Well, for the past couple of weeks, I have been slowly accumulating the appropriate paraphernalia to begin shaving with a straight razor. I poured through the Straight Razor Forum here at B&B and also spent many long hours at SRP doing the necessary research. As with DE shaving, the task of identifying the appropriate and necessary tools can be a little daunting. I am so very glad that this time around I did not have to also worry about acquiring a good brush and soap/cream.
Anyhow, after much deliberation and great advice from many helpful friends, I decided to go with a shave-ready razor.
For those of you who don't already know, this is a used razor that has been cleaned up and sharpened by a master or honemeister. By purchasing a shave-ready razor, you can focus on the technique of straight shaving without having to worry if your razor is appropriately sharp.Additionally, Scotto was kind enough to gift me with a Tony Miller 4-sided paddle strop (thanks Scotto). With these new items in hand (and a few others ), this A.M. was the first morning that I knew I would have the time to try out the straight.
With some Big Band Jazz playing softly in the background, I began my shave prep this morning. I filled the sink (which contained my shave bowl and brush) with piping hot water while holding a steamy towel to my face and neck. After roughly 3-4 minutes of this, I knocked the excess water out of my Simpson's PJ3 Super and began building my lather of Taylor's Rose shave cream. Upon completion of the lather, with the scent of rose tickling my nose, I laid a nice thick lather up on my face. I then proceeded to strop my straight razor (roughly 30 laps). I then freshened up the lather a bit and picked up the straight, knowing that in the next few minutes I would be assuming the role of either Hero or A-Hole.
Slowly, I started on the right side of my face with the razor in my right hand and shaved N-S from sideburn to jawline and continued toward the midline of my face, stopping at the corner of my mouth. So far so good. There were no arterial squirts of blood and no screaming women and/or children, so I carefully passed the razor to my left hand and completed an identical (or mirrored) swath on the left side of my face. Again, everything went wonderfully. Through the use of skin stretching techniques, I managed to turn the corner around my jawline (on both sides of the face) and shaved down the neck, completing my first ever pass with a straight razor.
I had originally planned on only completing a N-S pass with the straight, but everything went so well that I rinsed my face and relathered, preparing for pass #2. With the razor back in my right hand, I began the ear-to-chin pass. Again, I went nice and slow. I took my time with the razor so that I maintained the appropriate razor angle and kept my skin taught. Finishing the right side, I moved to the left, shaved down to the neckline and then finished up in the goatee area. At this point in the shave I had managed only one minute weeper and decided that I had tempted fate enough for one day. I rinsed the straight off, grabbed my slant bar and finished off a spectacular shave.
Some interesting things that I noted from this initial experience:
Overall, this was a very exciting and rewarding experience. I certainly plan on continuing down the straight razor path but do not plan on giving up my DE's. As a bit of a side note, I will be gone on vacation for the next week, but upon my return, I will keep you guys updated on my straight razor progress.
- Maintaining the appropriate razor angle is not difficult if you are patient (not scared, but respectfully patient).
- The straight pulled a lot more than I expected it would. I KNOW the razor is sharp enough, so I expect this must be the norm. It was not at all unpleasant, simply different that what I had imagined.
- The shaving edge of the razor is very delicate. Like an idiot, while giving my razor it's post shave wash, I lightly tapped the edge and put a minute nick in the edge. I will now get to practice honing.