Thursday, August 14, 2014

First straight razor Part 2: Faultless

The Razors arrived.  The straight razors came very well packaged with foam, my order consisted of four “Sight Unseen” flawed razors, two leather strop sets, two replacement strops and a 12,000 grit (very fine) honing stone.

Each item was clearly labelled with instructions for each item type included.  Quite helpful as getting a lot of items at the same time can be overwhelming.

The Straight Razors I bought are “Sight Unseen” flawed razors, “buy blind - no pictures and no description of the razor”.

They are all vintage and restored to shave worthiness.  What is interesting about these razors is that I heard they are that they are from fine Straight Razor manufacturers in Germany, England and the United States that are used then restored or honed to shave well.  Flawed means flawed, don’t expect to be getting a shiny new razor, these are after all $28 each.

Razor 1
“Faultless” brand marked Straight Razor, I took a look at the “Faultless” marked F.A.Koch &Co. Germany but I don’t think this is one.

Not faultless

Indeed, I do not think the OC Germans would etch their company name like that.  I believe this razor had been etched and badly at that with the "Faultless" name.  Of course remember that these are Flawed Razors and are cheap.  These are meant to test the straight razor shaving waters and not be displayed or razor of the day pic material.

The razor was not perfect. The scales were stained and scuffed and had a chip on one side.  The blade was a hollow ground that indeed felt sharp using a nail test.  It looked very antique and I was raring to try her out.

A chip in the scales

First shave straight razor shave - Omega boar brush, Proraso Pre Shave, Acca Kappa shave cream and of course an Alum stone (for grip)

I loved the razor!  It does take some adjustment to go from a shavette to a straight because of the additional effort and tugging, remember that nothing comes close to the incredible sharpness of a commercial razor blade.  But the technique is really the same, I got it down pat very easily.

Its stropping that I do not understand, even though I watched Youtube videos and practiced my stropping and guarantee I never turned the blade into the leather.  Why the leather has nicks is beyond me.

I would give the blade a light honing after every four uses to maintain the sharpness.  Unfortunately as I used her for about two weeks I dulled her most likely with my undeveloped stropping and honing skills.  Now I have to get myself a full sharpening set.  Who knows, I may become the first Honemeister in the Philippines.

I do have a lot of thoughts on Straight Razor shaving now, it is very different from using a Shavette or a Double Edge Razor by far because of the sheer amount of preparation.

  1. Strop razor before use
  2. Clean and dry razor after use
  3. Oil razor - because you don't want any rust on that bad boy.
  4. Hone razor every so often

I love using straights of any form, the precision is something I appreciate especially when I shave my goatee.  Though it does take some skill development for shaving itself, the results after though are amazing.

I did not like all the razor prep itself.  But lets see as I learn to hone.  Be back to see my three other razors.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First straight razor Part 2: “Sight Unseen” Razors

Straight Razor Shaving in Metro Manila

The thing is with the wetshaving scene in Manila is there is practically none.  Only plasticky faux razorettes are available in the many malls adorning our country.  If you ask me where to find a good straight razor in Metro Manila, heck, the entire Philippines not a single place comes to mind, heck no searching will help you there.

Barbershops use cheapo China shavettes, these are scary because the tin foil thin metal holder and plastic blade holder looks so fragile, try holding one, take a look at Hortaleza.    I was cut once during a barbershop session, the scar in the back of my head is testament to either  a faulty shavette or a faulty barber.  Oddly enough in beauty parlors the parloristas use razor blades held in between two fingers and the few times I went I escaped scott free, now that is skill (after timing Scott-free, I realized the expression must have come through the hard fought independence of Scotland - thanks to William Wallace!).  

The absolute next best option to a true straight razor in Metro Manila is the Parker Shavettes or go to

Odd because I remember hearing about Batangas Straight Razors in my youth.  Heck I remember people saying people could get our Batangas Balisongs so sharp they would shave with them.  But where are our famed knife makers now?

So the quest for my first Straight Razor had to be expanded...

