A CLOSE SHAVE
My maternal grandfather died on my twelfth birthday (my grandmother had died a decade earlier) and as the family was going through his belongings they came across his razors. My grandfather, of course, was from a different, much earlier generation and so his razors were double-edged safety razors. I was given these razors to play with – sans blades of course – because they were so old and “outdated.”
I had grown up in the era of watching Santa gliding over hills of snow on his modern, and "high-tech" Norelco electric shaver. In addition, my father used an electric shaver, both of my brothers used electric shavers, and I was given an electric shaver when it became my turn to shave. So for me, these old hand held DE safety razors seemed about as useless as a three-wheeled car. As time went on, and I grew up, my grandfather’s razors were lost or, more likely, thrown out. Now, a few decades later, I’m wishing I still had them.
While visiting cousins in Switzerland in the 1960's, my grandfather, a life long farmer,
couldn't resist having his photo taken with these cows.
Over the last two years I’ve been toying with the idea of switching from my cartridge razor to a safety razor – years ago I had made the switch from the electric razor to the cartridge. Because I never jump into these decisions quickly, that thought process lasted a while. My usual routine is to maul things over in my head for a while until finally the times seems right. That right time happened a couple months ago.
Shortly after the first of the year, I began researching razors, brushes, blades, and shaving soaps, and two months ago I made the decision that I was going to make the switch. I decided I would order the best “mid-range” items I could find, that way if it turned out not to be something I liked, I wouldn’t have made a huge investment.
My shaving mug is actually a lone coffee mug that belonged to my great-grandmother.
It turns out that there is a whole new resurgence in this more traditional shaving style going on now, and I was able to find what I felt were the appropriate items online and I ordered them. While waiting for them to arrive, I watched several Youtube videos to learn the best ways and techniques to shave. Finally when the products all arrived, I mustered up my courage and attempted my first shave.
I was amazed at how easy it was. I learned things that I liked and things that I didn’t. My first attempt was a bit clumsy – something I know will fix itself as I continued to do this – but not as bad as I had envisioned. The fear of using this new type of blade proved to be unfounded and I had no problem approaching this the second time or anytime since.
I’m learning that I will want to try other shaving soaps, as I’m not certain I’m sold on the one I’m currently using. I also know that I will eventually get a second brush with different hairs in case that might work better with the soap I already have. These are all things that will work themselves out in time. There are also problem areas on my face that I struggle with getting as smooth as I might, but as I experiment with additional products I‘m sure that this will resolve itself. I also need to remind myself that I’m still in the practice and learning phase.
I have been shaving with my DE safety razor for over a month now, and I am very pleased with it. The sad thing that keeps coming to mind is the loss of my grandfather’s razors. Family traditions and connections to my ancestors are very important to me, and I can’t think of anything better than to be shaving with my grandfather’s razors. Even though that isn’t a reality, a part me senses that he is with me in spirit as I explore this more traditional style of shaving.