When I was a child I remember the feel of stubble on my fathers face; it intrigued my young mind. I also envied at 5 years old why I couldn’t grow this scratchy stuff that I loved to touch, it was a way I believe fathers, and sons bond; the physical contact as well as the manly aspect of the beard, and generations past that also looked at their grand fathers, fathers, brothers……or, whoever your favorite stubbled face growing up, and inspiring that youthful mind to think of the future that someday; I too will have stubble for my sons to ponder over.
How in the world does any of this have to do with Straight razors then, and removal of that moustache or, full beard ? A few month’s back I received a comment on my YouTube channel that basically read “why is anyone taking advice about straight razor shaving from a guy with a full beard” ? At the time I had a chinstrap beard, not a full beard there is a difference, actually a very big difference. So this is a good time to say why I choose to use a straight razor, and why a bearded man has a tougher job overall removing that face fur.
Many people find that using a straight razor can be tough, and I won’t disagree. If it was easy we would be using a 5 blade cartridge razor. The straight razor shave is different in most aspects of the actual shaving from the 10-30 degree angle you shave at, to the grips and reverse grips to accommodate your face. Yes it is more difficult then some people would like. Other people instantly know this was meant for them; it’s a time of reflection, accuracy, solitude and stress relief that is unique to any other form of introspective activity. I love using a straight razor ! there I said it loud, and proud or, wrote it (I was yelling in my mind). After a good 30 days most people find that while having a learning curve that ultimately the switch was well worth it. so lets get into some Straight talk.
Straight razors are broken down to a few simple terms. The edge is the actual sharp portion of the blade that shaves, The remainder of the blade is known as the face. The toe is the end of the front portion, which may have different looks like round tip, French Point, Spike to name a few and there are more. The opposite of the edge is the spine which will lead into the shoulder which are stabilizers more for the mfg. then the shave. Finally for our purposes you have the scales which is the counter balance, and grip assist to the tang which is everything the blade is not. As we see there are some terms there, but don’t drown in the physiology of the blade just know every aspect of that blade whether you use it or, not impacts your shave. So what is right for you ? the first time Straight razor user.
Lets make this simple, and black and white as there is so much non-sense in circulation you could be turned off by taking bad advice. here is a rule of thumb. Avoid Chinese razors in general as the quality is pretty much like everything else with that logo. It works, and will shave, but the upkeep can send you right back to your previous shaving device. I will be the first one to say a quality straight razor does NOT have to be expensive, it’s just not ! this is what sends many people to those Chinese blades is price, $30-100 is the lie that anything else is a small mortgage payment. Guess what you can get a quality vintage razor for that maybe less or, even a brand new razor for $100; like the Ralf Aust base model which I still use today. The constant performance just is not there with any Chinese razor I have every tried. A straight Razor is an investment in you ! your worth the extra few dollars. I recommend buying a round point which looks like a sideways “U” at the toe, which will help you avoid cuts, and are in general, just an all around go to for most gents. Next up bigger is NOT better. You will hear mathematical terms used that sound like your back in school. Some are 3/8, 5/8, 6/8, 13/16, 15/16, 8/8 and we can talk fractions all day, but at the end all that means is the width of the face (see above) of your razor. I recommend 5/8 for two reasons the weight, and feel is great for both beginner and veteran shaver alike. The second reason is back to the guy who questioned my facial hair, because you can maneuver tight hollow of your face easier allowing you some facial hair like a chin puff, any moustache, as well as some pretty awesome side burns without the fear of loss of blade control and bulkiness. Finally you’ll see a ton of scale options (again see above) ranging from plastic to celluloid, to even precious Abalone. I would encourage the plastic or, acrylic scales as they keep cost low, and there is nothing wrong until you know a straight razor is for you, to be prudent. To cut to the point I usually just tell people there is a brand called Ralf Aust sold by SRD that is made in Solingen Germany the city of blades known for high quality carbon steel, and it fits every recommendation I said above. Just do not forget to buy an introductory strop as well it’s not an option. Down the road once you get the technique down as permits get more bling razors, but remember this is an investment, and I promise you will never find a successful business that didn’t crawl before it ran so take your time, and enjoy it !
one last thing before I go. Never let anyone say you cannot use your DE/SE razor, and a straight razor in the same shave why give up a DE or, SE razor !…. I don’t know about everyone else, but I invest in myself, and trust me all three of those razor belong in my life, and maybe yours too. Shave on everyone, I hope this helped a bit. – Aaron