The good folks at Huckberry recently tipped us off that back in the ‘30s, traveling axe salesmen used to perform shaves with their wares to demonstrate the sharpness of their product. This got us thinking a little bit about the actual downsides of an axe shave. And they are numerous: As far as razors go, an axe is totally unbalanced. Its curved crescent blade doesn’t fit the contours of a human face. The uncomfortable and awkward grip makes for a bad shaving angle. And axes, if not fresh from the manufacturer, are often dirty and even a bit rusty. (Did we miss anything? If so, please let us know—@Birchboxman.)
As far as we can tell, the only upsides to shaving with an axe are the glory and the overall badassitude. Which, to be fair, are not to be discounted. But the more important question seems to be: If you were shaving with an axe, what shaving cream would you lather up with? This is a little like asking, if you had to eat ketchup sandwiches for the rest of your life, what brand of ketchup would you want—it’s a crucial decision not to be taken lightly. While you can’t make up for a bad blade with a great cream, an exceptional cream will make a good blade better. Our choice is probably the thickest cream we can get our hands on. As great as shave oil, liquid cream, gel, or soap can be for certain jobs, an axe shave calls for the sturdiest cream available.
We leave you with our best finds from the deep internet rabbit hole that is “axe shaving:”
This guy does it against the grain.
According to this, Ragnar, former Minnesota Vikings mascot, holds the all-time record for an axe shave at 8 minutes and 43 seconds in 1982.
These dudes over Razor Edge Systems Incorporated don’t even bother to trim their beards before they jump into shaving with axes.
The guys at Cragsmen.com offer a great how-to on shaving with an ice axe. The only requirements: “an ice axe/ice tool with adze,” a “wilderness area with no bathroom facilities within at least 10 km,” and “excess facial hair.”
And of course: the Lumberjack Skin Regimen.