Tutorial

Tips for Straight Razor Beginners

  1. Watch lots of videos on how it is done. Read lots of information. BEFORE you start. I recommend the “geofatboy” and “mantic59” videos on YouTube
  2. Take your time – enjoy it. Waving around a surgically sharp blade in the bathroom is NOT for the times you are in a hurry.
  3. Soap dilution matters – don’t make the lather to pasty or the razor will skip. Slick is the trick.
  4. Shave prep matters – use a pre-shave. I use a number of different ones – Prep, 3P and Proraso. Sometimes I use a pre-shave oil
  5. TAKE NOTE – it is very very important to stretch your skin in order to get a good result.
  6. Did I say stretch your skin….
  7. Don’t get too caught up on which hand you use for which side of the face. I use both hands but it is not a hard and fast rule of left for left and right for right. Getting the razor positioned is far more important. Being able to both position the razor and also stretch the skin properly means, to me at least, that I use a combination of hands/sides that may seem unorthodox but hey it is MSMY!! as they say (My Shave My Way)
  8. Don’t get caught on the trap of thinking that pressing the razor to your face will mean a closer shave – it only means you cut yourself. A closer shave takes only a sharp razor, good soap and a good technique
  9. Don’t think you are going to get BBS straight away. Don’t make the mistake of shaving again and again to try and get it… on my second shave I did 5 passes and boy oh boy when I alum blocked did I suffer. I must have taken off way too many layers of skin and was sore for a day or more after. The mantra is be patient and gentle. No matter what you do the shave will be more satisfying and closer than with your cart.

YOU WILL ENJOY IT MORE!!

To Bowl or Not to Bowl

jsbowlI prefer lathering in a bowl.  I think I initially started with a bowl because I didn’t know you could lather on your face.  And, using Taylor of Old Bond Street (TOBS for short) cream which I started out with was very easy to use in a bowl.  In fact, if you are in a hurry, using a cream like TOBS is a very fast way to get a good lather going quickly.

But there are other reasons which lead me to recommend using a bowl over lathering on the face.  Ultimately I believe lathering in a bowl gives you better control over forming the best and most optimum lather.  It is easier to control the amount of water that you add and it is visually more accurate.  You can see right there in the bowl how good the lather is.  You don’t have any feel for it on your skin but you can feel how the brush moves and in that way also determine how thick or thin the lather is.  As well as just lifting the brush up and out of the lather to see how it peaks.

Once the lather is formed, you don’t have to spend much time painting it on your face, it’s already formed so just spread it around and get on with the shave.  I also like to use my brush like a painter uses a brush with a paint can and scrape lather off the brush on the side of the bowl.  This also allows me to control where the lather is on the brush which in turn allows me to optimize the lather on my face.

Ok, now that I have convinced you to use a bowl (probably not), you have to decide upon a bowl to use.  At first, if you don’t want to spend any money, just find a cup or small bowl from your kitchen and use it.  If this works for you and you are happy, that’s good.  If you want a mug that has been specifically designed for lathering there are lots of good choices.  I see many people using the Captain’s Choice mugs which seem to fit nicely in the palm of your hand.  I like the Doug Smith Pottery bowl in the photo above because it adds to this idea a thumb hold.  So you can have the bowl in the palm of your hand and an added bit of security to prevent dropping it.

The Wet Shaving Podcast (a great resource by the way) did a discussion of bowl vs face lathering in a recent episode and Joe suggested that it is inconvenient to take a nice bowl when you are traveling.  This is true but it’s easy to take an inexpensive metal bowl which will work fine.

So, have I convinced you to lather in a bowl yet?  Maybe not.  But whatever the case, it’s part of the shaving ritual and whatever floats your boat is certainly good and fine.  Feel free to ask questions about this or offer your thoughts on your favorite form of lathering. But whatever the case, enjoy the shave!

Pre shaves; do you need one ?

