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How To Shave with a Straight Razor

What’s old is new again – so true for so many products, especially straight razors. Barbershops offering full service shaves along with haircuts have not seen the level of success they are attaining in many years. Why? One of the reasons has much to do with the art of straight razor shaving along with the fact that men like a little pampering too. Before the advent of disposable razors and electric shavers, men had little choice in how to remove facial hair – they used a straight razor.

Suddenly life became too hectic and time was hard to come by, forcing manufacturers to come up with a faster shaving method to meet time constraints. Disposable razors and electric shavers became popular with men, which made straight razors less popular.

Why the Straight Razor Comeback?

Straight razors made a comeback because men realized if they wanted the closest shave possible, a straight razor was the tool to use. After a little practice, shaving with a straight razor becomes second nature. It is not as difficult as it may sound and the results are unbeatable. Choosing the best straight razor and accessories guarantees shaving success. Once you perfect the art of shaving with a straight razor, your safety razor and electric razor will become obsolete.

Shave with a Straight Razor

Prepare Your Face for Shaving

Always wash your face prior to shaving with a straight razor. Any dirt, oil or moisturizers will cause the razor’s blade to become dull. Wash your face with a good quality moisturizing soap. Using a good quality moisturizing soap will help the straight razor glide over your skin. Rinse off the soapy lather with plain warm water.

Prepare Your Face for Shaving

Pat your face dry with a clean towel. Add a little extra pampering to your routine – wash and rinse your face. Wet a thick fluffy towel with water as hot as you can stand on your face without discomfort. Drape the wet towel over your face, put up your feet and relax until the towel cools. Pat your face dry.​

Preparing Shave Soap

Place your preferred scented or unscented shaving soap into a shaving mug or bowl. Wet the shaving brush with warm water. Swirl the wet shaving brush around the surface of the soap to create a thick lather. Do not use shaving cream. Shaving cream will not allow the blade to slide against your skin as well as shaving soap.

Preparing Shave Soap

Strop the Straight Razor

Stropping a straight razor over the leather side of a strop will make the edge of the razor smooth and keep it in good cutting shape.

  • Hold the strop with your left hand.
  • Grip the straight razor with your right hand.
  • Place the entire blade of the straight razor onto the strop.
  • Pull the razor along the length of the strop.
  • Flip the razor and pull the razor along the strop again.
  • Repeat 18 to 20 times for a clean, sharp edge.

Lathering Your Face

  • Wet your hands with very warm water and pat the water over your beard.
  • Pick up the brush and dab shaving soap over all areas that require shaving.
  • Swirl the brush over the surface of your face to obtain and even coat of shaving soap.
  • Swirl the brush on the shaving soap as often as necessary to gain more lather.
  • Allow the lather to remain on your beard for three to five minutes or longer depending on the coarseness of the beard. Shaving soap softens the hair for shaving.

Shaving With a Straight Razor

  • Grip your razor with the palm of your hand, rest three fingers on the flat part of the blade.
  • Place the blade up to your face at a 30-degree angle.
  • Pull the skin on your face taut with your free hand.
  • With very light pressure pull the razor down along the contours of your face, following the direction of the hair growth.
  • Add more lather to your face.
  • Wipe the lather and bits of beard off the razor.
  • Optional — Readjust the direction of the razor to cut a crosswise path at a 30-degree angle.
  • Add more lather.
  • Wipe the blade clean.

Readjust the direction of the razor and hold the razor at a 30-degree angle, pull the razor up along the contours of your face, against the direction of the beard growth. A 30-degree angle is a very low angle to your face.

Hate to Strop and Sharpen a Straight Razor Blade?

If you hate the thought of all of the work that goes into caring for the straight razor blade, you are not alone. Many men hate the thought of sharpening and stropping the blade, but they do appreciate the close shave.

If the only thing holding you back from using a straight razor is the work, consider a permanent frame with a disposable blade, which offers a finely honed blade without the work. Replace the blade when you feel it pulling on your skin rather than gliding over it.

Final Shaving Steps

  • Rinse any remaining lather off your face and neck with cold water. Pat your face dry.
  • Apply post shave cooling gel or cream to your face.
  • Rinse the blade to remove bits of beard and lather.
  • Dry the straight razor thoroughly on a soft cloth.
  • Rinse the shaving brush under running water until the water runs clear. Shake out the remaining water. Place the brush on the stand and allow it to air dry fully.
  • Rinse the shaving mug or bowl and dry it.

Strop Care

Always keep the strop laying on a dry flat surface or allow it to hang straight on a hook. Clean and condition your strop with strop dressing when the strop begins to look worn or rough.

Sharpening a Straight Razor

Sharpening a straight razor is more correctly known as honing the blade. Hold the hone flat in the palm of your hand. Keep your fingers below the edge of the hone or you will cut yourself. These blades are very sharp. Roll the blade of the straight edge over the hone twice. With the blade lying flat against the hone, pull the razor from the corner to the opposite corner. Flip the razor and repeat.

Repeat this process four to six times. Do not over-hone the blade or you will create a rough edge on the blade. Have you ever shaved with a straight razor? Share your experiences with us .​