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Thread: Why I started to straight razor shave, why I still do, and why I知 never going back

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    Senior Member Suavio's Avatar
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    Default Why I started to straight razor shave, why I still do, and why I知 never going back

    Why I started to straight razor shave, why I still do, and why I知 never going back

    It is coming up a year now since I first shaved with a straight razor, and it felt like a fitting time to put my thoughts and feeling to paper again (if I could work out how to blog this, I would). If there痴 one person whose sentiments I capture, that痴 great. If there痴 one more person who I convince to pick up a straight razor, or to give it a second shot, I値l be thrilled. I constantly have people ask me: "Why?", as if there's something odd about what I do. Well, here it is...

    Over the year, I致e shaved with about 15 different blades, had about 30 pass through my hands in varying states of disrepair, and restored about 5 to a condition that I currently feel I will never wish to part with. (Of course, that might change with the next phase of razor acquisition.) Each blade is different, and no shave is ever the same.

    The restore of the blade is immensely rewarding especially those 創ear fatal blades that are taken back to a usable condition. Those damsels in distress that we pull out of antique stores, the bottom of garage sale boxes, our old neighbour痴 attic; the bargains we strike; and yes, the times we overpaid for something the search, the restore, the result. (I wish that I could say I inherited my grandfather痴, or great grandfather痴 blade, but alas, those were lost as casualties to bitter divorcees and contested wills. If I had, I can only say that this would have been an even more personal topic.) Of course, it's not enough to just restore - it is also important to maintain, and the skills involved in honing, stropping, and generally maintaining blades are skills that I work on each day. If that sounds like too much hard work for a newbie, bear with me, because I'm just warming up.

    Not only have I become addicted to collecting and restoring these works of art, but I have also become addicted to researching their history e.g.

    - Why is it that Sheffield, Solingen and Eskilstuna (amongst others) were considered the best locations for steel works? (There's an answer for that.)
    - Who was William Butler, and was he related to George and James? (He was.)
    - Why are the same trade marks used by different companies? (Various examples of this, some without answers.)
    - Why were different razors popular through the ages? What drives these trends? (We may never know.)

    And lastly, I have become addicted to the discipline of the shave. It has changed my routines not just the shave itself, but my daily routine. I look forward to it each day, and if my hair hasn稚 grown long enough, it痴 a pity, not a chore. My skin is better than it was, my hand steadier. The meditation-like process of preparation, the zen-like calm of the shave itself, the feeling afterwards that what you have done wasn稚 simply a daily inconvenience, but something that defines you something that you enjoy, that challenges you daily, and that makes you feel like - for want of a better expression - "a man".

    Why I started straight razor shaving

    Of course, it wasn稚 all like this from the start. There were days that my face felt raw, that I felt like a youngster again, learning to shave for the first time and missing the odd patch, shaving other areas too close WAY too close.

    There are the accidents and the lessons dropping a blade, dropping a honing stone (including onto another one), cutting fingers and hands and cheeks. But each time, I learnt something. It is more than I can say for ever shaving with a modern razor. And the things that I have learnt the most are patience, steady hands, and how to take care of my face.

    At the beginning, I looked into a straight razor shave for a friend before his wedding day. It seemed like a manly and fitting experience to have. It seemed tough, and old school and 閃ad Men. I wanted that story of the straight razor shave but no one was willing to give it to me, not a barber in town that I could find. So, I ordered my first blade myself and what I got was so much more rewarding than a single-shave story

    Why I will never go back

    As if I haven稚 said enough already, I値l really dig into it now (modern razor companies beware)

    Why is it that companies have changed their attitudes so dramatically over time, and why have we let them lead us? Is that Gillette ad so compelling that the new 12 blade 8 times lubricated cartridges are worth it? And does a four blade razor get that much closer than a three, a two, a one? What caused the shift in the mid 1900s for these companies to decide: we don稚 need to make products that last a lifetime we need to make products that last a week! And why did we decide that a product that would last a lifetime could be replaced with plastic dispensables? Are we so easily persuaded? Are our lives so driven by 租isposable products?

    Where is the art, the passion, the patience and discipline? Well gents, it痴 right here!

    Never again will I pick up a multi-blade razor because they are made to last a year, not a lifetime.
    Never again will I pick up a multi-blade cartridge because they are too damn expensive and they pollute my earth.
    Never will I put down my straight because it gives me the closest shave that I have ever had.
    Never will I put down my straight because it my art, my hobby, and my passion.

