A couple of years ago I was with a friend in a mall and ran across this place called The Art of Shaving.
They were selling OLD School shaving implements. I was quite taken with the Nickel razor and brush set in the upper left of the photo.
I bought the set and the soap and several other products.
I get all this home and found that I really enjoyed shaving with a brush. Surprisingly it doesn’t take any more time than shaving with the stuff out of the can.
In the last year… I became increasingly interested in going REALLY old school! So that led to the purchase of my first straight razor.
The first time I shaved with a straight razor I was shaking pretty badly toward the end but I could see the potential. Theory and reality are Ummmm not exactly in alignment and I had the cuts to prove it!
You guys out there know, most of the time we shower, dry off, and shave without bothering to dress between one thing and another. So I’m half way through my first shave (drawing blood in a couple of places) when it dawns on me “If I drop this razor… I’m gonna really hurt myself”. If ever there was an incentive to really think about what you’re doing that was it! Talk about FOCUS!
My first razor is a Dovo (German make). It’s got a personality all it’s own and gives a good shave. I didn’t even think about the possibility of different razors having different characteristics when I started down this particular rabbit hole.
From the various reading I’d done on the subject of straight razors. I’d learned that you probably wanted more than one razor. The reasoning behind this is you want to be able to switch off and let the blade rest.
If you choose not to have a few razors then you’re going to be sharpening the one you own a lot more frequently depending on your beard and other factors.
Those other factors hit me bright and early one Sunday morning. I was happily shaving with my Dovo when I caught the edge of the blade on the faucet of the sink. I was rinsing the blade and got too close to the faucet taking a chunk out of the blade. %&*^$$&&!!!!
I called around and found out that sharpening the blade could repair the damage but that there were darn few people that had the skills to sharpen a straight razor.
Additionally, these guys are BUSY! in recent years theres been a bit of a renaissance in straight razor shaving. Which has led to a bunch of guys just like me.
Guys who are trying to rediscover for whatever reason the lost art of straight razors and who have absolutely no clue about how to put an edge on a knife… much less the finer edge required on a razor.
I turned to the internet and stumbled across a place in Palm Springs that was pretty much full service. I went to their web site and while I was arranging for the repair of my razor, I took a look at their “new razor” store. BIG Mistake!
…My next razor acquisition was a French blade made by Theirs-Issard. It’s a completely different feel against your throat. It’s light and agile and flickable.
This a a beautiful razor. It’s got some detail work along the spine that sets it apart from many of the other razors I’ve looked at.
OK at this point I’m hopelessly hooked. I’m shaving with the straight razors on the weekends. Kind of as a nice ritual for myself. Long shower, quiet time and a slow meticulous shave. (Slow at this point because I’m still learning and don’t want to “Sweeney Todd” myself!).
My Dovo came back a week or two later and is good as new. Now I had a razor for Saturday and Sunday and I’m happy.
What I find though is that I’m beginning to PREFER the straight razors over the standard safety razor. And I’m putting off shaving for days just so I can enjoy the weekend shave.
I hear that the place in Palm Springs has opened a retail store, prior to this they were mail order only. So I make a point of going to Palm Springs for a day and I visit the store. MISTAKE!!!!! (Well not really…)
I needed some supplies. I’d been using items from The Art of Shavings line. Occasionally, I’d picked up things from the Anthony mens line.
I walked into the store and was a very happy man. The store has soaps in all varieties and flavors. They’ve collected a bunch of different manufacturers products together and provide samples. It was great and they also had my downfall… A case full of razors.
…. The next razor I bought, is an American blade made by Hart Steel. This puppy has a completely different feel from the first two razors. This is a slightly larger blade and it’s got a point on it that the two European designs don’t have.
It’s a great shave too. But you really have to be mindful of the point… I dang near did a Van Gogh on myself the second time I shaved with this bad boy. We’ve since learned to respect each other and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
At this point… I’m shaving more often with the Straight razors than with the safety razor. I’m no longer reserving the straight razor experience for just the weekend. I’m getting experience and nicking myself far less often than I did in the beginning.
There’s a Zen like quality to using these blades and I enjoy that they enforce a quietness and focus that you don’t get with the safety razors or electrics. You really have to be present in the here and now while you’re shaving with one of these.
If you’ve ever considered going old school, I say take the plunge!
I’ll grant you that the start up is pricy. But the overall cost drops significantly once you get set up.
Let me bore you with a couple more points.
This is as green as you can get!
You don’t throw anything away, the soaps are usually all natural and organic.
The shaving oil is all organic and often comes in glass bottles.
The razors are resharpened not disposed of.
With proper care and handling the razors also can be handed down because they’re built to last.
As a side benefit to all of this… I’ve gotten to a point where I want to know how to sharpen my own razors rather than sending them out to professionals.
Learning to sharpen my razors will also mean that I’ll be able to sharpen the kitchen knives and many other things that have an edge. So in future, I won’t be replacing knives as much.
OH and to my Family….
If I mysteriously die in a Sweeney Todd type accident. If the cut is on my right, I was murdered. If the cut is on my left it’s a accident! I am notoriously hard on the left side of my throat, I haven’t a clue about why… but if i’m gonna cut myself it’s always on the left!