View Full Version : Wetshaving advice for a black friend?
08-16-2009, 10:19 PM
One of my best college buddies is a black man with obvious razor bump problems on his neck. Ingrown hairs, etc. I know he's had his qualms with shaving fusion-foam style. I think he's also self conscious about the whole thing.
How can I "convert" him to wetshaving in a courteous/gentle manner? i.e. I'd rather not be like "Hey those razor bumps look terrible, here's a better way to shave!"
Also...to get him started, can I safely borrow him my DE to have a go? Do I need to disinfect/do anything aside from throw a new blade in and tell him to have a go of it? Should I or can I suggest any products to eliminate the bumps before he tries something new? Any non-Scandinavian-white-as-you-can-be members wanna chime in on the subject with advice/experience?
I just want to broach the subject and get my friend on the path towards a happier and healthier face!
08-16-2009, 11:18 PM
Well you might tell him that you had problems with irritation, bumps etc. and that you discovered DE use helped. Also that you read the cartridge razor route actually MAY CONTRIBUTE to bumps and ingrowns in African American men because it just isn't sharp enough for the African American beard and DE blades are.Tell him if he doubts your word that you'll challenge him to a 2 week traditional shave off , whereby he uses a DE setup for that time and if he doesn't see results you owe him one dollar. Make it a humorous challenge test or competition between two comrade and that maybe the way to avoid embarassing or patronizing him.
A cheap student budget way to start him off and keep your razor for your use might be....
Gillette Tech razor- ebay $3 to $10
Van Der Hagen shave set $7 Walmart, comes with a brush, bowl, soap
FEATHER blades 10 pack
Dickinsons Witch Hazel $3 as aftershave
Hope for his sake he takes the plunge.:001_smile
08-17-2009, 12:57 AM
I would like to disagree with the previous comment regarding sharpness and the inability of cartidge razors to cut a 'tough' beard. Black men do not have the market cornered on thick, or tough beard hair. Many mediterranean guys could seriously compete!
A problem for many black guys in this regard is that their facial hair tends to be curlier than other men of other ethnicities. The hair shaft grows curved. Where this becomes a problem is typically when using modern multi blade razors. They have been engineered to create a cutting condition referred to as 'hysterisis' - where the first blade/blades stretch the hair and allow the next blade to cut the shaft even lower - even below the level of the skin. So, you have a hair that is cut very short and if it is curly, it essentially grows into the wall of the follice causing a place for infection to occur. It even has a fancy name - pseudofolliculitis barbae. Pseudo meaning false and barbae more or less meaning shaving. So the 'razor bumps' condition that black men get is a 'false' folliculitis (infection of the follicle) caused by shaving. Many white guys have this problem too. It really has a lot to do with how much curve is in the shaft of the facial hair. And, the neck is sort of an extension of the hair on your chest, and tends to be curlier than on your cheeks.
A single blade safety razor is much better for guys prone to this problem. Also too is getting over the need for that 'ultimate BBS' shave. Avoid going against the grain. Learning to live with an 'acceptable' shave of a couple of WTG passes can improve the condition immensely. Good skin preparation first and the use of a proper cushioning shave soap/cream makes a difference. No stretching of the skin is recommended if you tend to do that - it can lead to cutting the hair shorter than it should be. When the problem is active, try not to shave as often and when shaving is necessary, only a light WTG on the affected area. I haven't found anyone who has tried it, but apparently if you have a nasty infected spot you can literally (and carefully!) use a needle to pull the hair out of the follice so it can heal. It really is sort of like a splinter - and gets similarly infected. Then when all is cooled down, continue with a single razor and proper technique/supplies.
Guys who get the worst problems tend to use multi blade cartridges and barely prep at all. They just toss on some canned foam (which for the most part is really crap) and shave away - cutting the hairs too short and creating infection in the hair follicles.
Your questions though were directed at how to broach the subject with your friend and whether to share your equipment. I personally have brought this up with a couple of black friends before and was just straight up and honest. They kind of knew I was a little wierd and had a hobby of picking up razors and shaving eqpt. I started out by talking about a 'cool' razor I just picked up and babbled a bit about razors. Then, I just jumped right into saying 'I noticed you get a little irritation on your neck from shaving. I found out some interesting stuff about that....." and then just give a short 'babble' about it. Kind of an extension of my nauseating interest in razors and shaving. Neither of them felt threatened by it because I was more or less talking about myself and my hobby - but really it was about their issue. Both guys are black, and both are still shaving with single blade (DE) razors and doing much better thank you!
