How To: Shaving With A Straight Razor

Updated on February 4, 2015
Source

What You'll Need

  • Straight Razor
  • Shaving Soap / Cream
  • Shave Brush / Mug, (Optional)
  • Towel
  • After Shave
  • Moisturizer

Intro to Shaving

There are many recycled trends throughout history, most of them relating to some sort of fashion. Whether it's a plaid flannel shirt, tight jeans, or a pompadour haircut, all of these were big at one time, and eventually fell out of style. Then after decades, we seem to be enticed by their nostalgia and want to revive certain parts of an era long since forgotten.

When it comes to shaving, the straight razor has always been the best method, even though convenience had overshadowed this tradition with cheap, disposable, multi-blade razors. But men's grooming is getting more serious, more refined, and more like the traditional styles and methods we're used to seeing in shows like Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire. There is a generation of people starting to want quality over quantity and a good quality shave includes a straight razor.

Here is an overview of everything you need to know to get started.

Tools Of The Trade

Source

Preparation

The key to any good shave is the preparation. You need to protect your face from the extremely sharp blade you're about to scrape it with. Here's what you need to know...

TEMPERATURE
Many people will shave while in, or after, a hot shower. This allows your beard to soften and allows for a more comfortable and closer shave. You can also wet a towel with hot water and hold that on your face for a minute or two to achieve the same results. Repeat if necessary.

LUBRICATION
The next step after steaming your face is to apply a lubricant. In more recent years there have a handful of pre-shave oils and creams that allow the blade to glide effortlessly over the skin to prevent nicks and irritation. Before this, it was custom to lather up with shaving soap, re-steam your face, and add another layer of lather to shave with. Doing this allows the soap to have a moisturizing effect. Pre-shave oils are so common in modern barbershops now it would be hard to find one without them.

When I do a shave in the salon, I apply a steam towel, pre-shave oil, another steam towel, more pre-shave oil, then lather on top of that. It may be excessive for some barbers, but you can't beat the shave. Plus, it's extremely relaxing for the client!

LATHER
You're going to need a good, thick, moist soap to lather up with. There are endless brands, with endless ingredients for you to choose form, so don't be afraid to be picky. I advise you to get something that smells nice, considering you'll have this all over your face every day. The most important factor in choosing a soap is it's ability to make a lather. Old school soap pucks are an option for people who want to take their shaving routine more seriously and use a shaving brush to whip up some fluffy white crème de la crème. You can also add oils, glycerin, and other ingredients to make your own concoction. I know most people are going to continue using their aerosol shaving creams, but where's the fun in that? Try whipping up some lather using a moisturizing soap puck, cream, or lotion. You'll feel like you accomplished something manly! You'll find many videos on YouTube on people's infamous lathers.

Apply the lather liberally to your face in a circular motion to lift up the hairs. Typically you'll need to add a little water to your soaps to make them fluff, so make sure you use hot water. This will heat your lather and keep your skin and hair warm and moist. (You're skin has to be warm and moisturized to be elastic and stretchy. This allows the blade to glide over it. Otherwise, if it's dry and cold, your skin will not stretch and conform to the blade, leaving you with an embarrassing cut on your face to explain to your coworkers.)

BLADE
Make sure you have a sharp, sterilized blade with no dents, knicks, or rust. Most people think that the sharper a blade, the more dangerous it is... In all actuality, the duller the blade is, the more likely you are to cut yourself. If you look at the edge of a blade under a microscope, you will see what look like sharp, mountains of uneven, rocky terrain, with no resemblance to the finely crafted tool you hold in your hand. Even the sharpest razors on the planet look like this, but if you take the proper steps to hone and strop your blade correctly, you can use this same blade for the rest of your life.

Another option is to buy a razor that you can refill after every shave with disposable blades. Many of these use a standard, double edge razor blade that you snap in half and insert into it. These come in handy when you need a new, sharp, sterilized blade, taking the work and time out of stropping your blade before every shave or so.

Shaving

You'll need to practice going slow with control to build your confidence in the movements here. Make sure you keep the blade at a 30 degree angle at all times. Any less and it'll be harder for the blade to cut the hair, any more and it'll be harder to not cut yourself!

MAKING THE CUT
Start on your right side under your sideburn if you're right handed, vice versa if you're a lefty. This will be the easiest area to shave. Wrap your other arm over your head and stretch your cheek upwards. Lightly shave this area, being careful not to apply pressure with the blade. Stretching allows less drag for the blade against your skin. You'll have to stretch pretty much every area when you go to shave it. Go with the grain of the hair on your first pass, especially if you have any sensitivity at all to shaving. At first, you'll look like a monkey playing twister trying to find the perfect angles to get all the areas of your face, but this will get easier the more you practice. Keep in mind that most guys have hair that grows upward on their necks, meaning there is a line where this upward growth patter meets the majority of the downward growth. Make sure you shave WITH OR ACROSS THE GRAIN in this area. Most people will break out on their necks if nowhere else because they continue to shave downwards on this spot.

A second pass can be done if you're not that sensitive. Some people like to shave against the grain on this second pass, but even most barbers will typically just shave across the grain at more of an angle to the growth for a smoother finish.

Post Shave

So you're done shaving. That's all there is to it, right?...

...Wrong

What comes next can be critical to the health of our skin. You're going to want to apply some sort of toner or after shave to shrink the pores and sooth the skin to help minimize any irritation. Alcohol based toners can burn, especially after a close shave, but some of these products can help with razor bumps, redness, razor burn, etc., especially around the sensitive areas around your neck crease where most people break out. You may want to get a more mild or gentle toner if you can't stand the burn.

TIP: A cold towel will also help with shrinking the pores and relieve some pain associated with any burn.

After a shave I always apply a moisturizer. The lather and shave creams that we typically shave with are nothing but glorified soaps, and soaps are drying. Even after wiping it off your face and applying a toner you'll still want to replace the moisture that you've lost. The key to keeping your skin elastic and young looking is moisture. Even just a light moisturizer to top off the whole shave process will do wonders for your skin.

Source

Why A Straight Razor?

Shaving with a straight razor is by far the best way to shave. Here's why:

  1. You save money! If you're only going to be shaving for 2 1/2 years, then go with your typical disposable razor from the grocery store. This is about the time frame where you save money by using disposable razors. Otherwise, if you're like the rest of us who plan to be growing a beard for the rest of their life, go with the straight razor. The initial cost is higher, but you end up saving major bucks years down the road. To read more about the cost comparison, go to http://sharpologist.com/2013/03/shaving-for-life.html .
  2. You get a closer, healthier shave. It is better for your skin to use one blade, making several passes, rather than 4 blades making one pass. The reason for this is because as one blade goes over the hair, it also stretches the hair before the second blade comes through. This means you're stretching the hair, cutting it off flush with the skin, then letting it go, where it will retract under the skin and end up causing ingrown hairs and irritation.
  3. You'll impress your friends. That's right, once word gets around that you use a straight razor to shave, your friends will look at you with a new found respect and a touch of envy. You are now a classy, refined gentleman.

Happy Shaving!


Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Shades-of-truth profile image

        Emily Tack 

        3 years ago from USA

        I love using a straight razor. I feel as though I have a great deal more control over it, than I do with any other type.

        They may be considered to be old-fashioned, but I think they are the easiest ones to use.

      • BessieBooks profile image

        BessieBooks 

        3 years ago

        I'm a girl but I clicked on this for the vintage picture :) And then the interesting hub grabbed my attention even though sideburns isn't something I'll ever have to think about. Good job!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, bellatory.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://bellatory.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)