Learning how to use a straight razor is one of the most rewarding skills a man can learn, but it is a learned art. While using a straight razor is considered somewhat traditional, men around the world are turning back the clock to rekindle their passion of this perfect shave. After all, if it wasn’t broken then why did we try to fix it?
What You Will Need: The Right Tools for the Job
- Straight Razor
- Shaving Brush
- Shaving Gel
- After Shave
- Face Cream
- Around Twenty Minutes
Step 1: Prime Your Facial Hair and Skin
The first step when using a straight razor is to make sure you prime the skin correctly. This means soaking a towel in hot water, wringing out excess water so that the towel remains hot and steamy. Wrap the towel comfortably around the face, and leave it to sit for at least five minutes. You want to soften the hair, making it easier to remove with less risk of irritation and shaving bumps later.
Step 2: Prepare Your Brush
After you remove the towel and the timers up, rinse your shaving brush in hot warm and remove excess water. Dip the brush into the shaving gel and build a good lather. You do not want to overload the brush, but enough to coat your skin evenly. Use circular motions to make sure the brush is evenly coated, tap off any excess residue. This will become easier to gauge with experience.
Step 3: Adding the Right Amount of Hot Water
After applying fresh warm water to the face, build the lather onto the hair, starting from the middle and working your way out. You want to make sure that you have enough water to allow the lather to glide on easily, but not so much that it runs the shaving gel away. Aim to apply an even distribution of lather across the areas you intend to shave. This will be the first coat, and benefits from a reasonably thick application.
It should look something like this:
Leave the shaving cream on for at least five minutes, to absorb into the skin and begin to add protective moisturizing and softening qualities. During this time, you can rinse of the brush and open your razor and get it ready for use. Always invest in a quality straight razor that is clean and sharp for best results. A complete kit will come with a way to store, protect, and sharpen the razor for lifetime use, but may not be sharpened out the box.
Step 4: Mastering the 20 Degrees Angle
Unlike modern razors, a straight razor works when used at a 30 degrees angle (as show in the photo above). If you go above or below this orientation, all you do is remove the lather. While it might seem complicated, getting it right will simply be a case of repeating the lathering process and trying again. Most guys pick this up faster than expected.
Here’s an example of how to hold your hand:
Step 5: Going Against the Grain
As you begin to shave, go against the grain to ensure a close, clean cut. You want to move the direction of the blade to match your facial hair growth. While hair grows differently, you should begin to notice obvious pathways of where hair growths in set directions. Follow these and you will achieve the perfect shave. Do not be tempted to go back over areas if you missed anything yet, we will come back to that in one moment.
Step 6: The Second, Short Pass
If you did happen to miss an area as happens when learning, do not worry. Simply go back and add more shaving gel (never use a straight razor without this). You can add the lather to the areas that you missed only so that you do not irritate the skin further. This is the second pass, and helps catch any missed areas. The third pass is coming up next, and will show you how to get that super close shave.
Step 7: The Longer Third Pass
Go back over the face with lather once more, and repeat the steps (this time much quicker as most, if not all the hair is now removed). Pay attention to the grain and changes of shape in your skin, and start to use longer strokes to even out the final results. In stage one and two, you will find that short swoops will help remove the hair, giving you time to rinse the straight razor and carry on.
Now, you can glide over the skin getting that super smooth finish. Don’t forget to finish with an aftershave or moisturizer to lock in the goodness!
Step 8: Rinse With Cold Water
This time, when you rinse your face, you want to use cold water to close the pores that have been opened, to prevent razor rash or burns from appearing. You can also use a cold towel soaked in water for a few minutes to help seal the skin. This is especially useful if you have sensitive skin, or are prone to razor burn.
Step 9: Putting Away Your Tools
One of the most essential steps you can take is to correctly store your straight razor, and ensure a lifetime of quality shaving. Dry the blade with tissue paper to remove water that can rust the blade, and rinse off the shaving brush storing it in an upright position.
If your straight razor came with a strop, now is the time to sharpen and store your razor. If it didn’t, look around for a quality strop to ensure a perfect shave every time. You;ll need to sharpen the blade before use. Water is essential during the shaving process, but getting rid of it after is equally crucial. While quality blades will not rust overnight, excessive water will reduce the sharpness and hygienic values over time and leave you with a less than perfect blade.
Photo credits: WikiHow
Want To Learn More On How To Use A Straight Razor? The Ultimate Guide To Grooming Contains Over 101 Expert Tips To Help You Remove Every Inch Of Hair Desired.