Shave Like Your Great Grandpa: The Ultimate Straight Razor Shaving Guide

by Brett on October 6, 2009 · 154 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Shaving


Our very first post on the Art of Manliness was a introductory guide to shaving like your grandpa with a double-edged safety razor. Since then, we’ve received requests to do a similar article on straight razor shaving. Well, after months of experimenting with straight razor shaving myself and researching the subject in old books on barbering, I present this beginner’s guide to shaving like your great-grandpa. I couldn’t possibly put everything there is to know about straight razor shaving in a single article, but the following presents the essentials of this old-time shaving ritual.

Benefits of Straight Razor Shaving

Better shaves. I thought my shaves couldn’t get any better after I upgraded from my Mach5 to an old school safety razor. I was wrong. The first time I shaved with a straight razor, my face looked as smooth as a baby’s behind. My wife noticed the difference without me even telling her what I had done and declared that it was the smoothest she’d ever seen. So make the switch to a straight razor. Your face will thank you for it.

Reduced costs. The upfront costs to get started with straight razor shaving are a bit on the expensive side. But after you buy all the gear, you’re set for life. You’ll never have to buy razor cartridges or double edge blades ever again. Just give your straight razor a nice stropping and you’re good to go. The only cost you’ll have from here on out is an occasional tube of shaving cream.

Environmentally friendly. Today’s modern shaving racket creates needless waste. When you’re done with a cartridge, you have to throw it out. When you buy new cartridges, you’re left with a ton of packaging material. Shaving with a safety razor reduces this waste, but straight razors take it one step further. The only waste you’ll create is biodegradable shaving scum. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, greenies.

Meditative. Straight razor shaving has meditative benefits. It’s a craft that requires you to slow down and really focus on what you’re doing. After a few times of shaving with a straight razor, you just might start to notice yourself entering an incredibly manly zen-like state.

You’ll feel like more of a bad ass. You’ll be shaving with a tool that can double as a lethal weapon. Putting razor-sharp steel next to your throat every morning reminds you that you’re alive.

The Tools

The Razor. Your most important tool is your razor. Don’t get skimpy with your razor and buy the cheapest one. You don’t want the cheapest; you want the best. Poor razors end up being more trouble than they’re worth. They will irritate your skin and cause nicks and cuts that will annoy you as long as you use it. A good quality razor, on the other hand, is a joy to use. If well maintained, a good razor will last for years. Your great-grandsons might even use it.


You can purchase straight razors either new or used. You can find used straight razors on ebay and antique stores. Used razors will likely have imperfections in the blade that will require professional honing. A professional blade restoration will set you back about 30 bones, but it will save you from cutting the crap out of your face.

If you’d like a new razor, check out or You can purchase pre-sharpened blades that are ready to use the first time you shave for about $130.

When shopping for razors, consider the following factors:

  1. Check the steel’s quality. A razor with good temper sharpens better than poorer quality steels. One way to check if you have a well tempered blade is to catch the point of the blade under your thumbnail and let it slip off quickly. If the blade gives a good clear ring, it’s likely well tempered. If it doesn’t, the blade was likely tempered unevenly.
  2. Most modern straight razors are ground with a hollow. Hollowing places a concave on each side of the blade that makes the razor lighter, sharper, and easier to handle. You can purchase blades with varying degrees of hollowing. While full concaves will give you the sharpest edge, it’s not recommend for beginners. When such an edge comes in contact with a stiff beard, unless you hold the blade very flat on the face, it is quite likely to bend and spring, resulting in a cut.
  3. Also consider the blade’s width when selecting a straight razor. Don’t select one that’s too wide. Look for a 5/8 size. It’s easy to control and follows your face’s contours more closely than other blades.
  4. Finally, consider what type of blade point you want. Blades come in either rounded or sharp points. Sharp points have a tendency to nick and cut, so go with a rounded point.

Suggested Razors

Dovo Straight Razor with Black Handle 5/8″
Le Grelot Red Stamina 5/8″

Dovo All Steel Straight Razor 5/8″
Dovo Red Wood Straight Razor 5/8″

The Hone. When you look at a razor’s edge under a microscope, you’ll see that it’s composed of several points that resemble saw teeth. When a razor becomes dull, these teeth are irregular and point in different directions. Honing a blade restores these teeth to their original condition.

