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Shaving isn’t fun. It’s not something most of us want to spend much of our time doing, but unless you’re growing the Grizzly Adams beard, it’s necessary. Since we’ve got to do it, we might as well make it as interesting as we can, right? We’ve covered shaving on a budget, dopp kits, and summer grooming, but we haven’t spent much time on one of the more interesting ways to shave – using a straight razor.
Shaving with a straight razor is an old-school (and potentially dangerous) way to shave, but once you learn how to do it, you can get a cleaner, smoother shave than you’ll get with those plastic bic safety razors. Until the 50’s, when electric razors became a real alternative, most men shaved with straight razors. You might be asking yourself “why go back? my Gilette Fusion Proglide gets the job done.” Below you’ll find a few reasons you may want to consider switching.
Why shave with a straight razor?
You’ll get a better shave: You know how bad a substandard shave can be. A good shave with a quality straight razor will leave you with baby soft skin and no 5 o’clock shadow. You’ll look more put together. Plus, if you’re an especially hairy beast, this type of razor can better deal with more coarse hair on your cheeks and neck.
It’s cheaper in the long run: Shaving is expensive. Especially if you’re buying razors regularly. According to OnlyKnives.com, over the course of a man’s lifetime, using disposable razors can cost as much as $10,000 more than using straight blades. It’s a bit expensive to get everything you need to get started with straight razors, but once you have everything you need, costs are minimal.
Easier to clean/care for: Disposable razors and multi-blade razors get caked up with hair and whatever else they shave off your face, and most of them can’t be easily cleaned out. We’ve all used razors like that past their prime, and ended up with a bad shave. With a straight razor, you don’t run into that problem.
No razor bumps: When you use one blade properly, you don’t run into issues with razor bumps, which multi-blade razors can cause. Nobody likes the razor bump look.
Tradition: Chances are, your Grandfather or Great Grandfather shaved with a straight razor, at least at some point in their lives. Hell, maybe they still do. You’ve got to admit, it looks pretty cool. If you like that whole vintage, old-school aesthetic, this might be right up your alley.
Where to buy a straight razor
Convinced? Perfect. Now you need to buy one. Don’t go out and buy the cheapest one you can find – quality is important here. You want a quality razor that’ll last. Take a look at ClassicShaving.com for everything you’ll need to get started, including full kits. They come highly recommended. If you’re put off by their website design, you can find just about everything you need at Amazon. Try the Ebony handled carbon blade straight razor from Germany’s DOVO ($98), or the Boker USA King Cutter ($129). You can also go the vintage route via Ebay, but the razor may need some work before you’re able to use it. Go with something new.
You’ll also need a strop. The strop is a piece of leather or canvas used to help your straight razor keep its edge. Consider the strops at Classic Shaving. Many of the strops on Amazon seem to be less than perfect for straight razors. There are other things you’ll want to pick up, such as strop dressing and paste, as caring for your strop is also important.
How to shave with a straight razor
You’ve got the razor and you’re ready to go. Now, how do you use this stuff without cutting yourself? Amazingly, Etsy put together an awesome video showing you exactly what you need to do in order to get the perfect straight razor shave at home. Watch this and proceed with caution:
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