What’s the best thing about a straight razor? It can be used in any angle required, so it allows a deep and close shave. With this benefit, there comes a problem too. Using a straight razor at home by yourself is an intimidating task. The blade of a straight razor is sharp enough to give you deep cuts if not used properly.
However, there may be times when you can’t visit a salon and would want to get a clean shave at home especially when in a hurry. That’s when you need to properly learn to use a straight razor. Firstly, for this you need a lot of patience. Then, you need to follow our step-by-step process of using a straight razor for beginners. Don’t worry! We’ll make your learning process as easy as possible. So, without any further delay, let’s jump into the perfect way of using a straight razor at home.
How to Shave with a Straight Razor?
To get a flawless shave using a straight razor, here are the steps you need to follow:
1. Wash your face with lukewarm water
Washing your face with hot water or taking a warm shower helps to open up the pores of your skin. This makes the shaving process much easier. Also, your beard softens when it touches hot water, so you can shave the beard with much ease.
However, when you are stuck in a busy schedule and want to wrap up the shaving in minutes, you can use a towel dipped in hot water to clean your face.
2. Apply a pre-shaving oil
To soften your whisker even more, you must apply a pre-shave oil having ingredients like jojoba oil, coconut or olive oil, which are proven to moisturize your skin. Take 5 to 6 drops of this oil and gently apply it all over your beard, making sure it touches the skin beneath. Leave the oil on the beard for a few minutes.
3. Clean your Shaving Brush with Hot Water
Before you start using your shaving brush, it is always a good practise to soften the bristles. For this, dip your brush in a bowl of hot water and leave it aside for a few minutes.
Points to remember:
- Always buy a shaving brush containing badger hair. Do not go for synthetic brushes as they are not only cheap but also become hard in the long run.
- You can always apply your shaving cream to the face using your fingers, but if you apply using the shaving brush, the process is much easier.
4. Apply Shaving Cream
Go for a natural shaving cream containing essential oils and glycerin for better results. Take a small amount of this cream or soap and place it in the bottom of a mug.
Remember: The shaving creams that are most commonly advertised and marketed are not of high-quality.
5. Turn the cream into lather
Take the damp brush from the hot water bowl and then shake it well in the mug containing water and shaving cream. A thick lather is formed. The more you stir the thicker the lather will be.
6. Brush the lather onto your beard
Once the sufficient lather is formed, take your shaving brush and pick up this lather. Apply this lather to your whisker in circular movements across all the areas that need to be shaved. Make sure every hair strand is covered with this shaving cream. Use the shaving brush to smoothen out any lather peaks.
The Shaving Process:
This section provides the steps that help in obtaining a clean shave. The following are the different steps that need to be followed:
1. Grip the metal connecting to the handle between the thumb and the three fingers
Place the thumb under the blade on the piece of metal connecting to the handle commonly termed as “the shank”. The index, ring, and middle fingers must be placed on the opposite side of the shank. Finally, place the little finger on the small piece of metal present on the outside of the handle.
2. Hold the blade at 30-degrees against the skin
The straight razor has sharp blades. It is designed in such a way that it gives a clean shave when held at a certain angle. So, never hold it flat on your skin or point it directly towards the skin. Make it a practice to hold it at an inclination of 30-degrees. The easiest way to remember this is to hold it in a position where the sharp part is facing downwards on your skin.
3. Use your other hand to stretch the skin
Begin with one side of the face. Use the free hand to pull up the skin to make it flatter and smoother. Repeat this for every area that needs to be shaved, since it aids in providing a smoother shave with fewer nicks.
4. Shave with the grain on the sides of the face
While holding the razor at a 30-degrees angle, start shaving from the top of your cheek. As the hair growth is in the downward direction on your cheeks, stroke the razor in the downward direction and in a smooth movement. Once one stroke is over, rinse the razor and repeat the same process on the other side of the face too.
Remember: If you are a beginner, your skin is more prone to injuries and cuts. But, don’t panic! If your skin starts bleeding, press the place with your finger for a few seconds and then apply styptic powder on the cut.
5. Shave the chin and the upper lip
Once you are done with shaving the sides, the next thing is to shave the chin and your upper lip. Keep in mind that the chin area is the most sensitive part and you need to be careful while shaving it. Using a straight razor, give gentle strokes keeping your lips tightly sealed.
6. Shave under the jaw and down the neck
The rest of the face is shaved in the same technique as the sides. Tilt the head back, use the free hand to pull up the jaw, and stroke downwards to get the area shaved under the jaw. Once the jaw area is cleaned, move down towards the neck.
7. Lather up and repeat the procedure
Wash off the face and lather up as before. This time, the process needs to be performed from side to side. A more gentle press needs to be applied than the first time. Proceed from the ears to the center of the face and do not forget to rinse the blade post each stroke.