The $10 whetstone you use to sharpen your pocketknife won’t work as a hone for your razor blade. They’re just too coarse for shaving blades. We need a quality hone with finer grit to get that sharp clean edge that will make shaving comfortable. A woodworking whetsone with a 4,000/8,000 grit combination will work, and you can easily find them at most hardware stores or online.

Another hone option is a ceramic or “barber hone.” These are little trickier to find. Most are vintage, and you’ll have to scour eBay or antique stores to find one. Because they’re less coarse than traditional whetstones, ceramic hones require more strokes to sharpen your razor.

Suggested Hones

Norton 4,000/8,0000 Grit Combo Whetstone

If you want to find a ceramic barber hone, look on eBay.

The Strop. A blade taken directly from a hone is left rough and unfit to put on the face. Stropping your blade smooths the rough edges off your blade and sets those teeth in perfect alignment. This gives your straight razor that keen edge that makes shaving a breeze.

The most common strop is the hanging strop. Hanging strops consist of two parts: one canvas strip and one leather strip. Again, don’t get chintzy with your strop. Cheaper models use coarse canvas and leather. Unless you want to ruin your razor, you should never put it to such a sub-par strop.

Suggested Strops

Fromm Leather Strop
Edwin Jager Strop
Heirloom Razor Strop Co. (Company is owned by a guy named Tony who makes strops as a side business. His strops come highly recommended.)
Straight Razor Designs Strops

Brush. A brush helps hydrate the shaving cream in order to form a thick and rich shaving lather. Using a brush to lather up helps get the shaving cream up under each whisker which results in better, smoother shaves. Plus, it just feels nice on your face to lather up with a brush.

Brushes are made of either boar or badger hair. Boar hair brushes costs less, but they hold less moisture and consequently create a poor lather. Badger hair brushes cost more, but they produce a better lather. You can pick up a nice badger brush at any Crabtree and Evelyn or Art of Shaving. If you don’t have those in your area, try Amazon.

Suggested Brushes
Omega Creamy Curved Handle Pure Badger Shaving Brush
Porter’s Badger Shaving Brush
Omega Brownie Junior Badger Shaving Brush with Stand

Shaving Cream or Soap. You commit shaving sacrilege when you use a straight razor with the mass-produced chemical goop that gets passed off as shaving cream. Invest in some quality shaving creams and soaps. They may cost more than the crap you buy in a can, but natural shaving creams and soaps nourish your face and make you feel absolutely manly. Plus, I’ve found creams and soaps last longer than shaving gels, so you end up saving money in the long run.

Suggested Creams and Soaps
Proraso Eucalyptus & Menthol Shaving Cream
Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Moisture Shave
Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream Jar
Body Shop For Men Shave Cream

How to Hone a Straight Razor

Honing a razor intimidates many men. However, honing isn’t that hard once you know how to do it properly. This quick guide will show you how.

1. Wipe the stone clean

2. If you’re using a whetstone, you’ll need to add a lubricant to the stone’s surface. Water, oil, or even a bit of shaving lather can work. The lubricant serves two purposes. First, it prevents the blade from heating up as you scrape it across the stone. If the blade gets too hot, you can actually cause some warping in the metal which will ruin the blade. Second, lubricant clears off any steel and stone particles that are created during honing. You need a clear surface to get the job done right.

If you’re using a ceramic stone, you don’t have to add lubrication.

3. Lay the stone on a flat surface with the coarser side up.

4. Place the razor perfectly flat on the hone so the spine and edge touch the stone. If the edge only touches, you’ll end up with a short bevel and a dull edge.

5. Hold the razor by the shank and start sharpening. Because the blade is longer than the stone’s width, you’ll need to sweep the blade sideways as you work, so you sharpen the entire edge evenly. Draw the blade from heel to point, forward against the edge, and with moderate pressure. When honing, the blade’s edge LEADS the stroke. This means the blade’s edge should point in the direction you stroke.

6. Without lifting the blade from the stone, turn the edge up, so that the razor rests on the back of the blade.

7. Draw the blade from heel to point, towards you. Again, apply moderate pressure.


Diagram of proper honing

8. Continue honing until the blade is sufficiently sharp. A quick way to determine whether a blade is sharp enough is to draw the edge (from heel to point) very lightly, across a moistened thumbnail. If the blade digs into your thumbnail, with a smooth, steady grip, your blade is sufficiently sharp and is ready for stropping. A blunt razor will pass over the nail smoothly. An over-honed razor will stick into your nail and produce a harsh, disagreeable feeling.

