Monday, October 26, 2009

First Double-Edge Safety Shave

Just had my first shave (late shower today) with the Gillette double-edge I bought yesterday. I have to admit to some trepidation, but was it ever COOL to hear the sound (especially) and feel the sensation of a single blade cutting through my beard! I took it really easy, and only had two extremely minor nicks - almost just abrasions that leaked about an eighth of a drop of blood each.

I lathered once, shaved purely with the grain, then rinsed in very hot water, lathered again, and shaved against the grain – to the best of my ability to tell, while trying to break my old habit of cross- and against-the-grain strokes in consecutive strokes. The result is not quite as close as my typical Gillette Mach 3 (three-blade cartridge), but that's all in the technique and in getting used to the new heavier razor. It’s obvious to me that my technique will improve over time, and the “willies” will go away as well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gillette DE Detour

I’m moving into this whole straight razor thing a little slow, I’ll admit. However, that’s what this blog is all about – my path (as opposed to any kind of direct path) to classic straight-edge shaving. In my research on razors and shaving, I’ve become enamored with double-edge safety razor shaving. That may be a stop on the journey.

I had to take my lovely wife Lisa to the airport this morning, and I stopped to poke around in some antique stores on the way home. Indeed, I discovered an old Gillette double-edge while spelunking. I don’t know the model – I don’t know that much about them yet, but it’s in great shape and was only $5.00 [since identified as a 1960's era Gillette Super Speed - see Country Joe's Collectible Stuff, a very handy site for DE razor identification]. I saw an identical one in another case, plus a Schick, each marked $8.50, but figured I didn’t need two, let alone three at this point. If I really get the bug, I know where they are.

I found a related item in another store – a neat stainless steel case with the word ‘RAZOR’ embossed on it. At $5, it was too cool to pass up. It’s a simple clamshell case, about the size of a regular bar of bath soap. The Gillette fits perfectly.

I brought razor and case home, cleaned them up with alcohol, and boiled them for five minutes. I loaded the razor with a Wilkinson Sword blade from the pack I picked up the other day. Tomorrow I’ll have my first-ever classic double-edge razor shave in forty years of scraping hair off my face – and I’ll try not to cut my nose, lip, or ear while doing it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've been thinking about straight razors for a couple of days now. I think it started with thinking about using shaving soap and a brush. Actually, in my late teenage years I was a horse and western freak. I saw all those rough, tough cowboys shaving with a straight razor and figured that was the way real men shaved. Mentioning this to someone was the wrong thing, however. They immediately warned me that I would slit my throat or at the very least, perform inadvertent plastic surgery on myself.

I've been a wet shaver (read, shaving with hot water - I know, I know, not the traditional definition) for most of the last 40 years. I was seduced by the electric mistress for a few months in my early 20's, but it was a sad affair. I tried to enjoy it, but felt nothing but hot abrasiveness. Pain and shame should have no place in a man's morning routine. The siren song of the blade, a hot stream of water, and rich white foam lured me back. Closer shaves, a bit of ritual, and all that.

I tried good ol' Old Spice shaving soap in their branded sailing ship mug as a late teenager, and didn't have a lot of success. So I went back to the shaving cream spray bombs and have dwelt there ever since.

I fell for every safety razor ad ever put out by Madison Avenue. Single edge injectors, Gillette Trac-II, Mach 3, they're all in my background. Now that I'm studying the deeper aspects of the manly art of shaving, I'm not so convinced of those "advanced" shaving technologies, to say nothing of their associated lack of technique.

And so... I'm contemplating a straight razor again, 35 years after first thinking about it. You, dear reader, are the benficiary of my contemplation. In these electronic pages I'll chronicle my journey through the minefield/maze of learning about scraping hair off my face with a single lethally sharp chunk of steel. Come on along and enjoy the journey.