There are many good straight razors on the market so how to choose?  My main issue was cost, a good razor would be at the $100 mark at the minimum (from what I see the run of the mill quality straight razors start at $110 and the handmade ones me go to $700 and I didn't bother looking into more special ones as the price is then determined by scale material, etching and fancy items I don't need) and a consideration of mine is that I do not yet know how to hone or bring a semi dulled razor to shave readiness.

I came across Whippeddog quite a few times over the years.  The proprietor, Mr Larry Anderson specializes in straight razors and supplies with some double edge items.  What really appealed to me are his Sight Unseen razors which are used straight razors refurbished by Larry with no photographs on site, meaning like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates, you really don't know what you're going to get in terms of appearance, what you do know is that you will get a functioning and ready to shave razor.  It may not be the prettiest razor but it is the most cost effective way to get into straight razors (without going the China razor route). I have seen the apprehension of some people on the forums, the razors won't be pretty, the blade would not last because of blade wear, scales would have damage etc.  The thing here is to manage your expectations and know what you are getting, you aren't paying a hundred dollars for a new Dovo here, you are buying just twenty eight dollars for a quality and functional vintage razor which appeals to me very much

Whipped Dog is highly recommended by Badger and Blade and Straight Razor Place forums as the starting point for many who start out straight razor shaving. 

There are other online vendors offering fully restored vintage razors for less than the cost of a new one such as razoremporium.  But these are not what I was looking for, I wanted an entire set or weekly rotation of razors for about $100 and only Whipped Dog can make that happen. What everyone online agrees with is that is the best way to try straight razor shaving and if you like it then you buy a razor you like, that is if you do feel a need to change razors.

I took the plunge and ordered four Sight Unseen flawed straight razors, the razor holder roll which holds four, explaining why I chose four, two sets of the Poor Man's strop, two extra strops, two honing wood and a 12k fine Barber honing stone.  I ordered four razors to rotate to extend their hone and in case I severely mess any up during the birth of my stropping and honing experience.  Hopefully I acquire mad skills and invest into a proper honing system so I can sharpen blades for people in the future.

Part 3 will be the razor arrival and unboxing, part 4 will be my first shave and thoughts.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

First straight razor Part 1: Difference between a Straight Razor and a Shavette

My straight razor shaving introduction

After years of looking at straight razors, reading about straight razors and watching countless videos on honing, stropping, different straight razor models and what not, it was time to add one (or a few)  to my shavng collection.  A few guys know me for my double edge razors, I have Merkur, Vintage Gillette, Parker and Weishi.

I have been shaving awhile with my Parker SR1 which is a disposable blade straight razor.  It acts as a straight razor style blade holder that take either a havled double edge razor blade or a half blade.  The SR1 mimics the shaving style and feel of a straight razor - minus the weight.
Customer order: Parker SR1 with a shave brush and bowl

Difference between a Straight Razor and a Shavette

Initially I wanted to create a table but I feel lengthier paragraph explanations are better.

Initial cost

The total investment of a straight razor system is far higher than getting a shavette because aside from the cost of the razor itself you need other items such as a good strop, pastes, oil and hones to maintain your razor.  With a shavette all you need is a blade.


With a shavette you pop in a blade and throw it out when it gets dull.  A straight razor requires far more dedication from you, you will need to strop the blade on your leather strop before every use to get it to shave readiness.  Over time not even stropping will get your straight razor sharp again and so you can either have the razor rehoned professionally if good services exist in your area or hone it yourself.  Honing or sharpening is not the easiest skill to acquire, I have liked knives for many years and never could get a hair splitting edge with one, even with my Spyderco Sharpmaker.


Shavettes win here, I doubt anyone wants to take an extended trip and pack their razor, strop and hones.


Jumping ahead of my series, they do not feel the same, they do not weigh the same, most are not the same dimensions - blade length are different.   They act differently.

