Top Barber Shaving Techniques Using A Straight Razor

September 08, 2019 5 min read

Top Barber Shaving Techniques Using A Straight Razor

Naked Armor

An afternoon spent in a barber shop is a luxury for most of us working class dudes.

Published by Naked Armor

These days, nobody has too much time on their hands to spend even a half hour or so of grooming under the skilled hands of their friendly neighborhood master barber.

And then there’s the price. The average cost for a clean shave can cost anywhere from $20-$40 and that doesn’t even include tips.

And yet we still end up finding ways to make time and money for an occasional trip to the barber shop.

Because let’s face it, nothing beats the care and skill that the master barber has in wielding a straight razor. Never has your mug felt as smooth as when you were a kid than after getting a wet shave in the shop.

To replicate the experience, some of us would buy a straight razor and learn to shave with it at home. But even at our best, the shave experience doesn’t result to as close a shave that a master barber provides.

Where could we have gone wrong?

Not to worry. Here at Naked Armor, we scoured the deep archives of the internet to find out the tips and tricks of the master barber’s trade in order to get that clean and close shave only a shaving master can provide. Here are the top barber shaving tips and techniques to use when shaving with a straight razor.

Use a Fresh Razor
Use Your Wrist
First Shave Should Always be Along the Grain
Shave Lips and Chin Areas Last
Use 30-degree Angles
Lift the Blade Occasionally
Use the Chiseling Method for Grooming Beards

Use a Fresh Razor

Always use a fresh blade when shaving. These days, due to sanitary requirements, barbers generally use shavette razors for wet shaving. It’s still basically a straight razor and performs like one. The only difference is that it has disposable blades which makes it pretty much convenient for a barber with a steady stream of clients all day.

A fresh razor is essential in getting a close shave. That’s because the blade is very sharp and so it’s easy to shave hair. Because it can cut hair easily, oftentimes, there’s no need for a second round of shaving. This means less blade friction and less irritation on the skin. It makes for a smoother and comfortable shaving experience.

Now when one is using a straight razor, the blade is not disposable. So the way to keep the blade fresh is to strop it before using it for shaving. Stropping the blade keeps its edge sharp. Yes, it’s going to require some time but that’s the point of a straight razor wet shave. You don’t have to rush.

Once a month though, you need to rehone the blade. Stropping and honing are two different processes but both are important to keeping the razor blade fresh and sharp so that you can have an easy experience shaving.

Use Your Wrist

Learning to hold a straight razor may take a bit of a learning curve but once your muscle memory kicks in, holding it will be as easy as cake. Even then, professional users still make the newbie mistake of holding it stiffly especially if they’re distracted.

The technique here is to achieve a comfortable movement and the way to do this is to use your wrist to create the strokes when shaving. This allows you to become naturally fluid in your shaving style, able to adjust shaving angles without losing that smooth and gentle stroke motion.

First Shave Should Always be Along the Grain

Another misconception of the layman is that shaving consists of strokes going up and down. But among master barbers, the first pass should always be along the direction in which the hair grows. This technique serves multiple purposes because hair patterns are generally unpredictable. In fact, one part of your facial hair can grow in a different way than the rest. So if you begin with shaving against the grain on the first pass, it can increase the risk of cutting your skin or getting an uneven shave.

A first pass going in the direction the hair grows lets you get a better idea of where these problem areas might be to better address them with a second pass that goes against the grain.

Shave the Lip and Chin Areas Last

Lips and chins are difficult to shave because they have small areas which are difficult to get at especially when using a safety or cartridge razor. That’s why a straight razor is more preferable because of its relatively narrow, single blade.

Even then, you have to shave these difficult areas last. This is to allow the shaving lather to soften the hair longer. When it’s time to shave, use your free hand to manually stretch the skin in order to create a flat area for your blade to shave.

This is why a straight razor is preferred by barbers. Its single blade makes it easier to switch angles and directions so that your beard gets shorn off closely and cleanly.

— Derek Dodds, Naked Armor Founder

Use a 30-Degree Angle When Shaving

When using a single blade such as a straight razor, its edge should be 30 degrees away from the skin. This is the ideal angle to ensure that the blade cuts the hair efficiently. Never lay the blade closer to the skin as it will create more friction and irritate the skin. It will also increase the incidence of accidental nicking.

Also, if you go higher than 30 degrees, you won’t be able to shave the hair off cleanly.

Lift the Blade Occasionally

When you feel a bit of resistance from the blade on a particular hair strand, lift the blade up and come at it from a different direction.

This is why a straight razor is preferred by barbers. Its single blade makes it easier to switch angles and directions so that your beard gets shorn off closely and cleanly.

Use the Chisel Method

When grooming a thick beard, use short, light strokes with your razor. This is a 'chiseling' or shaping method. Master barber Emmanuel recommends this because it allows one to shave the beard without going too deep into the beard line and ruining the shape.

Get a Naked Armor Razor

If you want a luxurious piece of straight razor that will give you a durable performance for years to come, then you’ll need to get a Naked Armor straight razor.

Our straight razors are made from fine Japanese steel and expensive timber wood which give precise, smooth shaves that are similar to what you get in a barber shop. Plus, the fine qualities of these pieces make it a valuable heirloom through the years that you can pass on to the next generation of wet shavers in your family.

We also offer elegant shaving kits that take off the hassle from shopping for the perfect shaving products to accompany your Naked Armor razor. Check them our site today.

Read Next

Tips on How to Shave the Neck Properly


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