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How to Shave With a Straight Razor (For Beginners)

By Vincent Manning

How to Shave With a Straight Razor (For Beginners)

On top of feeling like a badass, a smooth shave and exfoliated skin are just a couple positive effects of a straight razor shave. In unison with the launch of the Bossman Straight Razor, we decided to put together a guide to help you start shaving, like a boss.

Why Shave with a Straight Razor?

Once you've invested in your straight razor and a leather strop, you can trash the idea of having to shop for cartridges. This type of shaving might take a little longer than with a cartridge razor but your face will be smoother and you'll reduce your environmental impact all at once.

Whether your look is clean-shaven or you want to shave around an impressive beard, a straight razor can handle it. The virtuous glow and healthy complexion of a straight razor shave will leave you confident that you're a straight razor shaver for life.
BONUS: You can't help but feel cool shaving with a lethal open blade. Pretty much a mini-sword.

Preparation is Key

We’re hoping you already knew this: rushing a shave with a straight razor isn’t a good idea. Not only will you get a poor shave but that open blade is likely to make you pay for your haste. Ouch.
During the learning phase, schedule some time for a more leisurely shave and focus on enjoying the process. There's a mindfulness aspect to a straight razor shave that is destroyed by urgency.

Start by preparing your skin for the shave with a hot shower or warm the skin with a hot water towel for several minutes.

PRO-TIP: Apply natural oils like jojoba or coconut oil during the preparation phase.

Get Soapy

First, choose a shaving cream or shaving soap with natural oils that are kind to your skin. Avoid cheaper glycerin-rich soaps, shaving gels, and foams.

Soften your shaving brush in warm water for a few minutes and make sure to use a quality shaving brush - we recommend one made of badger hair.

Create a smooth lather by working a small amount of cream around your shaving bowl with your brush, then balance the amount of cream and water to produce a smooth paste. If you're using shaving soap stir the soap and water until you have a rich cream.

PRO-TIP: Add water if it gets too thick.

Brush the lather on to your face using circular movements, take your time, and make sure you cover all the bristles evenly. You're ready to shave.

Handling the Blade

Handling a straight razor takes can take practice. Get a firm grip of the blade using your thumb and fingers, but don't try to hold on to the handle. Make sure you use the following cues to ensure you’re holding the blade correctly...
  • Your thumb goes below the blade on the shank that joins it to the handle.
  • Your fingers line up on the other side of the blade.
  • Your little finger rests on the small protruding metal point behind the handle.
The Angle: Holding the blade at about 30-degrees to your skin works best. You will need to adjust the grip as you use the blade in different positions around your face.

Pressure & Stretching: Hold it firmly but apply gentle pressure. Have the sharp blade pointing downward and stretch your skin with the other hand. Smoothing the skin extends the bristles and flattens the skin. Practice this stretching/cutting action to ensure you will have fewer cuts and a smoother shave.

Jaw and Neck

Work all around your jaw, changing the angle of your blade as you go. Keep rinsing and using a clean blade to gently follow the contours of your jaw.

Stretch the skin on your neck by lifting your head. Use gentle downward strokes on your neck going with the grain. Notice how the grain changes on your neck and adjust your strokes to go with the grain here.

PRO-TIP: Start off slow here. Try to regulate your breathing because; well, you are holding a blade up to your neck.

Rinse and Aftershave

Your final rinse should be with cold water, patted dry. This shock to the system will close the pores in your face and moisturize too.

If you like aftershave now's the time. Consider using a therapeutic aftershave containing witch hazel rather than an expensively branded aftershave with doubtful claims to attract a partner.

Razor Care

If you expect your straight razor to give lifelong good service you need to look after it. Don't leave it wet or soapy. Allow it to dry thoroughly and store it away from damp air.

A blade oil can also be used to help preserve the metal. Stropping your straight razor keeps the blade sharp and your face nick-free.

Learn How to Shave with a Straight Razor from a Professional

You can have a barbershop straight razor shave as a treat. You might learn a thing or two, but trust us when we say… there's nothing like doing it yourself.

You won't truly know how to shave with a straight razor until you've practiced several times. You may nick yourself in the process but be persistent because once you've mastered it, you have a skill for life. One that makes shaving an enduring pleasure.

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