. It feels no different from the manual version and seems completely unnecessary.

Take it from me…save our money and go with the Trac II.

All the info you need for shaving: Acne.org’s complete guide to shaving

Jojoba Oil ShavingThere are two things that dull razor blades: (1) water, and to a lesser extent (2) simply using the blade. What causes the most damage is oxidation from water, but blades also get microscopic nicks in them from the act of shaving itself.

I’ve been experimenting with methods of keeping my razor blades dry for about a year now. I’ve tried keeping them dry by rubbing them on a towel after I’m finished shaving, rubbing them several times against denim like a few YouTube videos suggested, and always keeping the razor in a sunny window so it stays dry.

Nothing works. My razor blades still get dull after about two weeks.

Last week, my friend’s cousin’s husband came over to the office to say hi. Good ideas can come from the most interesting of places ;) He pulled me aside and said he’s been putting his razor in jojoba oil after each shave and his razor blade is staying sharp for months at a time.

I started doing this a few days ago. I don’t know if it’s going to work yet, but the shave itself is extra nice with jojoba oil coating the entire blade. Have any of you guys tried putting your razor into oil (jojoba oil or any other oil)? If so, how has it worked for you?

Shaving Cream AcneHistorically, soap was used as shaving cream. Soap remained the mainstay in shaving technology for centuries, until the mid 20th century when modern chemistry introduced us to the products we see in drugstores today which combine cleansing ingredients with soothing emollients (moisturizers, oils). I’ve personally always shaved using the lather from a gentle cleanser as shaving cream and been happy with it. But I know a lot of guys like to use a modern shaving foam/gel/cream, so I decided to launch an experimentation–try as many shaving preparation products as I can and see if there is a good one out there to recommend. I tried 12 products over the past several months, and made sure to include a variety of foams, gels, and creams.

Foams/Gels (come in metal pressurized cans): These are normally made with stearic acid and/or palmitic acid (used in soap making), triethanolamine (a “surfactant” a.k.a. cleanser), and an emollient (a moisturizing agent such as glycerin). They all provided me with a good shave, but I tended to prefer the foams over the gels. Almost all shaving foams and gels are made with high amounts of stearic acid or palmitic acid. From what I have learned in cosmetic ingredient classes, frequent use of these ingredients at high concentrations can negatively affect the skin’s barrier. In my product testing, I personally noticed that the stearic/palmitic acid shaving foams and gels left my skin with a slight but disconcerting sting. While I do appreciate the intense foaming these ingredients provide, I recommend that acne-prone people avoid using products with high concentrations of these powerful foaming agents.

Creams (come in pump bottles and tubes): Since stearic and palmitic acid were a dealbreaker with all of the foams and gels, that left me with creams. Some creams also contain stearic/palmitic acid, albeit usually further down on the ingredient list which indicates they are used at a lower concentration. The creams which gave me the most comfortable shave without a stinging afterfeel happened to be the two which did not contain these ingredients–Kiss My Face Moisture Shave and Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream. The Kiss My Face cream, however, contains coconut oil as the 6th ingredient which may or may not present an issue for acne-prone skin. When dermatologists tested ingredients on rabbit ears for comedogenic (pore clogging) potential, coconut oil presented as a 4 (out of 5). While these comedogenicity tests are imperfect in several ways, nonetheless I personally choose to avoid ingredients above a 3 on comedogenicity tests unless they are listed far down on a product’s ingredient list. That leaves us with the Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream. It contains 1% salicylic acid and is advertised as “Skin Clearing”. Salicylic acid, while it is FDA approved as an acne medication and thus allows retailers to claim “skin clearing” in their marketing, in reality will not do a great deal to help clear acne. However, the nominal amount in this product should not present any problems. It would be my pick if I were to shave with an over-the-counter shaving prep product.

Still the best is: After my product trials, I find that I am still the happiest when shaving with the lather from the Acne.org cleanser. Since I would rather people not add in external variables to the Regimen, I still strongly urge people to shave with the lather from an approved cleanser (Acne.org Cleanser, Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Purpose Gentle Cleanser or Basis Sensitive Skin Bar/Purpose Cleansing Bar if money is tight and you must). Simple cleanser, which was the mainstay of shaving technology for centuries, is still the safest, most effective option I have come across. If lots of people on Acne.org review the Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream and give it the green light, that could be a nice option as well. I’ve gone ahead and added this Neutrogena product to the reviews pages. If you have tried it, please leave your feedback.

What is an ingrown hair?: Ingrown hairs occur when a hair grows sideways, staying below the skin surface instead of properly exisitng the skin surface. They are common in areas that are shaven, and tend to affect men in their in their 30s and beyond to a higher degree. Ingrown hairs commonly occur on the chin, jawline, or sideburn area. These ingrown hairs can easily masquerade as zits because they are inflamed mounds that hurt. However, they tend to come out of nowhere, seemingly overnight at times, and tend to be painful as well. If you get a sudden, painful “zit” out of the blue, consider the fact that it may be an ingrown hair.

