Straight Razor Shave
I recently got into shaving with a straight razor after reading one of the many numerous articles on one of my favorite websites, The Art Of Manliness. In one of their articles (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/10/06/how-to-straight-razor-shave/) they talk about the benefits of straight razor shaving, and how to use a razor and maintain it. I have a long experience with scouts and camping and survival trips and different blades and it definitely seemed up my ally. I decided to give it a try, I ordered a Hen and Rooster straight razor off of ebay for a pretty cheap price, got some ARKO shaving soap, a boar brush, a small steel bowl, and some Adidas aftershave.
Overall it was about 80 to 90 bucks with everything (I got some good prices and some normal prices) but about 50 of that is a one time purchase if you take care of the straight razor and you use the same bowl all the time. The soap and brush will last an extremely long time as I like to cut off coin slices from the ARKO shaving soap and so far the one coin (about 2mm thick) has lasted me 10 shaves and looks like it has at least 4 times that left in it. Not to mention that you can get ARKO shaving soap in bulk on Ebay (I bought 6 sticks for 11 bucks) so you will only need to make a decent sized one time purchase of the soap and it was last you for quite some time (a few years). Overall compare that to the cost of your regular 5 blade shaver, I used a 5 blade one that I got that came with 5 cartridges for about 20 bucks and every refill pack was about 15 bucks. The quality of shave went down after about 4 shaves for each head. If you decided to throw it out instead of using the jean trick (essentially using your jeans as a strop to help sharpen the blades a bit) and you shave about twice a week to keep the clean look (I shave every two days because I hate the feel of stubble) then you are looking at a new head every two weeks and a new pack of five razors every 4 and a half weeks. After a year, all the straight razor costs justify themselves as none of them need to be renewed in short term. I started off shaving with a different blade. I was using a cheap blade imported from China from a brand called Rite Edge. It was not BAD looking back at it and I now know why. There are different grounds for blades, there is the flat ground (a wedge shape or something similar) and the hollow ground (a concave shape with many degrees of sharpness) the different types of hollow can be found here (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/04/22/how-to-buy-and-restore-vintage-straight-razors/). The blade I got was not cheap, it was just a bigger wedge style, meant for a full beard and then you use the finer ones (like my Hen and Rooster) to touch up. Fist time I shaved it went ok (ok as in I did not cut myself) but it was very tuggy and I needed to revert to the five blade to get the last bit of hair off. I decided that this blade was not for me and went with the Hen and Rooster full hollow ground blade. I like to shave often to keep a smooth clean cut looks so therefore it I felt it necessary to have a fine blade. After using the heavy, hard to handle blade, a shave with the full hollow blade was easy and smooth, I didn’t even need to touch it up with a disposable razor. Some of the advantages I personally found when switching were a better quality of shave, it also forces you to take better care of your face as you wash it, lather it, and use other products like after shave and alum, I also found that I did not cut myself often and when I did it was painless (very much less then with a disposable razor) and it was overall more satisfying to do. The only disadvantages to shaving with a straight razor is stropping maintenance, you need to run over your face once or twice, the first two or three shaves are irritating, and it takes a little more time. I generally feel it is worth it. To everyone who is afraid of killing themselves or cutting themselves I say to you that it is easier than it looks but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take skill. As long as you don’t make a heavy cutting motion you aren’t going to slit your throat, and when you cut yourself it barely hurts (until the after shave). As long as you make a scraping motion you will be fine. Straight Razor shaving is an art and I encourage everyone to give it a try.