It is no secret that shaving with a straight razor is increasingly becoming popular by the day. Men are abandoning modern shaving tools and adopting the straight razor. Central to this migration is the fact that shaving with this tool is considered a manlier way to shave. It is luxurious. And the quality of the shave is closer than what we get from other shaving products.
You also stop using your money on shaving razors because, with this tool, all you need is a strop to make it sharp and re-use as long as you grow beards. However, this transition is not as easy as it sounds. The thought of passing a piece of steel with cutthroat sharpness across your face can be intimidating to say the least. Shaving with a straight razor can also be beneficial for your skin and hair regrowth.
How to Shave with a Straight Razor
The straight razor, unlike other shaving razors, requires patience and skilful hands to be a useful tool to the user. So, with all the incomparable benefits, you have a responsibility to learn and gain confidence using it over time. This guide will help you to understand the art of using a straight razor from start to finish.
Choosing the Right Razor
If you’re wondering how to shave with a straight razor, the journey begins by choosing the right razor according to your liking and skills.
Do you want a fixed straight razor or one that uses disposable blades? That is the first thing to consider before making your straight razor choice. A cut throat razor has a fixed blade, which will require you to strop whenever it becomes blunt. The other alternative is known as a shavette and uses disposable blades. With it, there is no need for a strop.
The handle: Also known as the scale, comes in a variety of materials which impact the cost of a straight razor. You can get them in bone, horn, plastic, or wood. It is all a matter of preference and how much one is willing to spend on them.
Blade: This part is the most important, and requires you to be careful when making your choice. They come in either carbon steel, Damascus blade, or stainless steel. The carbon steel alternative is very easy to strop but loses its sharpness faster. The stainless steel one will last longer with a single sharpening. The Damascus blades are of the best quality because they include the integration of the best types of steel, which makes them expensive.
Blade Width: The measurements come in inches, and plays a role in determining the weight of the product. A 5/8 inches blade is the perfect choice for most people because it is easier to control. Experts can go for wider alternatives like the 5/8 inches blades.
Nose: How the nose of a blade is curved determines how well it can shave. There are rounded and square blade noses. The rounded ones are the forgiving type and can be great for you if you are just starting out in the wet-shaving world. The one with corners is more accurate during use. It can shave the hardest places to reach but requires very skilled hands to avoid causing cuts.
Hollow/Ground: The hollowing of a blade affects your saving experience. A cupped blade will work well on an old skin. So the tougher your skin is, the more hollow you want your blade to be. A younger skin that is smooth and firm will do fine with a less hollow blade.
The Shaving Products to Use
A straight razor does not work on its own. Learning how to shave with a straight razor requires you to have various products to provide you with the best service. With proper shaving products, you will find it easy to shave and love the experience altogether. Some straight razor vendors provide a complete set that comprises most of the things you might require for a complete shave. If you are still shopping around, consider such.
A strop: If you are going for a fixed straight razor, then you’ll need a strop, which you will utilize to make the blade sharp. If you choose to go with a disposable razor, then you should purchase several of them to use whenever the need arises.
Shaving soap or cream: For the sake of lathering, you will need to choose between a shaving soap or cream. With soaps, you create the lather from scratch, while the cream is all ready for you to apply. Look out for products that are made using organic ingredients.
Shaving brush: To form lather and apply it on your face, you’ll need a brush. Brushes also help in cleaning and exfoliating the skin as they make the tough facial hair to stand. You will have to choose between animal-based or synthetic brushes. Those made using animal hair are more expensive than the manufactured fibers. Make sure you choose a shaving cream that works well with your brush type.
Shave oils: Besides the soaps and creams, you will need a bottle of shaving oil. This product will soften your whiskers and make the razor glide through the hairs faster and safer.
Aftershave: If you are the kind of a person that gets ingrown hairs, pimples and razor bumps after a shave, then you need an aftershave product. You can choose to go for a balm or a spray in this case.
Other accessories: Shaving requires a dedicated kit that has a lot of things. You will need a bowl for creating the lather, a beard bib to avoid staining your clothes, a nose trimmer, a brush, a kit to store your products, and a comb among other products.
Prepare for the Shave
If you are new to the art of wet shaving, it is important to know that using a straight razor to shave takes time to learn and do. Regardless of your skills with other razors, you’ll still need to dedicate yourself to re-learning how to shave with this shaving product. With a straight razor, people with varied skin types can use, as long as you’ve prepared your skin well.
