Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dancing the Razor's Edge

Regardless of a person's preference for facial hair, shaving has been and will be around. For as many styles of facial hair that there are, there are as many ways of removing it. And, well, since this is my blog, this will be a discussion of my preferences and my reasoning behind them. Of course, you may be wondering why I am talking about razors when, if you see me, a razor hasn't touched my face for over a month. Well, I like my razors, and I have given a lot of thought to this topic.

I have two straight razors that are my main weapons against facial hair. I will admit that I went cheap off of ebay, but they work great. Of course, with the straight razors come the responsibility of maintaining them. There are some great tutorials on the web and if you are really interested there are some books out there, too. But to break it down, a straight razor needs to be sharpened, at least at first, but it also needs to be stropped. Stropping the blade helps keep burrs down and lets the blade run smoothly down the skin. Well maintained, a straight razor will last far beyond one person's lifetime.
Now, when I first started shaving, oh so many Moons ago... I used what was called a safety razor. It took double sided razor blades as refills. One blade would last me a week, and the case for the replacement blades took up so little space. I jumped off the deep end to start with.

This is not to say that I haven't tried the others, but I did not like the other styles. I tried an electric, but you still have to replace the blades and heads for them... and they were NOT cheap. I tried the disposable cheapies, but they MAY last me one shave... if that. The more expensive disposables will last me longer, but that is more money flowing out of my pocket constantly. Call me cheap, but I'd rather spend more money upfront if it will leave money in my pocket for a longer time.
I also use a shaving brush and soap instead of a can of shaving cream. A brush will last a long time and even when it starts to wear out, there is less left to go into the trash. Think about each can of shaving cream when it gets thrown away... think of the amount of trash that gets thrown out.

Then there is always the fact of going through the whole routine of shaving with them. When using straight razors, they are not like the cheapie disposables that you take out of the bag, scratch on your face, bleed a bit, and move on. No, you need to run the blade across the strop to make sure that the blade is ready. Then you wet your brush and work up a good lather with warm water and brush it into the face to make the bristles stand up to face the blade. You don't need to rinse out the blade to get all of the stuck bristles out of the razor, so it takes a lot less water.

On top of the money savings and the reduced waste, I feel that I get some of the best shaves from this method. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, or even be willing to give this a try, but if you are worried about the waste you produce, its a great way to cut down on garbage. Also, it gives you a great feeling to be able to say, "Why yes, I do shave with a cutthroat razor". Not too much is more Macho!

I think that's about it for now, until next time!


Chris W said...

I've been thinking about a straight razor for a while, just haven't taken that plunge yet. I have been using a safety razor this year, and I'll never go back. There were only 2 disposable/replaceable head models out there that would work for me, and the refills were $15-20 for a 3 pack....that just got rediculous to buy every week to week and a half. I looked all over for a safety razor, and NO ONE carried them, not even beauty supplies or a ^%$#@ barber college store. Sureeeeeeeee.....the drug stores carry the blades, and even the soap, brush, and mug, but not the razor itself. I mentioned it to my uncle and he handed me one he bought and didn't like probably 20 odd years ago. WooooHoooooo I had a mug and brush here for some unknown reason, so I just needed the blades. After that first shave I was hooked. We're planning a trip to Kidron and Lehmans next weekend, and I'll be checking out the straight razors again...who knows what I might ask the fat man to bring me in a few weeks, lol.

FarmerGeek said...

I've looked at all the expensive ones, and yes, I would LOVE to have one, or two, or three, or... well, the cheap ones off of ebay work. They are carbon steel instead of stainless so you need to oil them, but it is possible to sharpen them yourself. I have one of Lehman's Arkansas stones (the one attached to the paddle) and it works really well, but to get that barber shop shave, there are some people who go as high as a 12000 grit waterstone. It does pay to get it sharpened the first time either professionally, or to really take your time, because a straight razor that is not completely sharp can be a less than pleasant experience. That being said, I'd take a straight razor over a brand new disposable any day!

A trip to Lehman's you say? We have been discussing that...