polo big and tall The lure of the straight razor
Most straight razors need to be sharpened before they’re used for the first time. My first shave with a straight razor had left a bracing pain stabbing at my throat, cheeks, jaw and moustache area. A raw borscht red face looked back at me from the mirror, as though I had hosed it with sulphuric acid.
Little rivers of tears coursed from my eyes from the pain. My finger was bleeding from an accidental cut. And despite it all, large clumps of stubble still taunted me from the mirror after 40 minutes of hacking.
But I didn’t care. I was addicted.
I was shaving with something I could use to hold up a bank. There was no going back to disposables. I was a cut throat man.
Straight razors almost went the way of the crank engine and ringer washing machine, but they’re making a big comeback.
In a time of space age, five bladed “shaving systems,” men are increasingly gambling with their jugulars to rediscover the pleasures of an old school shave with a lethal device made infamous by the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Todd Sweeney, who used a straight razor to rob and kill customers in 18th century London.
Lubrano said his own revenues have doubled or tripled every year in the same period. “The demand is amazing. “Our numbers are way up,” said owner James Whitall.
“We’re selling these things like they’re going out of style.” Orders are coming in so fast Whitall moved to a larger location with three times more warehouse space in August. Both Lubrano and Whitall say the craze is largely a consumer backlash against multi blade razors that take cartridges, which are getting expensive and cause skin irritation for many men.
A good quality straight razor costs $70 to $100.
Meanwhile, they say a properly maintained straight razor can last a lifetime or longer, and if used right, it invigorates the skin and leaves a baby smooth face.
“I hated shaving all my life. It felt like running a cheese grater on my face,” said Lubrano, who became a devotee because his skin was becoming irritated.
So incredibly sharp is a straight razor that it slices off the beard without pulling at the skin and hairs, as a multi blade disposable often does. With a disposable, you often have to go over one spot several times before you’ve got the beard all off.
All that pulling can cause redness, irritation, ingrown hairs and acne. A well sharpened straight razor, properly used, leaves skin glowing but not reddened.
“Once these guys realize they can switch and in most cases alleviate those skin problems, some of them are almost in tears. It has actually changed some people’s lives,” Lubrano said.
Joel Ferman also converted because he was “absolutely miserable,” his skin red and irritated. He has become a collector in his quest to try blades, and now owns 150 straight razors. After a year in operation, the site gets 200,000 to 300,000 hits per day, Ferman said.
The forum has helped foster a subculture of straight razor enthusiasts that sometimes borders on religious.
Some members have collected thousands of razors. Others give newbies tips on techniques and products and regularly offer them free supplies on the site.
Ferman has also produced an instructional DVD that he sells at cost and he offers to hone straight razors for free.