Proper treatment: For many people, ingrown hairs are a seemingly unsolvable conundrum. However, it turns out they can be successfully treated in much the same way as a severe acne lesion. Ingrown hairs respond to benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acid extremely well, as long as you catch them early. At the first sign of a reddish or painful lump, gently cleanse the skin, wait for your skin to dry, apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, wait for the benzoyl peroxide to dry, and then apply 10% alpha hydroxy acid on top. In other words, apply the Acne.org Regimen with the addition of AHA+.

Generally, when an ingrown hair is medicated during its very early stages, it will subside to nothing in a day or two. Benzoyl peroxide helps kill the bacteria that is growing under the surface, and alpha hydroxy helps turn over the skin more quickly, thus releasing the impaction.

Prevention: Most people find that applying the Regimen on a regular basis to ingrown hair prone areas will prevent ingrown hairs from developing in the first place. Regular adherence to a proper benzoyl peroxide regimen should be enough to prevent ingrown hairs without the addition of alpha hydroxy acid. If you are irregular with your benzoyl peroxide use, alpha hydroxy may be needed when an ingrown hair threatens.

Removing/Popping an ingrown hair: If you catch it too late, an ingrown hair can grow larger and more painful. The lesion can come to a white head, in which case you can carefully pop it and squeeze out the offending hair. Absolutely do not attempt to squeeze out the hair unless the lesion has come to a head.

Dermatologist help: In rare cases, ingrown hairs can get out of control, and the lesion they create can expand to several centimeters or even inches long. In this case, promptly see a dermatologist. He/She can administer a cortisone shot and/or remove the hair entirely, thus preventing too much scarring.

Over-the-counter creams/gels: Ingrown hair creams or gels tend to disappoint. I have personally never come across one that works as advertised. For best results, apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and a high quality 10% alpha hydroxy acid instead.

Pros: The one blade “trimmer” on the back is nice to have for perfect sideburns, although I did cut myself with it once.

Cons: Very irritating, tons of drag, expensive, doesn’t fit in usual razor shower caddy.

Bottom line: For all the talk of “thinner blades” and “less irritation” and “less drag”, I was expecting much more. Honestly, I didn’t notice much of a difference between this razor and Gillette or Bic’s previous 5 blade razors. They are all extraordinarily irritating. The 2 blade Sensor Excel or the two blade Trac II Plus are far less irritating and give a much more pleasant shave. I still would highly caution against these multi-blade razors and recommend strongly that people go with the Sensor Excel or Trac II Plus.

Recommended: Absolutely not.

I got an email from an acne.org member encouraging me to try this electric razor. It has a head which rotates extremely fast and the makers advertise that it cuts hair up to 270 times a second. It is a wet shaver that you use in the shower with shaving cream, or in my case, lather from Acne.org cleanser. I tried it for three days, hoping to give it a little time to get used to it and nail the technique. Unfortunately, it never worked well for me. No matter how hard I pressed it didn’t provide anything near a close shave. I prefer a close shave. Otherwise I end up feeling kinda gross toward the end of the day. Also, it took a while to complete the shave–quite a bit longer than with a 2-blade razor. It felt more irritating than a 2-blade as well. While it was not the most irritating electric I’ve tried, it did still have the feel of an electric. In other words, horrendous. I am pretty much giving up on trialing electrics at this point. I’ve tried probably a dozen of them and none have come even close to producing the low irritation and close shave of a 2-blade razor. Lastly, I got some obvious irritation on my neck, as electrics are wont to do. You can’t see it well in the picture, but it was pretty gross lookin’ for a day or two.

Bottom line: When comparing the rotoshave to 2-blade razors, and the Gillette Trac II Plus in particular, it is no contest. The Trac II Plus wins hands down. Every electric razor I have ever tried is irritating. This one was no exception.

One potential use: For people with lots of pustules and very bumpy, irregular skin, who prefer a shave that is not very close, this shaver may be worth a try. Since it does not offer a close shave, it may be less likely to nick very bumpy skin with lots of active acne.

[Acne.org’s guide to shaving]

I got an email from a member who wanted to let everybody know Dollar General is selling Gillette Trac II Plus cartridges for $1.25 for 6 blades. That’s cheap! He says they’re the real thing too.

The Trac II Plus is my favorite razor. The blades don’t come with the handle though. You need to get that separately. You can find out where to get those at the bottom of the recommended products page. I am totally unaffiliated with any of the companies that make the handles by the way.

For more info on all things shaving, check out the guide to shaving.

Trac II Plus razor cartridges