The time required to hone your razor depends on your razor’s condition. If it’s in good shape, 8 to 10 strokes in each direction should do the trick. If you have several nicks in the razor, you’ll need to put in more time. If your razor is in really bad shape, send it to a professional cutler to have it properly ground.

Many men avoid straight razor shaving because they think they’ll have to hone the blade every time they shave. In reality, if you keep your blade dry and properly stropped, you won’t have to hone it that often. Most good blades can go 6 to 8 weeks between honings. You’ll know you need to hone it because stropping won’t sharpen it anymore.

How to Strop a Straight Razor

To get the most comfortable and effective shave, strop your straight razor every time you shave.

1. Hang your strop from your bathroom drawer using the hook on one end of the strop.

2. If you’re stropping right after honing, just use the strop’s leather side. Between shaves, start off with the canvas side before using the leather.

3. Holding the handle at the strop’s bottom in your left hand, pull the strop tight. If the strop is loose and you take your blade over it, you could end up with a rounded, dull edge, which means you’ll have to hone it more frequently.

4. Hold the razor by its shank in your right hand and place it flat on the strop on the end farthest from you. Unlike honing, the razor’s edge will TRAIL, and not lead the strokes. So, when you’re stroking the razor AWAY from you, the blade’s edge should face TOWARDS you. When you’re stroking the razor TOWARDS you, the blade’s edge should face AWAY from you.

5. Draw the blade towards you (again with edge pointing away from you), always keeping the heel of the razor in advance of the point of the razor.


6. When you reach the strop’s end, rotate the razor on its back until the un-stropped side comes in contact with the strop. The razor’s edge should face TOWARDS you now.


7. Draw the blade away from you, keeping the heel in advance of the point.

15-20 strokes in each direction on the strop should get your blade nice and sharp. If you’re first starting out with straight razor shaving, take slow and even strokes. Develop speed gradually. Once you get the hang of it, stropping a razor shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds.

How to Hold a Straight Razor

For first-time straight razor shavers, a big question looming on their minds is: “How in the heck do I hold this thing?” Ask five different straight razor aficionados how to hold a straight razor and you’re likely to get five different answers. Advanced straight razor shavers change up grips depending on whether they’re shaving with, across, or against the grain or if they’re shaving a certain part of their face. For the beginner, we suggest this basic grip:


Rest the first three fingers on the back of the blade. Rest your pinkie on the blade’s tang. Place your thumb on the side of the blade near the middle. This grip gives you nice control of the razor. You may have to adjust it when you shave different parts of your face, like your upper lip or your jaw. For more examples of how you can hold a razor, check out the Straight Razor Palace Wiki.

Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to the technique they use with a straight razor. Below we provide a suggested way to shave. As you gain experience wielding a straight razor, you’ll find yourself changing things up to suit your preference. If a particular way to shave with a straight razor works for you, then do it.

Beard Prep

For a comfortable, close shave, a little preparation before putting blade to face goes a long way. Soft whiskers cut more easily than dry whiskers. That’s why barbers wrap a hot towel around your face when you get a straight razor shave. The heat and water combination softens your beard and makes it ready for shaving. You can replicate the barbershop experience by soaking a towel in hot water, wringing it out, and placing it on your face for a few minutes.

If you don’t have the time for such luxury, just shave after you get out of a hot shower. If you want a really soft beard, rub some hair conditioner into your beard before you start showering and rinse it out when you’re done.

Lather Up

Place a nickel-sized dollop of shaving cream into your mug. If you’re using shaving soap, put the soap cake at the bottom of the mug. Soak your brush in hot water. Flick excess water off the brush. With the brush, mix the cream/soap thoroughly, using a combined stirring and churning motion until a thick lather appears. The more you rub the brush on the cream, the thicker the lather.

Apply the lather to your face with your brush in swirling motions. Ensure that lather gets up under every single whisker. When you’ve covered your face completely, take a few strokes to even everything out.

The Shave Stroke

Begin with slow, even strokes and shave in the direction of your beard growth. Shaving against the grain can cause ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle. Anything more and you risk cutting yourself; anything less and you won’t cut the whiskers. Also, apply very little pressure when you shave. Let the razor do the work! Pressing down on the razor will only cause cuts.

