The allure of the straight-edge razor with leather sharpening-strap has always captured my imagination, but my instinct for self-preservation is still too strong for me to take that leap. However, after a recent tip-off by a friend of a friend, I have found the next best thing, the so-called "safety razor."
I went with a Merkur double-edge model safety razor, which features a butterfly-style blade enclosure and metallic finish. In addition, I went on eBay and found a deal on a Vulfix brush, and I got some shaving soap from Kiehl's. Getting the best shaving cream is extremely important - almost as important as picking up a styptic pencil at your nearest pharmacy. The first five times I used this system, I accumulated a lot of nicks that bled surprisingly profusely. The styptic pencil stings a little, but it stops the bleeding immediately.
The advantages of the safety razor over its safer, modern cousins are subtle. Now that I've gotten decent at using it, the shave is a little closer than with the current Gilette technology. Mostly, for me though, it's the ritual and the process. The single blade gives you a sensory feedback that the Fusion cannot match - you can feel the blade scraping the hair off your face in a pleasing way. And those of us who think of razor blades as "Laibson-Gabaix shrouded attributes" will be interested to know that, in the world of safety razors, the handle is expensive, and the blades are almost free. I am looking to fully recoup my investment relative to Gilette blade purchases sometimes during the 2009 calendar year.