A knowledgeable vendor or experienced shaver giving advice to the first-time user of a straight razor will undoubtedly include basic must-know information along with several cautions, such as:
- initially shave only the easy parts of your face (cheeks) and only with the grain, not across or against the grain
- hold the razor so you have absolute control of the blade, using one of the classic grips
- keep the blade angle at 30° applying little pressure, let the blade do the cutting
- move the blade in a direction at right angles to the edge
- stretch the skin or contort the face to create a flat shaving surface
- use both your right and left hand, depending on which side of the face you are shaving
These are only a few of the guidelines you must remember as you apprehensively draw towards your face, for the first time, an extremely sharp straight razor. For the novice it’s a lot to remember and you certainly don’t want to do your decision-making during a shave. You need to know ahead of time exactly how you intend to proceed.
Hopefully at this point your brain is not conjuring up gruesome mental images of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The purpose of this short article is not to frighten you away from a razor some men feel gives absolutely the finest shave. The purpose is to stress unlike any modern multi-blade razor, the straight razor requires a very specific technique – a technique that insists on your full attention, or there will be “consequences”. You very definitely do not want to be day-dreaming or multi-tasking with a straight razor against your face.
The exuberant devotee often fails to emphasize the time, concentration, and patience it takes to learn how to successfully maneuver a straight razor over your face and neck to obtain a close, smooth, nick-free shave. Don’t allow the nostalgia or machismo or the beauty of the straight razor to lure you into a rather large expenditure (razor, strop, strop paste, hone, razor oil), only to discover after you’ve made this investment that the straight razor is not for you. For those who want to give the straight razor a try, the replaceable blade straight razor presents a practical, inexpensive alternative to the fixed blade straight razor.
(1) It does not require an investment in all the necessary accessories that support the use of a costly premium fixed blade straight razor: strop, strop paste, hone, razor oil.
(2) It does not require learning to strop and hone.
(4) It is shave ready once you insert a blade; a new fixed blade "shave ready" straight razor from the manufacturer has been honed and though certainly sharp enough to shave with, does not have the keen cutting edge of one that's been hand-honed by an expert.
(5) Its unique construction allows practice shaving (sans blade, of course). This is extremely helpful in determining best grip and how to maneuver a straight razor over different parts of your face and neck (see How to grip a straight razor
A conservative minimum set-up cost for a quality fixed blade straight razor and all its required accessories is $250.00 (this does not include shaving brush, shaving soap, after shave balm). It would truly be a shame to make this investment only to discover the straight razor is not for you. As stated above - and worth repeating - the replaceable blade straight razor presents a practical, inexpensive alternative that allows you to "test drive" the straight razor experience before investing in a fixed blade set-up. You may also discover the replaceable blade straight razor is perfect, and there's no need for any further investment.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Important Note: We do not provide use instructions or straight razor counseling telephonically or via email. Straight razor shaving is a unique and individual experience which you must learn for yourself. Like working with all sharp objects, straight razor shaving can cause bodily harm. We do not guarantee or warranty the quality of a shave using any of our products or information. The use of the information on this page - and the safeguarding of children and other adults with access to the straight razor - is strictly at the liability of the user (and any other participants) and releases QED, Inc. of any type of responsibility or liability.