A guide to shaving with a straight razor with expertise
Shaving can be a real pleasure — you surely know that if you’re reading these lines. Over the past few years, straight razors have become increasingly popular, and understandably so. If you do it right, shaving with a straight razor is much gentler to the skin. Besides, once you master the art of this type of shaving, you’ll discover that, thanks to its size, the straight razor lets you control the strokes much better.
But how to do it right? Which are the basic steps? If you’re not sure of how to shave with a straight razor, don’t miss the following article —we’re going to reveal all there is to know about it!
Before you start shaving with a straight razor
The first thing you need to do before shaving is preparing your straight razor properly, that is, stropping it so the blade is smooth but also sharp. It’s a very simple process —you just need a good leather strop. The strop is a high-quality leather belt or paddle you use to glide your razor horizontally while applying a little pressure. This way, the edge of the straight razor becomes smooth and perfect for a cut and irritation-free shave.
How to shave with a straight razor step by step
Now that your straight razor’s ready, let’s get to it!
Prepare the skin
In this first phase, shaving with a straight razor is not so different than shaving with a traditional razor: you need to soften the skin and open the pores. The best way to do that is showering with hot water, but you can also wet a towel with hot water and softly wash your face with it. After that, use the products you normally use, like a pre shave oil, for instance and then start the lathering process with a good shaving soap or cream. Once the foam is ready, spread it on the beard with a shaving brush… and you’ll be all ready for the next step!
Use your straight razor like a pro
A good grip of the straight razor is essential for a successful shave. You need to put the razor horizontally, so you don’t cut yourself, but don’t overdo it or you won’t shave at all.
Experts recommend using a 30-degree angle. Take it firmly with your dominating hand and use the other one to stretch the skin, which will also help avoid cuts.
But don’t forget that you can’t just casually hold the straight razor. You shouldn’t hold it by the handle, but by the shank instead. Place your thumb on one side of the shank and the index, middle and ring fingers on the other side so you can fully control it.
The first few strokes
Start with the sideburns, the safest area, and go from the cheeks down. The strokes should be short and balanced, and remember to hold your razor almost horizontally, 30 degrees, so you don’t cut yourself. As you shave, rinse the razor with hot water. You don’t need to put much pressure when shaving —if the skin is stretched and the razor is properly sharpened, you will get a perfect shave with no pressure at all.
Beware of the difficult areas!
The face is the easiest part, but what do we do with the lips, the neck and the chin? Remember that keeping your skin stretched is essential! To shave the moustache area, for instance, you can lift your nose, so you tense the skin of the area. To shave the area right below your lower lip, do the same thing: make sure the skin in the area is stretched.
It’s better not to start with the shaving of these areas, but to reach them little by little from the outer part of the beard. Try to use the centre of the straight razor instead of the edges so you avoid cuts.
Finally, remember that you should always shave with the grain and not against it in order to avoid skin irritation, especially in the neck area!
And once you finish…
After shaving all the areas (repeat the process if needed), wash your face with cold water to close up the pores and apply an aftershave balm or lotion carefully —don’t massage your face more than necessary.
Don’t forget that, same as you need these lasts steps, so does your straight razor: rinse it properly, dry it with a soft cloth and store it in a place free of humidity. If you’re not going to use it for a while, apply some metal oil on it.
Now you know all the theory, so all you need is practice! The straight razor can seem a bit threatening at the beginning, and learning how to use it takes a bit of time… But practice makes perfect! The only thing you need to learn how to use a straight razor is a bit of patience and perseverance. The results are well worth it!