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GETTING STARTED WITH STRAIGHT RAZOR SHAVING

More and more people are becoming interested in shaving with straight razors, with reasons ranging from getting a better shave, shaving as a hobby to intrigue. We don’t offer a starter kit for the simple reason that everybody’s needs and wants are different.

STRAIGHT RAZOR ESSENTIALS

STRAIGHT RAZOR
There’s a razor for every budget but the key differences lie in the blade and the handle (also known as scales) decoration. The range of straight razors encompasses anything from plastic handled, carbon steel razors through to mammoth ivory and hand forged Damascus steel blades. When starting out it can be wise not to buy the most expensive straight razor, after all you may not get on with it. As a beginner look out for a carbon steel blade – these are easier to keep sharp and tend to be less expensive than stainless steel blades.

STROP
Straight razors require stropping (or whetting) before and after use to keep it sharp. A double sided leather/canvas hanging strop aligns and straightens the edge of the razor.

STROP PASTE
There are a range of strop pastes, which have different properties, from abrasive to conditioning. Yellow strop paste should be used on your everyday strop to condition and maintain the leather. N.B. Abrasive pastes should not be used on your everyday strop.

ALUM BLOCK
Shaving nicks should be expected while learning. Alum blocks have antiseptic and astringent properties to help close pores, reduce razor burn and stop minor bleeds.

PATIENCE
There can be a lot to take on board when taking up shaving with a straight – shaving technique, stropping technique, honing technique and for collectors, razor restoration. Mastering shaving with a straight razor is a richly rewarding experience.

STRAIGHT RAZOR LUXURIES

HONE
Stropping can maintain the razor edge, but over time the blade will dull and need to be honed every 3 to 6 months. There are honemeisters in the UK who are able to hone your razor, but you’ll be without your razor for a week or so. Purchasing a honing stone, such as the Norton 4000/8000 hone will enable you to hone your own razors at your convenience. There is a steep learning curve and we would recommend purchasing some cheap, used razors on ebay to practice with as the blade can be damaged, if honed incorrectly.

SHAVING BRUSH
A good quality shaving brush adds greatly to the shaving experience. Shaving brushes help exfoliate the skin, lift the beard and whilst coating them with the softening lather of a shaving cream or soap.

STAINLESS STEEL STRAIGHT RAZOR
A stainless steel blade holds a sharp edge for longer but is more difficult to hone, if this is a task you take on yourself.

ADDITIONAL RAZORS
There are a huge range of razors to choose from including custom razors and seven-day sets. You may opt to stick with one, like a favourite pair of slippers or have an extra special one for occasional use. Having additional razors extends the period of time between honing and provides a back up should you damage one send one to be honed.

FURTHER INFORMATION
There are a number of excellent online shaving communities that offer lots of information and advice. These include:
Straight Razor Place
Badger and Blade
Shave My Face

MERKUR SOLINGEN RAZORS: An Introduction

Merkur Solingen produce razors and shaving equipment as a subsidiary of the Dovo Solingen. The Merkur company and brand name were taken over by Dovo in 1996, an independent German company based in Solingen founded in 1906.

Located in Solingen, Germany on the northern edge of the Bergisches Land region, Solingen is also known as Klingenstadt or “City of blades”, renowned for the manufacturing of fine swords, knives, scissors and razors.

Merkur Vision 2000 Razor The Merkur safety razor range includes the advanced Merkur Vision 2000. The Merkur Vision is an adjustable “butterfly” design allowing the razor to be opened (TTO) and the Merkur Super Platinum razor blade to be safely inserted.

Designed for the wet shaver who attaches importance to convenience in his morning shaving, all will appreciate the Merkur razor range. From Merkur classics such as the Merkur HD and Progress to the latest Futur and Vision razors, they are a) more economical (lower in price through longer use), and b) environmentally compatible (as steel is not combined with plastic). After a short time getting used to them, you will see the advantages.

KNOW YOUR SKIN TYPE

With a surface area of 10 square feet, skin is the body’s largest organ. Regenerating every three weeks and 5 per cent of skin cells dropping off each day, your skin certainly needs looking after! Knowing what skin type you have helps you invest in the right products to help your skin and help you look your best.

NORMAL SKIN

If your skin rarely gets dry or oily, then you’re lucky enough to have normal skin. Normal skin benefits from an even tone, is smooth and firm and spots and blackheads are only occasional.

