Most men do it every day, although few enjoy it. Shaving that is. There is a growing movement of men rediscovering the tools and techniques of their grandfathers, and turning a daily chore into a hobby.
A century ago, King Camp Gillette invented the disposable razor blade. People craved labour-saving devices and new technology, so quickly dumped penny shaves at the barber in favour of doing it themselves at home with commodity blades. The safety razor quickly became the ubiquitous tool for shaving, and since then it has evolved into a veritable marketing arms race; modern offerings include five-blade cartridges with battery controlled vibrating blades. The Gillette 3000 parody is becoming a reality!
There are those of us who have taken a step back, and in doing so are saving money, reducing our environmental impact and taking the time to enjoy what is one of the simple pleasures in life. There isn’t a much more focused, or masculine, way to start the day than shaving with a straight razor. I am grateful that the design and manufacturing technology, and the knowledge of how to shave properly, have not been lost to the pages of history.
Tomorrow morning I will wake up to enjoy the invigorating experience of lathering with Proraso Italian shaving soap ($15 purchased locally) and my Badger hair brush ($50 imported from the US). Then, after a few minutes of lapping the blade on my leather strop ($20 imported from the US), I will be ready.
I will wield the vintage German razor, a Crown and Sword 6/8” extra hollow ground blade (purchased online through a shaving community for $50), to decisively remove the hair from my face, within about five minutes. I prefer to lather and repeat with a second pass, although this is entirely optional (and decreasingly required as my technique improves).
The result is likely to be one of the best shaves I have ever had. I will finish with a splash of the natural astringent, Witch Hazel extract (purchased locally for $7).
I encourage you to visit the online shaving community badgerandblade.com for more information. There are many ways to improve your shave, even if you don’t dive right in to straight razor shaving.