Finding a shaving cream or a razor that gets rid of unwanted hair but doesn't leave your chin and neck looking like San Francisco hills can be a challenge. Some shaving creams are so powerful that they can make your skin break out. Some shavers find it easier and cheaper to just use soap and water instead of all the fancy products.
Will Williams, a 30-year master barber and master colorist, is the Director of Education and New Product Development for M&M Products. Williams took time to speak with the Chicago Black Hair & Health Examiner about why M&M Products' Bump Patrol eliminates both issues.
Shamontiel: What do you say to men who would prefer to just use soap and water instead of using shaving cream? Is that a bad idea or an okay idea?
WW: Using soap and water is a bad idea. However, if you would say that someone is using a specialized moisturizing soap then an argument could be made for that. But the reality is that shaving cream and shaving gel, and especially our gel, is made not only so that the hair can be set up to be shaved but also to condition the skin. Soap, by its very nature, is dry and somewhat alkaline in nature so when you're using soap on the face, what happens is that if you run into dry spots that can lead to razor rash and razor burn.
S: I see that your site has the Bump Patrol Aerosol Ultra Sensitive with Aloe Vera. Aloe vera is usually treated for dry skin. Was that the motive for that particular product?
WW: That was the motivation and also skin sensitivity because we do know that men who have highly pigmented skin, particularly Afro and Mediterranean men, need to have something that's going to deal with their skin sensitivity.
S: Why it is so much more sensitive for African-American men and razor bumps? Is it the coarseness of the hair?
WW: It's not the coarseness of the hair. It's two things. Number one is that African-American men have...our skin reacts differently to different things. We have a higher propensity for inflammation than other skin types. So irritation from shaving is normal and natural for every human that shaves. If you get your eyebrows plucked and you put some alcohol where you tweezed one of the hairs out of the eyebrows, you're going to feel the sensation. If we get a wax, the same thing is going to happen. If you shave, the same thing is going to happen. What happens with a man's face is it's going to make several passes over the face. He can go beyond the irritation and the skin can react by becoming inflammed. If that follicle becomes inflammed, then the hair pore itself is going to shut down. It's going to cause a bump to form and then that hair is never going to make it outside of that bump. That's what's known as an ingrown hair. The bump [over the] ingrown hair is known as a razor bump.
Make sure that your face is really hydrated. The best time to shave is in the shower or immediately after leaving the shower. The next thing you want to do is put on a shave gel, like the Bump Patrol shave gel, to hold that water in your face. As soon as that water is on your face it's trying to evaporate off of your face. Now you want to have a really good razor, and I recommend those multi-blade razors. You want to keep that razor wet and warm, and you want to shave in the direction that the hair is growing in. You don't want to use a lot of pressure. You want to let the blade do the work. After you've done your due diligence with your shaving...then you can rinse your face, dry with a towel and apply with the Bump Patrol. The best way to apply the Bump Patrol is to pour in the palm of one hand. From that same hand, take it and lay it on your face, glide it on your face and that's it. It's going to smooth the irritation, prevent inflammation and then it's going to prevent the ingrown hair as well as the razor bump.
S: Sometimes when you get a lot of products, people can get overwhelmed about what products to choose. There are a lot of shaving creams, a lot of them with black faces, but we're not quite sure they were actually tested on black men. How do people know when a black hair care product is really tested on black people? Is there any secret way to find out?
WW: There are no secret ways. There are no markings that we have to identify that this product is made by blacks for blacks. We don't have that anymore. There was a time when a lot of black products had the American Health and Beauty Aid Institute logo to identify that they were made by black people for black people. However, now we don't have that as widespread as we used to. What I would suggest is going onto the Internet, copying a web address and see what kind of information that they have there that's relative to black people. If you go to BumpPatrol.com, you're going to see DVDs that focus on the black consumer. You're going to see that our target consumer is the African-American male from 18 to 35 years old. You're going to see our involvement in black barbershops and black people across the board. That is an indication of who we are and what we have.
S: If a guy was to go into a convenience store and look for a shaving cream, why should he pick Bump Patrol over any other shaving cream product?
WW: One, it's because it really works. Two, it has a pedigree. So many men have used it and they swear by it. We have Bump Patrol available at Walmart, Walgreen's and Target. You can get [Sofn'free GroHealthy and Sofn'free n' Pretty] at beauty supply stores in your neighborhood. It's made for black people by black people.
M&M's Bump Patrol aftershave was created in 1993 and the shaving gel was created in 1999. In 2008, the products won the "Best Facial Grooming Product" in Barbershop Digest magazine. Will Williams will be visiting Cain Barber College located at 365 E. 51st St., on Chicago's south side this Sunday, Sept. 26.
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