It has often been said that straight razor shaving is one of the lost arts of manhood, but in recent years, the cultural tide has shifted in an encouraging direction where using the classic “cut throat” razor is concerned.
More and more guys are becoming interested in discovering some of the classic vestiges of manliness, partly as a means to explore a different facet of their masculinity, and quite possibly as a reaction against the sexual ambiguity of today’s “modern” male. Whatever the reason, the straight razor has definitely found a new generation of fans, and if you’re looking for a way to sharpen (no pun intended) your shaving skills and expand your repertoire of manliness, learning how to shave with a straight razor is a good place to start.
Straight razor shaving is definitely an art, and it’s not something you can approach flippantly or haphazardly, unless you like to lose blood. The practice of straight razor shaving carries a pretty long and pretty steep learning curve, and it definitely requires patience and commitment to master the finer points of good shaving technique. I’m not saying this to try and “scare you away” from trying it, but rather to encourage you to respect the process, because developing any real type of proficiency with a straight razor won’t come quick, and it won’t come easy. The good news is that your first attempt will be your clumsiest, and you’ll only get better from there. As the famous quote from Thomas Fuller goes, “All things are difficult before they are easy”.
More than likely, the first few weeks – or even months – that you try straight razor shaving will seem to yield no greater results than what you might get with a cartridge razor; this is to be expected. It will take a while for you to understand the importance of the finer details of straight razor shaving such as holding the blade at the right angle, stretching the skin properly and so forth.
While it would be great if we could simply download a “straight razor shaving program” into our minds and instantly know how to do it (think of the movie “The Matrix”), unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way (yet). In other words, it’s going to take time, patience and good old-fashioned practice to wield the blade with dexterity and ample facility.
Getting Started With Straight Razor Shaving: Your Basic Equipment List
Just like you would never dream of hitting the golf course without your clubs, you should definitely have all of your proper equipment lined up before you begin shaving. Here’s a list of straight razor shaving “must-haves”:
- A straight razor (pretty obvious). If you’re feeling even more awesome, you can have an extra one on hand as a backup.
- A strop, preferably wide enough to cover the entire length of the blade. While this is not absolutely necessary, it does help to simplify the stropping process. If you have a strop with a canvas/linen side, so much the better, but it’s not a requirement.
- Shaving soap/cream.
- A shaving brush.
- A scuttle or shaving mug.
If you have the above items, you’ll be ready to rock-and-roll with your straight razor shaving excursion. For the purposes of this article, however, I want to specifically focus on the straight razor itself, as it is the backbone of the entire shaving operation.
What To Look For When Buying A Straight Razor?
The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to evaluating potential straight razors for purchase is that you will get what you pay for. A poorly made razor will be more trouble than it’s worth, and will more than likely cost you more cuts and nicks than you would have to deal with if you were working with a higher-quality razor. To help you along in this process, I have referenced three quality straight razors below, any one of which will be more than sufficient to give you a clean, smooth shave, without leaving you with empty pockets:
No.1 – The Utopia Care 100% Stainless Steel Straight Edge Barber Razor
This very handy razor features a nice, comfortable metal grip, and comes with 100 replacement razors to give you a good head start on your shaving adventures. Check out my detailed review on Utopia Care 100% Stainless Steel Straight Edge Barber Razor.
No. 2 – The Shave Ready Complete Straight Razor Set
If you really want to get started off on the right foot with your straight razor shaving, the Shave Ready set definitely fits the bill. Not only does it come with an excellent razor, but it includes all of the items on the equipment list mentioned above as well (minus the shaving mug/scuttle).
No. 3 – The Parker SR1 Stainless Steel Straight Edge Razor
This sturdy stainless steel straight razor is more than capable of delivering a smooth and clean shave.
I highly encourage you to check out each of the straight razors listed above. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with any one of them. Happy shaving!