Karen Young wanted to do something radical: start a shave company by women for women. After years in the beauty industry, she was surprised at the lack of options available to someone (ladies, in particular) who wanted to shave using high-quality tools, ingredients and not necessarily with something hot pink or vibrant purple.
Enter: Oui Shave. It’s the answer for any woman looking to shave with less waste, less toxic products, and less ingrown hairs for a smoother, safer, far more luxurious experience. Oui Shave offers expertly-crafted razors specifically balanced for different heights and hand grips, in addition to a line of natural shave oils to moisturize and nourish the skin. The result? A shave that lasts longer and feels infinitely better.
We chatted with Karen to learn more about her journey in starting Oui Shave, as well as glean her advice for how (and most importantly, why!) it’s finally time we ditch the plastic once and for all.
Darling: Why did you want to start Oui Shave?
Karen: I’ve always had trouble with ingrown hairs and razor burn from shaving. I worked for a prestige beauty company for years and had access to every mascara and face mask a girl could want, but I was still using plastic razors that produced terrible results. If razors were held to the same standards as say, a face serum, they would be discontinued immediately.
We have come to expect shaving to be a dissatisfying, uncomfortable experience, and that’s just not right. So I thought, what if we held shaving to a higher standard? One where we expected high quality products and ingredients, and great results? What if we created products that resulted in a stellar experience and actually worked well? When I looked for companies that were doing this, there were none for women. In a market where women shave more surface area and have more sensitivity to shaving, I found that we were simply an afterthought.
DM: What obstacles have you had to overcome in doing so?
Karen: The shaving market is managed by behemoth companies that have been around for decades. Just getting someone to pick up the phone or respond to emails during sourcing was difficult. Looking back on it, I wonder if they just didn’t think a women’s shave company could lend anything to their bottom lines.
We have come to expect shaving to be a dissatisfying, uncomfortable experience, and that’s just not right. So I thought, what if we held shaving to a higher standard? One where we expected high quality products and ingredients, and great results?
DM: What’s surprised you about running your own business?
Karen: Running a business is a constant state of flux between knowledge and ignorance. Every time I reach a point where I’m like, “I’ve got that in the bag,” minutes later I’m challenged with something I know nothing about.
DM: What would you like to see change in the beauty industry as a whole, and how do you think the average consumer can play a role?
Karen: We’ve seen a movement in food that demands better ingredients, and I’d love to see the beauty industry follow. I’m encouraged to see indie beauty on the rise and getting better distribution, but the global industry still thrives on products that contain harmful ingredients. Consumers want results, especially when it comes to products that purport to make us more beautiful, and so I think we still turn a blind eye to most consumer goods.
We vote with our dollars, so supporting brands that use better ingredients causes a wave from supplier to store shelves that can’t be ignored.
DM: What does “creating beauty” mean to you?
Karen: To me, creating beauty means starting the journey of each product from the end user and working backwards. We begin with how it makes our customer feel once she has used it.
DM: There are some women out there who feel that the idea of shaving is a societal construct — a pressure to conform to an idealized, unrealistic standard. What would you say to that?
Karen: I think that American media has certainly helped in creating that construct, using hairless women wrapped in silk and frolicking on the beach to market the standard skinny, well-to-do, perfect imagery of women that is difficult — if not impossible — to attain.
In just the simple act of hair removal, we have yet again been told that we’re not enough, and that I understand. Sadly, we can see strains of that message in any product that is marketed to women, from lipstick to clothing. Our priority is to ensure as a company that we approach shaving from the perspective of creating a better product for women who choose to shave.
DM: What would we be surprised to know about you?
Karen: I’ve been told I’m an amateur comedian.
The moment you use it, you’re enveloped in an experience made for you, as opposed to one that treats you as an afterthought.
DM: What are the 3 biggest mistakes women make when they shave?
Rushing: We’ve been trained to use razors with dull blades, and therefore rush and scrape over our skin habitually.
Not changing the blade often enough: Because we’re using dull blades that don’t last more than one or two shaves, we often hold onto them longer. Who wants to pay $25 for refills only to go through them in a week? The result is that we’re raking rusty blades over our skin and further causing damage like ingrowns, irritation, and discolored skin tone.
Dry shaving: Shaving without an emollient, an oil or cream, to protect your skin is just asking for irritation. Dry skin, or skin wet only with water, doesn’t provide a surface that the blade can glide over, causing the blade to “skip” over your skin. It’s also the perfect condition for nicks to occur.
DM: How is using Oui Shave different from what a woman may be using now?
Karen: Oui Shave was created with women’s needs in mind, so our products are formulated for sensitive skin, designed to moisturize and tone, and made with all-natural ingredients that are free of toxins. You’ll notice a lack of irritation during and after using the razor, and a shave that’s effective, yet almost imperceptible. The moment you use it, you’re enveloped in an experience made for you, as opposed to one that treats you as an afterthought.
DM: What should she know when making the switch?
Karen: Although women began shaving with a safety razor in the 1950s, the rise of plastic razors and marketing of dull blades has left us with bad habits. The safety razor requires some patience and a gentle touch, but there’s absolutely no reason to fear using it. Once you try it, you’ll never go back!
Interested in your own Oui Shave switchover? Check out the full line of products HERE.
Images via Jeanette Moncada