Razors & Blades

SAFETY RAZORS, STRAIGHT RAZORS & BLADES

Razors & Blades

There are a lot of razors out there, so let’s clear up the mystery. A straight razor is the oldest and most notorious razor out there. Sometimes referred to as a straight edge or knife, the straight razor has been given a bad rap thanks to horror movies like Sweeney Todd. This type of razor consists of a single, permanent blade that folds down into its scales, or handle. A straight razor is sharpened using stones once every 60 or so shaves and is then stropped on a piece of leather, or strop, each time it is used. The younger brother of the straight razor is referred to as the Safety Razor, deemed such since it is in fact safer than a straight razor. The 2 main types of Safety razors are double edged and single edged (DE’s and SE’s). Both types take single replaceable blades and are shaped more like the razors common today, like a T. Single edged razors have one cutting edge on the side of the head while double edged razors have 2 cutting edges, one on each side of the razor head. SE and DE safety razors are fairly similar in operation, but DE’s are more common. There are more divisions and varieties of razors, but these are the basic classifications.

At The Copper Hat we have collected and tested razors in every category, and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Below is a detailed description of each type of razor.

Double Edged Razors

Double edged razors (DEs) differ from razors available at the drug store because their precision comes from the weight and angle of the razor, rather than the number of blades. While newer cartridge razors may boast multiple blades, they often contribute to sloppy technique that can leave you with razor burn and ingrown hairs. When the first of multiple blades drags the shaving cream in front of it, the remaining blades actually dry shave the skin; not something you are looking for in a good shave. Our razors are a perfect example of quality over quantity.

Double Edged Safety Razor

Double Edged Safety Razor

The 2 sided double edged blades allow double the shaving time before rinsing and generally last for 4 to 7 shaves. Our razors range in age from brand new to almost 100 years old and were built to stand the test of time. They make excellent daily shavers and are very inexpensive to maintain (see Blades to purchase), not to mention beautiful additions to your shave den. DEs typically come in 2 styles: 3 piece and twist-to-open. It is very simple to put a new blade into either style of DE. With a twist-to-open you simply twist the lower portion of the handle and the head of the razor (silo door style) opens up. To open a 3 piece you just twist the head of the razor until it comes off of the handle and place the blade between the 2 head plates.

DEs are fantastic for any experience level shaver and are one of the styles that we most often recommend for new wet shavers. Most DEs place the blade at an angle that is very easy to shave with, and those that have more extreme angles are listed as such in our descriptions.

Blades

All of our double edged razors take standard double edged blades.  We stock a number of different brands of blades and recommend trying a variety of them. Every shaver reacts differently to particular blades and it is a good idea to try a few to pin point your best combination. For example, double edged “Feather” blades are extremely sharp (yes, all blades are very sharp, but these guys reach a new level), so we recommend getting some experience with other blades first. On the other hand, some people prefer an extremely sharp blade, so they may want to start right off with Feather. To make this easier, we also offer sample packs so you can try a bit of this and a bit of that before you choose a favourite.

Please remember that the blades we sell are individually wrapped, but are still very dangerous if not unwrapped

Astra Double Edged Blades

 

carefully. Make sure you never touch the sharp edge of the blade (remember, DE blades have 2 sharp edges) and always dispose of used blades in a sealed container marked “sharps”, or better yet, in a handsome blade bank (see ACCESSORIES).

Single Edged & Injector Razors00183

The single edged razor (SE) is another option for shavers who prefer not to use a straight razor. SEs in our store come in 2 major categories that are really quite different: regular and injector. Both use a blade with one edge that lasts 4 to 7 shaves and tend to be slightly more aggressive than our double edged razors. Regular SEs are very straightforward to reload; you simply open the hinged head plate, pop a blade in, and close it. The angle of the head can present a challenge for new wet shavers; while those with some experience boast the regular SE shave as being superb.

The other SE style is the Injector razor. This type of razor requires a blade injector (available in the BLADES section) to push an old blade out while simultaneously inserting the new one. We love the injector razor because it is very easy to use and light weight. This style of razor is excellent for women because its ease of use provides excellent control on hard to reach/see areas and long straight aways. 00174

Like double edged razors, our SEs make excellent daily razors and are very inexpensive to maintain. They differ from razors available at the drug store because their precision comes from the weight and angle of the razor, rather than the number of blades. Remember, multiblades act like little snowploughs, dragging the shave soap off of your skin. Say no to dry shaving, say no to multiblade cartridges.

