Many men today have never used straight shaving razors. At first, using a straight shaving razor can seem dangerous and a good way to complicate something that drugstore safety razors have made increasingly simple. Still, there is a vintage charm to using an old method of shaving and something about the process raises shaving up to the level of an art form. Here's how to get started using a straight shaving razor.
- Know the razor. Most straight shaving razors will have a carbon steel or stainless steel blade. The point of the blade can be rounded or square. Many men prefer the square edge because the edge is useful to get a close shave, however, it is easier to cut yourself using a square blade than a rounded one. A round point will be easier for the beginner.
- Prepare to shave. Take a hot shower or wrap your face in a hot towel before shaving. Fill a bowl with hot water and soak your shaving brush too. Wet your face and apply a thick shaving soap in swirling motions with the brush until the soap begins to form peaks. Be sure that your razor is sharp, straight edged razors can be sharpened using a barber hone.
- Begin carefully. Hold each section of skin taut as you shave and hold the razer at a 20 degree angle to your skin. Think about the angle of your usual razor, the intention should be to slice the hair close to the skin, not to slice down on the skin itself. You will want to have styptic powder, available at many barber supply stores, on hand as you are learning to use a straight shaving razor. This powder can be applied on any cuts to provide immediate damage control.
- Work slowly. Most experts agree that three passes is the best way to get a clean shave with a straight shaving razor. The first pass should work with the grain of the hair, the second sideways to the grain, and the third against the grain. Re-lather between steps and exercise extra caution with the third pass.
- Complete your shave. Rinse your face with cold water after shaving, this will help to close the pores of the face, doing the opposite of the hot towels at the beginning. Rinse the razor and brush, hanging the brush to dry and carefully drying the razor to prevent rust. It will take some time to perfect the use of a straight shaving razor, but the results are often well-worth the practice.