A comprehensive guide to straight razor shaving essentials. Learn how to select your first straight razor, shave brush, strop, and hone.
Why straight razor shaving?
Any task that you are going to perform over twenty thousand times should be done well and with pride. There was once a time when a man took pride in shaving and the tools he used. Shaving was a ritual that was passed down from generations. Nowadays your father may show you how to slather on some store bought shaving cream and drag a multi-bladed razor across your face. The latter will result in razor burn, an inferior shave, and a lack of respect for the craft. Wet shaving with a straight razor will result in a near perfectly smooth shave leaving you with a great sense of pride.
What you need to get started.
Straight razor shaving is drastically cheaper in the long run than using your standard cartridge razor.
However, it does require an upfront investment. The following list will show you everything you need to get started.
- Straight Razor – It goes without saying that the razor is the main piece of equipment. Look at spending a minimum of $100 and be sure that it comes shave ready.
- Strop – A good leather strop is going to keep your razors edge sharp in between honing. Look at spending around $65.
- Brush – A good quality brush will last a long time resulting in a thick and creamy lather for a smooth shave. They come in a range of qualities, I recommend a silver tip badger hair brush.
- Shave Bowl – The shave bowl holds your soap and gives you a place to lather. You do not need to spend a fortune on this item.
- Shaving Soaps & Creams – Shaving soap or cream softens hair, exfoliates skin, and lubricates as the razor passes. Shaving soap is the most economic route. Although more expensive shaving creams will normally surpass soaps in quality.
- Aftershave – Shaving with a straight razor will remove dead skin cells. Shaving soap and cream will dry out your skin. Therefore it is important to use a soothing moisturizing aftershave. One of the best aftershaves in the world is Geo. F. Trumper’s skin food. This aftershave contains glycerine to lock in moisture and rose water as an anti-inflammatory. Trumpers skin food also comes in an array of scents ranging from lime, coral, and sandalwood.
- Honing stones – Eventually after a few months of shaving, stropping your razor will not be enough, it will need to be honed. Having a professional hone your razor will cost around $25 plus shipping. If you would like to save money buying a set of stones will be a good investment. If you choose to hone yourself, you will need a 4000/8000 grit wet stone for maintenance and touch up. Honing your razor takes a considerable amount of time and skill to master.
More than a Daily Task.
Straight razor shaving has a learning curve that will require some trial and error. More than a daily task it will become a desirable morning ritual. You will gain much satisfaction in knowing that you have acquired something that will be passed on to the next generation.