Shaving 101: How to Shave with a Straight Razor
Shaving 101: How to Shave With A Straight Razor
If you’ve been wondering about this straight razor gig, then check out this how-to video from West Coast Shaving. In this Shaving 101 video, Jared gets his first lesson in how to go “cut-throat” from straight razor expert, Matt. (Don’t worry, there is no blood.)
Step 1: Prep the razor
Start with a razor that is shave ready. Your straight razor should be sharp (honed). It should also be stropped (remove blemishes and minute nicks).
Step 2: Prep the skin
Make sure you create a nice protective lather - by mug/bowl/face. It can be difficult to maintain a well-hydrated lather while you learn this new technique, so don’t be afraid to stop and reapply lather as you proceed.
Step 3: Hold the razor
A straight razor is held at the juncture of the blade and the scales (handle). Place two fingers (index and middle) on the tang (metal part of the blade section closest to the scales). Place your thumb under the tang to complete the grip with your two fingers. Your ring finger helps to hold the handle and maintain a nearly L shape. Hold in your dominant hand. (Alternatively, some people prefer three fingers on the tang, which leaves the scales resting on your pinky finger to maintain the angle.)
Step 4: Shave
When your straight razor feels comfortable in your grip and you are ready to begin, reach across your head, tilt to the side, and pull the skin tight at your side burn. (With a double-edge razor, the guard/bar helps to do this for you. In straight razor shaving, you have more control of this.)
Apply the razor at a 30 degree angle and pull down in short strokes. You will likely experience one of the most loved benefits of straight razor shaving at this point: feedback. You get phenomenal audible sound when you hit the right angle. You can practically hear the whiskers getting shaved off.
Next, move on to the jaw line and neck, making sure that you pull the skin tight and move with the grain of the hair (particularly for the first pass and as you are learning). To switch sides, you can either reach across with your dominant hand or switch hands, whichever is most comfortable. If you do keep the razor in your dominant hand, you will have to change your grip a bit to better compensate for the reach and keep the correct angle. Your fingers will rest more on the side of the tang than the top.
Finally, finish off with the mustache area, being careful to watch the angle and use short strokes.
Matt’s Benefits to Straight Razor Shaving:
- Most comfortable & closest shave (after a brief learning curve)
- Satisfying (to hone, prep, maintain your own blade)
- Feedback (the blade sings and gives plenty of audible feedback and feel, so you know how you are doing.)
Jared’s Straight Razor Shaving Take Away:
Much more forgiving than expected. The straight razor blade is different from a DE (which is extremely thin, sharp). A straight razor actually felt less intimidating than feared. It was different than the shavette-type razors which use a replaceable DE blade and thus are much more aggressive. Which begs the question why shavettes are considered a “gateway” to straight razor shaving.
So, have you taken the plunge? Have you tried the straight razor for the first time? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.