Shave the Right Side of Your Face


Start off by shaving the right side of your face. Reach over your head with your left hand and draw the skin upward with your fingers, thus making a smooth shaving surface. Shave downward until you clear about half the right cheek. Slide the left hand down further until the fingers rest in the middle of the cheek. Pull the skin upward. Continue shaving downward until you shave the entire right side of the face.

Shave the Right Side Under Your Jaw


After shaving the right cheek, move on to the right jaw. Tilt your head back and to the left, exposing the skin under your right jaw. With the fingers of your left hand, draw the skin tight under the jaw. Shave downward if the beard grows in that direction.

Shave the Left Side of Your Face


Many right handed shavers switch hands to shave the left side of their face. Personally, I don’t trust the dexterity and touch in my left hand to make the switch. So I continue using my right hand to shave.

Place the fingers of your left hand in front of and just above the ear. Pull upward on the skin so as to draw the skin taut. With the razor in your right hand, toe pointing upward, reach across the face, and shave downward. Walk your left fingers down as you get to the lower part of the cheek and chin. Keep pulling the skin taut.

Shave the Left Side Under the Jaw


Tilt your head back and to the right, exposing the skin under your left jaw. Pull the skin downward with your left hand and shave with the grain.

Shave the Upper Lip

Draw the upper lip down as much as possible to tighten skin. Shave downwards.

Shaving the Chin

Draw your lower lip up as much as possible. This will pull the skin tight, making it easier to shave the whiskers underneath your lip and on your chin.

Shaving Under the Chin


Throw your head back and elevate the chin. With your left fingers, draw skin downward. Take extra care as you shave. The skin under the neck is much more sensitive and prone to cutting.

Important Note: Always wear a sweet vest when shaving with a straight razor. This greatly improves the quality of your shaves.

Should I do multiple passes?

If you want that smooth as a baby’s behind look, you’ll have to do multiple passes with the razor going across and against the grain. For the beginner, I recommend just going over your face again with a downward stroke. Shaving across and against the grain increases the chances of cutting yourself.

After you gain some experience with your straight razor, you can try adding an across the grain and against the grain pass. An across-the-grain pass is when you shave in the direction perpendicular to that which the beard grows. So if your whiskers grow downward on your cheek, you’ll shave across your cheek from right to left or left to right. Shaving against the grain involves shaving against the direction your beard grows. It’s basically the reverse of shaving downward.

If you decide to do multiple passes, the sequence goes thusly:

  1. Shave with the grain.
  2. Shave across the grain.
  3. Shave against the grain.

Before each pass, wash your face off and re-lather.


Rinse your face off with cool water. Splash a manly smelling aftershave on your face. Witch hazel and bay rum are nice. Aftershave helps reduce skin irritation and leaves your skin looking healthy. Follow by applying a small quantity of talcum powder to your face.

Dealing with Nicks and Cuts

Cuts and nicks happen for several reasons, such as:

  • Using a dull razor
  • Holding the razor improperly
  • Shaving with a razor that’s too hollow
  • Shaving in too great a hurry
  • Shaving against the grain

When you first start out with a straight razor, you’re guaranteed to cut yourself. Don’t let this discourage you. Cuts happen to even the best barbers. Just keep at it. You’ll get the hang of it.

You can stop most minor cuts and nicks by simply pressing the cut together while adding pressure. If that doesn’t work, take a syptic pencil to the cut. If you cut your jugular, well, you’re sort of screwed. So don’t do that.

Getting Started

Some might understandably balk at plunking down $150 dollars for all the tools  needed for getting started with straight razor shaving. After all, what if you don’t end up enjoying this method of shaving? (I’m pretty sure you will, but hey, you never know.) Luckily, there is a way to very cheaply dip your toes into the straight razor waters. Pick up a disposable straight razor from a beauty supply store or elsewhere. They only cost a few bucks, and there’s no need for honing and stropping. Just throw it away when the blade dulls. At that point, you’ll know if you want to go in whole hog or not.