My step son's dad is trinadadian and the youngster (well, he is in his 20's now) was getting really nasty razor bumps but kept insisting I knew nothing and continued on with his battery powered fusion grain harvester (a stubborn young fella!) Finally he came back with some questions. I set him up with a Tech, some quality T&H cream, and some lessons. After about a month he only had a little irritation left. He is still adapting his technique in his troublesome spots, and it is pretty much cleared up now. He is a single blade convert too.
Regarding sharing your razor. Infection vectors such as Hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV are a definate concern. Proper sterilization techniques involve compressed steam and certain types of chemicals to really kill a virus such as HCV. Soaking in alcohol, soap or even bleach may not be sufficient. However, even a virus such as this typically is not infectious in dried blood plasma after 24 hours. HIV only remains viable for 4- 6 hours or so. So, if you have a razor that has been sitting around for a while, just wash it well and pass it along. There would be no problems. However, make sure that sufficient time has passed - these infections are realities. Ideally, if you have a spare that has been sitting around for a week or two you can feel 100% confident there are no concerns. (Wash it though.)
So, there you have it. Just bring it up - can't hurt.
08-17-2009, 12:39 PM
Great advice all around. Thanks much!
08-17-2009, 01:21 PM
In an all metal razor, would a bake in a biscuit tin (like my grandmother used to sterilize maternity instruments, she was nurse, 200 degree for between 30 minutes and an hour) do ok today???, or is it not ok for modern infections? I know a bit but I have dealt with fresh stuff, double gloving, sharps procedure etc. not with disinfecting razors :D LOL
08-17-2009, 04:35 PM
Most infectious bacteria/viruses would be on the blade anyways, and easily tossed into the blade bank to die.
Some alcohol and a toothbrush should be sufficent for the razor, just let it dry overnight.
Just a little note on the OP....
"I haven't found anyone who has tried it, but apparently if you have a nasty infected spot you can literally (and carefully!) use a needle to pull the hair out of the follice so it can heal. It really is sort of like a splinter - and gets similarly infected. Then when all is cooled down, continue with a single razor and proper technique/supplies."
As a sufferer of ingrown hairs, I can verify that this method works. However, I'd like to add to it.
As others have said, using a DE razor is the way to go for this problem.
For ingrown hairs that have been so for a long time (as can be the case for many black men) it is best to apply a hot towel to the area for a few minutes to soften the skin and relax the underlying areas. Yes, you can use a needle to lance the boil but do so in a straight on manner, do not lance the side. The reason for this is so that you may more easily find the ingrown hair with tweezers.
I like to use a tool that is meant for pimple/blackhead removal on the boil after lancing. It does less damage to the skin than squeezing. Once the hair is out, I find that it is better to remove the hair than leave it in. More often than not it seems that the follicle is infected and removing it will allow a new hair shaft to form and grow out much more normally. Finally smear the area with bacitracin or some other antibiotic ointment.
As one last note, your friend might want to consider not shaving for a day or two especially if he is removing a fair amount of ingrowns at once as the skin will be very irritated.
Best of luck with to you and your friend.
08-17-2009, 07:33 PM
Try sending him these two links http://www.badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=91337 and http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=94775 inconspicuously of course.
Hope you can convert him and help him out.
08-17-2009, 10:02 PM
I'm white, but I have a very curly beard and used to have real problems with ingrown hairs. (Actually maybe this is telling me something about my anscestry, which would not perturb me at all or even surprise me!)
Anyway, utterly counterintuitively to me when I started, a straight seems to be the way to go, at least if one goes through the whole rigamarole of hot towels, alum block, after shaves, balms, etc. I am amazed, but it sure changed my life. Ingrown hairs are miserable.
08-18-2009, 09:21 AM
I think the posts in this thread should be referenced and put in the scientific literature. An amazing resource!
Craig the barber
08-18-2009, 12:37 PM
I like RocketMan's advice! If wetshaving the single blade will be the best option. As far as keeping the razor bumps under control, I use 3-in1 Post Shave by Lab Series. It's designed to slow down the beard growth, and it won't dry out your skin like the other products out there. I have been using it for over 3 yrs...it works! I recommend it to all of my clients! DM.Aelis, pass this post on to your friend as a helpful tip! http://www.themensroom.com/shaving/ingrown-hairs-heres-why/
08-19-2009, 08:52 AM
And if it hasn't been said already, I applaud you for what you are doing for your friend. Why not have him take a look at this site and follow the transformation of Pottertons, another member who has been struggling with the problems of having ethnic hair and trying to shave without irritation and ingrowns. One other thing I would like to mention is that there is still an article on the internet by Corey Greenberg about wetshaving titled "How to Get That Perfect Shave" or something like that, and it directly references Black men's shaving issues and how they can be resolved by going back to the brush and bowl and DE razor. This is the article that got me started and ultimately brought me home to B&B. Good luck to your friend.
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