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Why and How to Pick a Straight Razor

Mind & Body Feature

Written by Samantha Lund

At the turn of the century, as life got faster and busier while technology took over the world of man-scaping, men put down their single-edge straight razors and picked up faster ways to shave. As they tossed out their grandpa’s favorite razor, the art of shaving, along with men’s faces, suffered. Not only does the straight razor give you the closest shave possible, but the benefits go far beyond the face. Yes, the straight razor is intimidating, but the benefits might just inspire you to give it a try.

Less Irritation

Using a single blade will cut down on the amount of irritation you feel after a shave. Essentially, each blade that passes over your skin is likely to pull and chafe, so with a regular razor, it’s as if you’re going over each spot three or four times. With a single straight razor, you will experience three or four times less irritation.

Environmentally Friendly

This benefit speaks for itself. A good straight-edge razor will last you a lifetime, and is worth the investment. Just think of all the razors, blades and handles you throw away each year. Think about the plastic and cardboard packaging they all come in, not to mention all the cans of shaving cream you’re throwing away as well. With a straight razor, you can eliminate all of that waste from your carbon footprint.

Meditative

Straight-razor shaving, like many rituals, has meditative benefits. It’s a morning routine that takes time and makes you slow down to focus on one task. After a few successful and focused shaves, you might just find it calms and relaxes you before a hectic day.

You can get a clean shave if you have soft, smooth skin, or even if you have rough skin and a thick beard. A straight razor shave is the answer to all skin types. Once you’re ready to take your shaving experience to the next level, picking the right razor is the most important part. A straight razor isn’t hazardous to use, but choosing one can be daunting. 

Here’s what the experts suggest:

Check the steel’s quality.

A good-quality razor will sharpen better than poor quality steel. One way to check if you have a well-tempered blade is to use the tip of your thumbnail and slide it across the blade. If it lets off a ringing sound, it’s well tempered.

Consider the blade’s width.

To begin, look for a 5/8 size, this is what most barbers use because it is small enough to control and easily contours your face.

Pick a rounded blade point.

The end of each blade can be set to a point or rounded. The pointed blades can easily cut or nick a new user, so start with a rounded blade. Once you learn the technique, switch to a pointed blade if you like the look.

Finally, be sure to get a “shave-ready blade.”

That means it’s already been professionally honed and is ready for use.

 

Straight Razor Starter Kit

1.    The straight razor

2.    Strop: A device, typically a strip of leather used to sharpen straight razors.

3.    Brush: A small brush with a handle parallel to the bristles used to apply shaving cream or soap to the face.

4.    Shaving cream: Shaving cream keeps moisture in the beard hairs while shaving, leaving them softer and easier to cut as well as creating a thin layer of protection between the blade and your skin.

5.    Lather bowl: Used when applying shaving cream to your brush.

6.    After-shave balm: Whereas traditional aftershave can irritate the skin, balms provide a thick layer of moisture to the skin which protects and sooths it right after a shave.

 

Once you’ve got your razor and you’ve done some research about shaving creams and other tools, the best way to learn is to watch a pro. Go to your local barber with your tools and ask for a demo. Avoid the frustration of watching a how-to video and trying to mimic it, and get some hands-on experience.

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