Shave like your grandpa

2022-07-22 23:21:03 By : Ms. Gita Zhang

Updated on: 17 July,2022 08:42 AM IST  |  Mumbai Armand Joseph Colaco |

A new generation of men are turning the clock back and returning to shaving tools of yesteryear

The Lair Man salon in Khar uses a straight razor, which offers a close shave by working on the surface of the skin

Glance at razor advertisements today and you see a sea of products, electric and cartilage based, that promise smoother and deeper shaves, more convenience, and greater efficiency. Every year, it seems like razors have more and more blades, with added tricks and twists. At the same time, there has been a growing community of daily shavers who are rejecting modern razors and switching to the double-edged safety and straight ones; the kind you probably saw your grandfather use. 

 A double-edge safety razor uses a single steel blade, unlike their modern cartridge counterparts that can contain multiple blades embedded within plastic. But this “old-school” style of shaving isn’t just restricted to the razor, it also includes the paraphernalia that accompanies a shave—rather than the ubiquitous canned shaving foam, proponents instead use shaving soaps that you must whip into a lather in specialised bowls. 

Mrigank Shekhar, a commercial analyst, shifted to double-edge razors to combat razor burn, and the prohibitive cost of cartridges

Jaykishan Pawar, Master Barber and Head Stylist at Truefitt and Hill, says that this extra effort is worth it if you want healthy skin. “A shave shouldn’t be just about taking your hair off, it is also about keeping the skin nourished.” Truefitt and Hill offers a ‘Royal Shave’ that includes a hot towel wrap in every step of the way to keep hair follicles open and includes a pre-shave, moisturiser and post shave. The company also sells their shaving products online, including a traditional double-edge safety razor that sells nearly a dozen units every month. 

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Pawar credits this resurgence of the traditional style to the rather modern acceptance of the importance of grooming among men. “As men get conscious about their skin care, and if you suffer from razor burn, ingrown hair, or acne, a wet shave can help.” With over 5,000 members and 12,000 unique footfalls per month, Pawar emphasises on the importance of preparation with a wet shave. “It’s all about taking care of yourself,” he says.

Jaykishan Pawar, Kruti Sheth and Ranveer Allahbadia

This paints a picture of shaving not as a daily chore that must be completed, but a ritual. For Mrigank Shekhar, a commercial analyst and regular contributor to online wet shaving forums, the decision was also more pragmatic. Initially, using mass market cartridge razors gave Shekhar razor burn due to his thick stubble. He also had to replace the expensive cartridges after a couple shaves. “I stumbled upon a wet shaving article on Google while looking for ways to reduce razor burns,” he recalls. 

“Afterwards, I bought a cheap razor, various razor blade sampler packs, and a nice shaving cream. The first time wasn’t bad, but persistence was required. Now my world has changed. I look forward to shaving every day, and the different scented soaps make me feel amazing and confident.” 

While a more expensive proposition upfront, it is true that switching to double-edged razor can be cheaper in the long run: A basic pack of six cartridge razors from a leading shaving brand costs upwards of R500. A pack of 20 double-edged razors cost R400. It’s not just the cost, safety razors can also be better for the environment, as they are fully recyclable given that they contain no plastic, unlike their cartridge counterparts.

 Kruti Sheth, the founder of Lair Man, a barbershop in Khar, says, “While customers come in for the comfort and luxury of getting a shave at a barbershop, they soon realise that their skin feels a lot better compared to a shave at home.” The Lair Man uses a straight razor, which, Sheth points out, shaves the surface of the skin, while “multi blade razors will shave off hair from beneath the surface. The skin feels the stress of the razors.” A straight shave seems to lend itself to a smoother, healthier skin.

 However, it is still a major commitment and requires a degree of patience and passion. For many, the cartridge blades available in the market work just fine. Ranveer Allahbadia, the founder of the YouTube channel Beer Biceps, says that old school safety razors are great for those with thick stubbles, but not necessary for all users. “I tried using single-blade razors, but my stubble isn’t that bad, so I’ve stuck with the cartridge.” Allahbadia, who has made videos on grooming tips and shaving for men, also points out that for many, shaving is a habit and they stick with what they first learned.

Shaving with a double-edged razor or a straight razor then, seems to be more than just about saving money or maintaining healthy skin. It is a process that takes time and thought, and its proponents treat it as such. Why else would they choose to reject the convenience and safety of the modern world, and the modern razor?