The benefits of shaving with a straight razor have to be significant to warrant the effort that goes into straight razor shaving.
Finding the right razor for the job is a task in itself – although we can help you out with our reviews of the best straight razor.
Next you have honing and stropping. Straight razors rarely arrive “shave-ready” and most shaving enthusiasts warn that even a factory-honed blade still requires some additional work before you first try it. Of course you can save that hassle by using a shavette with disposable blades.
When you have finally got your chosen straight razor out of the box and honed you can finally get to the shave – and preparation with a good shaving soap and shaving brush are key here. That shave takes years to master using lots of little strokes that you will learn over time through experience.
So tell me again – why is this all worth it? Why aren’t I just using a safety razor to cut the effort? Well there are a lot of benefits to shaving with a straight razor that vary from the simple and tangible to the more spiritual.
The Benefits Of Shaving With A Straight Razor
This is the top benefit. Although to be honest a lot of straight razor shavers will probably jump to things like the ritual of shaving and the sens eof connection to the past. But in all honesty, why would you put more effort into a shave that could be beaten by a much simpler method?
Shaving with a straight razor delivers the closest shave you could imagine. Even single blade safety razors have a guard comb (including open comb safety razors) whereas a straight razor leaves nothing between the blade and your skin.
Not only is that a close shave but a single blade is much less likely to cause irritation. Modern cartridge razors use a technique of lifting the hair out of the skin before cutting it. The result may seem smoother but the hair that snaps back under the skin is then a leading cause of razor bumps, which are ingrown hairs.
Meanwhile because you are using a single straight edge blade against the skin you will be much more careful with pressure. Even shaving with a safety razor can lead to irritation through using too much force. Ever seen someone shaving a balloon with a straight razor? The delicate balance of razor blade and scales (the handle) combined with the sensation of a blade against the skin means someone shaving with a straight razor does so with great care.
The Straight Razor Experience
Now we get into the more mental rather than physical benefits of shaving with a straight razor. Because of that sensation of a blade against the skin and a narrow margin of error, many straight razor shavers talk of a meditation like experience when they shave in the morning.
Modern meditation tends to focus on the practice of Mindfulness – which normally revolves around focusing the mind on a single sensation to give the rest of the mind a chance to escape and refresh itself.
Mindfulness coaches will often tell you to focus on your feet or other parts of your body for extended periods of time and pay attention to the sensations experienced. The meditation benefits of shaving with a straight razor are much the same – all your focus devoted to the blade against your skin.
Lathering up with a hot towel and shaving soap beforehand is the perfect preparation for this – combining relaxation and ritual. Shaving with a straight razor might seem old school but it could hold the answer to many of the stresses of modern life.
At Artisan Shaving we try to avoid the excessive talk of “manliness” that you read in a lot of shaving blogs. But there’s no doubt there is a classic sensation to shaving with a straight razor – both primitive and primped.
Let’s just say that in the gym changing room where the modern man shows off with premium sports kits, protein shakes and the results of hours of working out, shaving with a straight razor is sure to stand you out from the crowd.
Shaving with something like a Dovo Bismarck makes you feel like both an aristocrat and a Victorian bare-knuckle boxer.
Plastic cartridge razors are extremely wasteful. Some 163 million consumers in the U.S. bought disposable razors in 2018 – that’s a huge amount of plastic, most of which ends up in the ocean or a landfill.
You can save a lot of waste by switching to a double edge safety razor – but you still end up throwing away the blades. While they are in theory recyclable most authorities treat them as medical waste.
With a straight razor there is no waste – unless you are considering the microscopic amounts of steel ground off the blade when it is honed and stropped.