6 January 2014

Back to more traditional shaving

About two weeks ago I wanted to buy blades for my razor but, as often before, the specific type of blade I was after had gone out of production and the option was to buy a new razor or go home empty handed. This way of forcing the consumers to constantly buy new razors is something I'm sick of. I have five or six old razors lying in the bathroom cabinet for which the corresponding blades have gone out of production (why I haven't thrown them away I'm not sure). I am pretty sure the different companies producing razors could keep developing new razors and blades but still keep the same fastening mechanism. This would give the consumer a real choice. Instead the fastening mechanism change with each new release, forcing the new product on the consumer. This time I'd had enough and I went home without new razor blades or a new razor. I had decided it was time to revert to more traditional ways of shaving.

I had two options, should I go for a straight razor or a safety razor? For romantic reasons I wanted to buy a straight razor. There is something appealing about shaving with a sharp blade as men have done for thousands of years. However, I had no experience with either and needed to do a bit of research to decide what would be best for me. Not surprisingly, what I found was that shaving with a straight razor requires more time, effort and practise than using a safety razor. I basically new this before I started looking into this, but what I didn't know was how much the difference was. I would suggest that shaving with a straight razor takes about twice as long as with a safety razor, when you have mastered the techniques. Learning how to use a straight razor also take significantly longer than learning to use a safety razor. If I had the time to spare I would have bought a straight razor but as the situation is, with kids, work and the daily routine, the decision fell on the safety razor. 
On the last day of the year I went out and visited a local barber shop and bought what I needed to start my new shaving regime: a safety razor, a lathering bowl and shaving cream (I already had a shaving brush). The razor I went for was the Parker 99R which has a nice weight and the very convenient butterfly opening which makes changing blades very easy. I also got a dark mango lathering bowl from Parker and the Taylor of old Bond street sandalwood shaving cream. I am no good at describing smells, but this sandalwood shaving cream smells the way I feel it should. It has a traditional, possibly old fashioned, smell which I love. 
I've been using my new shaving equipment for a week now and shaving has become much more enjoyable. I love the new routine, there is something satisfying about this kind of shaving. Firstly preparing the face for the shave by washing it with a towel wet with hot water or alternatively shaving straight after a shower. Secondly, putting a bit of shaving cream in the bowl to foam it up with the brush before applying to the face. The feeling of the soft brush across the face is very pleasant. Lastly, the careful shaving with the safety razor. Learning to use the safety razor was very easy but I'm still slightly careful as you cut yourself somewhat easier than with a modern razor.
I might move on to a straight razor at some other time but, at the moment, shaving with the old fashioned safety razor works perfectly for me and is something I would recommend any gentleman to try.

Shaving brush, Parker lathering bowl in dark mango, and Taylor of Old
Bond street sandalwood shaving cream.

The Parker 99R safety razor.

The butterfly opening mechanism makes
changing blades very easy.

Foaming the the shaving cream in the lathering bowl.


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