That is a picture of my new bull horn, Damascus steel straight razor purchased after “The Razor and Pipe” inspired me. I’ve shaved with it twice and wanted to share some thoughts for those men out there (or bearded women looking to avoid a circus career) who would like to take the plunge.
1. It is harder than the internet makes it seem.
I was under the impression that shaving with a straight razor was akin to running a hot knife through butter – the whiskers would just fall off in fear of something so manly. Not the case. Hold the blade with too small of an angle and the razor takes off your lather, but not much else. Hold the blade with too big of an angle and it a a good way to razor burn and/or cuts. Apply too little pressure and the coarse beard hair refuses to budge. Apply too much pressure… well it isn’t called a cutthroat shave for nothing.
2. Your skin needs to adapt.
I’ve traditionally worn a beard for two reasons: one, my wife likes it (score!) and, two, I have sensitive skin and the least amount of shaving I have to do the better. After many moons of not shaving, learning to shave with a straight razor has been hard on my skin. Everyday shaving is not feasible, so I’m testing out every other. My hope is that I will toughen up and learn the skill quickly so that shaving can be part of my daily ritual.
3. Learn on your legs.
Let’s face it, the upper thigh on a caucasian male is extraordinarily unattractive. So, since no one ever sees it, what a great place to practice! This allows you to hone your technique, learn what it feels like when the razor cuts hair and see how the razor works. Only a small portion of the razor scrapes your face with each pass and learning how to properly angle it is key.
4. Straight Razor shaving is awesome
It is true that straight razor shaving makes one feel very manly. It is a traditional ritual that men have engaged in for centuries, earliest evidence was the Egyptians shaving with copper blades, and quite exhilarating. It definitely makes me feel ready for the day. It isn’t as fast as modern shaving and requires a great deal of skill – absolutely perfect for someone looking to live a more intentional, thoughtful and slower paced life.
All in all, straight razor shaving has been a success. I like it and am looking forward to experimenting with technique to get a close, comfortable and razor-burn free shave. Hope this helps encourage others to try it out.