It’s safe to say that straight razors are a class above normal cartridges, disposable, and arguably, safety razors. The elegance of these razors could be attributed to their fine handles, the premium-quality blades or the fact that they’re mostly handcrafted.
The first shaving tool to be designed, straight razors enjoyed a widespread popularity among professional barbers and the common folk before Gillette introduced tamed safety razors in 1900. Though it seemed that straight razors would become obsolete in the decades that followed, these razors have been revived by enthusiasts of “old-school” shaving and professional barbers. There’s even passionate collector of antique and vintage straight razors.
The guys over at Art Of Manliness Create a very good video tutorial to walk you through the process of using a straight razor – from start to finish, check it out:
Why Straight Razors Should Be Used More Widely
We really believe that straight razors provide one of the most superior shave, providing they’re used properly, and it would be nice to see them used more widely. The close shave that you can get with a straight razor is hard to replicate and one razor can last you a lifetime, making them a worthy investment for their price. Steel razors can also be less aggressive on your skin, meaning lesser rashes and lesser hair ingrowth.
However, using straight razors requires practice, patience, and technique, which is exactly what we’re going to be helping with.
Straight Razor Shaving 101
Before learning how to shave, it’s important to pick out the right razor. Straight razors can have rounded, square or oblique edges on the blades. Rounded edges are ideal for beginners while the other two require more skill. You’ll also need a strop to sharpen your blade and a good shaving cream or foam, post which you can move on to learning how to shave with a straight razor.
Shaving is best done after a hot or warm shower. This is because the steam opens up your pores and helps your skin relax, resulting in a smoother and easier shave. In case you don’t have the time to shower, you can wet a towel with hot water and place it on your face (or wet a towel with warm water and microwave it for around 1 minute), making sure to cover the entire shaving area to open up your pores and soften stubble.
Additionally, you could use a tonic and essential oil combination as a pre shave lubricant or use a quality shaving brush and soap to create a nice shaving lather.
Holding the Razor
Due to their unique nature, holding a straight razor in the right way is highly essential! Though straight razors come with handles, the best way to hold them is to hold them by the blade! Though perfecting holding the razor comes with practice, you can start off with a standard grip, where your thumb is just beneath the blade, your index and middle fingers are on the back part of the blade, and your little finger is between the blade’s end (on the handle side) and the handle.
With more time and usage, you’ll be figuring out different angles to hold your razor in like an expert!
Straight razors are perfect for wet shaves, which means a lather of shaving cream is necessary. Ensure the layer is thick and add water before each stroke to enable the smooth movement of the blade. It also helps to hold your skin taut and shave in the direction of your hair growth, as this helps avoid razor bumps. If you’ve got sensitive skin, try to shave with as few strokes as possible.
If you need to go over a second time, apply a mix of water and jojoba oil on the shaved area before you do so.
What If You Cut Yourself?
Nicks and cuts are commonplace while shaving, especially if you’re just starting out with a straight razor. You’d think that the number of times you repeat this ritual would completely eliminate the chances of cutting yourself, but sadly, cuts have proven to be resilient! In such cases, apply pressure to the wound to stem bleeding. You could also use styptic pencils or soothing post shave balm, or remedies closer to home such as cold water, ice cubes, lip balm or petroleum jelly.
While it may just seem tempting to ditch the effort and go for a disposable razor, or even better, just go to your local barber, shaving with a straight razor only enhances your feeling of satisfaction and manliness.
These “cutthroat razors”, as they are popularly called, require time and patience and if you’ve always enjoyed the intricacy of any procedure or enjoyed the therapeutic nature of long grooming sessions, shaving with a straight razor is for you.
And now that we’ve told you how to go about it, there really is no excuse for not wanting a straight razor. Just remember to invest some time into researching the right blade to buy, and more importantly, to be patient with yourself.
Disclaimer: the content of this page is for information purposes only. We cannot be held responsible for any harm caused by following the advice on this page. Never use a straight razor unless competent or under the guidance of a qualified professional. Sharp, open blades are extremely dangerous and should not be used by inexperienced individuals. They’re called “cut throat” razors of a reason.