Shave Quality and Ease

I will update this in the future.  But I have read that shavettes are far more difficult because of the points of a double edge blade (depends on the blade) and a commercial blade is far sharper than any straight razor.
Truth be told, I rather enjoy shaving with my Parker SR1.  I have not yet actually shaved with my straight razors so I will get back to you whether the technique and experience is the same.

 In summary

I had always been a bit hesitant to take on straight razors, for one, straight razor shaving is a very large commitment.
  1. You need a larger monetary investment, you need to buy a straight razor, a leather strop, abrasive pastes and honing stones.
  2. You need a lot more time for the preparation of your straight razor which means stropping it before every use.
  3. You need more time each time you put away your straight razor, after every use you need to dry it thoroughly, oil it and ensure you leave it in a humidity free environment lest rust sets in.  Most straight razors are carbon steel which has many advantages over stainless except for resistance to rust.
  4. You will need to invest time into acquiring certain skills which can be rather difficult such as stropping and honing a blade.
Part 2 coming up!
If you want more reading on all about straight razors read this on Badgerandblade.

Look into starting wet shaving in Metro Manila through

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Manly Skin Care Product Review: Nivea Creme

I always say you should put on some moisturizer, even in our extremely humid and warm climate in the Philippines.  The thing is to apply the moisturizer at the right time to allow it to be absorbed by the skin as opposed to it melting off you right after putting some on.  But I digress.

Recently I bought old school Nivea "Creme", you know, that blue tin you see in any supermarket or drugstore, you know the one your beautiful Lolas and grand Lolas probably used because it was invented in 1911 (I doubt your lolos used it, not sure how progressive men were before).  It retails for about PhP170 pesos for the large tin.  Nowadays there are so many options for moisturizers in creams or gels that we all forget the classics such as Nivea Creme, Olay (haven't tried) and Pond's (which I have yet to try too).  After all generations have sworn by it.

I have dry man skin.  Really dry.  As I mentioned I am getting a bit older and do not want to look the part.  I also am not metro enough for any treatments, the only regimen I am willing to do is slap on moisturizer.  Sure I have spent on L'Oreal men's and some VMV but I am certrainly unwilling to go more expensive.  So what do I do?  I go even cheaper.

A lot of us work in skin drying conditions and shaving dries the skin, after all we strip the moisture when we apply shaving soap so to keep the skin healthy we hydrate from the inside and out - drink lots of water and apply moisturizer.  Hence if you need something that you will use regularly it is only prudent to find a cost effective solution.

I like the Nivea Creme, I heard other people's feedback that it is too thick, too oily and you get so shiny after putting some on.  I also hear its hard to apply.  Ah but a quick search around the net yields the answer, get the amount you will use -  a pea size or 2 pea size amount - it really varies depending on the size of your face or application area.  You then allow it to soften in your hand for about a minute, your hand's heat will soften the creme and allow you to spread it evenly and easily.  It feels very hydrating, indeed a little oily but you do feel moisturized for a long time after.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Post Shave Skin Care

We shave because we want to look good.  Freed from the pesky odd hair here and there our freshly shaved faces show the world that foremost we are in control of ourselves and therefore are men to be respected and followed.  But even if 95% of all leaders in the business world or otherwise are all clean shaven, how many of them enjoy their shaves as opposed to viewing it as a necessary chore?  The key is learning how to shave properly and if you have been reading this blog thus far you might have learned a thing or two.  So the next step is to focus a bit on Post Shave Skin Care.

Post Shave Skin Care is taking care of your face after the ritual of shaving.  This is the final step in preparing yourself for the day ahead and frankly the years ahead and here is why.

The Philippines is a sunny place and the sun can lead to sun damage that may take years to manifest itself so it is best to start as soon as possible.  Sunscreen is a must and it would be great if you can find a moisturizer with SPF protection.  You need a moisturizer to restore well, moisture lost during shaving.  Dryness is the leading cause of wrinkles and sun damage would be next so replenishing your skin's moisture while protecting it from the sun should be SOP after each shave.  And moisturizing keeps your face happier when working in dry, air-conditioned environments that wreak havoc on our pretty faces.

