Three years after I gave up spending all my money on King Gillette and switched to an eternal straight razor, I can conclude that I have made the right choice (and one of the best investments in my life). Besides saving lots of money and learning a new craft, I made some important progress in the quality of my shaving. Here the 3 points I think most important for the quality of the shave.
- Long soaping process. The more time I spend on soaping, the smoother the shave and the less accidents happen. When I am limited in time, it often happens that I speed the soaping process up. The result is either an accident, bad shave, pain, etc. So taking time (at least 2 minutes) makes the hair soft and ready to be shaved.
- Learning how to sharpen knifes in general and razors in particular. The sharpness of the razor is crucial for the quality of the shave. I rather spend money on sharpening stones than on expensive razors or knifes. Any knife can be used for a shave if it is sharp enough. I shaved myself already with a regular $1 kitchen knife. There was no big difference in quality. Learning how to sharpen knifes with for example japanese water stones brings numerous advantages. Firstly, saving money on sharpening services and new kitchen knifes (by the way, manually sharpened knifes are a lot sharper then brand new knifes). Secondly, always a perfectly sharp razor and perfectly sharp kitchen knifes. Onions do not burn the eyes when cut with a sharp knifes. Sharp knifes produce less accidents. etc. Lastly, it is fun to sharpen knifes. By the way, sharpening knifes has something meditative touch such as shaving with a straight razor. Learning the craft of sharpening knifes is a lifelong process. It is like being on the quest for the perfectly sharp knife.
- No pressure. A sharp razor does not require you to apply force on the blade while shaving. Any force would result in the blade entering deeper in the skin and this again influences the angle between the blade and the hair (less than the optimal 60 degrees) and could dig the blade rather in the skin than in the hair. A consequence of too much pressure will be that accidents happen, the skin gets irritated, and the blade will need sharpening much sooner than without pressure.
Here some more reading about shaving with a straight razor http://artofmanliness.com/2009/10/06/how-to-straight-razor-shave/
Shaving with a straight razor is really fun.