Shave with a straight razor? What is this, 1850?
I admit I was skeptical the first time I tried it too. But once I saw Johnny Depp wield the infamous blade in Sweeney Todd, I was convinced I needed to give it a shot. And you know what? It didn't take long before I was hooked.
Maybe it was the thrill of cheating death, maybe it was reconnecting with my ancestors, I don't know. But now that I'm a convert and have had a chance to reflect, I've made a list of the top 10 reasons why others should switch to a straight razor too.
Some of these reasons may be tossed aside lightly, I admit. But if at least one of them rings true for you, beware -- straight razor shaving can be quite addictive. Some men have even been known to do it every day!
1. Save Some Dough
Over the long haul, it's amazing how much money you can save with a straight razor. With the price of premium disposable blades going for upwards of three bucks a blade, it doesn't take long to recoup the cost of a well-made straight blade.
Over the course of a man's lifetime, a disposable razor can cost as much as $10,000 more than a straight blade. That could pay for a new car! Granted, it might be a Yugo, but still.
2. Go Green
Ever think about where those safety razor cartridges go when you're done with them? They go to a landfill, of course.
One blade might not seem like much, but when you add up the millions of cartridges thrown away by men every day, coupled with the cardboard and plastic packaging and it's actually quite significant.
How significant? Well, 20 million American male shavers go through a five-pack of disposable blades every eight weeks or so. Each package weighs about two ounces. Multiply it out and you get... ABOUT 10 THOUSAND TONS of waste each year!
Holy hairball, Batman, that's a lot of trash!
Straight shaving, by comparison, produces very little waste. The blade can be resharpened and reused pretty much forever. There's no packaging either.
3. Be a Macho Man
No doubt about it - shaving with a straight razor is manly. Anyone willing to stare danger in the throat must be a man's man, right?
Start shaving with a straight razor and your life may change in some subtle ways. Men will fear you, women will swoon. Just like Crocodile Dundee, you'll no doubt be tempted to shave in public once you've got your technique down.
And if your technique is not yet so refined? Tell your friends that those blood splotches on your face are a result of your daily battle with a "cut-throat blade" and watch them cross to the other side of the street.
4. Pamper Yourself
Once you know what you're doing, shaving with a single, straight blade is actually easier on your skin than shaving with a triple-blade razor.
Why is this? Two of the most common problems with shaving -- razor burn and ingrown hairs -- are directly attributable to using more than one blade.
In the case of razor burn, a triple-blade scrapes the skin three times as much as a single blade. This leads, of course, to three times the irritation.
As for ingrown hairs, those are caused by the multi-blade technique of pulling the hair out and cutting it below the line where it penetrates the skin. When the hair grows back, it can grow back under the skin.
So why not just switch to a single, disposable blade? The problem with that approach is that those disposable blades dull quickly. Shaving with a dull blade is even worse for your skin.
The solution? A sharp, single-blade straight razor cuts the hair cleanly, closely and without irritation.
5. Get In On The Ground Floor
Shaving with a straight razor is a hot new trend. New trend? Huh? Haven't straight razors been around for several centuries?
Well, yes in fact they have. But shaving with a straight razor has become a lost art. The number of straight razor shavers had dwindled dramatically as of about 10 years ago.
But now, straight razor shaving is becoming "retro cool". Interest has picked up significantly over the last few years.
If the trend keeps up, it'll soon be mainstream. Are you the type that likes to catch a new trend before it's played out?
If so, now is the time to try out straight razor shaving.
6. Embrace Danger
Scared of putting a deadly weapon just inches from your jugular? Maybe the straight razor isn't for you.
There's no question that a safety razor is safer than a straight razor. The blades are angled correctly in a safety razor cartridge and the sides are protected by the plastic casing. But if you like to live on the edge, straight shaving might be just the thing.
Truth is, the danger of a straight razor is more a product of our imagination than a real threat. A careful shaver who keeps his eye on the blade and is careful to use a motion that is perpendicular to the blade is unlikely to suffer more than a nick or two.
When first starting out, straight shaving will certainly produce more of those nicks than a safety razor but, over time, a proficient shaver can minimize the threat significantly.
7. Make New Friends
Folks wielding razors scare you a little bit? Not to worry. The straight shavers I've met are actually quite friendly and willing to help novices.
As with most niche hobbies these days, there's an active community of straight razor shavers online. They've even been known to have an occasional get-together, where members bring their razor collections and swap behind-the-scenes stories from inside the washroom.
8. Take Up a New Hobby
Straight razor devotees are quite passionate about their skills. While many men start shaving with a straight razor as way to get the ultimate shave, many of them get hooked on the straight razor culture. Honing your skills in search of the perfect shave is an enjoyable, if somewhat time-intensive goal
In addition, many straight shavers become razor collectors. Vintage straight razors can be found on eBay, at antique shows and even at garage sales. Collecting, restoring and showing off straight razors can be gratifying and rewarding.
9. Learn A New Trade
The economy got you down? Thinking about leaving your job and taking up a new profession? How about becoming a barber?
Okay, this is unrealistic, unappealing or just plain silly for most of us. However, stories abound of hobbyist straight shavers who got carried away by their craft and decided to become pros.
And, if straight shaving is about to go mainstream, you can bet these guys are going to be in demand.
10. Channel Your Inner Grizzly Adams
Got a little overzealous with your "vacation beard"?
Shaving a longer beard with a disposable razor can be a tough job. The cartridges in a safety razor get gummed up fast with hairs, making it unwieldy for any significant long-hair shaving.
You'll find yourself madly cleaning your blade every stroke or two and may even need to use more than one cartridge for a single shave. You'll likely resort to using a beard trimming scissors before starting just to make the process manageable.
Longer beards are no problem for a straight blade, though. The straight blade has no internal surface to get gummed up. In fact, the same smooth stroke works as well on longer-length stubble as it does on a five-o-clock shadow.
So go ahead and grow it. Dan Haggerty would be proud.
Want to interact with a great bunch of guys who have done it before and can offer some excellent advice to newbies? Check out StraightRazorPlace.com. You can lurk for a while and read up on some of their excellent introductory posts. Then, when you're ready, dive in and ask some questions. They won't bite, I promise!
If you do end up taking a stab at straight-razor shaving, let me know how it goes. I'll be the guy with the big smile and the little bits of tissue paper all over his face.