How To Use A Straight Razor

Here at theCut, we have much love for Akeem Ali's Keemy Cassanova (pictured above) however we do not endorse his use of the straight razor. Instead, we defer to New York City fashion and grooming writer, James Love II, as he details below, how to use a straight razor.

A Rite of Passage

For most men, one of their first memories of manhood is associated with being taught how to shave for the first time. No matter if it's a toy set as a kid or an introductory razor as a teenager. Shaving and the art of shaving can be a profound moment in a man's life. With the emergence of electric shavers, multi-blade razors, coupled with the trend of men seeing their barber more often- here's a refresher on how to use a straight razor.  

At first glance, a straight razor can look very intimidating and powerful. If we are comparing shaving to sports, it would be the razor for the major leagues. Over decades, shaving with a straight razor has become associated with a luxurious experience typically administered by a professional barber, not home. 

However, learning how to use a straight razor can be a game-changer for men of color. Besides providing a more precise shave, shaving with a straight razor can drastically decrease the number of ingrown hairs, and nicks men of color typically suffer from traditional razors. 

Photo by Josh Sorenson 

The 411 of Using a Straight Razor

When looking to pick a razor, it's essential to keep two things in mind. First, pick a weight that works best for you. A heavy razor will require less pressure, while a lightweight razor will require more pressure. So, it's vital to pick a weight that you feel most comfortable using. 

Once you've found a razor you're comfortable with, you're going to want to prepare the skin before you start shaving. You can take a hot shower before you shave or rinse your face with warm water. After that, you'll apply some pre-shave oil to condition the skin and followed up with your favorite shaving cream or gel. 

To achieve a precise shave, you must have a great hold. It would be best if you aimed to hold the razor at a 30-degree angle. If you hold the razor less than that, you'll tear the stubble, and if it's more than 30-degrees, you'll tear the skin. Maintain a firm grip at all times and use your other hand to pull the skin. You should pick one side of the face to start the top of the face and work your way down with a downward stroke. When shaving your neck and lips, you'll want to tighten your skin as much as possible to avoid cuts. These areas tend to give people the most anxiety, even when performed by professionals. 

Once you've finished your shave, you're going to want to treat your skin. Rise your face with cold water to close your skin's pores, pat dry, and use a post-shaving balm and a hydrating and repairing moisturizer to help ritualize your skin and prevent any irritation. Lastly, a reminder to rinse off and dry your blade with a soft cloth rag. You'll want to keep your blade in a dry area away from any of the moisture of the shower to help prevent rusting. 

Take Your Time

Shaving with a straight razor is a craft, and just like with any craft, it will take time to effect. Hands down, your first few shaves might take a while, but the better you get, the more efficient you'll be. You'll begin to learn your face and gain tips and tricks to shave everything better.