While I’m in the midst of redoing our website, and adding excellent authors like Bob W, here’s a very popular video off of YouTube, I posted a while back. Happy shave my friends, and 3 Extrò reviews are on the way.

Pre shaves Fact or, Fiction

6 shaving tips that changed my life forever- Mark Herro

Just follow the link to a better shave every time ! 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/6-shaving-tips-that-changed-life-forever.html

Mark Herro Aka Mantic59 again takes your shave to the next level ! Thanks for everything you do Mark 🙏🏽

Aaron’s Pick- Asylum Rx SE: By Ronald Davenport Sr.

The Asylum Rx like many new production razors, are modern “SE” or, injector light styles. The Asylum Rx, IMHO sets itself apart in many ways from looks to the shave itself.

Our friend on the WSR Facebook Page who is equally as unique in a good way, has an opinion, and he is not afraid to voice it ! In steps Ronald Davenport, a Renaissance man in many ways, and a observant practioner of observation, as well as trial and error; will find every nook and cranny of his ever growing wet shaving collection; often posting these musings on the Facebook page. In steps Ronald in his own words about the Asylum RX !! Thanks for your contribution good sir !

 

 

Asylum RX Razor I would start off with good Pre-Shave discipline. Using a stiff Boar for a well exfoliated growth area. Then Pre-shave Oil followed by hot towels. Then my favorite Boar, but that’s just me. Remember, you get out of a shave what you have put into it (IMHO). If you are in the workforce and have a busy out the door routine, well maybe save this experience for a day off or at night. Out of the box one will notice the fine finish on this pleasantly satin metal. That and the style. It’s like a Jaguar sitting there ready to start. The fit of parts are so tight which makes this Razors curves smooth and sleek. We could hardly ask for a more sweet sexy looking instrument. As I write this, I still have a BBS face, well almost, and I shaved last night at 8 pm. It’s now 2:30pm, I have a medium to heavy beard too. Yes I chase a BBS Shave. As far as numbers? I don’t have a number where I get to and then done.
Sometimes I reach a four pass and touch ups, because touchups are a pass in themselves. When I get to a point that I’m happy with the shave, then I’m done. Much has been written on the topic of “ Comfort vs. Closeness”. However the less scraping on our faces the better. That’s where this Asylum RX SE comes in. With a Feather Professional SE Blade ( subjective ) I think one will find an instrument which reduces the amount of work it ( razor ) is tasked with. Without reservations I can honestly say this razor gave me the best shave I have ever had, from any shaving system. This in itself, in my world is a feat, as I am a (BBS chaser), and I never expected to have this razor give me a shave even approaching a straight shave. The weight and balance are ideal. Not all of the heft is balanced, top is lighter and mostly in the handle, which speaks of how well it maneuvers in all those tight spots. Handle length is just right for a big hand but not to long for a Lady’s hand. Something about angle. Just with the eyeball it may appear to be an extreme slant when compared with some modern SE razors. However when compaired with most vintage SE standing up on the base of the handle, the angle of the blade will be very familiar, pretty close to most Vintage SE.
It was designed to take the Feather Pro-Blade or equivalent, however the Pro-Guard blade will not work. Speaking of blades, most SE blades are rounded on the ends, right? also on the safety bar there end guards or stoppers to hold the blade even. We find this feature on most Vintage SE like MMOC by Gem. Good feature. One person from a well-known talk-ey forum said this; “Well, if you like aggressive razors the Rx is right up your alley. I enjoy my Rx. Incredibly efficient with a Kai blade, whether a Captain, Titan Mild Pink or the ProTouch MG. All provide smooth and clean shaves. The Feather Pro and the Rx? Now that’s when it really shows its true colors. Viciously sharp, but efficient and if used with a very light touch and care, amazing.
A friend sent me a couple samples of the Pro and I bought 3 boxes with a coupon code from a vendor I purchase from. For me, it’s the pinnacle in achieving a fantastic, BBS shave daily. Only my 2 prized straights, Wade & Butcher Wedge and Boker Celebrated are on par with it”. This Razor is at the top of the Food Chain, alongside Muhle R41 (2011), and the Icon ShaveCraft Tec,. ATT H2 and lest we forget, the most aggressive adjustable, MERKUR VISION 2000.
Thank you again Ronald, this is what we at the WSR are all about, our members helping the wet shaving community; you have the hands on knowledge. It’s an honor to us to post your review. – Aaron
If anyone is looking to have a review on any Grooming, Wet Shaving, Pipes, Pens or, anything that you are passionate about; please contact Aaron Schecter either on the Facebook group page or, at aschecte@gmail.com

