You’ve seen straight razors in movies and old time television shows and had one of two thoughts, either Damn I’m glad I don’t need to do that every morning I would look like the Darach from season 3A (Teen Wolf fans know what I’m talking about) or you think Damn I need to get one of those. My wife got me a straight razor for my birthday a few years ago and I think I’ve got it down, or at least, I’m not dead despite having the sharpest blade ever hover a few centimeters from my eye/throat/carotid artery.
Why would you want a straight razor shave? Let’s see, you look like a bad ass while you shave?
Oh, and it gives you the closest shave you’ll ever have short of electrolysis and it will last for days. It doesn’t matter if you’re shaving your face or your legs, a straight razor doesn’t care and with a bit of practice you can easily guide the blade around any shape or contour of your body. There are plenty of tutorials out there in the depths of the internet, but here are my hints and tips for your first shave.
First, get the right tools. For your first shave you should get a disposable razor. The handle is not disposable, but the blades are and a small pack holds 300-500 blades. You want to focus on shaving technique and form instead of sharpening techniques. Knowing your blade is sharp will reduce the amount of problems you’ll be worrying about when you troubleshoot your technique.
Also remember to pick up a shaving brush, shaving cream, and get a hand towel for your face cause it’s going to get messy in a heartbeat.
Now for your first shave. Take a hot shower. The heat will open up your pores which will let you get a closer shave. Dry yourself, don’t dry where you’re going to shave too much, make sure you’re standing on a non-slippery surface (an accident could lead to a Blade Runner situation, if you know what I mean. It’s the eyes) and make some lather with your shaving cream.
Get the brush a little bit wet and whisk it around the shaving cream block until you can make stiff, standing peaks of foam. Now slather it on your body where you’re going to shave and just let it sit for a bit, like, a minute or two. Then, you’re ready to shave.
Hold the razor blade at an angle from your face gently between your fingers and thumb. Draw the razor over your skin gently. I found it works if you think you’re scraping the hair off your body instead of cutting it off because cutting usually leads to cutting your skin. You should hear a scraping sound, this means you’re successfully shaving!
What? You don’t hear a scraping sound and your skin feels like sandpaper? Well you’re right on track because it usually takes two or three tries to make straight razor shaving a success instead of a frustrating failure. So let’s troubleshoot.
Is your skin hot enough? I know it is, but is the temperature hot enough to open up your pores? If not, grab a towel, get some really hot water (I use post-boiling water from the tea kettle) and warm your skin up.
Is your shaving cream still foamy? Shaving cream will dry up leaving your skin feeling a bit tight and, well, dry. Just put some more foam on and shave away. I usually have to reapply at least once every time I shave my face.
Is your razor sharp? Sometimes disposable razors come out of the package dull, or you’re reusing a blade, or you dragged your blade across a towel the wrong way. The ends of razor blades are wicked thin and will dull up in a second if you’re not careful, so don’t be afraid to put in a new blade, you’ve got hundreds to work with.
Are you shaving at the right angle? The right angle to shave at is, well, to start with it’s around 30 degrees, but unless you’re breaking out a protractor it’s going to be a lot of practice and muscle memory. Just shave at different angles until you see results and fine tune it from there.
I’m bleeding, like, a lot, all over my face. Thanks a whole bunch, Kip. Okay, so your razor blade just barely touches your cheek and now you’re gushing blood. This is bound to happen because the blade is very sharp and facial skin is pretty fragile. If you cut yourself on your face, just mop it up with some torn up tissues until it starts healing itself. Small cuts will stop bleeding pretty quickly, 15 minutes or so, and be healed before the day is out. Of course if you are bleeding profusely and it doesn’t stop then look for a bandage, but that’s going to be rare.
If you’ve survived this far and want to know more about shaving, check out this wiki here as it is full of more information than I would ever want to tell you in one blog post. Remember that straight razor shaving is an art, a wicked sharp blade is your instrument and your body is the canvas. Be careful, go cautiously, and have fun being a bad ass.