Further Reading

As I mentioned at the beginning, this post is just a beginners guide to straight razor shaving. Hopefully, we provided you with enough info to help you get started with this glorious man ritual. But don’t end your straight razor education here. People have written gobs and gobs about straight razor shaving. Below I include a list of must read sites on straight razor shaving. These sites will fill you in on more details:

Straight Razor Place. This site has it all. An active, supportive community, an awesome Wiki, product reviews, and an epic straight razor shaving how to video. Bookmark this site.

Badger and Blade.

Classic Shaving. Not only do they sell straight razor gear, they also have how to articles on the subject.


Shaving Made Easy; What the man who shaves ought to know, 1905 You can download this awesome book in a easy to read PDF format from us. Click here for more details.

The Practice and Science of Standard Barbering, 1951

{ 150 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Jonny May 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I strongly suggest straight razor who only like to shave weekly or more. I shave weekly, because my beard growth is not as fast yet as I am in my 20s. The problem with shaving weekly though, is that my beard is too long for a gillette razor to handle. I have to trim my beard with a trimmer and only then start shaving. With straight razor one need not worry about how long your beard grows. Because there is no groove to catch the long hair follicles in straight razor design that will make the process slow.

One thing I would suggest though is to invest wisely on the equipment. I bought one from Amazon and it arrived from China. It was a straight razor and a box of 100 blades, all for $5. I have been using it for a while now and I still am left with more than 50 blades. The quality of shave you get is just like the professional one you get from a barber, except with a small cut or two near the neck area of course. Yes there is a learning curve to using straight razor, but it is well worth it in my opinion. It is not hard to master it and it usually takes me about 15 mins to finish my shave + aftershave.

102 jon thurtell July 1, 2013 at 8:23 am

Another way of starting cheaply is to buy a razor that takes disposable blades. Shaving Factory, BlueBeards Revenge and Wilkinson Sword all do high quality variants that will cost you little more than a Gillette Mach 5. The blades are only good for a single use but you can buy 50 double sided blades for £9.99 on amazon. That should last you about 3 months and by then you’ll know if you want to fork out for a fixed blade razor, strop, whet stone and everything else.

103 Alex July 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I made the switch to a straight razor a couple of weeks ago after years of using an electric shaver. I was a little nervous at first since I’ve always used an electric shaver since the first time I started shaving, but quickly got comfortable with it. I don’t think I could ever switch to using anything except a straight razor. I’ve enjoyed the close shave and the whole ritual that goes along with it.

There is one thing I’ve found to be surprising. It recently came up in conversation standing around the coffee pot at the office, and it surprises me at how terrified other guys, even the older ones, are of the idea.

It was such a small and simple change, but I tell you my confidence has been through the roof since making the switch. There’s something about holding a cold sharp piece of steel to your own throat that makes you feel like a man.

104 taj August 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Years ago, I switched to a straight razor after being fed up with the outrageous prices of “modern” razor blades. I was still in the military and had to shave daily. I found a beautiful Dovo Red Bone Solingen, which has since been discontinued for some reason (?). I stropped regularly but have never honed it and so now it’s at the point where the strop does not help and I need to buy a hone. My advice for anyone switching to straight razor is to be sure not to neglect this aspect of maintenance!

105 Peter August 22, 2013 at 1:36 am

Have just purchased my first straight razor. I’ve always used a badger brush and soap, so it was about time I went to the next step and got a proper razor. Great article with great tips. Now I hope I don’t cut my head off with the first use.

106 Perry September 5, 2013 at 3:52 am

I’ve been shaving with a straight razor for about 15 years now and love it. Only problem I’ve ever had was that the handle of my first straight razor broke just at the pivot point. It made it very hard to use so I wound up using a disposable blade briefly while I waited for my new one to arrive. It felt like shaving with a toy, not at all manly. I would recommend paying close attention to the material used in the handle and storing your blade in its original box between uses. The bottom of the ditty bag is no place for a fine instrument.

107 Midsummer October 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I wish there was a website like this for women. I wonder how using a straight razor would work for a woman’s legs. Buying razors for my leggy hairs is expensive! Any tips or any women who secretly read this page that have gone ‘manly’ on their legs?

108 Rodney October 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hey guys. I’ve recently started shaving my head bald, and I’m interested in a straight edge for my beard and head.

Is it practical and feasible to shave your head with a straight blade?

