Using a Straight Razor

One of the areas of self-reliance I have been exploring is spending less money on disposable goods. My latest foray into a more self-reliant life is in the bathroom. Specifically,shaving. I was spending a lot of money on disposable razors. As I was growing up I gradually bought increasingly more expensive razors. I was suckered into the marketing machine around men’s razors. I believed that more blades was better. I also thought those moisture strips actually mattered. Eventually I was paying around $30 for a pack of four razors. At almost $30 for a pack of razors, they were my single largest expense for personal grooming. I lost my ability to pay for the latest and greatest razor when they came out with a razor that vibrated. I could not and still cannot see how a vibrating razor is better.
First I started buying less expensive razors. But the quality of the shave left something to be desired. That and they only last for two or three shaves and it still felt like a waste of money.

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Straight Razor In It's Box

I recently purchased a straight razor because they can be sharpened and if they are properly maintained they can last forever.
Using a straight razor is a simple way to save money. There are significant upfront costs. My razor cost $250 in a kit with a strop and shaving cream. By the end of the year it will have paid for itself in savings on disposable razors.

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Open Straight Razor

Shaving with a straight razor is a different shaving experience. First it takes some nerves to place a four inch blade against your neck and face. Remember this is the razor they are referring to when they say “razor sharp”. Second you hold it differently from a disposable razor. This takes some getting used to but once mastered the razor can be very finely controlled. The design is one of simplicity and perfection. There is very little need for improvement. The only thing disposable razors do better is elininal eliminate the learning curve.

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Holding a Straight Razor


Shaving is simple once you get the knack for it. Holding the blade at 30° to the skin creates the perfect cutting angle. Any lower angle will result in poorer cutting and some pulling of hairs. As the angle gets sharper the risk of cutting the skin increases. If the blade is held correctly charging the blade’s angle is easy and following the contors of the face and neck very simple. Have confidence and go slowly to keep control, but fast enough for decent cutting. Better results can be achieved if the skin is warm and wet before starting. This will make all the hairs stand up. For an even closer shave you can shave against the grain. If the blade is still sharp there will be little chance of ingrown hairs.
When finished, clean and dry the blade. Excess moisture on the blade can cause rusting and bacterial growth. Just becareful not to touch the cutting edge or else you might dull it or cut yourself.
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Strop Leather Side

The cutting edge of the razor only lasts two or three shaves, just like disposables. Unlike disposables, this blade can easily be sharpened.

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Strop Linnen Side

Sharpening is also very simple. Holding the blade at 30° to the strop, run the blade backwards along the strop. NEVER run the cutting edge forward along the strop. Doing so will permanently damage the blade. Alternate with the leather and linnen sides and the cutting edge will be good as new. Do not sharpen the razor immediately after shaving. The edge will be slightly distorted from the hot water and sharpening will cause damage.

This is enough information to get started. Hopefully you are inspired to get one yourself. Then you too could enjoy significant savings and the feeling of being just a tiny bit more self-reliant.

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