There’s been quite a resurgence within the use of straight razors by men over a previous couple of years – is it for reasons of economy or do they only want to look macho? This text takes a glance at straight razors and a couple of myths concerning them.
Straight razors – sometimes called cut-throat, flat, or open razors – were the sole choice best electric razor for elderly man to tame their stubble for many years before King Gillette invented the fashionable ‘safety’ razor. Straight razors then fell into decline, and quite a few urban myths were born about them – some true, some false. Here are a couple of to mull over:
1. ‘A razor blade will cut at slightly .’ True! But as long as sliced across the skin – and any sharp knife will do this. A razor is essentially a ‘push-cutter’ – that’s, the string is pushed against the stubble and cuts through it. During this, it’s an equivalent because of the modern razor, although the blades of a security razor are pre-set at an ‘optimum’ angle and closely guarded.
2. ‘The blade of a razor must be aligned with the Earth’s magnetic flux when not in use.’ False. The idea behind this was that because the blade of a razor is so fine – just a couple of molecules thick – aligning it North-South when not in use would allow the magnetic flux of the world to revive the sting. In truth, a razor is whetted on a leather belt called a strop before, and sometimes during, use. This does actually restore the microscopically thin edge to near-perfection giving, in effect, a brand-new edge for each shave.
3. ‘You need to wrap your face in steaming hot towels before you shave with a razor.’ False. Although this is often done by professional barbers it isn’t essential. The recent towel treatment merely softens the stubble, making the barber’s job easier – and blunting the razor less! It is also quite a pleasant experience that adds to the general satisfaction of getting a shave during a barbershop. Remember also that means’ facial skin was probably an honest bit tougher in days gone thanks to the very fact that a lot of more worked outdoors – and skincare was virtually unprecedented for men in those days!
4. ‘Straight razors are just downright dangerous.’ True. But, so maybe a machine gun, or a dumper, or a frypan. It depends on what’s being through with them! Straight razors got their fearsome reputation from legends like Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, or books like ‘Murders within the Rue Morgue’ (which didn’t do much for the reputation of the Orang-Utang either!). Certainly, you’ll cause terrible damage with a razor, on the other hand, you’ll do even worse with a machete, a sword or an ax. In fact, as a weapon the razor may be a one-hitter – the blade isn’t designed for strength and therefore the edge would probably break on the primary stroke. Really, though, the razor is merely like all other pieces of sharp steel – treat it with respect and you’re fine. Fiddle with it and therefore the consequences are often sudden, painful, and messy. A razor is meant to try to do one job only – shave your face – so keep it for that!
5. ‘Using a razor takes years of practice.’ False. Like all manual tools, a razor does take patience and practice if you’re getting to get a very close call, but it’s surprising just how quickly you get the knack of it. There’s also something satisfying in employing a razor for your morning shave – it isn’t a task you’ll rush, albeit you’re an expert, so it’s the effect of slowing you down a touch and stopping that rush-rush-got to-get-ready-for-work frenzy that seems to affect more and more men lately. It concentrates and focuses the mind, too – tasks that need this level of skill and dexterity often do – and I have always found it leaves me calmer and more ready for my day.
So – maybe it’s for reasons of economy, being fed-up of the ‘throwaway’ mindset of today, that men are throwing their razor within the bin and returning to an almost-forgotten skill. or even it’s just that they need the machismo of claiming they scrape their stubble off with a fearsome legend – in any event, the recognition of the razor is most definitely on the upswing. Why not provides it a go?
Steve Dempster regularly attacks his stubble with a razor and has lived to inform the story. For more information and advice about straight razors, have a glance at his website The Invisible Edge