For traditional wet shaving, there are two types of manual razors: straight razor and safety razors. Safety razors are further subdivided into double-edged razors, single edge, injector razors, cartridge razors and disposable razors.
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Straight razors are still made today, notably by Dovo, Zowada Razors, Thiers Issard, and Feather. Shaving with these razors requires some practice but one can pick up the art very quickly. Once it was more commonplace but now is seen mostly in use in barber shops wielded by a skilled barber. However, there is a growing movement of men finding simpler is better, and are returning to traditional double edge and straight razors with great success.
While straight razors give a good shave, the invention of the double-edged razor offered freedom from the task of sharpening and honing the razor. Double-edge razors are also readily available and are still made by Merkur in Germany, Kiwishaver in New Zealand, and Feather in Japan. Double-edge razors are named so because the blade that they use has two sharp edges. Cartridge razors are the most expensive type as the blades are designed only to fit the razors of the manufacturer. Current multi-bladed cartridge manufacturers attempt to differentiate themselves by having more or fewer blades than their competitors, each arguing that their product gives a greater shave quality at a more affordable price.
Before wet shaving, a lathering or lubricating agent such as cream, soap, gel, foam or oil is normally applied. Lubricating and moisturizing the skin to be shaved helps to prevent a painful razor burn. It also lifts and softens the hairs, causing them to swell. This enhances the cutting action and sometimes permits cutting the hairs deeper below the surface of the skin. Additionally, during shaving, the lather indicates areas that have not yet been addressed. When soap is used, it is generally applied with a shaving brush, which has long soft bristles. It is worked up into a foam by the brush, either against the face, in a Shaving mug, bowl or scuttle.
Wet shaving may be done in one pass, shaving with the grain of the hair, or in two passes, one with and one against or across the grain. Shaving twice can give a closer shave for a tough beard, but it also increases the risk of cuts, soreness and ingrown hairs.