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How to Shave Like an Old School Gentleman - And Save Money Doing It

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 4 2

The "Standard" Option

My gut is telling me that most of the people veiwing this aren't even aware there's another way to shave than using the super high tech Jet Glide Mach15 Turbo Vibrating Gas-Powered Beard Wacker, or that you don't have to spend $25 a month for new razor heads for the high tech beard wacker.  

I'm here to act as a time machine, taking you back to a better, cheaper time when men had closer, more comfortable shaves.

I'm going to share two different, more affordable, and far more manly ways to chop off your face hair, because if you're going to make yourself look more girly, you might as well feel more manly while doing it.

But First: The Shaving Soap

The Proper Lube For a Shave

Col. Conk Bay Rum Glycerine Shave Soap
Amazon Price: $5.55 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
One of the worst parts of modern shaving is the horrible aerosol foam. Not only does it make the environment cry every morning you use it, but it's an incredibly low quality product compared to the real deal: soap.

Not to mention it's more expensive, too.

The proper way to lube up your face in the morning is by frothing up a bit of shaving soap with a badger bristle brush.  Not only do these soaps, even the really low shelf products, make for great lubricants, the brush and soap will also deeply exfoliate your face, making the skin look younger and healthier.

They also come in fantastic scents that will separate you from all the other men reeking of Nvea and Gilette. Having a subtle smell of vanilla is a great deal more classy than smelling like everyone else.

A single puck, typically between one to two ounces, will last around 6 months to a year depending on if you shave every day or not.

Just please do yourself a favor and stay away from the ultra-cheap Wal-Mart stuff.

And The Soap's Brush

Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
Amazon Price: $19.95 $12.95 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
You'll need a proper brush to froth the soap up properly.

A proper brush should consist of 100% badger bristle, this is because out of all the animals, and synthetic fibers it could consist of, a badger's bristles will hold the most water.

This is important because the water is what will actually provide most of the lubrication for the shave. If you can't get the soap wet enough, no amount of whipping will make it into the lubricant it's supposed to be.

Badger bristles also have a unique firmness to them. They're hard enough to give your face a good, deep scrub, but they're soft and pliable enough that you don't even feel it.

The prices on such brushes range from as low as $13, to outrageous prices like $200+, but a badger is a badger, and so long as you store the brush upside down to that it dries properly, it should last many years regardless of the brand.

There's no special trick to shaving with a safety razor. They work essentially like a modern Beard Wacker, but they provide a better shave, and are loads cheaper.

The First Tool

The Safety Razor

Merkur Classic Safety Razor, Straight
Amazon Price: $62.99 $30.39 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
The safety razor is the first, and slightly more manly option for shaving. Unlike nearly every option on the market these days, they function with only a single, incredibly sharp razor. And the one razor will out preform any multi-blade on the market.

The best part about these is that the main part of the actual razor - what you see above - is just a shell. You get to buy the kind of razor you want to put in there. Meaning you can have a cheap, but nice looking "shell", and spend a fair amount: around $1 per razor, on the really high tier blades.

The actual blades are all universal, meaning regardless of the "shell" you buy, any razor made for safety razors will fit without a problem.

Oh, and those "expensive" $1 blades will last around three to four weeks. Suck on that, Beard Wacker!

When shopping for the shell, just get one that you fancy the look of, the shell makes almost no difference in the quality of the shave, that's on the razor inside of it.

You Need a Stand for Your Brush

Escali Deluxe Chrome Razor and Brush Stand
Amazon Price: $34.95 $18.12 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
While you could get a cheap stand that's only for your brush, I like keeping my things nice and tidy. If you're going to invest in the equipment, I recommend investing in the tools that will keep your investment working for many years.

The Second Tool: The Real Deal

A Straight Razor for the Real Man

Dovo Best Quality, Full Hollow Carbon Steel, 5/8", Black Handle
Amazon Price: $111.99 $80.74 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
The difference between the quality of the shave between a straight razor, and a safety razor is as drastic as the jump from the Beard Wacker to the safety razor.

