I’ve always been intrigued by straight razor shaving, so when I Naked Armor reached out to me about trying one of their straight razors I was definitely interested. They shipped me one of their Solomon Straight Razors in Black Wood to test.
Throughout this blog, I’ve been testing various shave products and techniques and this is my current setup.
Double- Edge Razor: Merkur Classic Safety Razor, Straight
Cartridge Razor: GilletteFusion ProGlide Power
Shaving Soap: Williams Mug Shaving Soap
Aftershave: Gillette Cool Wave
You may recall I previously tested a “shavette”
and did not like it all. We’ll see if this works out better.
So, an additional item was needed – a razor strop. I ordered one from from Amazon, looking for a cheap, but well-reviewed one. I happened to come up with one from Naked Armor which appears to be their “Blue Eel”.
A lot of the “How to Shave with a Straight Razor” guides also recommend a pre-shave oil. Again, looking for cheap and well-reviewed product on Amazon, I purchased Lather & Wood’s Sandalwood pre-shave oil. However, that hasn’t yet come in the mail.
So, after watching a lot of videos on stropping and and shaving with straight razor, I got all my shaving items together. Both the strop and razor came in a nice, almost fabric like box.
The strop was a little smaller than expected. It’s only 2.5 inches wide, which to be fair is in the product description on Amazon.
As I opened the razor, a powdery residue came out. Not sure what that was, but it wiped out pretty easily.
Tentatively, I stropped the razor on the canvas side to warm it up. Not as hard as I feared. Then I switched to the canvas side and commencing the “actual” stropping. Again not as I hard as I thought it would be, I was paranoid I would ruin the blade after watching all those YouTube videos. Because it was a smaller strop I did have to use the “Z-technique” of moving the blade to the side slightly between up and down passes to strop the entire blade. I only had one mishap when my had slipped, the blade fell off the strop, and I may have nicked it.
Then I lathered up. Since I didn’t have my pre-shave oil yet, I lathered up once, washed it off and lathered up again. I started my shave, very cautiously. I used the technique of my right hand on the left side of my face and the left hand on the right side. I had trouble getting the 30 degree angle exactly right. I would be too flat and not cut anything and then I would overcompensate and get too much angle. I had to take my glasses off so I could get the top of my checks and near my sideburns, and then of course, I couldn’t see as well. I was also paranoid I was going to cut my ear off shaving with my left hand with no glasses on.
The straight razor technique is new to me- taking smaller strokes and stretching your face more. It feels different as well, thought it’s hard to describe. It feels like it maybe it pulls more than a double-edge? No, that’s not right. It feels more like cutting grass? I don’t know if that’s a good description either.
The first pass was ok, this was definitely better than the shavette. I think I was applying too much pressure the first pass, not letting the blade do the work so to say. I cut myself a few times on the first pass.
The second pass, I tried to let the blade do more of the work and experimented with the angles more. I need to find the angles right to get the right shave. After two passes, I decided I need to continue using a third pass with the Gillette Fusion, otherwise my beard would look too uneven.
So after the first night, I’m bleeding in multiple places -over my lip, under my chin, and a few places on my neck. My neck has razorburn and razorbumps.
Right now it seem like the juice may not be worth the squeeze. But we’lll see, it took my over a month to stop cutting myself the Feather double edge blades, and it used to take me over 20 minutes to shave with a double edge now I’m can do three passes in five minutes without any cuts.
The reviews of the upcoming night’s shaves will be much shorter, don’t worry.
I was a little worried about the blade not being sharp enough last night, so tonight I stropped a full 50 times on the canvas side.
Also, my pre-shave oil came today! After I popped out of the shower, I massaged the pre-shave concoction into my whiskers. Whether it was the blade sharpness, the pre-shave oil, or my angle the he shave seemed to go a lot better today.
The thing I like msot about the straight razor is you can really feel he hair being cut; it’s very satisfying. I did one downward pass with the straight razor and did a clean up pass with the Fusion.
Not nearly as bad today, but I still have a quite a big cut over my lip and a few smaller nicks in my chin area. Some afterburn, but just a little.
Though the shave is satisfying I don’t know if I’m dexterous enough to do this. The majority of the time I wear a goatee or a Lincoln beard. I”m still not good enough with a double-edge to not need that third pass with the cartridge razor. With the straight razor I’m getting much better depletion on some parts of my upper lip, but I’m not really getting my cheeks near my sideburns and my neck is just a mess.
Good News and Bad News.
Good News – I think I’m starting to figure out what they mean when all those tutorials say “short even strokes”. I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. After one pass with the Solomon and one pass with the Fusion this may be the closest shave I’ve ever given myself.
Bad News – My face is looking the worse for wear. I didn’t nick myself at all tonight but re-opened old cuts on my neck. I’m starting to break out right below my chin and in my mustache area. And my whole face is starting to get a red, windburn sort of look.
I think the Pre-Shave Oil is really helping grease the gears so to speak, but I also have a suspicion it’s breaking me out. My skin is very sensitive to any sort of fragrances so anything that contains them usually irritates it. I’m going to drop this pre-shave oil going forward.
I think I may also take a day off from the Straight Razor and let my skin heal.
My skin needs a break. No shaving today.
I got sick! So no shaving today either.
Week 2, Days 1- 3
I was on vacation so I’m not bothering with shaving.
Week 2, Day 4
Back to work, back to shaving. I have about a week of growth to shave. I’m also going to start growing my goatee again, so we’ll see how I do with the straight razor with less ground to cover.
I do two passes with the straight razor and one with the Fusion. Good reduction on my cheeks with the straight razor, but I didn’t do very well on my moustache area, my neck, or the edges where m face and neck meet. All of the shaving in those areas was thanks to the Fusion.
I didnt’ cut myself and my cheeks are very smooth. But my neck is a little red and rougher than my usual shave.
A side note, while I was prepping my razor tonight, my youngest son wandered away from bedtime and into the bathroom. Which gave me more of scare than I would get if I was prepping a DE shave rather than a straight razor shave.
Week 2, Day 5
I think I’m starting to get the prep down as well. Stropping is starting to come more natural to me.
Since it’s the final shave before the weekend I did two passes with the Solomon and one pass with the Fusion again.
I just don’t think I have the dexterity to get the best shave with the straight razor. I’m not cutting myself, but I’m not really even shaving all of my face. I have to take my glasses off to get the top of my cheeks and underneath my sideburns. Then I’m nervous I’m going to cut my ear off because I can’t see. I can’t really get a good angle to shave all of the area above my upper lip. And one portion of my neck I just cannot flatten to give the razor a clear path to cut. I could be more aggressive with my angles, but I’d rather be on the safe side, especially around my lips, eyes, ears, and neck. You know my general face area.
I think I’m going to try this out for one more week but I don’t think straight razor shaving is for me. My neck is redder tonight and I’m starting to get razorburn. Am I not manly enough to master the straight razor? I don’t have a problem admitting, no I’m not.
Will there be a follow-up next week? I can’t say either way as I need to make some medication changes and may or not be able to shave next week.
In terms of the overall quality of the Naked Armor Solomon compared to other straight razors? I haven’t tested the other shaving community favorites, so I can’t really compare. I can say, that it was a much better shave than I got with the MD Dragon Straight Razor Fusion “shavette”. With the exception of the perhaps my first day of incorrect stropping, it was easy to keep the blade nice and sharp. And the both the blade and handle feel nice and solid in your hand.