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first straight shaves

Well, over the last two days I have had my first straight shaves. I shaved with a Feather folding Artist SS. The blade I used is a Feather pro-guard blade. Some of you may not consider this a "straight shave" but it is what it is....Anyway I wanted to post my experience for those wanting to venture into the world of straight shaving. First I am used to "wet shaving" which means I have been shaving with a brush and cream and proper beard prep for years. However, I was using a mach 3 to cut / trim my whiskers. Well I progressed into a DE and then into a "straight" with the feather SS. My reasoning was that I did not want to get into stropping and all that right away. So, I chose a feather which was much less expensive than a good straight and a strop and was much less "involved" for now. Yes, I realize that is up for debate but this is the road I chose and I thought I would share my experience. So, here is my review of the Feather Artist SS folding "straight" razor after my first two straight shaves.

First the Cons:

  • It feels weird. Using the Right AND left hand is difficult. It will clearly take me awhile to find my ideal grip going in every direction. That said, the second shave was better than the first.... Dive In!!!
  • It took me 25 min for a two pass shave as opposed to 8 for a cartridge and 10 for a DE. I assume this will decrease as I learn.
  • While I did not cut or nick myself, this was primarily because of the pro-guard blade and the time and care I took while shaving.
  • It is a riskier proposition and I can see where much pain and blood could occur.
  • As relates to the "pro guard" blade and the feather razor... it is very difficult to clean the razor mid shave due to the metal wires on the guard. Maybe the "normal" feather blades will not have this problem but it was a bit of an annoyance for me and actually made me consider a "real" straight.

What I learned:
  • The MAIN skill that seems to represent gaining an alacrity with straight shaving is a knowledge of what part of the razor should be used on which part of the face and using which grip. All of this is the result of experimentation.
  • Much more so than any other type of shaving straight shaving is an art due to the above requirement that one experiment. This is satisfying and interesting in its own accord.
  • There is nothing to fear but fear itself. I did not cut or nick myself or have large weepers. This is while using the "sharpest" and most difficult razor available (not me talking here because I have no idea. But, feather razors are considered "sharp and difficult"). However, I was using the guard blades which may have " saved" me on occasion? I am not sure. The take away here for those considering checking out straight shaving is I LIVED! And more importantly my face lived to tell the tale. Don't be afraid. It is do-able.
  • The feed back is HUGE compared to any other kind of shaving. One feels and hears the whiskers being reduced on each pass. It reminds me of playing an instrument as opposed to just "shaving" . I have slept through 30 years of shaving... one can not sleep through this experience, nor would one want to sleep.... its lovely.

  • In just two shaves I learned more about my face than I did in 35 years of shaving with other methods. Each curve and bump requires knowledge or you carve it off.... Know thy self....
  • The process is extremely meditative and really wonderful. It is similar to tending a garden on a summer day. The smells, the knowledge, the ritual are very rewarding. Even with myself who is a beginner I sense this fact.
  • I have shaved with every "other" kind of shaver. My results for making a two pass shave with a straight are pretty amazing. While they were maybe DFS caliber (remember 2nd time only) the results LAST. Normally I am a gorilla around 5:00 and tonight I am still pretty clean and it is past 9 which is interesting:

My conclusion is that straight shaving is something I am going to pursue. It has too many sweet notes of interest to ignore. So, for all those beginners out there afraid to take the plunge I say don't worry. Take your time and try it out. In my opinion the pros already outweigh the cons and I am only two days into the experience.

Good Luck to all who take the plunge!!
I also chose to start with a Feather SS (non folding) for similar reasons - to see how straight shaving was without worrying about the honing/stropping...

My experience is that when going from a Feather blade to a classic straight the straight will feel very "dull" compared to the Feather. Make sure if you ever get a classic straight to get it honed by someone who really does a great job or it can be pretty frustrating. After I got a properly honed razor, I still felt that it was a far cry from the Feather - obviously my technique, my expectations - and my coarse beard :) I guess if you consider a straight to be a sharp razor, a Feather blade is a light saber ;)

Interesting for me though was finding that the straight was more forgiving than the Feather - I actually felt the prospect of waving few inches of super sharp steel around my face more frightening than doing the same with the Feather, go figure that - but I was obviously wrong. Now, after a month of practicing with a straight it's slowly getting to the point that I can shave decently with it, but I can still get a closer and faster shave with the Feather.
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