Straight Razors

These razors may conjure up images of horror movies, but in reality, a straight razor is an important skin care tool. If you ask a straight razor shaver why they do it, they will most likely tell you it is because they could never go back to anything else: the straight razor shave is an extremely close shave. Unlike most razors, straights do not use replaceable blades. The blade of a straight razor is generally sharpened using sharpening stones and pastes every 60 shaves (this varies person to person depending on coarseness of hair, type of razor, etc), like a knife. To keep a straight razor blade in optimal condition, it should be cared for by stropping it before (and for some people) after each shave. Your straight razor shaving and care techniques may be different than other peoples’, but we highly recommend that you do your research before using a straight razor if you are inexperienced. Better yet, find a barber in your area who specializes in straight shaving and treat yourself; once you learn and practice the techniques yourself you will never go back!

Straight Razor

Straight Razor

Some straight razor terms: A strop is the piece of leather used in the process of stropping a razor, or realigning the fine burrs on its shaving edge. The width of the razor is measured in inches (ex: 3/8″). Very wide (7/8″) and very narrow (3/8″) blades can be a bit of a challenge to wield, so we generally recommend 5/8″ or 6/8″ for first time straight shavers. The scales of a straight razor are what some would call the handle; the material that protects the blade when the razor is closed. Some of our straight razors have been restored by talented craftsmen while others are listed as-is with the option of a custom restoration. If you have any questions about straight razors or restorations, please let us know.

A Quick How To

Remember, your Copper Hat razor is probably a lot heavier than the one you bought at the drug store. Because of its weight, your razor will easily do the work for you; be sure not to push your razor down onto your skin or hold it too tightly. The best way to hold a double/singled edged or injector razor is to grasp it at the very end of the handle with your thumb and a few fingers. For men, it is best to start by shaving the entire face with the grain. Usually one pass will achieve optimal smoothness, but if another pass is needed, we recommend re-lathering the entire face and shaving once more across the grain. For many women, however, shaving against the grain on the first (and usually only) pass works just fine. Straight razors are a bit of a different story; please contact us for straight razor how-to information.

The Brush

THE BRUSH MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

The Shaving Brush

Shaving foam from a can is gross. Canned foam is largely made up of air bubbles and therefore has a very hard time lubricating and protecting skin. Foam also tends to soak into skin, leaving an itch-causing residue when you rinse. A shaving brush, on the other hand, will leave you with smooth, irritant free skin.

A shaving brush creates a thick, skin protecting lather and distributes it evenly so that your razor does not shave exposed skin. The bristles of the brush exfoliate your skin, effectively removing dead skin cells right before you shave, ensuring your razor has the clearest path possible. A shaving brush also lifts each individual hair (by running it against the direction of hair growth after you lather) so that the razor slices through them rather than over them. Another bonus of the shaving brush is that by combining its exfoliation and distribution of soap it can greatly improve skin affected by acne.

By trading in your canned chemical goo for a shaving brush and luxurious soap you can go from a mediocre, irritating shave to a “feel how smooth!” spa-like experience. Who knew such a little brush could do so much!

One of a Kind & Hand Crafted

All Brushes by The Copper Hat are lathe-turned by The Copper Hat owner, Brad. Each brush handle design comes from his imagination and he never uses patterns. He uses a variety of handle materials including exotic hardwood, acrylic, and recycled styrofoam. Brad also welcomes and encourages custom brush requests. How cool would it be to give your Dad a shaving brush turned from a branch of the tree he built your treehouse in? What about framing timbers from a 100 year old hotel or antique acrylic insulating rod? Please contact us if you are interested in a beautifully unique, custom shaving brush.

Vintage Restoration Brushes

Brad also restores antique shaving brushes, removing the worn out bristles, setting new bristles, and cleaning and

Restored Antique Shaving Brush

Restored Antique Shaving Brush

polishing the handles.  We often have vintage restores for sale and also offer restoration services for your own shaving brush.  Since all brushes are in different conditions, before providing restoration services, Brad will take a look at your brush and and give you a quote based on the work you’d like done. Please contact us for more details.

The Copper Hat Shaving Brush Bristle Types

Silvertip Badger hair is of the highest quality for shaving brushes and is excellent for mixing up a thick lather. Silver tipped badger hair is extremely water absorbent, very soft to the touch, and great for all skin types, especially sensitive.

