Why I shave traditionally

Categories:razors, shaving

During the course of our historical evolution there have been many improvements with everything.  Convenience ensued and a lot of the old ways were abandoned because new things arose that were deemed “improvements” over the old.  However, recently there has been resurgence for things old by enlightened people who deem themselves “traditionalists”  and one of the things I have noticed is the renewed interest in double edged shaving and here is my take on this very interesting subject as it is part of a daily ritual for most of us.

To begin, I belong to a generation in which cartridges and razors go together like coffee and cream.  When I first started sprouting tufts of fur on my upper lip I bought a double bladed (not double edged) Gillette Blue 2 disposable and if I recall correctly, Brut shaving cream.  I watched with glee and the razor erased my moustache and proceeded to stroke my cheeks and neck with the precision gained from watching all those Gilette commercials with their mantra or rather jingle singing “the best a man can get” in my head.

As my beard thickened, I longed for the newest razors Gilette was telling us were better than what we were using.  Now I needed to have a razor with a head that pivoted, next I needed one with a lubricating strip, then I needed one with three blades instead of two that also came with a head that pivoted and an aloe vera infused lubricating strip.  I also should use shaving gel instead of foam.  The constant propaganda continued to influence my yet immature head although I thankfully stopped at the Gilette Mach 3, no fusion for me.  Luckily my beard was not thick enough to quickly wear out the blades in the cartridges because I didn’t fully realize the cost of shaving at that time.

I was such a zealot in all ways high tech shaving that I looked at my father’s old butterfly safety razor that took double edged blades with a sense of antiquity.  My father should switch!  This was such an old way of doing things and so dangerous at that!  I had cut my finger several times at the sink when I wasn’t looking and an exposed double edged blade was sitting there to dry.  And bleed I did which created a respect for the hone of the razor blade.  Eventually my father was convinced to go Mach 3 and his old clunky metal razor which he had used for 50 years was retired for a lightweight plastic wonder.  He never looked back.

Fast forward twenty years.  I have far more coarse hair on my face and need to shave more often.  I am quite aware that it can be quite costly to shave considering the costs of cartridges these days and looking to save a buck looked into alternatives and ran into double edged shaving.  Indeed I had rediscovered something traditional, a gentleman’s tool that stopped short of going straight razor which I shall never muster the balls to use, they don’t call it “cut throat” for nothing and my clumsy hands could slip and give credence to its nickname so to the double edged safety razor I go.

I didn’t know where to find a razor.  They are no longer readily available in pharmacies or supermarkets and unfortunately neither are the blades.  I scoured the Internet and decided that I would order from Amazon.com because of their extremely rich selection of Merkurs and Parkers.  I was about to order when I saw a Parker 90 on ebay from a seller closer to me and so I ordered.  The razor arrived quickly and complete with five blades.  I was reading several websites on how to properly double edge razor shave.  Try reading this.  I am not going to go into the technicalities but rather to the experience and the results.

I didn’t have a shaving brush or traditional cream so I just worked my shaving gel into a thin lather and rubbed it into my face after washing it of course to soften the hair.  I then took the razor and let its weight do the work.  Remember using a double edged razor involves using a different technique, it is less forgiving of mistakes and you can cut yourself with any blade, even the mach 3 left three bloody lines on my cheek once.  Anyway, I made the passes, with the grain, sideways and against the grain.  I stroked my face and as a woman observed “soft as a baby’s bum”.  The shave was incredibly smooth and I decided this is how I would shave from now on.  The internet is filled with sites espousing this with links to where you can purchase all sorts of razors and even have them gold plated if you wish.  Don’t forget to put an aftershave balm of course to calm the skin.  I like bigelow blue myself.

After shaving myself with a double edged razor for about two weeks I decided to bring out the old Mach 3 to see how it would measure up since I am quite impressionable as a recent convert to double edged shaving.  Well, to tell you the truth, the shave was much faster – especially around the neck since rushing that with a double edged razor is frankly, asking for trouble.  My face was also, incredibly smooth after as attested by the same woman I had judge the first shave.  The thing is, I felt like the double edge razor shave lasted longer, or I had less growth the next day but I am not sure.

In conclusion, you go the double edged razor route because you want to create a relaxing ritual that is if you complete it by getting a shaving brush, cream, shaving balm, the razor and blades.  It is a nice experience to wash your face and work on it like a surgeon with a scalpel then step back to admire the work.  Cost wise, it really depends, the entry cost of buying the razor and blades is higher well because Gilette virtually gives the handle for free to get you addicted to their cartridges for life.  The real savings come as time goes by.  As I mentioned, you must WANT to double edge shave as it takes more dedication as opposed to the speed shaves a cartridge razor can give.  But the biggest drawback to double edged shaving for me is the somewhat difficulty in finding the blades.  The razor itself can last a lifetime, the blades of course will not although you can keep them sharper long by drying them after use and oiling them slightly to prevent rust (be careful).  If you can easily order them online then this is an option for you.  I have scoured many places and cannot find them in my country.  I will try a barber supply store but if I can’t find them I will regretfully return to cartridge shaving when my blades run out.

Try double edged shaving not because it is cheaper  because it is good to start your day with an accomplishment.


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