How to use a Straight Razor/ Cut-Throat Razor

Popularity of the Straight Razor, also known as Cut-Throat Razor is growing exponentially; with many gentleman opting for the enormously satisfying and nostalgic traditional method.

For those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have the guiding hand of a well versed grandfather at hand, we enlisted the help of expert London barber Thom Robins for a guide on how to achieve a great straight razor shave. As you might expect, there is an element of skill and risk involved but if you follow Mr Robins’ simple rules you will be away in no time.

In my opinion the single blade shave is kinder on the skin; your skin isn’t being subjected to 3 or 4 blades in one pass.

Preparation
  • Ensure your skin and stubble are warm. Always shave after a shower, this will allow the beard/ stubble to become soft and easier to shave.
  • Wash your face to remove impurities and use a face scrub to raise hair and clear away any dead skin cells – this will avoid infection and shaving rash from a clogged pores.
  • Apply a quality pre-shave oil to further soften hair and provide added protection.
  • Apply your shaving cream with a badger hair shaving brush. Work the shaving cream into your beard using circular motions, this will lift hair and produce a rich lather.
Shave

  1. Hold the razor in your writing hand. Place your thumb on the underside of the shank, your index, middle and ring finger on top of the shank, and your little finger on the tang. The razor should look like a wide V in your hand and feel pretty sturdy.
  2. Shaving the cheeks first, stretch the top of your cheek from the bottom of your sideburn upward with your free hand looped over the top of your head (this may look strange but stretch it until it wont stretch anymore). Then put the blade to your face at a 30 degree angle starting at the bottom of your sideburn (too small an angle and you won’t cut any hair and the blade will drag, too much and the worst may ensue).
  3. Using little pressure move the blade down the face, never sideways but in a straight line.
  4. Once you have completed one cheek move to the other, find a hand/ wrist position that will allow you to comfortably shave in a straight line, again stretching the skin with your free hand at all times.
  5. For the moustache area, contort your top lip down over your teeth and shave with short downward motions, your may also like to stretch your skin at the edge of your moustache. The same technique should be used for the area between your bottom lip and the chin.
  6. When shaving over the chin try and follow the hair growth as best as possible, this can be tricky at times but as long as you make sure the skin is stretched you should be fine. Use your hand or any obscure facial expression to make sure the skin is as stretched as possible, use the same blade angle and shaving technique you’ve been using thus far (ensuring straight lines and following the growth). If you have a dimple in your chin you need to use a light scooping action with the blade. Place your razor at the edge of your dimple and lightly scoop the blade, in and out.
  7. For the neck area, it is essential to stretch the skin and follow the hair growth at all times. Tilt your head up and back, and use your free hand to stretch the skin at the bottom of your neck. As before, shave in the direction of hair growth at all times adapting your hand position and blade to compensate. Make sure you stretch the skin away from your Adams Apple.
Post-Shave

  • When you have completed your shave, refresh your face with cold water. This will close pores and clean away any shaving residue. Then pat dry.
  • Apply an after shave balm to your skin and try to avoid touching your face for a minimum of 20 minutes to allow your after-shave balm to absorb and your skin to calm.
  • If (try not to) you cut yourself use an alum block, to instantly seal your skin.

Follow Thom Robins on Twitter for more expert shaving tips.

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  • Ragnagord

    Since i’ve watched Sweeney Todd these things freak me out a bit.

  • http://www.apetogentleman.com/ Ape to Gentleman

    Yes, in his hands – you were rightly freaked out.