109 Chimpsmith October 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

Midsummer, you might want to try a double edge safety razor for shaving your legs. I’m using one now for my face, and I’m assuming it’s easier and safer than a straight blade. The blades for it can be very cheap, and there’s a guide for using it on this site. I’m loving my Edwin Jagger razor, and I get a crazy close shave, especially when using Wilkinson blades as opposed to Derby blades. I paid around ~$70 on Amazon for everything I needed including the soap, extra blades, a brush, mixing bowl, and brush stand.Blades are so cheap (especially in bulk) that you can toss them after every use, although you generally won’t need to, even for tough beards like mine. Some female reviewers on Amazon claim great results for using DE razors on their legs, so I would start there.

110 Rahul October 25, 2013 at 1:23 am

I switched to a straight razor after 14 years of using multi blade razors. I also replaced canned shaving cream with hand-made goat milk shaving soap. There is no more irritation on my face and everyone around me has noticed this difference!

111 gareth November 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

Great article, recently decided to move to straight razors as i had had enough of the astronomical cost of cartridge razors, really hope i dont kill myself with it on the first go, that would ruin my day.

112 Sgt. Walker November 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

I started using a straight-edge at the ‘tender age’ of twenty. The idea using the method was expressed to supervisor (Rudy D’Aprile) that I worked with at the time. Rudy thought that was a novel idea, being the USMC that he was, and presented my Strop, C-Mon razor, whetstone, mug, Boar brush & soap. Though Rudy offered no instruction, other then ‘go for it’, the first shave only resulted in cut. It was not so painful as much it was a bleeder. Thought the damn thing would bleed forever; right at the corner of the mouth, on the left side….lesson learned.
To this day (04NOV13) that gift still existed, though in need a replacement blade -love my sons- from a dropped and huge chirp and the strop -used by my brother for his pocket knives- has large scared slices and broken tie- it remains a treasured piece.
While in the USN, later Natl. Guard, my shipmates marveled at my ability to use those tools. Now days, sporting a beard, there is seldom a use, however another straight-edge is always at the ready in my toiletry kit.

113 Perrin November 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

I’ve always been so scared of straight razor shaving!

It’s kind of pathetic, actually, since I literally run a shaving blog — haha. I’ve always just used safety razors.

This is a good resource, though. Bookmarked it to use when my straight razor comes in the mail.

I’m pretty eager to see if a straight razor shave really gives that much closer of a shave than a safety razor shave. Has anyone shaved with both? I’m sure at least a few of you guys have. :)

114 Scott November 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

Been shaving with a straight razor for six months now and I love it. One thing I learned just this week was the importance of a good quality shaving soap and pre-shave. As my previous cake of soap was about finished, I noticed it was becoming more difficult to get that clean shave and I was making more passes with the blade and even reverted to my old Mach4 to finish things off. I was afraid it was my blade, but I bought new soap, Col Ichabod’s, and I immediately noticed a difference. The quality of the soap is very important. I will not go back to commercially driven multi-blade razors.

115 Aaron November 11, 2013 at 1:14 am

@N: Not all of us have the luxury of cooperative facial hair. My facial hair grows in very patchy, perhaps because of my native american ancestry, I will never know. I either shave or I look like I have mange. I just started using a brush and shave cream from Art Of Shaving last year. I was thinking of getting either a DE or straight razor. I am currently still at the mercy of the cartridge razor racket. I might get both a straight and a DE and use the DE for days when I am in a bit more of a rush.

116 Sallu November 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

Truly agree with you! I have been using Straight razors from the past few weeks and have to say that the results are awesome!

117 Jocelyn November 17, 2013 at 5:30 am

My man mentioned that he was interested in trying the straight-edge deal…I always tease him that he was born in the wrong decade, he belongs in the 1940s and 50s. So for his birthday I got him a straight razor and “starter kit”–strop, brush, shaving cream,aftershave. Hopefully all the awesome tips on this blog will help him learn fast…

His other comment was, “Well, now you have to learn how to shave me using it too, like the old-school barbers.” Any tips on where to go to learn to shave someone else? I assume it’s the same basic principles outlined here…

118 Robin Justice November 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I’ve been shaving with a straight razor for 2 years now. I have started making my own shaving soap (recipes abound on the web), and can make a high quality soap for less than what I would pay for the cheap ones in stores (don’t use fragrance in mine, so it lowers the cost). I enjoy the “me time” in the morning, the incredible shave, and the healthy skin (it really does make a difference). One other thing. I use a high quality after shave lotion to help keep my skin healthy. It feels great.

