The following is a guest post from David Wessell at Straight Razor Place.
The best a man can get eh? Now that’s a very well worn mantra used by probably the largest shave products company in the world. But why do millions and millions of men (and lets not forget women too) bow down to the corporate juggernaut and settle for a shave of convenience rather than what is truly the best shave a man can get?
The truth is they don’t know any better. Men have been shaving their faces for probably thousands of years. Initially a variety of implements were used from sharpened rocks like obsidian to copper and brass blades. In the last couple of hundred years these implements were refined into the “straight razor”.
From probably the late 1700s through present day the straight razor has changed little in design. Like everything else newer technologies and knowledge have brought forth modification and tweaks with respect to the grind utilized by the razor maker and the size of the razor and more recently the use of differing alloys of steel including stainless steel and some have experimented with newer space age materials.
So you see when Mr. Gillette came along he just knew that most men would switch to something that took no care, even if it cost more and didn’t work as well. What would the average Joe be willing to pay to be able to pick up a pack of disposable blades and put them in a razor and simply shave with little skill required and then just dispose of the blade after use? Gee Pa, throw away that old straight and the strop, the hones and later on even the brush and soap for some canned goo. Well by golly men all over the world voted with their faces and left straight razor shaving by the droves in favor of the this new-fangled way to shave.
Yes boys and girls we have seen this all happen before. People abandoned pocket watches in favor of wrist watches and people have abandoned cars with manual transmissions in favor of automatic transmissions and people have abandoned going out and buying their food fresh every day in favor of prepared goods and leftovers sitting in the fridge for days and weeks and months and people have… well, you get the idea.
Once a new concept takes hold people forget about the old in favor of the new. Or do they? What’s that old saying what’s old is new again? Is it as simple as that or maybe our predecessors knew something that we have all never realized? Maybe that old straight razor really did a superior job, maybe when you use a manual transmission you really do have better control of the vehicle, maybe it’s easier to tell time with a pocket watch and maybe buying fresh food and consuming it timely results in less food poisoning.
So you say this guy must be kidding himself. What nut is going to shave with a straight razor in this day and age and have to deal with all this time consuming nonsense. This isn’t the 1800s or 1910 when people had the time to lavish on these skills. A time when people got around on horseback and the pace of life was slow and easy. Well folks, I’ll tell you a little secret. There is a vanguard out there. Like when you stand at the shore and see a tidal wave approaching and it gets larger the closer it gets. This vanguard knows something the rest of you don’t. They know that the straight razor will give you the closest shave you will ever get. The straight razor will give you the most comfortable shave you will ever get and the straight razor will give you the cheapest shave you will ever get in the long run. Yes you must be willing to accept the learning curve that goes along with it but the best way is often not the easiest way.
You see, a disposable razor be it the older double edge or the newer cartridge razors have a fixed angle and if your face was like wood and was straight and true they would be wonderful. However even though my wife does sometimes call me a blockhead most of us have faces comprised of areas where you just need to keep changing the angle to get the best result. That’s the beauty of the straight. You continually change the angle to best suit the particular area of your face. You can’t do that with the newer systems. Yes they have tried to come up with systems that conform to the face and electric razors that look like some torture device but in the end they simply don’t work. Ask yourself when you shave, after how many hours do you begin to feel the stubble? If the answer isn’t around 18 or more then you kind sirs should be telling Mr Gillette what he can do with his invention. We also haven’t even touched upon these disposable blades in our landfills and the cans of shaving goo in our landfills and all the expense in buying these cartridges. (oh the pain)
So you say hot dog now I’m all riled up and can’t wait to get me a straight razor and start shaving but where does one find everything one needs? straightrazorplace.com is a site dedicated to this superior form of facial grooming. You’ll find everything you need there. From reviews, to vendors, to tutorials. Everything a man could need to get started.
If you think I’m joshing you about straight shaving becoming more popular consider this: The manufacturers of straight razors can’t keep up with demand, more and more custom makers are appearing and doing real artistic work, and we are beginning to see waiting lists to buy straight razors and there are more and more straight razors being bought on our favorite auction site.
So Mr. Gillette is probably turning over in his grave with this article but as his corporate descendents will tell you this is really the best a man can get only not the way they think. And I’ll tell you a little secret. Mr. Gillette shaved with a straight razor.