Shave for Less than the Dollar Club
It all started at a friend’s wedding when for our groomsmen’s gifts we were each given a shavette, which is a straight razor with disposable blades. I’ve always enjoyed old things and outdated methods for doing things and so started my journey into learning how to shave with a straight razor. I bought a pack of 100 blades and started practicing.
After watching a lot of videos and practice runs without a blade I finally mustered up the courage to try it with a blade. After about 4 runs and lots of little cuts on my face I finally did it without cutting myself and was hooked on using a straight blade. It gives you a much closer shave than a regular multi blade, it is much easier to clean since hair doesn’t clog up in it, and there’s the satisfaction of doing something a lot of people are scared or don’t know how to do.
I also discovered how fun shaving with an old safety razor can be. You cut yourself less that with a traditional straight blade, but since you're still only using one blade it is easy to maintain and keep clean. With a straight razor you can shave a full beard no problem, but with a safety razor you'll want to shave more regularly. You'll end up pulling more hair out than cutting it if you let it go too long.
Once I got the technique down and was shaving with it regularly I became pretty obsessed with collecting shaving memorabilia. Whether shopping online or browsing through antique stores I always seem to find another piece to add to the collection. I’ve collected vintage razors, brushes, shave soap mugs and other various things. I’ve had people get me shaving themed gifts and it gives me something to look for now when my wife and I go antiquing. So all in all have I beat online shaving subscriptions? Absolutely. Not only have I shaved for 3 years with less than $40, but I’ve developed a hobby I really enjoy and have gotten a lot of satisfaction out of. Up to now the most expensive shaving item I’ve purchased was a custom built walnut handled badger brush my barber had made for me and I still only paid $30 for it.
If you’re looking at getting into straight shaving, it can be very affordable, but be wary of “specialty shaving” stores. You can get everything from Amazon for a really good price, and I’ve seen online specialty shave stores selling the same stuff with their name on it, but have it marked up.
When buying a shavette you'll want to buy single edge disposable razors. I've see some people buy a regular double sided blade and split it, but that it kind of a pain and they never fit quite right. There are tons of brands, but I personally prefer Derby for value and quality. There are also lots of different handle styles and opening mechanisms for shavettes and there's no particular right one. I prefer a lighter handle and I like wood handles a lot. Most of them will come with a case and some razors so be on the look out for combo deals!
For safety razors you will need double sided razors and there are tons of different brands out there. I have no particular favorite and I'm still experimenting to see what I like. My only precaution would be to see where the blades are shipping from. Many are produced and used in East Asia and I once ordered some and didn't realize it was going to take 3 months for them to ship to me. They were great blades and they came in a really cool package, but you can definitely get them quicker.
Shaving brushes vary quite a bit in price and material. A cheaper wood handled one is a good place to start out. My only recommendation is to get a badger hair brush, not synthetic, not boar or anything else. You'll know it's badger if it stinks like a wet dog when you first use it, and after a few uses the smell will fade. I have a synthetic brush I travel with, so I don't ruin a nice badger brush, but badger is definitely the softest and does the best job.
Shaving Soap comes in a ton of varieties as well. My personal favorite is Colonel Conk's Almond scented soap. I love the sweet almond scent and it lathers up really nice. Colonel Conk also has other scents that are also fantastic. It also works well as regular bar soap in the shower.
Click on any of the pictures to purchase my preferred items for shaving!