December 1. It's the day many have been dreading for a full month now, when at the end of No Shave November, grown men around the world get rid of their unkempt beards and mustaches and go clean for the sake of charity and maybe, often, their relationships. So with the return of a shaving routine on the horizon, it might be time to reevaluate the way you’ve been removing hair from your face all these years.
It might finally be time to consider the straight razor.
Because the shining blade you associate with your grandfather and James Bond's steely gaze not only offers the closest, most affordable shave of your life, but also minimizes waste, looks cool, feels great, and reconnects you with the idea of clean masculinity the same way a beard out in the wild makes you feel sturdy, strong, and free.
"The learning curve is long, but the lifelong enjoyment of shaving goes way up," Luke Webster, founder of straightrazors.com, explains. "Cleaning is simple. Just run it under water and towel it off. There’s no soap scum, no hair, no assets from your face. You’re using a blade that’s always in perfect shaving condition." The added shaving time and high entry cost might scare a few people off, but when you space the introductory $100-$200 over the next sixty years, or hundreds of years if you pass your blade down a few generations, versus the $30 you’ll spend on disposable blades every few months, you quickly lose that argument.
A beginner's kit will only cost you $29 for a blade, strop, soap, and full-color eight-page manual on how to shave properly and safely. But if you’ve seen too many mob films to feel comfortable with a blade against your throat, you can buy a blunt-edged practice razor for $20 that will help you learn how to hold the blade, at what angle, how to pull your skin for smooth movements – "Small, short passes at 30 degrees. No sawing motions," warns Webster – and how to work the razor over the unique geometry of your face.
"Practice two or three times with a blunt blade," says Webster, "and your confidence and comfort level goes way up. Then your blade dexterity gets better, and you realize that a straight shave is better and smoother than any safety razor."
Once you’re ready, you can step up to the sharper blade that suits you, whether you’re a purist who wants a vintage handle made of warm ironwood or buffalo horn, or an eco-responsible shaver who would rather clean up with carbon fiber in hand.
And if you can find a close friend to help you shave, all the better. Enjoy.