Finest Badger hair has very soft tips, similar to Silvertip Badger, but has much more “backbone”.  In shaving brush terms, backbone describes how floppy or stiff the bristles are.  Finest has lots of backbone, so it’s great for those who shave every few days, but are still looking for a luxurious brush.

Pure Badger hair is similar to silver tipped badger hair in that it is very water absorbent and soft. It is, however, slightly more stiff than the silver tipped hair and can be a bit rough for sensitive skin shavers if used every day. It is great at quickly lathering soap and exfoliating skin.

Black Badger hair is extremely water absorbent and mixes up thick lathers quickly.  It is stiffer than silvertip badger hair and can feel a bit rough for sensitive skinned shavers if used every day. It is great for exfoliating skin and lathering hard and soft soaps.

Boar hair is coarser than badger hair and synthetic bristles.  This brush is excellent for leg shaving, but most face shavers find it a bit too rough.  Boar hair exfoliates very well, so is great for covering the surface area of the legs quickly.

Horse hair is coarser and stiffer than badger hair and is excellent for those without skin sensitivities. It does not absorb as much water as badger hair, but more than synthetic bristles. Horse hair makes a great entry level brush.

Synthetic hair is a nylon, man-made material. It is not as water absorbent as animal hair, but is extremely soft and is excellent for people with very sensitive skin and for people who do not use animal products.

Care Tips

To ensure your brush lives a long life, it is important to care for it properly. Always hang your brush upside down to dry when you are done using it (see ACCESSORIES for brush stands). When you soak your brush before use, only leave it in the water for about a minute. Rinse your brush in warm water when finished, and do not pull hard on the bristles. Some shedding of bristles should be expected for the first several lathers.

A Quick How To

If you are using a shave puck (a hard bar-type soap), put the puck in your lathering bowl/mug and fill it with warm water for a few minutes. Soak the bristles (always pointing down) with warm water either in the stream from the tap or in another bowl/mug (this will fill the bristles with water and help lather the soap). The brush only needs to be soaked for 30 seconds or so. Before lathering, shake most of the water off of the brush and empty the water from the bowl containing the puck. Next, swirl the brush around the puck of soap quickly until lather appears (if you are using a cream from a tub or tube, put a quarter-sized amount into your bowl to lather). A good lather should take about 1 minute to build. If it seems like not much is happening after a few seconds, add a few drops of water. If the lather is very bubbly, there is too much water in the mixture and you should shake the brush out a bit more. The optimal lather will look just like whipped cream – fluffy, thick and white, but few bubbles. Make sure your skin is damp, then swirl lather onto your skin moving your brush in a circular motion. Once you have distributed a thick, even layer over your skin (you may choose to go over the same spot with your brush more than once), pull your brush over your skin against the grain of your hair growth (this lifts the hair so that it is easier to cut). Now you`re ready to shave!

Shave Sets

COMPLETE SHAVE SETS

Complete Shave Sets

We realize that for those who are new to wet shaving, it can be an overwhelming routine to set up. What razor will work best for me? What kind of blades do I need? What is a brush for? Where can I find the best soap for my skin? These are all very common questions.

We have tried to make the transition into wet shaving simpler for you by creating all-in-one wet shaving sets that include everything you need to get started. Our sets are definitely not just for beginners; any savvy wet shaver who is looking for some new and unique products will be interested in taking a look.

We endeavour to provide sets at many price ranges so that everyone can partake in the perfect shave! Most shave sets contain the 4 essential wet shave components:

  • Shaving Brush
  • Shave Soap
  • Razor
  • Blades

Shave sets are customizable and we are happy to accommodate substitutions and custom orders… adding other goodies like aftershave, a brush stand or a blade bank can kick your set up a notch!

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help you build the perfect set for you!

Why Make the Switch?

WHY MAKE THE SWITCH TO TRADITIONAL WET SHAVING?

Why-Make-the-Switch

So you use a cartridge razor and canned foam from the drug store. You can shave with your eyes closed and it takes you 32 seconds flat to do so. But do you also smell like a 15 year old boy covered in generic body spray (men) or a sugar plum fairy (ladies) because of your canned foam? Do you dread buying another pack of cartridges because you could buy a few meals instead? Do you get razor burn, ingrown hairs or rashes? Do you ever wonder how many plastic cartridges you throw out a year and what that’s doing to the environment? For you, there is The Copper Hat! Here are our top reasons to make the switch:

Do the Math

Modern razor blade cartridges are a waste of money. Currently, a mainstream drugstore charges $16.99 for 4 cartridges. That’s $4.25 a blade. At The Copper Hat, most of our double edged blades are $2 for 5, that’s 40 cents a blade. $4.25 or $0.40; it’s up to you.

