The straight edge razor wasn’t widely used for years. It was kind of a niche shaving tool, reserved for masochists and people who complained about technology. That started to change thanks to James Bond. The film Skyfall featured a straight edge razor shaving scene that caused sales of this particular razor type of skyrocket.
Suddenly, it was cool to use a straight edge again. What kind of impact did this film and its single shaving scene have on the razor industry? Searches for straight edge razors shot up 700% and sales for this type of razor soared to 400% for a while.
A lot of people bought straight edge razors but didn’t know how to use them. That’s probably why you have ended up here on this page after searching for how to use a straight edge razor. It’s not a tool that a lot of people are familiar with, and there is definitely a certain skill involved in using it, especially when you are using it on yourself. You want to be sure you don’t cut yourself, causing nicks and scratches that would mar a nicely trimmed face.
How to use a straight edge razor on yourself without cutting yourself? We’ll cover all that you need to know so that you can shave safely with this stylish method.
What You’ll Need
There are lots of straight razors you can pick from, and you can choose one that’s to your liking. They all work basically the same way. You are really choosing based on style rather than any functional difference.
You need to keep your razor sharp and clean. You do that by purchasing a leather strop, which is a simple sharpening tool. It is important that you sharpen the edge on the strop before every use of the razor to keep it honed and ready to use.
How to use a straight razor on yourself without damaging your skin? Shaving cream is going to make the shaving process so much easier than trying to shave your face with just water or shaving dry. You’ll reduce the risk of bumps and cuts and give yourself a smoother shave. Your skin will also feel softer after the shave, rather than irritated and bumpy.
There is some danger in using a straight edge razor on yourself, pressed against your neck. You could hurt yourself if you are pressing too hard, and applying shaving cream first makes the job a lot easier and safer. You are less likely to cut into the skin since you won’t need to press as hard with the razor.
You may also want a shaving cream brush. This is used to apply the shaving cream to your skin. You can work without it, but traditionally when you use a straight edge razor you also use a brush to apply shaving cream to the face and neck. The brush is great for building up a lather, and that lather helps to protect your skin from cuts and razor bumps. By utilizing the brush properly, you will be able to achieve a closer shave.
Always Sharpen Your Razor
The key to how to properly use a straight razor is to sharpen it before every use. You want a keen blade that will cut quickly and easily. If you have to cut again and again at the same spot, you can cause irritation in your skin and make a cut into the skin. You want to avoid that, if at all possible, and the best way to do that is to keep your razor very sharp.
You might think that a very sharp razor is more likely to cut you, but it actually makes shaving easier. You don’t have to press the razor down as hard, making it a much safer tool to use.
How to use a strop to sharpen a straight razor? It’s best to sharpen the razor right before use, so have the strop handy when you are about to shave. It doesn’t take long to sharpen it.
Just hold the strop flat and run the blade’s edge back and forth across the strop while holding the razor at a slight angle. If you hold the blade at too high of an angle, then you will dull the blade. If the razor is at too low of an angle, then it will not sharpen.
There are two sides to the strop- a coarse fabric side and a leather side. Use the coarse side first, just running the razor across that part to remove any debris or soap that might be on the blade. Then, use the leather side as we just detailed. You’ll have a sharp blade that cuts easily and gives you a close, safe shave.
Prep for Shaving
Before you shave and we show you how to use a straight blade razor, let’s talk briefly about how to prepare your face for shaving.
You should wash your face first with warm water. This not only removes dead hairs and other debris from the face but it also opens the pores up. It is important that you use warm water so that your pores will open. This allows the hair to cut more freely and ensures that more of the hair cuts, resulting in a closer shave. Having a wet face and wet hair will make the hair softer and easier to work with, so it will cut smoothly.
You could alternatively wet your face with a damp, wet towel or take a shower and not dry your face.
Then, lather your face before shaving. Dip the brush in hot water and then apply some shaving cream. Rub that around your face with a circular motion, creating a lather. Allow that to set on your face for a minute or two before you begin shaving. This resting period ensures that your skin and hair are softened and dampened and become easier to work with.
How to Use a Straight Razor to Shave
The key to shaving well with a straight razor is to hold it properly. You want enough control to be able to guide the blade without mistakes. You also want a good grip so that you can apply ample pressure when necessary. Where you hold the razor is extremely important to getting a good, close, safe shave.
How hard is it to use a straight razor? It’s not difficult once you get used to it, but you cannot hold it like a regular razor and expect good results. You have to learn how to hold it properly and securely.
You will place your thumb and forefinger at the bottom of the blade or edge of the razor. Your pinky finger should hook into the tail, with the other fingers of your dominant hand used to keep the wooden part from closing over the metal part. You will need a delicate but assured grip, holding firm but not clutching the razor as if it were a knife. You’re going to have to learn how to exercise control and tilt the razor’s edge along the skin.
When you shave, hold the razor at an angle against the skin. If you hold it at a 90 degree angle to your skin, you will cut into yourself, and you don’t want that. Instead, use a less severe angle, somewhere around 45 degrees. This allows you to cut the hair effectively without risking a cut into the skin.
Always shave in the direction of hair growth. The hair will cut more easily that way, and you’ll get a closer shave. You will learn some tricks of your own to use as you go along. Just take things slow at first and give yourself plenty of time to get used to the blade and how it works. Always use as little pressure as possible. You should be using just enough pressure to cut the hair and that is all.
You should only have to shave each part of your face once. If you want a really close shave, though, then you may need to make multiple passes. It is a good idea to closely inspect your face after shaving it to ensure that you got everything and didn’t miss any spots. The trickiest places to shave are just under the chin and along the upper lip. The odd angles and small curved surface areas make these tricky, so take your time with them and inspect them closely in a mirror before you are through.
After you are done shaving, rinse off your face and dry it gently. Use an aftershave gel or cream to make your skin smell nice and to prevent razor bumps and other irritation.
Keep your razor sharp by not just using the strop to hone it but also a honing stone for long term sharpening. Over time, the edge will dull if you are only using the strop, so consider buying a honing stone to give it a shaper edge from time to time.