The first preparation stage involves making the skin warm and the stubble softer. You can easily do this by showering first before taking a shave. Considering that most people shave in the morning, it is good to take a warm shower first. If you can’t do this, take a towel and plunge it into warm water, rinse it, and then place it on your face for a few seconds to a minute. Doing this will bring about the same results.
Scrub your face to eliminate dirt, dead skin, and raise the hair so that it is ready to cut. Doing this will prevent clogging of the pores, infections, and shaving rushes. After this, use your pre-shave oil to make the hair soft and protect your skin further. If you don’t suffer from shaving rush, you can skip this step.
Now take your shaving soap or cream, and the brush then work the lather in your bowl. After the lather is built up, take it using the brush and swirl on your face. Small circular motions are enough to reach every hair follicle and lift the hair to ready it for the shave. You want the perfect glide and not drag by the end of the day.
Time to Shave
First things first, put on your bib if you are using one. Then ensure the blade is always sharp whenever you want to shave. If you are sure the razor is in the desired state, hold it in your writing hand. The little finger should lie on the tang, the thumb under the shank (at the center), and the rest of the finders on top of the blade. Make sure you are feeling steady and the straight razor is wide open giving you a V.
Then, start the shaving process. Follow the direction that your facial hair is growing. On your first shave, ensure you shave with the grain. This way, you avoid cutting yourself and prevent ingrown hairs, plus irritations. Begin at the sideburn area and move downward according to your hair growth. The neck area needs keen attention because hair grows in this place in varied directions. When shaving at Adam’s apple, pull the skin on the side to cut the hairs with confidence.
It is important that your skin remains taut as you shave. In this case, you have to stretch it away from the direction of the movement of the razor. So as the blade moves, use the fingers of the other hand to stretch your skin away from the straight razor. Doing this exposes the hairs that would be hard to cut without a stretched skin. And as mentioned before, you can shave hard-to-reach areas like Adam’s apple and under the nose as well.
Get the angle right. You want to aim your blade so that it is at 30 degrees on the skin surface for smooth glides. If you hold the blade perpendicularly, you are most likely to cut yourself with the razor. It is important to reiterate that you should move the razor in a straight line. Don’t move sideways at any time.
Using little pressure and the weight of your blade, make your first pass with light strokes. Then repeat the same area to give a smooth finish. You can do multiple passes at one point until you get satisfactory results. Just make sure you re-lather the place every time you want to repeat the cut so that you can protect it from nicks and cuts.
Move from one cheek to the other, then go to the moustache and shave according to the hair growth. After that, move to the chin and make the cut accordingly. Those with dimples will have to scoop the hairs with a blade. This action requires you to place your blade at the edge and reach out lightly on the inside of the dimple to cut hair. There are times when you must make obscure facial expressions which come in the effort of stretching the skin for the perfect hair cuts.
The entire shaving process will take you more than half an hour. Some people take a full hour because of the hair growth and styles they want to achieve. It is obvious that new wet shavers will take longer than seasoned shavers. As you can tell, this tool is not for people who are always in a hurry. If you can exercise patience, then it is better to use a different shaving device.
When you finish the shaving, you should calm down your face using a cold flannel. Then rinse away the soap residue using warm water that is left after completing the exercise. Follow this with cold water to close the pores. Then pat it dry and take your shaving balm or spray to give your skin the final soothe. After you are through, keep your hands off your face for at least 20 minutes to make sure the balm absorbs into the skin. In situations where you got cuts during the process, get alum block for instant sealing.
After finishing with your straight razor, rinse and wipe it with a soft rag. You do this to get rid of the moisture and debris that might be on it. Keep it away from children and far from moisture – a steamy bathroom is bad storage. If it is a tool you only use once in a while, rub blade oil on it to keep away damaging conditions. In case you realise the blade rusting, avoid using it. Get another one.
Now You Know How to Shave with a Straight Razor
The satisfaction that comes when you use a straight razor is unexplainable. Be that as it may, you still have the re-learning process to achieve a perfect shave. Don’t worry because it won’t take long before you understand the processes. Use the guide above to get great results. And don’t forget to tailor the shaving experience to suit your needs and style. Once you have the technique and know the shaving procedure, you will love how much you save over the long haul.