What Are You Throwing Out?

Drug store razor cartridges are composed of a number of different plastics and metals that cannot be separated and recycled; disposable razors are even worse. By using a Copper Hat double or single edged razor you ensure that the only thing you ever replace is a single blade; a blade that is one metal and can be recycled (check with your community recycling program on how to recycle sharps). While it is necessary to chuck your cartridge razor handle when styles change and it is no longer compatible with blades, new and vintage double edged razors are standardized and have used the same style of blades for decades; there is no reason to ever throw one away or replace it. And hey, if you get a straight razor, you will never have to worry about blades anyway! Another environmentally unfriendly component of drugstore shaving is the aerosol can of foam. Can you imagine how many of those cans are used up and tossed every year? Use a puck or tube of shave soap instead, your skin and the Earth will thank you!

The Brush makes all the Difference

The most important part of the wet shave is arguably the brush. Canned shave foam can contribute to razor burn because it is composed mainly of air, making it so light that a razor blade can easily shave under, not through it. Traditional shave creams and soaps are formulated to prepare and condition your skin while the shaving brush distributes product evenly and helps raise hairs for a closer shave. A brush exfoliates skin, removing dead cells and leaving skin properly prepared for your shave. Not only does the brush provide essential skin preparation, it also allows you to discover endless shave-specific soaps that don’t smell like generic body spray!

Quantity Does Not Equal Quality

As you draw a 5 blade cartridge over your skin, the first blade acts as a snowplough, dragging your shaving cream with it. Now, multiple blades are shaving unprotected skin – that is like dry shaving over and over again every time you use that razor! The result: irritated skin smeared with a gooey substance deposited by your cartridge to camouflage razor burn. There is no reason for a razor to have more than one blade. If you use a good quality, sharp blade, it will give you a better shave every time. Do it right, do it with one.

Wet Shaving is an Art

Wet shaving is all about slowing down enough to get the best quality shave; a shave that you enjoy rather than rush through. When you begin to wet shave you discover an array of razors, blades, brushes and soaps with which you can customize a shave routine that suits you perfectly. There are so many combinations that half the fun is in finding your next favourite razor or aftershave. Not only does wet shaving give you the ability to personalize your routine, it also allows you to display it. How many people are proud to exhibit their plastic cartridge razor and can of foam on the bathroom counter? I bet you would rather show off a nickel plated twist-to-open double edged razor, mug of bay rum shave soap and custom-turned Olivewood shave brush? Come on, that even sounds impressive!

Shave of The Day: La Toja Review

image

 

Finally got a chance to take the new “Sensitive” version of La Toja shave cream for a test drive.  

Wow.

The scent is a mild woodsy fragrance to me.  A small dollop in the mug provided ample lather for 3 passes with an easy 2 passes worth left in the mug.  The cream goes on thick and provides fantastic cover with lots of slip.  

I loaded up a “Crystal” Israeli blade in my 1949 Gillette Aristocrat Jr and set to work.  3 days of stubble cleaned up quite quickly in 3 passes with 0 irritation even on the final ATG (against the grain) pass.  

The true test comes if I don’t use any aftershave balm or splash.  I often use this as a benchmark for the quality of the cream as a few hours after shaving how my face feels tells me a great deal about the soap or cream.  Beautiful.  My face felt fantastic, moisturized yet not oily and no razor burn at all.  The scent lasted very lightly for a few hours into the morning and faded out by around noon.  The scent alone earns this a place on the shelf in my regular rotation and the overall quality of the lather ensures it will stay there.

 

Cheers

Brad

1890 Douglas Fir Framing Custom Brush

 

Custom Work

This is a very cool project that I feel honoured to have taken part in.  The brush in the photo was hand turned by me however the wood used is the unique part.  The wood is original Douglas Fir framing lumber taken from a renovation on the Boulder Hotel in Vancouver.  The hotel was built in 1890!  Giving us a basic date of 130 year old framing lumber not including the life of the tree before that!  This piece was so unique I had to design a logo to be engraved in the bottom to commemorate this piece of wood.  The apothecary mugs seen with the brush feature hand turned handles made of local Victoria wood called London Plain.  A gorgeous wood with a grain that more resembles ripples on a pond than wood.  All in all I’m a little jealous of the recipient on the other end of this gorgeous little package.

