People have different motivations when they begin shaving with straight razors. The most popular causes for learning straight razor shaving include the image of masculinity, better shaves, frugality, time-efficiency, and environmental awareness. Overall, straight razor shaving is superior to modern shaving with cartridges, and it would be a mistake do discard it as unsafe, time-consuming, and expensive.
People today consider shaving a lost art. If you would like to learn proper shaving, it takes time and effort, and many people are not willing to learn the art of shaving. Becoming familiar with the benefits of straight razor shaving inspires most people to learn the art of shaving.
However, before discussing any benefits, you will have to become familiar with the safety issues that usually prevent people from ever beginning to learn the art of shaving. Understanding those safety issues will help you understand that they are overblown and easy to overcome.
Credit: Licensed under Creative-Commons by Ryan Scott (rpscott123) at FlickrCredit: Licensed under Creative-Commons by Ryan Scott (rpscott123) at Flickr
Stropping the razor on a leather strop aligns the blade’s particles because they must cut with precision. A straight razor cuts through a piece of paper straight while a kitchen knife would tear it up. If you handle a straight razor properly, it will not leave any cuts on your skin.
Even when people cut themselves with straight razors, the cuts heal quickly because they are superficial. If people cut themselves with straight razors, they most probably put too much force into shaving. The force required for shaving barely cuts through skin.
Straight razor shaving leaves cuts and scars only when people are careless, so always tighten your skin with your free hand. Never push the blade into your skin, and slide it on the skin while maintaining its angle at around 30 degrees. Cheeks allow longer strokes, but keep the strokes short on the moustache, chin, and around the lips. Maintain a light contact against the skin, and the blade will both shave you better and prevent cuts. With these points in mind, the chances of injuring oneself during shaving are almost non-existent.
Straight Razor Shaving is Manly
The art of shaving was a form of initiation into manhood. Many people today consider straight razor shaving as a masculine ritual similar to pipe smoking or the art of rolling tobacco. However, men often refer to straight razor shaving as an art because it is possible to learn it only through practical experience.
While science strives to define predictable situations, art does not have the same form of consistency. With too many possible outcomes, art does not allow the artist to make accurate predictions and requires more awareness in the process.
Shaving is a different experience every day, and people need creative thinking and problem solving to learn it properly. Because it develops creativity, a sense of commitment, and problem-solving skills, it is possible to consider the art of shaving as a method for self-improvement.
Shaving with a Straight Razor is Frugal
Frugality is often confused with asceticism, so most people do not consider buying a $100 straight razor, an expensive badger shaving brush, a stropping belt, and a sharpening stone as a frugal choice. However, straight razor shaving is a frugal choice because a high-quality straight razor lasts for several decades and often becomes family heritage. The following calculation will exclude shaving creams and after-shaves because they are common expenses in both straight razor shaving and contemporary shaving.
If you take care of your razor properly it can last for several decades. For the sake of this example, let’s assume that your straight razor will last 40 years. If you spend $200 on your shaving equipment and use it for 40 years, you will spend only $5 per year on your shaving costs. That comes down to two cents per day if you have to shave every day.
In contrast to straight razors, modern shaving cartridges are expensive. For example, ten Gillette replacement cartridges can cost between $30 and $60. However, most consumer reviews available online report using one cartridge for a week until its blades become dull. Some consumers rely on stropping their blades on jeans to make them last one more week. Even if each cartridge lasts for two weeks, an average consumer needs 26 cartridges throughout the year.
The price of 26 cartridges is about $40 per year if you buy them on Amazon because they offer a 50% discount on most shaving cartridges they have in stock. Even with that bargain you will end up spending $200 in five years.
In choosing between these two shaving methods, you can choose between spending $200 on shaving equipment that will last 40 years and spending $1,600 on cartridges throughout 40 years. Proper frugal living includes calculating both time and money in making decisions, so you will make a frugal choice if you decide to shave with a straight razor.
Straight Razors are Time-efficient
When you begin shaving with a straight razor, it can take up to 30 minutes. Once you learn how to use a straight razor, shaving takes less than 10 minutes. Within those ten minutes, you will warm up the razor on the strop, lather your face with shaving cream, make a perfect shave, and strop the razor to prepare it for the next shave. People have different opinions on stropping, but most people suggest less stropping movements before shaving and more stropping movements after shaving.
Although shaving with cartridges can take only a minute or two, shaving with a straight razor creates both psychological and financial satisfaction, and extra minutes spent shaving pay off. Furthermore, if you need a meditative ritual in your life, but you do not like the tea ceremony, straight razor shaving will fill in that need.
Straight Razors are Environment-friendly
According to the United Nations’ estimates, the world population exceeds 7 billion people, and around 3.5 billion are men. Let’s assume that only 100 million of those men use shaving cartridges. If an average man spends 26 cartridges per year, 100 million men spend 2.6 billion cartridges per year. That is a large amount of waste, and our planet will be thankful if we take the time to learn and practice the art of straight razor shaving.
Buying from the Best Straight Razor Brands
If you would like to buy a straight razor, looking for brands is important. According to the Straight Razor Place, DOVO, Thiers-Issard, and Böker are the only contemporary straight razor manufacturers. Although there are other manufacturers, sticking with brand names when making a larger investment that should last for a lifetime is safer than experimenting with less popular brands. Buy an authentic razor from these manufacturers to make sure that your money is well-spent.
Several vintage razors are available on the internet through sites such as eBay, but they often need restoration before they are ready for use. Buying a new razor is a better option for beginners because learning the proper art of shaving already requires time and effort. Skip learning blade restoration for now and focus on learning the art of shaving to experience the benefits straight razors offer to their users.