Shaving with a straight razor can be very challenging, especially if you are a beginner. This is because you are dealing with a big blade, unlike the safety razor blades and other regular razors. Remember that placing this razor blade directly onto your skin is not easy.
However, exemplary techniques for using the razor blade make all the difference. Luckily, we will cover all that in this article. But it’s good to know that straight razors are a good choice if you want a good and close shave without any irritation that you would get from other razor blades.
In addition, straight razors are old school, something our grandfathers used with a good reason. But if you are new to straight razors or want to remind yourself how to use the razor, you’re in the right place. We will discuss how to shave using a straight razor and how often to sharpen the razor.
How Do You Shave With a Straight Razor for Beginners- Six Easy Steps
You only need to buy a good straight razor and follow the simple steps as follows:
1. Prepare Your Skin and Hair Before Shaving
Prepare the skin and hair by using warm water to rinse the face. After that, apply lather from a top-notch shaving cream or soap using a shaving brush. Also, you can feel the direction of the hair before shaving.
2. Hold the Razor at a Good Angle
Hold your razor at 30 degrees to give you a perfect balance and prevent cutting your skin. Make sure you apply a firm grip and short strokes of about 1-3 cm and begin shaving with little pressure.
3. Start By Shaving the Sideburns and Cheeks
Start by shaving your sideburns and work on the cheeks and beards. After shaving one side, do the same to the other side.
4. Shave the Chin and the Upper Lip
Continue shaving the chin and upper lip with the same pressure, angle, and strokes. For good shaving, pull your skin to make it tighter as you regularly wipe and rinse the blade.
5. Shave the Lower Lip and Neck
After that, shave your lower lip and neck by beginning to shave the corners of the mouth as you move close to the chins. When shaving your neck, remember to move the razor in the direction the neck hair grows to prevent cuts or irritation.
6. Finish by Moisturizing
Apply cold water on your face after shaving to close the skin pores. Afterward, you can apply a good skin moisturizer or an aftershave balm to protect the skin from hydration or infection.
Are Straight Razors Sanitary?
Straight razors are sanitary and safe to use. But can you use a straight razor every day? Yes, you can, and if you do, it is still sanitary. However, you must clean the razor regularly to keep it hygienic and healthy.
Having said that, the following are steps to follow when cleaning your straight razor.
1. Brush Off Dirt
After using your straight razor, you should brush off any dirt, although it’s not easy because the blades are too close. However, you can try to use a razor brush or a toothpick.
2. Rinse the Razor Head From the Back
Clean your razor blade as you let the water run from the back of the razor head. The best way to do this is by using water pressure to push the dirt from the razor blade. Apart from that, you can tap your razor on the sink corner, turn on the water and let go of any shaving cream, hair, and foam hiding between the razor blade.
3. Dry the Razor Perfectly
After rinsing your razor, you should dry it entirely by keeping it in a well-ventilated area with continuous airflow. You can also use a hair dryer to make the process simpler. Remember this is important to prevent your razor blade from getting exposed to moisture, thus preventing rusting.
4. Sterilize the Blade
Sterilizing your blade prevents any bacteria from building up. You can sterilize your razor blade by dipping it in isopropyl alcohol and letting it soak for five to ten minutes. Don’t forget to swirl it well in the isopropyl alcohol. Also, after dipping it in the alcohol, shake off the isopropyl alcohol completely and leave it dry.
Can You Go Against the Grain With a Straight Razor?
Going against your grain while shaving using a straight razor is not good because it can cause ingrown hairs, redness, and irritation. Therefore, you should shave toward the direction of your hair growth.
However, if you have the art of shaving, a good shaving razor, and a light hand, shaving contrary to the direction of your growth is possible. It can also leave you with a good shaving experience as well as a long-lasting shave.
In order to shave towards the grain, you should begin by mapping out your face and the direction in which your hair grows. This will help you to minimize the hair in the passes and achieve a closer shave time. The method is often applicable to straight razors and traditional razors.
Most importantly, this method can get you the closest shave in three steps. First is shaving in the direction of your hair growth. Second, you will shave across the growth direction, and lastly, you will shave against the growth direction.
How Often Does a Straight Razor Need to Be Sharpened?
Sharpening your straight razor helps maintain the blade for a long time and should be done regularly. To help you know how to sharpen your straight razor, we will first know the tools to use.
Straight Razor Sharpening Tools
The following are the sharpening tools you use while sharpening a straight razor.
Strop: After purchasing your straight razor, the next thing to buy is a strop. You can buy a leather or vinyl strop. The strops are used to straighten and polish straight razor blades when sharpening.
Bench strop: A bench strop is a style in which leather is fixed to a wood. In most cases, the leather is fixed to a flat surface like a working bench or a table.
Paddle strop: This strop has a handle that you can hold comfortably while sharpening your razor.
Synthetic water stones: These are artificial sharpening tools and are suitable for sharpening a straight razor.
Loom strop: Loom strop has leather and an adjustable handle. They are used in sharpening equipment like straight razors, although they are rarely used.
Natural stones: These stones are produced by nature and don’t have grit ratings making them a little bit difficult to use. So, using these stones requires many techniques and honing skills.
Hanging strop: This is the most popular type of strop used when sharpening straight razors. The strop usually hangs on a hook or a doorknob, which is pulled tight when used. A hanging strop is also easier to store.
How to Sharpen a Straight Razor
There are two types of sharpening when it comes to straight razor sharpening: stropping and honing. Honing is the process of smoothening the roughness that might be caused during sharpening and polishing the edge to make it stronger and more durable.
On the other hand, stropping removes residue nicking in order to make the edge as sharp as possible. Stropping usually occurs after sharpening or honing in order to remove remaining irregularities. When you sharpen your straight razor, it creates a burr. So, stropping your razor eliminates the burr.
The edge becomes scratched or nicked when your straight razor sharpness wears off. For that reason, you need to hone your razor in order to make it sharp again. Luckily, the honing process is simple, and it realigns the blade making it sharper. You can hone your blade by pulling through or honing steel.
Perhaps you were asking, is shaving with a straight razor better? If so, you have the answers. However, note that using a straight razor to shave can be very intimidating, especially if you are a beginner, because the razor blade is larger, unlike regular blades. But that should not worry because our guide explains the steps on how to shave using a straight razor.
First, you should prepare your skin and hair before shaving by rinsing your face with warm water. Afterward, you should hold your razor at a good angle to prevent cutting skin. Then, shave your sideburns and cheeks, the chin and the upper lip, lower lip and neck, and complete the process by moisturizing.
In addition, we have revealed the process you can follow when cleaning the straight razor. The process starts by brushing off the razor’s dirt, then cleaning the head with water from the back. After that, dry the razor completely to prevent moisture. Lastly, sterilize it using isopropyl alcohol to prevent the build-up of bacteria.
Finally, you need to know how to sharpen your straight razor as well as the necessary sharpening tools that you need to use. For instance, while sharpening your razor, you need to accomplish two main steps: honing and stropping. Honing will help you smoothen the razor while stropping removes residue nickings in the razor blade.
Hi, I’m Theo, and I started Shaving Parlour to help men everywhere get the best shave of their lives. Check out my popular guides on Safety Razors, Shaving Cream, Shaving Brushes, Beard Oil, and more!