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Men began plucking, tweezing and shaving long ago. This may have been in efforts to reduce lice. It could have been to control parasites. It may have been a cosmetic choice. Regardless, the process has only gotten more refined. Over time, men have begun to make it more of an art, a privilege if you will.
After the invention of the safety razor, there seemed to be a shift in thinking towards the classic shave. Since more and more men opted for the convenience of the safety razor, the straight razor enthusiasts emerged, and so did an entire industry. Recently, the desire for the straight razor shave and the culture which accompanies it has only increased.
Straight razors are made of several parts, most important being the blade. There is, of course, the handle, the shaft and the tang. The handle acts as the cover to most razors and helps to protect it.
Straight razors differ in comparison to the modern safety razor, in that they are more like a knife. They have an extremely sharp blade side that needs sharpened with a honing stone as well as polished and cleaned with a strop. They are typically used with shaving cream, foam or gel and can give a precise shave if well maintained.
Before you begin to use your straight razor, take a shower. It may sound obvious, but without showering or at least placing a hot, steamy towel on your face, you run the risk of giving yourself razor burn.
Maintenance of your straight razor can be a bit of a ritual for some men. It requires the right shaving strop to keep the blade polished and clean, as well as straight. Strops can be leather, canvas, balsa wood or even newspaper. There are several types of paste like chromium oxide to be used with the strope to keep the blade in the best condition.
An extremely close shave, compared to the safety razor is usually the biggest reason that anyone opts to begin using a straight razor. While using a straight razor, you are less likely to deal with razor burn or cuts.
The economic benefits of straight razors are important to note, eliminating the need for purchasing endless amounts of disposable blades. It is a really rich experience using a straight razor. It takes time and patience to do so, forcing you to spend a coveted twenty minutes on a grooming activity.
Truly a craft and an art unto itself, using a straight razor requires procuring the right tooling. The top of the line razors come from France and Germany. They can be bought online and in some finer barber shops. Some great examples are Thiers-Issard, Dovo and Böker.
Along with boutique barber supply shops and salons, department stores stock straight blades. Just keep in mind that your blade dictates your shave to some degree. When it comes to your appearance and the health of your skin, it might be a good idea not to cut corners on quality and price.