Straight talk about Straight Razors

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !

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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

 

How to strop for beginners

Hello out there ! It has been quiet sometime since I have posted here, and this post is a great informative, concise, and correct way to strop a straight razor; especially for the new shaver. Now before I post the video I want to thank Lynn Abrams of Straight Razor Design and Straight Razor Place for allowing me to share his video. I could make a stropping video, but how do you improve what a living legend in the industry has already done. I consider myself very blessed to befriend such a giving and generous gentleman who is the worlds true Honemeister. I will add my .02 cents now though of course and dispel what stropping is, and why do it. This video is dedicated to @mickeyobe who requested a stropping 101 style video.

Stropping is not honing; honing is when you remove metal from your razor to sharpen or touch up the edge of the razor to make it shaving sharp again (That is the most direct, and basic description of honing) period. So what then is stropping, and why do I always say to buy a strop with your first straight razor ? Stropping inn my opinion is actually more important, again in my opinion; as you do it every time you shave before and/or, after. What stropping does is pull all those micro pieces of the edge, and basically like in basic training says get in a straight line ! Stropping is what tidies up all those erratic shards of microscopic metal the previous shave displaced ! yes your beard is really that strong, and literally pulls everything so it’s going in the same direction. This makes your shave more comfortable, the edge last longer, and finally you the new straight razor user interested in the art yes I said “art” of straight razor shaving. On closing yes there are many types of leather you can use for a strop as Lynn says in his video; I use Kangaroo personally, but also own Latigo, and English Bridal. For the new shaver buy yourself a nice Latigo strop also sometimes called a starter strop (I loathe that term), and go with 3″ these are only suggestion, you can use whatever you want to buy, but be forwarned just as honing is a skill stropping is as well, and strops are leather hence if you cut it, you have to replace it. I personally would replace Latigo than English Bridal, and hey Latigo is just fine to use don’t let a lower price tag make you think it’s less effective. Now get out there buy yourself that straight razor and strop and watch this video ! slow and steady wins the race, Shave on !  http://www.straightrazordesigns.com 

  • Aaron

 

The five P’s and never assume anything

What the heck am I talking about ! “This fool, is throwing multiple letters at us now” How dare he !…. I can see it already LOL ! Well I learned that this acronym the Five P’s should be pretty much in one of the Gospel…., and if you read close enough you’ll see them, but I doubt they are called the five P’s. Okay I’m done with the riddles so stick with me. Proper, Prevention, Prevents, Poor, Performance.  There I said it. and I failed at doing so, hence this post.  Oh and I’ll get to that “never assume” part soon enough.

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The best way I can paint this picture in our world of shaving is by example. Now the first word

  • Proper – well this can mean a lot of things in our world from not holding a razor blade on the sharp edges, to how we care for our skin post shave. There is a proper way, and for each of us this is where the most YMMV actually comes to play. So this “P” is a personal journey… I can only say use common sense or, ask someone’s advice and they will tell you the proper advice, and way to do something. The one thing traditional shavers love to do is talk about the “Proper” way things are done.