I do have a few more pieces of the Douglas Fir and will be working on a limited edition run of brushes similar to the Vintage Insulator brushes from a little while back.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Cheers

Brad

Awesome Vintage Avon

Selection of Vintage Avon Bottles

After a recent massing of some very cool old Avon cologne and aftershave bottles I thought I’d throw up a quick snippet of the companies history.

n 1886, David H. McConnell started the business in a small office at 126 Chambers Street, in lower New York City. In 1892, Mr. McConnell changed the company name when his business partner, who was living in California, suggested that he call the business the California Perfume Company, because of the great abundance of flowers in California.

The California Perfume Company, Inc. of New York, NY filed their first trademark application for Avon on June 3, 1932 with the USPTO. Part of the description for goods and services provided to the USPTO included “perfumes, toilet waters, powder and rouge compacts, lipsticks,” and other toiletry products. First use and commercial use for Avon by the California Perfume Company was on September 1, 1929. Registration was granted on August 30, 1932. The trademark is owned by Avon Products, Inc. of New York, NY. The status of the original stylized word mark for Avon is expired

They’ve been around for a little while and in that time have made some very creative bottle shapes.  Although I do use some of the vintage aftershaves still as a treat it’s sometimes recommended not to for good reason.  You never really know what’s happened in that bottle in the last 20-50 years.  For that reason a common practice is to rinse the bottles well with hot water and decant your current favorite after shave splash into the bottle.  Being that a lot of newer aftershaves come in plastic bottles this gives you a classier looking shelf with a little flair.

There are a few of us who even swear that the scent of an aftershave in a plastic bottle decanted into glass matures and mellows a little.  But who knows.

Cheers

Brad

September 24th Shave of The Day

Shave of The Day September

I’ve been waiting all weekend for this one. My Proraso shipment finally came in which meant my first run at the new Proraso Sandalwood and Shea Cream.  In the personal collection I picked up a couple cases of vintage Avon bottles and dug out a brand new bottle of Island Lime aftershave.

Copper Hat 24mm Silvertip Badger Brush
Sandalwood and Shea Proraso Cream
Gillette tech with Feather Platinum Blade
Avon Island Lime A/S

Wow, love the new Proraso. Warm, soft scent, thick luxurious lather. My new winter cream for sure. The Tech and Feather is such an outstanding shave so I’ve stuck with it a while. The Avon Lime A/S is fantastic, no burn with a nice dry finish. Light scent that both my wife and I enjoy.

All in all I’d give this a 4 out of 5

Cold Water Shave – SOTD for June 21 2012

The Gear I Used For My Cold Water Shave

What I used for my cold water shave.

The Cold Water Shave

So you may have heard mention of cold water shaving before.  The idea is simply to shave as normal but lather, rinse etc with nothing but cold water.

This has sounded like a terrible idea to me forever.  I like my warm water because I can be a suck.  However….my views have now changed.

Here’s the idea:

Pre Shave soak with a towel soaked in cold water

Soak your brush in cold water, and lather your soap or cream as usual.

Fill the sink with cold water for rinsing etc.

Here’s my play by play:

Gear:
Copper Hat Mahogany Silvertip
Figaro – Habzo shave cream
Gem Jr SE razor
Gem PTFE Blade
RazoRock Alum
Pinaud Bay Rhum Aftershave

1 minute Pre soak with a cold cloth while I soak my brush in…cold water…well this is refreshing…but I still won’t like it.  Double almond size dollop of Figaro because this isn’t going to work.  Fill the sink with cold water to rinse my razor.  This is dumb.

Lather : What! It keeps coming!  What’s happening!  The smell by the way is incredible, I love this stuff.  The un-edcuated scientist in me thinks cold lather may be more stable as hot lather when it cools will contract where cold lather can’t get colder and thus stays as is.  I lather my face, again, kind of refreshing…But I still won’t like it!

The Shave :  3 passes of amazing.  No irritation, flawless BBS.  Cold rinse which is normal and brings no more feelings of hatred.  Quick rub of alum for an amazing refreshing feeling and a splash of Pinaud Bay Rhum.

That’s it I’m sold.  That was amazing and I can’t wait for my next camping trip to forgo heating water and shave with water right from the lake.  It’s not even “hot” out here and that was incredible.

Let me know your experiences with the ol’ cold water shave!

Cheers

Brad