8. Lather again and repeat the procedure one last time
Rinse your face first and then create the lather again using the shaving cream and hot water. In this final shaving process, you get the closest shave and even the smallest hair follicle is removed. This time, start shaving from your neck part and then reach the face. Make sure you handle your skin with proper care even during this last shave.
9. Rinse your face with cold water
After the shaving process is done, it’s time for you to close the pores of your face. So, wash your face with cold water. Once the cleaning is done, apply an after-shave cream or gel to prevent any skin irritations and to keep it moisturized.
10. Dry the Razor
Your razor blades are prone to rusting if the moisture is left on it for long. So, after the shaving process is done, wipe it with a tissue paper or a dry cloth. If you know that you are not going to use the razor for a long time, cover your blade with camellia oil.
Benefits of Shaving with a Straight Razor:
Here are some of the benefits of using a straight razor for shaving instead of the electric ones or other methods:
1. Smooth shaves every time
We guarantee you that with the straight razor, the first shave you do will give you the smoothest skin, you never thought you had. Even if you are a beginner or a pro, you are bound to get the closest and smoothest shave ever.
While starting the shaving process for the first time, you might incur some charges till you buy all the necessary products. But, once you are done purchasing everything, the only thing you will ever have to purchase is the shaving cream tube that too occasionally.
3. Meditative effect
Straight razing is a meticulous craft that needs lots of concentration. It requires you to slow down a bit and focus more on the area and the technique you are using to shave. So, after you use a straight razor for a few times, you will actually witness yourself entering a calming state of mind.
4. You Become More Confident in Life
Dealing with a straight razor is nothing short of dealing with a weapon. So, everytime you use it perfectly, you feel grateful that you are alive and healthy. This inturn boosts your confidence multifold.
How to Sharpen a Straight Razor?
The process of sharpening a razor blade involves the following steps:
1. Hang a strop on the furniture
Strop is a piece of leather that is predominantly used to sharpen the razors. Hang the strops on to a solid support like a furniture or knob of the door or drawer. Always allocate some time to sharpen the blade post every shave as doing this not only helps in sharpening the blades but also aids to give a more comfortable shave.
For between the shaves, sharpening the blades on the canvas side works well. But post honing it is always advised to use the leather side.
2. Hold the handle of the blade against the far end of the razor sharpening leather
Tightly pull the sharpening leather using one hand till you reach the strop’s end. Make sure that the sharpened end of the blade does not point towards you during this process.
3. Roll the blade and stroke it backwards
Flip the blade over on its spine and note that the sharp edge never touches the strop. Repeat the process as above by placing the edge facing towards you.
4. Repeat stropping till the blade is smooth
About 30 strokes that are 15 for each side will be helpful to smoothen the blade. Initially, move slowly and gently. With practice, a man will be able to move faster and stropping will be an easier task.
Grinding the Blade
If the razor is dull or slightly pulls on the skin, it needs to be sharpened with a barber hone. The following steps will aid in blade smoothening.
1. Wipe and lubricate the whetstone
Clean the whet or ceramic stone to remove any residual debris.
Lubricate the whetstone with oil, cold water, or the shaving lather as these protect the blade from heat and particles that can harm the blade.
2. Place the stone on an even surface with the rough surface on the top
Make sure you point the coarse side upwards and it will help in giving the right amount of sharpness to the blade of your straight razor.
3. keep the razor on the edge of the whetstone closer to the user
Make sure that the sharp edge of your blade touches the edge of the whetstone. However, ensure you keep the pointed part away from yourself. Hold the shank of your razor with your finger tips and control the blade using the fingers of your other hand.
4. Sweep the blade along the whetstone
With the help of medium pressure such that the blade doesn’t break, push the blade on the whetstone in one direction. If your blade is somewhat wider than the whetstone, then you need to sweep the blade forward as you move it. For this, start sweeping from the bottom part of the blade and then reach the top.
5. Flip the razor and stroke backward
Now, shift the razor to the other side and repeat the sharpening process the same way. Make sure you don’t touch the whetstone in the process. However, you can set your straight razor in a way such that the sharp edge is pointed towards the user.
6. Repeat this process till the blade is sharp
According to our estimation, the blade becomes sharp with 10 strokes on each side. You can test its sharpness by dragging the blade on a moist fingernail. If you find that the blade doesn’t stick while digging in, it means that the process is complete.
Once the sharpening is done, the blade will last for 6 to 8 weeks and then you can start the grinding process again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Straight razor works well even on sensitive skin. So, as long as you follow a proper skincare routine, you can conveniently use a straight razor by working with it slowly and meticulously.
If you take gentle strokes using a straight razor, it is not that dangerous. However, if you are a beginner, it is better for you to visit a salon first and let the barber do the job. You can learn the task from him and follow it at home if necessary.
The blade of a straight razor passes through grinding wheels to make it sharp. After each grinding, the blade becomes more sharp. Then, the blade will be polished and a coating is added to retain the sharpness.