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Safety Razors and Shaving Cream -- Returning to the Clean Shave
A friend of mine recently graduated from barber school, and while he was a student, any of his friends were able to go to the school for five dollar haircuts. I went when he first started cutting hair, and it took him about an hour to give me one of the worst haircuts I have had in a long time. I went again a month later, and there was a marked improvement in his ability and technique, but when he gave me a straight razor shave, I told him that I was able to get closer with my safety razor. I went to him two more times over the course of his enrollment, and the last haircut he gave me was perfect. It was a pleasure watching him grow in his chosen profession, and I learned a lot about hair cutting and shaving in the process.
Having grown used to the convenience of an electric razor, I turned my back on straight razors when I was a teenager. While I am able to shave acceptably close with that device, I have found that safety razors actually give a much closer shave. I'm older now, and don't feel the need to rush around as much as I used to. With that, I've discovered that taking the time to shave with a safety razor isn't that much more time consuming. Comparing shaving with a safety razor with my electric razor, I have found that the shave I get with the electric is about the same as two days growth after using the safety, so as far as time is concerned, I can wait longer between shaves with the safety razor, and so any extra time it takes to do the actual shaving is absorbed in the fact that I don't have to shave nearly as often as I do with an electric razor.
Shaving creams also make a difference. When I was a teenager and first shaving, I would use whatever my dad had. The problem with that is that while I resemble my dad in a lot of ways, his hair and beard are entirely different from mine. It wasn't long before I tried and electric razor, and before long I left the world of traditional shaving behind. I did have some leftover razors and cream that I used in emergency situations, like the time I left my electric razor over at my grandparent's house, but other than that, I didn't really bother with shaving cream again. What I discovered while helping my friend out at the barber school is that there are many different types of shaving cream, just like there are major differences in shampoos, and that it is just as important to find the right cream or combination of treatments that work for you and your beard.
Of course, when I got a shave at the barber school, it was with a traditional straight razor, but the treatment I received was eye opening. It was also follicle and pore opening as well, and that is what really made the difference for me. We started out with a combination of pre-shave oils and a hot towel treatment, followed by the shave and a cold towel treatment. Once that was finished, he applied an after-shave balm, which was a lot different from the after-shave lotions that I remembered trying out. In the end, my face felt wonderful, the shave was very close, and the aroma that I had for the rest of the day was wonderful. That alone made me interested in returning to traditional shaving, and it even had me considering enrolling to become a barber as well.
I haven't purchased a new safety razor yet, but every time I need to shave, I feel more compelled to find one. I don't want to buy any of those disposable products that are advertized on television; I want a proper straight edged or safety razor, something stylish and classy that I can keep and maintain rather than throw away. It is interesting how our culture shifted towards disposable everything for the convenience of it some forty years ago, and now that we find ourselves with an excess of garbage and pollution, we are clamoring to head back to the very things that we abandoned. I am part of that clamoring mass, and want to make sure that I leave as small a carbon footprint as possible, and that I make as many green choices as I can. A part of that is finding a good razor.
Along with that razor, I want to find the best shaving treatment I can. I don't care if it takes extra time, there was nothing better than feeling my skin respond to both the preparation and the after-care that came from those shaves I received at the barber school, and I know that with a little time and practice, I can get my shaves even closer than what my friend was able to achieve while practicing on me. I tend to suffer from ingrown hairs on my neck close to my shirt collar, and so I want to find something that will help take care of that as well. I also want to find a stylish case to keep all of that stuff together, preferably something a little retro, maybe mid-twentieth century.
A lot of this comes from having a great grandfather who was a barber. Going to the barber school make me thing of him and of all of the cool things that were left over after he retired. He still had his own barber shop when I was a little boy, and we have a lot of pictures of him there. We also have his antique barber pole and two of his chairs, and when I was younger, there were a lot of shaving sets and creams left behind as well. I doubt any of those smaller things still remain, but if they did, I would love to find them. In their absence, I will be satisfied with finding new ones of my own, and enjoy the art of shaving all over again.