How to Shave with a Straight Razor

Before safety razors became popular, a straight razor was the most commonly used instrument for shaving. A straight razor consists of an open blade that can be folded into the handle. Straight razors go back as far as 1569 BC: the craftsmen of Ancient Egypt produced straight razors made of bronze which had sharp edges for cutting and a fixed handle. Using a straight razor requires a lot of patience and focus as compared to a straight razor to avoid cuts.

While the straight razor might seem like a primitive instrument, as there are many better alternatives to be found in the present day, there are, nevertheless, a few benefits to using the straight razor:

  • Nature-friendly: Modern day razors involve the use of cartridges which produces a lot of plastic waste when we replace the cartridges. Straight razors, on the other hand, produces minimal waste as none of the parts have to be discarded.
  • Cost effective: Once you own a straight razor, you do not need to purchase any extra cartridges or blades. The only cost that you will have to incur is for straight razor shaving creams.
  • Mental stamina: Because of the extra focus that using a straight razor requires, the act of shaving becomes a meditative act, where you attain a trance-like state for a short while.

Let us now look at the steps by which you can use a straight razor:

  Lathering your face

  1. Apply warm water to your face and let it run for around five minutes. The warm water will soften your whiskers and open up the pores, thereby making it easier to shave.
  2. Apply a good pre-shave oil to your beard. This will help to further soften your beard.
  3. To make sure the bristles of your shaving brush is soft, soak it in hot water for a few minutes. Afterward, flick it around to get rid of the extra water.
  4. Use shaving cream or soap cake to produce the lather. Put them on the shaving bowl and stir it with the shaving brush. Work the brush into the cream for longer to get a thicker lather.
  5. Apply the cream lather to your beard using the brush. Move the brush over your beard in circular motions to evenly spread the lather. Make sure the whole area is covered. Swipe around the brush at the end to even out any bumps or empty spots.

Using the razor

  1. Hold the shank (the part of the metal attached to the handle) with your three fingers and thumb. Place your pinky on the tang (the piece of metal outside the handle).
  2. The blade should be held at an angle of 30 degrees against your skin.
  3. Using your other free hand, stretch out your skin. Pull aside the skin to make it more flat and smooth. Repeat this each time you are shaving a new area.
  4. Start shaving from the top part of your cheek. Follow the hair growth and work the blade downwards towards your chin. Use a smooth, controlled motion to stroke the razor downwards. Rinse the blade and then continue working on that part. Do the same thing for the other side of your face.
  5. Move from the side of your face towards your chin. Use gentle, short strokes for this part because the skin here is prone to cuts. Cut around your lips by pulling your lips tight.
  6. To shave your jaw, tilt your head upwards and pull your jaw up with the other hand. Shave downwards towards your neck.
  7. Wash your face and apply another layer of lather like before. This time you need to shave across the grain, that is, from side to side rather than top to bottom. Work on the lower part of your face by moving from the neck to the jaw.
  8. Apply cold water to your face. This will make the pores close and will moisturize your skin.
  9. Dry off the razor with a soft cloth or tissues. It should be stored clean so that the moisture does not make the blade rust. Store the razor in a dry area.


By following the steps outlined above you will be able to use a straight razor to get a smooth and clean shave for your face. Be gentle with the blade to avoid any accidents. You will get better at using the straight razor through practice