Men, shaving has been going on longer than we think, and no shave has been more monumental than the straight razor. There’s a reason why some men still prefer a barber to handle their neck rather than themselves.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a secret to a straight razor shave that, once unlocked, will provide you with a clean shave every time. No, the secret to a straight razor is with its tradition and practice.
Tradition is the dividing factor when choosing to get a straight razor shave. According to Kennedy’s All American Barber Club’s Abbreviated History of Straight Razors, back in the day (about 5000+ years ago) men shaved with shark teeth, clam shells, and even pieces of flint. The Egyptians made razors out of gold in about 4000 BC. It wasn’t until 1740 that the first razor was introduced, says Kennedy’s All American Barber Club. And from then on, until about the 1950s, the straight razor was the pristine choice of men worldwide.
Brett McKey, Art of Manliness.com, states that a straight razor shave is also relaxingly dangerous, making it the manliest way to remove facial hair. Brett says nothing is more relaxing than having a hot towel placed on your face with fragrance of shaving cream following shortly behind. “The few times I’ve gotten a straight razor shave,” says Brett, “I’ve fallen asleep.” He also remarks on the danger of allowing another man to wield a sharp blade around your face, trusting that he won’t screw up.
Yet, much credit of a clean straight razor shave goes to the barber. National Geographic’s documentary Secrets to Shaving recalls how grooming wasn’t the only part of a barber’s profession in the 16 – 18th centuries. Believe it or not, barbers were also surgeons due to their sharp blades and steady hands. While saving lives left their profession, barbers kept the steady hand and perfected the practice.
Now, join in on an age-old tradition of danger, let the hot towel calm your nerves, and sit in ease as the steady hands of the barber slide a cold piece of steel across your cheeks.