119 Caroline November 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm

That’s pretty interesting – my husband has been recently trying to shave himself with straight razor, and it was quite a scary experiment!

Your tips here in this post are handy for his next try ;) Will email it to him!

120 Adam December 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Switched over to a straight razor in June of this year after 15 years of torturing myself with various multi-blade cartridge devices. The shave wasn’t too bad with them but ingrown hairs and razor burn were a constant problem. For fathers day in lieu of gifts from my son and wife (who needs another tie or mug anyway?) I got myself a nice straight razor setup and went at it. Took a few weeks of WTG shaving to get the hang of it but by then my single pass shaves were 200% better than what I could do with a cartridge razor. Couple of more weeks learning my beard and how to attack it from various angles with XTG and ATG strokes and i’m golden. Now I can pull off a 3-pass shave in about 20 minutes with prep-time. I normally shave daily but it’s worth the time to do it right. Just make sure to lock the bathroom door so your 3 year old (or cat) doesn’t come running in while you’re shaving. Learned that one the hard way but luckily the slice has healed :)

121 Mason December 26, 2013 at 9:06 am

After reading Adam’s comment I can honestly say I have no desire to do this. Kids and dogs running in unannounced could be a serious disaster in my house and I don’t have a hospital close enough to be comfortable with that.

122 George Mason January 7, 2014 at 9:38 am

Those straight razors scare me. I’m going to stick with a guarded blade. It is very interesting though.

123 Tom Shevsky January 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I still remember when I was 4 or 6, my grandfather used to shave his wrinkled face using this scary tool and some soap bar. He died long time ago but the other day I met this old man on the bust stop and realized his aftershave smells exactly like my grandfather’s. Good memories. I tried it once and ended up with a nice cut but will try again! Thanks for all these great tips!

124 great info January 11, 2014 at 2:53 am

Always wanted to learn how to do it the “old fashion way”. It takes me forever to grow a trimmable beard but I will give it a shot next time.

Thanks for the info Brett

125 Psy January 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

how’s the straight razor for the bald head of mine? or is that a bad idea?

126 Mountain Man January 13, 2014 at 10:34 pm

My grandfather was an old style barber and remember watching him take care of his customers.

Personally, I have always used an electric.

I have heard they make barber college students shave a fully blown up balloon. Good practice for you scaredy cats!

127 Doyle January 14, 2014 at 11:39 am

This is hands down the best straight razor shaving guide. My father laways told me this was the best way to get a close shave. Sure, you have to learn things along the way, but what’s life without a bit of excitement

128 Mattman January 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Straight razor shaved for the first time tonight, pretty sure the amount of testosterone coursing through my body just doubled. Felt amazing, the shave is so smooth, and it’s just bad ass! This will become a regular occurrence.

129 Tom January 23, 2014 at 12:29 am

Hi. Great site.
I am wondering if anyone uses a straight razor with a goatee. Can you easily shave around a beard with a straight razor? Or am I in for a wolrd of hurt?


130 Edward K January 26, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Perhaps I should give straight razor shaving a try. I’m just worried I’ll cut myself.

131 Patrick January 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I know that straight razor shave gives a far better shave than most safety razors, but I’m not comfortable using it. I feel I’m a little to clumsy to use it, although with a lot of practice I guess it could work…

132 Ken H January 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

I love the pics of this post. Very vintage. With that said, I have never tried a straight edge shave. I have always wondering how they compare to other shaves. I may have to find a barber in town to give it a try sometime. Thanks for the post.

133 David H January 28, 2014 at 7:08 am

I have been using a straight razor for the last 8 years and I have a heavy beard growth so need to shave daily. I have 4 razors now and rotate through them during the week. This morning I shaved at 7.30 and it’s now early afternoon and my face is still as smooth as it was this morning. Can’t say enough about straight razors. Go for it guys, take the plunge and have a go. You won’t look back.

134 Ian February 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Hey Guys and Gals. I bought a cool starter kit that included the blade (Thiers-Issard 5/8), strop, soap, dish, badger brush and alum block. Blade came shave ready so i jumped right in and i loved it. I got a nice close shave with no irritation which is one of the reasons i was interested in buying a straight razor. The only thing that was difficult was shaving my neck and i got a couple of small nicks which the alum sorted out no bother. Stung like hell though. :) I would definatey recommend this to anyone who hates shaving as, after using the straight razor, I cannot wait until my next shave.