So what if say you have a skin condition like severe dryness, sunburn, dermatitis or what not?  The smart thing to do is to put whatever treatment you need to use first.  Putting treatment on top of moisturizer may interfere with the treatments effects.

Now if you have separate moisturizer and sun screen, apply the moisturizer first, allow it to dry then apply suncreen to lock in the moisturizer.

Post Shave Skin Care routine:
1) After shaving splash cool water on the face to close open pores
2) Pat the face dry with a soft towel
3) Apply a nice moisturizer with sunscreen
4) Allow it to dry before setting out, it is so warm in the Philippines that you might find yourself sweating all the moisturizer off your face within five minutes so make sure you are dry.
5) Moisturize again in a few hours (it may seem excessive but I feel you should moisturize in the morning, in the middle of the day and before sleeping).

I hope you try this, your face will thank you for it.  Enjoy your shaving in the Philippines.  You can find moisturizer with sunscreen from the bigger brands you can find in supermarkets, drugstores and the like.  Brands such as L Oreal, Ponds and Olay spend millions of dollars and research so you can bet they work.  Now does it make a difference if you use a woman's moisturizer?  People say it does as men's skin is drier so apply, let dry and apply again.

What makes me qualified to write this?  I want to look 30 when I'm 50 so tons of research and questions to dermatologists!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Try Making Super Lather!

So you have learned to wetshave and how to make your own lather.  Now here comes the next step, creating super lather!  What is super lather?  It is basically very thick and plentiful lather that comes from using both shave soap and shave cream together.

Why bother doing Super Lather?
1) It hardly takes any more time, a few more seconds at most.
2) The lather is denser and easier to make
3) You get more cushion and slickness by getting the best of everything! Soap and cream are very different to manufacture and are different approaches towards the same objective
4) Create your own scent through combinations of the cream and soap you have.

Step 1: Prepare your shave brush by moistening it under water
Step 2: Load the tips of the brush with shave cream, you don't need as much as usual as you are going to mix it with soap.
Step 3: Load the brush with shave soap by doing the usual swirling
Step 4: Build lather in a bowl or your face, adjust the lather to your liking by adding more water if the mixture is dry.

Thats it!  I will post a video over the weekend showing how to do this.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How long do double edge safety blades last?

How long do double edge safety blades last?  Or rather, how many shaves can I get from one double edge safety razor.  I get asked this question by all new wetshavers and I completely understand since you still have to hunt a little bit for double edge safety razor blades in Metro Manila.

The answer simply varies.  There are many factors involved and the adage of "your mileage may vary" most definitely does apply.  I'm listing the usual factors based on my own experience.

1 What blade do you use?
Chrome and Platinum blades tend to corrode faster than Stainless steel so these types of blade may dull faster.  Brand also makes a difference as there are metallurgical differences and what not.  Some blades also employ coating on blades that may help them last longer.  Personally I find that I get a lot of shaves from Gillette blades such as Rubies and Astras.

2 How thick is your beard
Naturally this makes a difference.  The thicker and more plentiful your facial hair then you can expect less shaves.  A barber in Metro Manila told me that he usually uses two blades per shave when shaving anyone who has a full beard.

3 How do you shave?  How many passes?  What areas of the face?  (Entire face, goatee, moustache, side etc).
This is quite self explanatory, the more area you shave the more your blade wears out.

4 How do you store your razor?
One of the biggest causes of dullness aside from the actual use of the razor is corrosion.  The high humidity of the bathroom where your razor kit is probably stored coupled with the wet foam left on the blade will cause it to deteriorate.

5) Do you care for the blades?
Now it is really too much to ask but for those who really want to stretch blade use the way to go is to rinse your razor blade thoroughly after use, dry everything, take the blade out by the blunt edges and very carefully apply a machine oil then put it back in the razor.

On average a blade lasts six shaves based on polls on Badger and Blade, I usually get more but my preshave prep is phenomenal.  Your use of course will vary but its always good to try a few blades and see which brand is for you as it really is a very individual thing.  Happy shaving!