Why I chose to try a straight razor, and why I still use one
For many years, after my dad first taught me to shave, I used the regular 3-5 bladed disposable razors. I found out for myself the importance of having a sharp blade, that is, a disposable razor works for only several uses before the blades get sufficiently dull. After that, instead of cutting your whiskers, the blades will catch and pull. Ouchihuahua!
Shaving cream is also important since it lubricates and hydrates, and as manly as I thought I was, I had to eventually concede defeat and start using the Sensitive Skin lotion since I was getting ingrown hairs, razor rash/bumps, and it was a painful process. To this day, I cannot shave two days in a row with a disposable razor…even if I were to use brand new razors for both shaves.
So a couple years ago, I did some research. Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (wiki it) is the medical term used to describe the severe bumps caused by irritated follicles. Men with curly hair and extra sensitive skin tend to get it more often. African American men are especially susceptible. Fortunately I didn’t have things that bad, but regardless, I had to pursue a better option of shaving!
Reading through some forums, my fellow sufferadoans offered some sage advice.
- Let your beard grow before shaving it, if possible
- Shave only every 2-3 days
- Use electric razors (this never really worked well for me; did not get the smoothness)
- Permanent removal of follicle
- Shave after shower
- Use new blade each time
- Shave in direction of growth
- Look into specialized shaving powders
- Use a single blade
- Stay away from alcohol based after-shaves
What caught my eye most about that list wast the “single blade” advice. Why, then, are companies pushing the boundaries on how many blades they can fit into a razor head!? Was I just another victim of their company’s blade-insecurities? Well, it was because I saw Daniel Craig straight razor shave in Skyfall, that in my desperate attempt to recuperate my manliness – which, by the way, I feel like I need to defend from attack every day – I decided the best course of action was to finally try a straight razor.
I did a lot of research, read forum posts, watched youtube videos (you should too). Straight razors are not cheap and they are difficult to upkeep. But aren’t you tired of wasting money on disposable razors? A good, sharpened razor will run about $100. I was spending $30 every two months on razors. (Maybe I was doing it wrong?)
Buy a good quality strop, some sundries, badger brush, and nice shaving cream, and you’ll end up saving money in less than a year. You’ll be happier, smell better, and more attractive.
What you need to know
A straight razor has to be sharp. You’ll need to hone it on your strap before every shave.
I recommend buying a shave ready razor. A shave ready razor has already been professionally sharpened. It will still require the regular hone, but it has been made sharp for you.
You will need to resharpen the razor about every year. Pay to get it pro-done or learn to do it yourself. You’ll need a set of fine grit sharpening stones.
Start with a cheap set before moving on to a more expensive scuttle mug and badger brush.
With the money you are saving (earning really) buy some awesome new shaving soaps, creams, butters, etc. Stuff you’ve never used before. Throw away the stuff that foams out of a can; it’s the spray cheese of the shaving world. You wouldn’t want anyone to catch you shaving with Easy Cheese would you?
“How metro do I have to be to buy into all this stuff?” I don’t know, how badass do you want to be by taking the sharpest knife you own right to your face? I’ll leave that for you to decide. All I’ll say is that it’s the smoothest shave I can get, I can shave EVERY day, and I feel that much more cool.