Timothy Edwards recommend using a good quality facial wash every day to remove daily build up of oils and dead skin cells. Use a light moisturiser daily to keep normal skin moisturised and supple.

OILY SKIN

If your skin is shiny, prone to spots and blackheads or has enlarged pores, then you have oily skin. Dedicated oily skin care products remove greasy shine on your face and may include anti-bacterial properties to keep spots at bay.

Use a quality facial wash twice a day to keep oily skin clear. An oil-free matting moisturiser will give your skin the conditioning it needs, but without the shine associated with normal moisturisers. Using a clay mask each week will deep clean the pores and absorb excess oil and, over time, reduce the size of pores.

DRY SKIN

Dry skin feels tight, looks dull and is flaky.

A gentle face wash won’t dry the skin and using a good quality moisturiser twice a day will keep the skin hydrated. Use a rich, moisturising shaving cream to help protect dry skin while shaving.

SENSITIVE SKIN

Do products that contact your skin leave your skin red, or blotchy?

Dedicated sensitive skin products are formulated without harsh chemicals and potentially irritating scents. We recommend patch testing any new products before using them fully.

COMBINATION SKIN

If your skin sounds like it fits into more than one of the above skin types you have combination skin. Often people with combination skin have an oily T-Zone – forehead, nose and chin – with dry cheeks. Of course this varies among individuals but equilibrium can be restored!

Avoid products which can leave the skin dry such as soap, and avoid particularly greasy products such as heavy moisturisers. It may be necessary to try different products suited to each area of skin, or use products suited to combination skin.

THE FOUR PASS SHAVE

The four pass shave gives a seriously close shave and, done correctly will leave your face smoother for several hours than is possible only minutes later with a single pass. Each shaving pass tackles the beard at a different angle and progressively cuts the whiskers down closer.

SHAVING PREPARATION
Preparation is vital to any good shave, to soften the beard and to lubricate the skin. Soak the face with hot water to get the beard wet through. Apply a good quality shaving lather with a shaving brush to help lift the beard. A cream can be best for a four pass shave owing to the extra razor cushioning. For best results a shave should follow a shower.

FIRST PASS
The first shaving pass is runs North to South down the face. Start by shaving across each cheek, from the sideburns to the mouth. Pushing each cheek up with your spare hand pulls the skin from the jawline on to the the flat of your cheek making this awkward angle much easier. Keep the skin taut though, otherwise you might get cut. Let go and shave the remaining area under the jawline. Next up is the upper lip area, take short North to South strokes working from the left to the middle. Now take short strokes from the right towards the middle. Finally, shave the chin from left to right, as with the upper lip, then from right to left.

Rinse the face with hot water and re-apply a lather – a good brush will hold enough lather for several passes.

SECOND PASS
The second shaving pass is runs diagonally across the face- North East to South West. Start with short parallel strokes across each cheek, from the sideburns to edge of the mouth. Push each cheek up in turn with your spare hand to pull the skin from the awkward jawline on to the the flat of your cheek and shave this area whilst keeping the skin taut. Release the skin and shave the remaining area under the jawline. Shave the upper lip area, working towards the middle from the left and then the right. The chin should be tackled in the same fashion, from the left to the middle, then from the right to the middle. Keeping the skin taut on these areas will help to get the shave closer.

Rinse the face with hot water and re-apply a lather.

THIRD PASS
The third shaving pass is runs diagonally across the face- North West to South East. Once again begin with short parallel strokes across each cheek, from the sideburns to edge of the mouth, keeping the skin taut throughout. Lowering the chin and pulling each cheek up in turn will make shaving the area around the jaw line much easier. Release the skin and shave the remaining area under the jawline. Shave the upper lip area, still repeating the North West to South East direction, working towards the middle from the left and then the right. Again, shave the chin from the left to the centre, then from the right to the centre.

Rinse the face with hot water and re-apply a lather.

FOURTH PASS
The fourth and final pass runs South to North. Take parallel strokes across each cheek, working from the outside towards the middle. Keep the skin taut to prevent snagging. Moving on to the jaw area, pull the cheek up to save following the sharp contours, shave South to North. Release the cheek and shave the remaining area under each jawline. The upper lip area can be tough going South to North, depending on the individual. A South West to North East pass on the upper lip can be easier going. still repeating the North West to South East direction, working towards the middle from the left and then the right. Again, shave the chin from the left to the centre, then from the right to the centre.

The four pass shave is great way to get an extremely close shave but does require some double edge shaving experience and some adaptation to suit.