Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bad Ass or Dumb Ass?

Today was my second full shave with the barber's straight razor, the SRX shavette from Parker.

Bad Ass versus Dumb Ass

Last night I was ruminating about the use of a straight razor rather than the many safety-razor options. Some guys think that shaving with a straight is very bad ass, very cool. Yet after watching experienced barbers use a straight in their trade, everything about the skill suggests artistry, not macho.

Come to think of it, bad asses often don't shave at all!
I watched the way many barbers hold their razor, and it is a delicate and sensitive grip. The strokes, too, are precise and gentle.

Bad ass suggests power, lack of respect for authority, general distain for many conventions, boldness. I see very little commonality between the expert use of a straight razor and anything bad ass. Use of a straight requires delicacy, care, respect for the capabilities of the razor, and caution. Shaving with a hunting knife may be bad ass; shaving with a straight razor requires sensitivity. In fact, I now realize that those who think straight-razor shaving is bad ass may be ignorant of these realities. To use a harsh term, they might be nearing the category of dumb ass.

Today's Straight Shave

And speaking of dumb asses, consider me. It is day two of the disposable-blade straight-razor experiment. Clearly in the short run there is no benefit to using the straight. I get a much closer, much safer shave using my double-edge (DE) razors. I have my moments when I think I must be a total dumb ass for parting with my Parker Variant DE for even a single morning.
People who think straight-razor shaving is
bad ass?  This writer?

However, along with that bad news, there is good news. More details on the bad news includes plenty of nicks and minor cuts. The styptic pencil came in handy again today. The closeness of today's shave may be just a little better than I used to get using my cartridge razors in a single pass, when I knew nothing about how to get a good shave. My face looks like I had a physical fight with an alley cat. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm getting noticeably better with the razor. The wounds are from the occasional mistake, but the razor feels more comfortable in either hand. I'm finding and maintaining the correct angle more easily. I've shaved against the grain in areas of my face including the most delicate lower-neck area, and have had zero problems with that. (Most of my wounds are high on the cheeks and in the lip and chin areas. It's interesting that my high-cheek wounds are all done with my dominant hand -- perhaps overconfidence is nipping me.)

I have some minor razor burn high on my cheeks, but elsewhere my skin feels pretty good if one ignores the nicks and other similar insults. I see potential here for a reasonably close and irritation-free shave when I perfect my skills.

More to come.

Happy shaving!

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