The major draw back to these is the massive up front cost, but a mid-tier straight razor in the $100 range will last at a minimum of four years, and if properly cared for can last up to 6.

These do require more maintenance, though. You'll need to strop it before and after use to keep it in a sharp, operational state. which takes more time, but a typical twice over shave (once with the grain, and once against) will make it unnecessary to shave for two days for most men.

But let's be perfectly honest here. Shaving with a straight razor is the epitome of manly. It can kill you. Every morning you could kill yourself just from shaving, and women love danger, right? Okay, I lied about the honesty part, these are actually really safer.

While it seems like the perfect way to get nice deli snack meats off of your face, it's actually really hard to cut yourself with them.

Does He Look Scared?

No, Because He's a Real Man

Straight Razor Tools

The Strop

Fromm Razor Strop 2 1/2" X 23"
Amazon Price: $47.99 $29.50 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
If you're going down the straight razor path, firstly: awesome, secondly: you need a few extras, sorry.

To keep your razor nice and sharp, you need a quality strop. While these can go as low as $3-$4, they wont do anything but destroy your fancy new (expensive) razor.

You need a sturdy leather side - for daily stroping, and a fine cloth side - for when it dulls a but too much.

Strop Management

Strop Dressing, or Paste

Fromm Strop Dressing
Amazon Price: $13.56 $13.49 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 26, 2013)
Overtime, your strop will be worn down, and do far more damage to the razor than it will actually sharpen the razor.

With a strop dressing, or paste, your leather strop will remain nice and supple, and wont crack, and flake over time.

Not only do these types of products reduce the wear on the strop, they actually improve the strop's sharpening qualities. Making it a nice, smooth surface, while also increasing the drag, or pull the strop exerts on the blade, bringing the blade back to it's perfectly straight state.

How to Strop Properly

A Proper Shaving Routine

Here's how to have the best shave ever.

  • Fill your sink with ultra-hit water, and place your razor, and soap mug unto the water - this will make the razor's molecules align more, and the foam and razor feel great
  • Grab a wash cloth, and dunk it into the hot water, and ring it out until it isn't dripping
  • Once the cloth is cool enough, drap it over your face (this will soften the hairs, and feel awesome in general)
  • Sit back and relax, think about your life philosphy, or something
  • After a couple of minute pondering life, remove the cloth
  • Froth up your now warm shaving soap
  • Shave with the grain
  • Rinse with the now warm water
  • Re-lube face
  • Shave against the grain
  • Rinse once more

And that's it.  It should only take around 10 minutes, and you shouldn't even need to shave the following day.

Quick Recap

There are two, awesomely more manly ways to shave:

1) With a Safety Razor, Badger Bristle Brush, and Soap

2) Stroping a Straight Razor, and using a Badger Brislte Brush with Shaving Soap

The choice is yours.  If you're truly afraid of the classical straight razor, don't worry, many are.  A safety razor was invent specifically for that reason, they're also slightly more convinient, but that's the trade off though: cooler and less convinient, or not-so-cool and more convinent.

Whichever route you go, following the routine above will make shaving more of a relaxing ritual than an annoying chore.



Aug 7, 2013 12:01pm
This article was a lot of fun.

My dad used the single-edged Gillette blades with the metal housing handle when I was kid. The old handle he didn't use so often I played with, pretending it was a space station and by twisting the base, I was opening the "station's" bay doors to let incoming spaceships dock.

I am appalled at the cost of disposable blades these days, and that industry seems to be out of control in terms of its pricing AND its endlessly stupid--and useless--blade configurations (I dropped out and went to cheapy disposable Bic blades after the price of the Mach 3 went through the roof).

You are right, though--I've seen people who use a straight razor use them for years (nifty pearl or ivory handle). Maybe it's time I rethought my routine (and I hate shaving, but I also hate facial hair, so while I shave I do it only every coupla days or so).

Good feature, and a thumb's up.
Aug 8, 2013 6:18am
I used one a couple of times. Pretty fun but you just have to be careful!
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