How to Shave With a Straight Razor

A step-by-step guide to using a straight razor for a flawlessly smooth shave.

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A barber shaving with a straight razor

Shaving, an everyday ritual for many, has seen its fair share of innovations over the years – from disposable razors to electric shavers. 

There’s something undeniably sophisticated and satisfying about wielding a straight razor with precision and care. 

It’s not just a means to an end; it is an experience, a ritual that connects you to a bygone era of grooming.

How do you master this craft of manliness? Here’s how to shave with a straight razor.

Step 1: Prepare Your Straight Razor

Before you begin, ensure your straight razor is sharp and properly honed. 

Sharpen the razor on a leather strop to align the blade and keep it sharp. Use smooth, controlled motions, making sure to maintain the proper angle.

Step 2: Wash Your Face

A man washing his face

Now you can begin.

Wash your face thoroughly with warm water and a mild cleanser. This helps to soften the beard and open up the pores.

For a more comfortable shave, you can use a pre-shave oil to further lubricate the skin.

Step 3: Create a Lather

Use a high-quality shaving brush to create a rich lather from your shaving cream or soap.

Apply the lather to your face in circular motions. This softens the beard and also provides a protective barrier between the blade and your skin.

Step 4: Shaving Technique

  • Hold the straight razor correctly: Place your index and middle fingers on the shank, the tang resting on your third finger, and your thumb supporting the blade.
  • Start shaving with the grain of your hair growth to minimize irritation. This usually means shaving in a downward motion on the cheeks and with the neck’s grain on the neck area.
  • Keep the skin taut with your free hand to ensure a smooth, flat shaving surface.
  • Use short, controlled strokes, applying minimal pressure. Let the sharpness of the blade do the work.
  • Rinse the razor frequently to remove lather and hair buildup.
  • Maintain a consistent blade angle, usually around 30 degrees, for a clean shave. This angle will vary depending on the area you’re shaving.

    Step 5: Rinse and Re-apply Lather

    A man applying shaving cream

    After shaving an area, rinse your face with warm water, reapply lather, and move on to the next section.

    For a closer shave, you can make additional passes. But be cautious not to over-shave, otherwise you risk irritation and razor burn.

    Step 6: Finish and Rinse

    Once you’ve completed shaving all desired areas, rinse your face with cold water to close the pores. This helps reduce post-shave irritation and redness.

    Apply an alcohol-free aftershave balm or lotion to soothe the skin and moisturize it.

    Step 7: Clean and Store Your Razor

    Finally, thoroughly clean your straight razor. Remove any remaining lather, and dry it with a towel.

    Store your razor in a dry, safe place, ensuring it won’t be exposed to moisture or potential damage.

    Voila, You Are Done!

    Shaving with a straight razor may take some practice to perfect. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.

    With time and experience, you’ll find your own rhythm and technique. This traditional grooming method can become a rewarding and satisfying part of your routine.


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