 

  • Prevention- Take care of your gear ! the reason and for our benefit, a lot of those vintage razor we buy and spend a bit of time cleaning up or, sending out for repair, refurbishment; was a direct result of the previous owner not using simple preventative measures. Dry your razor before storage, use a light oil to lubricate moving parts, strop that straight razor, oil that strop !!! either by hand or, neatsfoot oil !, and finally yourself ! yes I said YOU ! before you shave do you take all the steps to prevent a poor shave ? Have you mapped your facial hair growth ? do you benefit from a pre-shave oil or, cream ? Does your skin work better with a hot shower or, cold water and a great lather ? If you plan the end result before you start, the road map to shaving Nirvana is not out of reach; actually this step pretty much makes everything else go smoothly including your face.

 

  • Prevents- well read above you’ll prevent the next step.

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  • Poor- Well,  I over 25 years of traditional shaving have heard everything from the razor, to the blade, to water, and a foggy mirror blamed for a crappy shave ! Well sometimes we learn more from the bad then we do from the good. A poor shave should always be analyzed.  First step… Check were you proper to your needs, did you set your self up for success (Prevention)… you just experienced poor….so what went wrong assuming everything went smooth above. Did you try a new blade, a new technique like J Hooking or, buffing ? was the Astra SP you love on shave 2 still being used 10 shaves later ? Well you just found out that was preventable….. was it a new blade ? try another of the same brand, were the results still poor ? Move on you just learned what to prevent in the future, write a little note mentally stay away from brand “X” it does not work in “This” razor, but is great in another. Set yourself up for great,  not poor.

 

  •  Performance- Well this is the last “P”. There is an old saying “a good mechanic” does not blame his or, her tools (being politically correct here), when a job turns out poor. These previous mindful steps will determine your performance. Only you can decide how optimal your shave or, in the bigger picture your life is performing. I bet if any of us, myself included; took 5 minutes before a shave, and actually thought from the end to the beginning and then begging to end we can force ourselves to find those little way or, tweaks that will bring that “performance level” up at least a bit.

 

Next time you shave, or better put have a mediocre shave, was it one of these 5 “P’s” that was the culprit, and if so did you learn from it. Finally these last few words.

 

NEVER assume anything….never assume, because a Personna Med Prep just came in and the blue wrapping is fully sealed; that the blade is sharp. Maybe it’s a dud, try another one, inspect the blade and razor. If you’re a Straight Razor shaver never assume just because the razor is shave ready that it is….I say this as more than once my opinion of shave ready was different from the person who sharpened it up. Trust me on that one 95% at least of straight razors are not shave ready; what they are is sharp enough to cut a single arm hair…..all hair is not created equally. Recently I bought a straight razor…..beautiful as all can be, and I paid for what I expected to be a sharp blade. Well it shaved, but left irritation, razor bumps, and weepers every time I used it;  “It must be me”.  So I did my check list….and I was just baffled. Finally I said after a few horrible bloody shaves, let me put this razor on a 12K stone than some CrOx and mindful strop it well; this is called refreshing a blade, a minor form of honing. Don’t assume anything !! this razor is now the most comfortable in my rotation. It did not have a rolled edge or, really any wear as it was a new razor…. it was preference ! one mans sharp is another’s dull…..from a business sense it’s better to be dull, and go sharper then be too sharp on sensitive skin, I do “get” that. So in Proper Prevention when I order a razor now everyone knows I prefer the blade on the ultra sharp side, and never be afraid to tell your distributor your preferences in all things you will both benefit from an honest relationship on expectations. Same holds true for you DE and SE shavers… do NOT assume that a Feather Blade because it is “So sharp”, because you read it on a Facebook forum is the right blade for you…..or that the newest heavily marketed razor that claims to shave like a much more reputable brand is going to work for you. This is called marketing, and trust me you can convince yourself a piece of thin aluminum is great for you if you hear, and see it enough times. Do NOT assume anything, critique things with your own good judgment not mine, nor Facebook as people have motives, not all, but some,  and you jut don’t realize it. In the case you do enjoy that product..Soap, Razor, Blade, After Shave……. do not forget your 5 “P’s” use what you like and use it properly, and you will have great performance almost all the time. Shave on and thanks for listening to the rant !

Aaron