How To Shave With A Straight-Edge Razor?(Safely!)

shaving with a straight-edge razor

There is no doubt about it – these razors are the real deal. 

The art of learning to shave with a straight-edge razor is not only unique and sought after, but one that if not done right, can leave you with nicks, cuts, or worse. 

I’m not here to make straight-edge razors any more intimidating than they already are, I’m here to tell you how you can shave safely to get the silky smooth shave a barber gives.

Help give you the ability to wield a complicated shaving tool with efficiency and prowess, to provide you a sleek, fresh look!

It takes practice and discipline to get it down right.

There’s a lot to learn, so stick around!

Straight-Edge Razor
Straight-Edge Razor

Pre-Shave Routine

Preparing for a shave is probably the most underrated part.

Whether it’s straight-edge shaving or using modern-day multi-blade razors, your pre-shave routine CANNOT be forgotten! It’s vital to prepare your face, to make shaving more gentle, and leave you fresher and less irritated post-shave.

Strop your blade

The main step in your pre-shave routine should be stropping your blade.

In other words, this is the art of sharpening the blade, which means your blade can last a lifetime!

A strop needs to be purchased, and the method of stropping is a skill that is vital to learn if you want the best possible shave every time.

A strop contains:

  • A leather side: To sharpen the blade
  • A fabric side: To remove any parts that could damage the leather side, or the blade, like leftover soap.

Here are the steps to strop your blade:

  • Hook one side of the strop to something in your bathroom, and hold the other end with your left hand.
  • With the opposite hand, hold the razor with your thumb and forefinger.
  • Carefully and gently, run one-half of the blade along the fabric side of the strop. When you reach the end of the strop, rotate the blade to strop the other side, to avoid blunting the edge.
  • Repeat this 15-20 times, first on the fabric side, then the leather side, to sharpen the blade perfectly.
  • Take it slow at first, then speed up as you begin to get comfortable with the movement.
Stropping your blade before shaving
Stropping your blade before shaving

Prepare your face

Preparing your face to keep the skin healthy and hygienic is pretty simple.

A lot of people, like myself, just grab a shower and wash their face with warm water.

  • Use a warm, steamed towel and place it on your face for 5-10 minutes to soften your skin and facial hair, making your shave a lot smoother!
  • Follow this up with some pre-shave lubricating oil, applied in circular motions with a brush.
  • Make sure every inch of the beard you plan to shave is covered in lubricant, and most people forget to oil the blade! 

Don’t be like most people!

Prepare your face
Prepare your face before shaving with a straight-edge razor

Shaving With A Straight Razor: Steps by Steps

If you weren’t taking notes on the pre-shave routine, also known as ‘the basics’, I would get your pen and paper ready now.

The straight-edged razor is nicknamed the ‘cut-throat’ razor. Do I need to say any more about why research and practice are paramount with this razor?

Determine the direction of hair growth

Before we pick up the razor, we need to determine the grain of our facial hair, AKA the direction our facial hair grows.  

We must start by only following the grain when shaving. Only deviate from this if you have experience, or especially long, thick hair. Why?

Because with this sort of razor, safety is paramount. If we start deviating from the grain of our hair, we increase the likelihood of grazes, ingrown hairs, or even cuts.

Shaving

After determining the direction we are going to be shaving in, we must pick up our razor with the perfect grip.

The perfect grip is pretty simple, it’s whatever you feel comfortable with. I tend to place the handle between my middle finger and thumb, with my index finger resting on top. 

If this leaves you feeling a bit awkward, switch it up!

  • With the razor gripped in the preferred hand, place it flat against your cheek.
  • Slowly lift it to a 30-degree angle, or somewhere around that. You can determine this by noticing where the razor begins to cut through the hair.
  • Pull the skin tight from underneath, and with the least amount of pressure possible, pass the blade through the hair.
  • Start from the sideburns, followed by the cheeks, then chin, and finally, arguably the most difficult and dangerous part, the neck. The neck is the most susceptible to nicks and cuts, so slowly and carefully pass the blade over the jawline and down the neck, following the hairline.

Note: After each pass, you must be rinsing and lubricating the razor, to keep your shave gentle and reduce any chance of irritation after the shave!

a straight-edge razor
Be careful when shaving with a straight-edge razor

After shaving the beard, you will probably want to trim the mustache.

I tend to keep the skin around the mustache taut by pushing your tongue against the gums, which is a bit easier than pulling your lips with your hand.

Again, this is the most important rule when shaving with a straight-edged razor.

LIMIT THE PRESSURE YOU APPLY!

Write it down, tattoo it on your arm, engrave it on your razor. 

Whatever you do, just remember the more pressure you apply, the more irritation that occurs, and the more likely the razor lives up to the nickname it is renowned for!

If your hair is a bit thicker than most, and you have a bit more experience shaving with a straight-edged razor, then you can shave parallel, or even against the grain!

This can leave your face looking, and feeling silky smooth!

Always remember, if you decide to make multiple passes, do so in this order:

  • Shave with the grain.
  • Shave across the grain.
  • Shave against the grain.
Limit the pressure you apply when shaving
Limit the pressure you apply when shaving

Post-Shave Routine

The post-shave routine is simple and you probably have one in place right now.

All you need to be doing after shaving is cleaning the razor, and washing your face with cold water, to close the pores.

Then, apply your favorite post-shave cream. The best ones to use are moisturizers, as they tend to keep your face smooth and reduce that post-shave irritation! 

Washing your face after shaving
Washing your face after shaving

Takeaway 

If you are going to take any 3 tips from this guide on shaving with a straight-edge razor, I recommend these:

  • Make sure your blade is sharpened well before each shave, and every passing with the razor is lubricated fully.
  • Always begin the shave by following the grain, and memorize your hair growth completely.
  • Most importantly of all, apply as little pressure as possible. You are trimming the beard, not removing it!

Safety is so important with straight-edged shaving so…

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Lee

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

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