How do shaving products work?
Unbelievably, the average man spends up to two months of his life shaving. For many men it is a daily ritual. The male grooming market is booming - with new products hitting the shelves every week. But how much do we know about how shaving products work?
What is hair and how does it grow?
One strand of hair consists of three parts: the cortex, the cuticle and the medulla. Human hairs are contained within a hair follicle; the root, or papilla, is found at the base of the follicle, deep within the skin. It is the only living portion of the hair.
Once the cells that comprise hair are produced, they die and harden, forming the hair shaft. The hair shaft is then pushed up through the follicle opening towards the surface of the skin.
Hair grows at an average rate of a quarter of an inch per month. A man's beard typically contains between 7,000 and 15,000 hair follicles, a number that is genetically determined. No new follicles are formed after birth.
How does shaving affect the hair?
Contrary to popular belief, shaving does not alter the size or colour of hair. Nor does it cause shaved hair to grow back thicker, darker or faster. Shaving does, however, alter the tip shape of the re-grown hair, which may initially change the way hair feels as it grows back.
Men's and women's hairs are different. Men's facial hairs are 50 to 60 percent larger in diameter and more irregularly shaped than women's leg hairs, which are primarily oval-shaped. The difference in diameter between men's and women's hair explains why the recommended pre-shave soaking period is different - three minutes for men, two minutes for women.
Why do we need shaving products?
For many men shaving is a daily necessity. The shaving process acts as an exfoliator, removing dead cells, which exposes underlying skin cells to the environment. Well-formulated male grooming products and high performance razors can ensure that skin and hairs are well-hydrated resulting in a more comfortable shaving experience.
How do shaving products work?
Beard hair is about as tough as copper wire and can be softened by soaking. Water evaporates quickly, so shaving gels moisturise and soften beard hair and create a protective layer of lubrication on the skin to maximise razor glide.
Shaving products allow the razor to slide smoothly over the skin and minimises damage to the skin surface. Shaving products contain soaps, detergents and lubricants. These soaps remove lipids on the skin.
Foaming shaving creams are soapy emulsions consisting of 6-10% fatty acids that are converted into soap in the manufacturing. Aerosol shaving creams contain soaps that are soluble in water, which are ready-foamed as they leave the can by the pressurised gases in the packaging.
Shaving products are also designed to ensure that the razor blade is not so easily damaged. Stubble is harder than you might think!
Manufacturers are constantly working on scientific innovations to make the shave smoother. For instance, razors have been developed with more blades that are spaced closer together in order to distribute the shaving force across the blades for significantly less irritation and more comfort. Companies are also working on shaving gels with additional emollients and lubricants to soften hair and increase the glide across the skin.