Having been using safety razors for some time now, I’ve grown to enjoy the blade and respect it. After feeling comfortable with using my safety razors and finding them very reliable/inexpensive to maintain, I’ve decided to go the route of straight razors to experience them. The reason is mainly because safety razors have a slight issue with cutting hair on the scalp after it’s grown more than 2-3 days due to clogging of cut hair between the blade and head of the safety razor. It’s entirely possible, but requires quite a bit of rinsing with every short stroke of the blade and takes a large amount of time. Que the straight razor, with no other surface than the blade itself… and no protection. It’s definitely a no-frills creation. I’m not too terribly hot on buying a $100+ new blade simply to try it out, so I purchased an old-school used blade that was reconditioned. Very well reconditioned, I might add. It’s a 1930’s German Solingen straight razor with elk antler scales (handle) and looks brand new. I also picked up an English bridle leather razor strop to maintain the straight razor since it needs to be stropped after being used almost every time.
After receiving the razor, I was impressed by how even after approximately 80 years it was so well conditioned. The metal is carbon steel, which is different from most nowadays being stainless steel. Stainless is less forgiving than carbon steel, requiring stropping more often. It was honed, and ready for use immediately. The razor strop was in perfect condition, with a little dirt on the fabric section but that has no consequence to stropping.
I will admit, it takes quite a bit of self-training to do properly. Having never used one before, I researched angle and such beforehand. Most I’ve read said to use a 20 degree tilt, but I’ve found it varies depending upon which area of the scalp I was in contact with. The first time (the only time so far) did hurt due to my lack of skill, however the hair removal was done very quickly compared to any other method I’ve used. I also learned the hard way, always move with slow certain motions. The blade merely tapped the tip of my ear, and left quite a marking that will take weeks to heal properly. I used a brand of waterless shaving lotion named “EZ-Blade” which actually works very nicely. After I removed most of the hair from my scalp, I used my trusty Feather brand safety razor to smooth everything down to the skin. I noticed that the straight razor (so far) isn’t terribly good at creating a baby-butt smooth scalp, but is wonderful for mass removal.
This straight razor will be kept as a beauty piece, since I also purchased a relatively inexpensive 1960’s Soviet-era straight razor from the Ukraine which should reach me in a couple weeks. I will be using that one as the main workhorse, and allowing the German model to be the pretty face of the area. I’m going to try and continue using the straight razor method to see if I can strengthen up my scalp and allow the blade to make contact without such sensitivity. Mind you, not bleeding or scarring, just sensitivity.
On to more experimenting!