135 Kenneth Rupkalvis February 2, 2014 at 6:32 am

Straight razor shaving is the best shaving experience there is. I’ve been using them for around thirty years. I do need to make a comment about the shaving angle. Beginners tend to think of the angle the cartridge or safety razors use. Start with the razor flat against your skin then raise the back about a 1/16″. There should not be any pulling or tugging of the blade as you make your stroke. There is a learning curve to this type of shaving but well worth the effort.

136 Will February 6, 2014 at 7:01 am

I remember getting a cut throat shave in Morocco. It was super scary and the guy’s hands smelled so bad of cigarettes. But the shave was so good I will have to try it myself. Normally I get shaving rash when I wet shave but I think a straight razor shave helps alot

137 Suresh@best fixed blade knife February 6, 2014 at 8:03 am

Amazing…..I love the images used in this post..

138 Krimo February 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Great info you shared here!
But my grandpa never shaved his beard…haha..

139 Read more February 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I bought a cool starter kit that included the blade And try to now for a week but I’m going back to using my electric shaver with a guard.

140 Tapis roulant February 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Always wanted to learn how to do it the old fashion way.
Thanks for the info Brett

141 BrandiHarris February 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Straight razor has always been my favorite way of shaving, electric razor, before also used safety razor, but since I use a straight razor, this way of shaving has been accompanied by me. Way of restoring ancient ways, truly reflects the manly manhood.

142 Peter February 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I hope this fine and informative article will inspire and motivate many to switch to this awesome way of shaving!

In addition to the information given –

Please bear in mind that straight razor shaving typically comes with a learning curve. Your first shaves might be a little rough rough and not as smooth because you have not found the right angle; some cuts easily occur in the beginning when positioning the blade on your face. Do not worry, this wears out soon. But know of it before you start, and do not give up if it happens. It is well worth it to go on!

Secondly, most straight razors are not shave ready out of the box, including Dovos. You can shave with them, but you should not. Send it to an experienced honemeister, found in the shaving forums. Only this way your blade will be as sharp as it should be, and only this way will you know the grade of sharpness which can be achieved. Alternatively to buying a new razor, consider the buy/sell/trade section of a shaving forum, and buy one shave ready from an experienced user. This is also cheaper, and most of the time the seller will be happy to guide you while you start.

On razors using disposable blades: they are a much cheaper option with far less need for maintenance (stropping, honing, proper blade drying), true. Just know that their blades are stiff and tend to cut easier than the more flexible and thus more forgiving blades of a classic straight razors.


143 Rita Strong February 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm

it is gr8 to know that people are till loving the old fashioned way of shaving.. I personally love people with clean shave..

144 Mark Tallu February 24, 2014 at 4:58 am

I am scared of using straight! But one thing I do learned the importance of a good quality shaving soap and preshave.

Btw…I have always used an electric trimmer.

145 Abdelmalek March 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Thanks for the info Brett

146 Thomas Greig March 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

Great Post. I have always been a little scared of using a straight razor, but I may give it a try.

147 mouad lekdech March 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I’ve always been so scared of straight razor shaving!

It’s kind of pathetic, actually, since I literally run a shaving blog — haha. I’ve always just used safety razors.

This is a good resource, though. Bookmarked it to use when my straight razor comes in the mail.

I’m pretty eager to see if a straight razor shave really gives that much closer of a shave than a safety razor shave. Has anyone shaved with both? I’m sure at least a few of you guys have. :)

148 Will Mcgee March 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Every Year I always say I’m going to man up and try the local barber shop out for an old school straight razor shave!

I’m all over the board when it comes to shaving. I use a regular razor at times and I also use an electric shaver.
Anyways, I found this an interesting articles and I straight up love the old time shaving graphics too. Pretty good stuff guys and great work on a really popular article!

149 Robert March 28, 2014 at 3:26 am

aww! I always wanted to try using a straight razor. Its a good thing I visited this page before I killed myself though, I had no idea the process was so intricate

150 Read More April 12, 2014 at 11:11 am

I will give this a go and do my best not to slice open my throat!!!

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