First experience with a straight edge
For the longest time, I have been contemplating trying shaving with a straight edge razor. However, I never got around to it. Partly because good quality straight edge razors are hard to come by and even more so, at a price point where you can simply experiment with it and discard it if you don’t like the results. I was therefore quite delighted to find that the Parker SR1 is now available on Amazon in India.
This razor fits the bill perfectly: Good quality; nice look and feel; it’s a shavette and not a straight edge — meaning that it is used with disposable blades and I don’t need to learn to strop and hone right away; I can experiment with different blades to get a feel of what works best; I can graduate to a straight edge if I enjoy the experience.
I decided to go old school for this and also ordered a shaving brush and soap to go with it. The razor comes with five single-sided Shark blades. Everything arrived by Tuesday but I didn’t want to try it on a weekday … so, I had to wait the entire week … to try it out …
The first shave:
I tried it first thing on Saturday morning — so I’d have Sunday to recover from any accidents :)
How did it go?
Well, it was a nice bright morning with the sun streaming in the window and it was fun getting everything ready — the shaving brush, the soap, the warm water, additional towels for drying my hands and the razor to avoid it from slipping and so on … and of course the razor.
The SR1 comes with a clasp and pinch mechanism that is quite easy to take apart. Since the Shark blades are single edge, there is no need to break them either. Just open the clasp mechanism, place the blade and put the pinch back in place. Locked and loaded!
Worked up a rich lather with the brush and soap. It felt quite nice after all the years of just smattering on some foam with the palm in a hurry. And then it was time to get down to get the razor out.
I was extra-extra careful to avoid nicks and cuts and in this I was by and large successful. I had to figure out how to hold the razor so I could see the mirror without my palm or arm coming in the way. Also I am right handed and shaving the left side of the face was a bit of a challenge. But I did alright.
Given that I generally alternate between a Mach3 and a Philips Williams F1 Shaver, which are both extremely forgiving, my style has become a little lax I guess … this straight edge took care of that. One careless stroke near my chin immediately drew a (razor thin) line of blood. It was a very minor nick and thankfully the only one that day.
The shave was decent but not as close as my usual. The problem though was the razor burn from hell. Once I was done shaving, while washing up it felt like I’d peeled of my face and left it in the sink. Whoa!
But I was so happy to finally have done this that I was grinning ear-to-ear anyway as I cleaned, disassembled and dried the razor and put everything away.
A week later, I tried the straight edge for the second time. This time, I read up a little and watched a couple of YouTube videos to see whether I’d gotten it right the first time.
In terms of technique, it looked like I was doing okay. To solve the problem of shaving the other side of the face, some of the videos suggested switching hands … but I decided against that for now.
One new thing I came across while reading was “pre-shave oil”. I don’t remember ever hearing about this before. Dry-shave, wet-shave — yes. With or without soap — yes. Warm water or cold water — yes. Shave foam or shaving brush — yes. But oil? No.
Not very intuitive to apply oil before applying soap I thought … but somehow it also caught my fancy. So, I decided to try that out …
Thought I’d buy some online but realized there were too many variants and I had no clue which I’d like, not to mention that it would not get delivered the same day. So, instead, I decided to make some for myself.
I pilfered my wife’s collection of natural oils and fragrances to concoct my pre-shave oil: equal parts of cold pressed castor oil and coconut oil, topped off with a drop of neem oil (just because). Applied this to my face and then waited for a bit before shaving the same way as the last time.
This time, zero nicks and cuts and no razor burn as well!
I am not sure why the razor burn disappeared so miraculously (not that I am complaining). It is possible that the pre-shave oil helped. But it is equally possible that I simply handled the razor better, or that the blade was less keener this time, or that I was already used to the burn after the previous experience.
Not sure … but now I am a fan of pre-shave oil and would recommend that anyone trying a straight edge for the first time also get their hands on some.
That’s that then. I don’t remember having written something like this in the past. However, trying out a straight edge has been a “thing” with me for such a long time that I wanted to share the experience … just in case anyone else is interested as well.
Disclaimer: I have mentioned a bunch of products in this post but none of them are paid endorsements.
The shave is still not as close as it is with my other razors and I definitely cannot consider using this on a weekday when I am rushed for time … but I am hoping I’ll get there eventually…