How to Shave Sideburns with a Straight Razor

June 21, 2020 5 min read

How to Shave Sideburns with a Straight Razor

Naked Armor

As a hairstyle, sideburns don’t get their fair share of grooming attention.

Published by Naked Armor

A sideburn can make you look more stylish.

This is unfortunate because sideburns can actually make or break your total outlook. Like eyebrows, they are capable of enhancing your facial features, making you look more stylish. It can balance out your facial features while enhancing rugged jawlines and cheekbones.

This is why a sideburn is a symbol of masculinity and rebelliousness. Ever since Alexander the Great was depicted on a mosaic wearing a sideburn, it has been seen on military generals, appropriated by Elvis and most recently, worn by Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.

And yet as important as they are, these small peninsulas of facial hair can suffer from over-indulgent growth. They can also be easily lead astray by over-zealous trimming. That’s why, like any facial hair, grooming it requires careful preparation.

History of the Sideburn

While sideburns have been worn by men for centuries now, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it was given its current name.

The honor of it goes to Union Army General Ambrose Burnside. He was a popular military man and later politician. It was him who started wearing particularly prominent facial hair on his cheeks that was connected to a mustache while keeping his chin shaved perfectly clean.

Such a facial hairstyle wouldn’t be popular these days, but in those times, the fairly unique formation of his whiskers was quite in vogue. It helped start something of a new facial hair trend in the 1870s and '80s. People called the style "burnsides."

In later years, this style later evolved to just the facial hair down the side of the cheek, omitting the mustache. The name was also changed to fit the style. It was now called sideburns, although, in some areas, they were also called mutton chops.

The term "sideburn" was named after Unior Army General Army General Ambrose Burnside.

Choosing the Right Sideburn Style

Now like beards, it’s all a matter of choosing the proper style to go with your facial shape. So consider the shape of your face before shaving your sideburn in the style that you want to.

If you’ve got a broad, square, or round face, long thin sideburns can be a great way to elongate the face. Longer sideburns are great for framing the face and generally finish just below the ear.

However, if you have a narrow or long face, trim your sideburns wide to enhance your facial features.

Long, thin sideburns are great for men with broad, square, or round face.

Wide sideburns are good for men with narrow or
long face.

A short sideburn works well with a clean-shaven face and minimal facial hair. The trick here is to keep the sideburn short and sharp by ensuring that the cut-off line stays above the bottom of the ear. If you’re looking to change things up, play with the angles of the line or experiment with a short, tapered approach.

Another contemporary take on the classic sideburn style is the tapered sideburn. This faded effect is created by a gradual variance in hair length, with the thickest hair closest to the temples. This style is well-suited for men looking to disguise uneven hair growth. But this style requires regular trimming so that the stray hairs don’t mess up the style by turning it into a patchy look.

Short sideburns work well with a clean-shaven face and minimal facial hair.

Tapered sideburns are well-suited for men looking to disguise uneven hair growth.

For those who like having their hair slick, then the skinny sideburns are the perfect sidekick for you. Just merge the sideburn into your beard or extend it to the bottom of your ear, and it will make you look good. For round faces, you can also keep them long so that it will draw the eye downwards and elongate the face.

Finally, if you want to look like Wolverine, then the mutton chop is for you. Mutton chops are perfect for highlighting angular cheekbones and rugged jawlines. This look is Wolverine’s de facto beard style. It’s basically a pair of long, full sideburns that reach to the corners of the mouth which slowly increases in width as it travels down the face.

To achieve this masculine look, let your sideburns grow out until they meet your beard. Then shave to sculpt out the shape. The key feature is a clean-shaven chin, however, leaving some hair on the neck underneath will slightly soften the look. Finish by brushing the hair down with a comb for a sleek look.

Skinny sideburns, or merging your sideburn into your beard, is good for men who like having their hair slick.

Mutton chops are perfect for highlighting angular cheekbones and rugged jawlines.

As always, when you’re grooming facial hair like a sideburn, a straight razor is always the best tool to use.

— Derek Dodds, Naked Armor Founder

How to Shave Sideburns with a Straight Razor

For newbies, shaving sideburns can be a frustrating experience, even if you’re using a single blade like a straight razor. It’s either because they forget to keep their head steady or the position of the razor fixed, so they end up with an off-center and uneven trim.

One neat trick to prevent this is by simply looking at yourself in the mirror straight on. Try not to turn your head or raise your head up and down. Trust yourself to see the area with your mind’s eye after you get your first look. Then line up the side of your razor’s head so it’s straight on with the mirror too. From there take a single stroke, straight down.

Then re-lather. On the second pass, begin well below the edge, taking short strokes, slowly rising upward to clean up any stray edges.

This same technique can be used with other facial hair such as goatees or chinstraps. Always use a single stroke to define the general area and then use short strokes upwards to clean the stragglers up.

When using a straight razor to shave sideburns, use short strokes upwards to clean the stragglers up.

Shaving with a Straight Razor

As always, when you’re grooming facial hair like a sideburn, a straight razor is always the best tool to use.

That’s because its single, narrow, and very sharp blade will make it easy for you to sculpt the sideburn and give it a sharp detail.

Here at Naked Armor, our straight razor blades are even more unique because of their special design. They are produced in between a full hollow and half hollow grind. This makes them versatile for all kinds of hair texture and all types of skill sets. They also come with Dutch points to make it safer for you when trimming your sideburn.

Don’t spoil your shaving experience with a mediocre razor. Check out our website for great offers and high-quality straight razors and shaving products.

Naked Armor's straight razors are between full hollow and half hollow grind making it versatilse for all kinds of hair texture and skill sets.

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How to Shave a Mustache with a Straight Razor

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