Over the past decade, more and more men have taken up straight razor shaving. Why? Because…
It costs less, over time, than using disposable blades/razors.
You get a closer shave. A man who needs to shave twice a day with a multiblade razor probably will stay just as smooth with one daily shave with a straight razor. And some men with light beards might even get away with shaving every other day.
Some people enjoy the ritual of stropping (swiping the razor on a leather strap) and lathering—it makes shaving a pleasure, not a chore.
What you’ll need…
- The straight razor. Modern brands include Dovo, Boker and Thiers-Issard, with an average cost at the beginner level of $75 to $125. Also consider…The point. Some straight razors have a rounded end. These are good for beginners—they’re less likely than other styles (such as those that have a sharp point) to cause nicks.
Width. Razors between 5/8 and 6/8 of an inch in width are easier to handle and maneuver than wider blades.
Grind. This refers to the thickness and heaviness of the blade. A hollow grind is the thinnest blade…the thickest is known as a wedge.
I advise beginners to use a hollow grind because the thinner steel makes it easier to feel the shave and make adjustments in pressure and angles .
- The strop. Swiping the blade back and forth on a leather strop removes microscopic gunk and polishes the edge. The strop can be attached to a mug hook under the sink or you can use a doorknob. You can buy a strop for less than $50. Or use the smooth side of a leather belt .
- The brush. Few straight razor shavers use canned shaving creams (although you can)—most whip up their own lather with a shaving brush. Brushes can be made from…Badger hair. These are softer and hold more lather than other brushes. A quality brush starts at around $30.
Boar hair. These cost less than badger brushes but are a bit stiffer and don’t hold as much lather. Prices range from $4 to $30.
Synthetics. Synthetic brushes are the least expensive but tend to feel “scratchy” on the face.
Popular brush brands: Progress Vulfix, Kent, Shavemac and Rooney.
- Creams and soaps. In general, creams whipped with a brush provide a thick lather with a lot of cushion. High-quality shaving soaps may feel a little bit slicker. The cost is similar, roughly $30 to $50 for a cream or cake of soap, which typically lasts for three to six months and comes in its own container to whip up the lather.Popular brands: Geo F. Trumper, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Tabac, Truefitt & Hill, D.R. Harris, Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap and Nancy Boy
- Technique. While the whiskers are damp, apply a thick layer of lather. Take at least a minute or two to work it in. Keep the edge of the razor at about a 30° angle (or less) to your skin. Hold it with a light grip—you’ll be less likely to cut yourself. (A styptic pencil is still best for nicks.) If you can’t see exactly where the entire blade is positioned, shift your position until you can. You’re more likely to cut yourself in “blind spots.”For more information, go to our Web site and click on the “Wiki” tab at the top.