  2. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to Suavio For This Useful Post:

    Brimy623 (02-19-2014), GA185 (02-21-2014), jgjgjg (02-19-2014), JosephHoffer (02-19-2014), kevinred (02-18-2014), Lumberjohn (02-19-2014), Phrank (02-19-2014), UAcowboy (02-19-2014)

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    Senior Member Suavio's Avatar
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    (And of course – never will I put down my straight – because other SRP members with RAD are always joking about stealing them from under other people’s noses… )

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    Senior Member AndrewJM's Avatar
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    Well said Suavio I think the reason gillette and similar has captured the market is for a couple of reasons. They realise they get more of our money by offering disposable products, and they make a calculated judgement in how much of our money / their profits they will put into marketing to distract us from others ways to get a good / cheaper shave.

    It also speaks loudly of our disposable society, and how one often chases convenience rather that the bottom dollar, the environment etc. They also know that if they sell the convenience of disposable cartridge razors, their clients are not going to build a lather from a puck of soap, instead they will buy their convenient shaving foam in a can. I think though the tides will have to turn sometime, as there's only so many additional blades they can fit into a cartridge, and between their competitors they will start to lose their USP (unique selling point).

    I guess mens shoes are an example of our disposable society. It is more common to find a cheap bonded shoe for around $100 or less, than to see men wearing shoes constructed from good quality leather with craftsmanship and the ability to restitch/resole. People don't tend to see the bigger picture cost wise... I read or heard something years ago when I was in sales that I still believe to be true... things are either a bargain to buy or a bargain to own. A straight razor may be a bit more expensive in the short term, especially if one also considers the cost of a strop and potentially hones, however the ongoing cost of maintaining the equipment can still be far cheaper than buying disposable cartridges for 30-50 years.

    The only thing that negates this argument of long term cost is RAD and other disorders that tends to affect most straight razor users from my limited experience (including myself already)... but I don't know many people who hope their cartridge razors will be left to loved ones for them to enjoy and cherish.

    Glad to hear you're enjoying it, I am too (in the month or so I have been straight shaving)
    Phrank and kevinred like this.

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    Senior Member kevinred's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing…
    earcutter and WadePatton like this.
    It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness

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    Inspiring! As I sit here sporting a fresh slice and a nick from never remembering where the damn tip of the razor is, and wondering if I ever will it, is good to know perseverance has its rewards.

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    Senior Member JosephHoffer's Avatar
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    I just started into this for all of the reasons you've mentioned. I believe in the finer things in life. Not expensive things but things of quality. I hate the disposable, fast food lifestyle our countries have become. People say they're too busy but I say they've made themselves that way. Stop, slow down and enjoy life.
    FatboyQ likes this.
    If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything...

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    Senior Member UAcowboy's Avatar
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    100% agree. I had no idea how much i was going to enjoy the SR experience last summer when i made the decision to stop buy stupidly expensive cartridges and learn a new skill. Now i wish my facial hair grew faster so that i could shave more that a couple times a week.

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    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    Excellent! Couldn't agree more!

    For me, it was all about changing a lot of things, and one of them was to shift my perspective from being so obsessively task oriented, everything was a, "to-do" list, everything existed later, the next task to complete, and I found one day I was completely missing the, "now".

    So, one of the first things I did, was change the, "task" of shaving in the morning, to an, "experience", something that allowed me to focus on the moment, and what I was doing, "now", for me, and all I can say is that it then led to many other changes in my way of seeing and interacting, and as a result, it has opened my eyes to a different way of seeing and experiencing things, and I feel happier for having done it.

    The other reason, you get to own, for a brief period of time, some beautiful pieces of history, that have traveled through many hands, and as Spock says, "I find that fascinating."

    Cheers!

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    Member Gehring9006's Avatar
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    Well said!! I started SR shaving for many of the same reasons about 4 months ago. I will never go back to using multi-blade cartridges! I enjoy the process of SR shaving, researching vintage SRs and SRs manufactures. It is something I CAN do every day that I enjoy. It has become my brain gym activity that gets my day going in the right direction. I still have lots to learn but that is also the great part about this art/hobby you never stop learning.
    Phrank and Suavio like this.

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    Senior Member Badgister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gehring9006 View Post
    Well said!! I started SR shaving for many of the same reasons about 4 months ago. I will never go back to using multi-blade cartridges! I enjoy the process of SR shaving, researching vintage SRs and SRs manufactures. It is something I CAN do every day that I enjoy. It has become my brain gym activity that gets my day going in the right direction. I still have lots to learn but that is also the great part about this art/hobby you never stop learning.
    And the shaves only get better

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