How to Shave Safely with a Straight Razor

April 26, 2020 6 min read

How to Shave Safely with a Straight Razor

Naked Armor

Out of the many types of razors on the market today, the straight razor is the one that carries an unfair reputation.

Published by Naked Armor

A straight razor's blade is very sharp making it the best tool to give the cleanest and closest shave.

It certainly doesn’t help that it used to be called a cutthroat razor in the old days. Nor does the fact that it’s a common murderous tool of choice for killers in pop entertainment. Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies certainly didn’t do any favors for the straight razor and the art of wet shaving.

A straight razor's blade is very sharp, which is why it can be used as a weapon. But ironically, its sharpness and its slim profile is also the reason why the straight razor is the best tool to give you the cleanest and closest shave.

The truth is, any sharp blade can be dangerous if used recklessly. While it is possible to cut yourself, it will most likely be no worse than a paper cut.

So if you’re still on the fence about using one, here are some shaving tips to get you on the road towards shaving safely with a straight razor.

Like any other sharp tool, a straight razor can be dangerous but if used properly and carefully, it'll give the best shave.

Prep Very Well

One of the common misconceptions in wet shaving is that the pre-shave preparations are not that important. On the contrary, a pre-shave prep is one of the essential steps in wet shaving that one shouldn’t skip over.

This is because a stiff stubble is hard to shave. That’s why you need to actually soften them up by hydrating the whiskers with warm water. Sharpologist has an interesting discussion on the three methods of hydrating whiskers but basically, hydration is needed in order to soften and open up the hair cuticles. This will enable the blade to slip between and through the cuticles and smoothly slice off the whiskers.

It’s also important to emphasize that at this stage, the application of a pre-shave oil will help guarantee a safer and easier shaving. Not only will it help lubricate the whiskers but the thin oil layer will help decrease blade friction so that the razor will glide and cut whiskers easily without cutting the skin.

Strop Before Shaving

Always strop first before using the straight razor for shaving. Stropping ensures that the edge of the blade is aligned so it cuts into the blade cleanly and quickly.

During the shaving process, small deformations occur at the blade’s edge. Stropping gets rid of this by fine-tuning the blade so that it remains sharp. Learn how to strop using this guide.

Always strop the straight razor before every shave. This makes sure that the razor is sharp and won't tug at the hairs while shaving.

Use a 30-degree Angle

Using the right shaving angle is important to get an easy and efficient clean shave. A lot of accidental cuts from a straight razor is caused by a too high shaving angle. If it’s too low, it won’t be able to shave cleanly and may require more passes in order to get it right. Not only will it make the shaving process longer, but it’ll also increase the blade friction, leading to skin irritation.

The best angle for shaving, according to shaving pros, is the 30-degree angle. For newbies, here’s a handy trick from Sharpologist for learning how to make a 30-degree angle. Use a 3/4 inch binder clip. Place it on your cheek and use it to create the angle by positioning the straight razor between the clip handle and the blade edge. Maintain its contact and slowly shave.

The longer you use this, muscle memory will take over and you’ll be able to shave in a 30-degree angle without using it.

Hold the Razor Gently and Properly

Learn how to hold a straight razor properly. Practice holding it before attempting to shave with it. One common mistake that newbies make is holding the razor like you would a pencil or throw a dart. It will strain your grip on the razor and trust me; you don’t want a strained clutch on a straight razor.

The weight of the blade can also factor into how you hold the razor. If you have a light razor, you’ll have to put more pressure on the blade in order to get it to cut your stubble closely. Conversely, if you’re using one of the older and heavier straight razors, you only need to use light pressure when using the razor.

If you’re choosing a straight razor for the first time, it’s best to try out different blades and get a feel for their weight. Always approach your first strokes with light pressure to test the blade.

Learn how to hold a straight razor properly first before attempting to shave with it.

Use Thick Lather

Putting on a luxurious, thick lather not only softens the skin and allows the whiskers to stand ready for cutting but it also serves as an extra layer of protection.

The moisturizing oils in the lather function as a buffer that reduces blade friction. It also makes the straight razor easily glide on the skin surface so that it doesn’t irritate or cut the skin.

A thick lather will help protect your skin from blade friction and will also make the razor easily glide on your face.

Don’t Overstretch the Skin

Stretching the skin when shaving is a trick to help flatten the contour of our faces so that the whiskers pop up and the razor can easily cut the hair closely.

However, like anything else in life, too much of something isn’t a good thing. In this case, overstretching the skin can cause razor burn. This is because the hair follicles are bumped upwards so that the razor blade will not only cut the hair but also more layers of the skin.

A straight razor's blade is very sharp, which is why it can be used as a weapon. But ironically, its sharpness and its slim profile is also the reason why the straight razor is the best tool to give you the cleanest and closest shave.

— Derek Dodds, Naked Armor Founder

Shave Slowly and Carefully

Wet shaving with a straight razor always needs to be done slowly and carefully. Take your time; edge the blade downwards a millimeter at a time. If you feel that the blade is resisting your stroke on a particular hair strand, lift the blade and shave it from a different direction.

The slow pace may seem tedious but there are certain benefits to why you should always take it slow when wet shaving with a straight razor. Not being injured by the blade is one obvious reason, but it’s also an opportunity for self-reflection and mindfulness that will benefit your mental health.

Get a Versatile, High-Quality Straight Razor

Straight razors are a dime a dozen in the marketplace but if there is anything that you should be using in order to give you the confidence to shave safely, it’s using a fine quality straight razor like the Naked Armor Straight Razor.

Our blades are made from a hybrid of a full hollow and a half hollow. This makes our razor the best for any kind of hair type or thickness. It’s also made from Japanese steel, which makes it durable and long-lasting. Whatever your grooming needs, our fine selection of razors will get you there in style and luxury.

To check them out, visit our site.

Naked Armor's straight razors are made in between a full hollow and half hollow grind making it a versatile blade for beginners and shaving pros alike.

Read Next

Is a Straight Razor the Best Shave?


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