How to Shave With a Straight Razor [VIDEO]

by Brett on January 31, 2014 · 37 Comments

in Dress & Grooming, Shaving, Visual Guides

You’ve been shaving like your grandpa with a safety razor; now it’s time to try out the method your great-grandpa used — shaving with a straight razor. Here’s how to put a blade to your neck without it becoming a fatal ritual. 

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Video by Jordan Crowder

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 George February 1, 2014 at 7:05 am

In my experience it’s easier to cut oneself with a safety razor than with a straight razor. The straight razor gives you a heads up before you cut yourself. It may sound nuts, but you feel when you are about to cut yourself, because the razor tugs a bit, and thus you can avoid the cut.

2 ben February 1, 2014 at 11:56 am

Share links to the products on Amazon! I’ve been itching to switch from a safety razor to something that doesn’t make my neck look like I just survived a failed attempt at hanging myself.

3 John February 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I’ve been shaving with a Dovo shavette for about three months now. I love it and would highly recommend it to anyone who has the balls to take his life into his hands every morning. Makes you feel alive and it’s amazing how awake you become once you start applying a razor sharp blade to your throat. I will admit, I do have a couple of scars that make me look like a German Baron after a sword fight. But if you take your time and remember to angle your blade to 30 degrees or less, you’ll quickly learn to give yourself the best shave of your life.

4 Tim February 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Woolly Mammoth 3″ (Damascus)

5 Pete February 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I’ve made the transition from 3 blade disposables to DE safety razor and now straight razor thanks to AoM. Great ritual to start the day. You really have to be awake and focused when using the straight razor!

6 Jeff February 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm

This is great! Any chance of a video detailing shaving one’s head with a straight razor? This is a bit of a struggle for me.

Thanks!
Jeff

7 Derek February 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I think I want the minuteman watch!

8 James February 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I’ve been waiting for this video! Very excited to piece together my shaving kit and try it out. Plus Dovo has a great selection on beautiful razors.

As for the Huckberry give away…
My picks are the Timex Weekender (Midday/NAT) watch… the Wooly Mammoth 3″ liner lock knife and the Architect’s wallet (english derby).
Essentials for a man on the go and I have a little pocket knife collection that needs a center piece.

9 David Work February 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I want the EDC 2.0

10 Joseph February 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Glad I can now attempt to shave without cutting of neck…. oh and that DINOSAUR BONE MONEY CLIP is dead sexy. Ain’t gonna lie.

11 David Rojo February 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

There is a bit of a leaning curve and with that may come some scars. You have to go slow at first and respect the razor. For some reason I kept cutting myself on the left side of my face on the cheek. I had to stop shaving for a while to let it heal. Shaving has been good, but my biggest challenge is upkeep on the razor’s edge. Do a video on that…

12 Michael Lally February 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm

George is bang-on.
I think a straight razor is safer for me than a safety razor, from my experience.
It’s similar to manual transmission. You feel you have more control, thus avoiding any cuts.

13 James Petzke February 1, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Excellent video. I love shaving with my straight razor, I really need to do it more often.

14 Harley February 1, 2014 at 11:49 pm

i need to get one of these thinking of popping some tags and seeing if i can score a straight razor and strop. right now i have a cheap yet beautiful safety razor but my thick European Beard gives it a good fight :/

15 Thomas February 2, 2014 at 6:16 am

In the video, you are going over the same spot repeatedly while making little strokes with the razor. This is a technique that is necessary with currrent razors like the Mach3-types. However, when using a straight razor, you must avoid going over and over the same spot again. If propely sharpened and honed, the straight razor will cut of all the hairs in just one stroke. So I would suggest a maximum of three strokes over the same spot. When you also want to shave against the grain, the total ammount would be six times over the same spot, pretty hars for your skin!

Most cuts are made when you put the blade to your skin, not while shaving. Making little strokes is nice for the difficult to reach places, but it bares more risk of cutting. Therefore, smooth long strokes are advisable for the easy parts of your face. Be sure that your movements are indeed smooth, otherwise you can still cut yourself by pulling the blade sidewards or by ‘stuttering’ in your movement.

Great video and great articles!

16 Austin February 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I completed my 100th straight razor shave a few weeks ago (yes, I actually counted). I started straight-razor shaving after being inspired by the AoM article “Shave Like Your Great Grandpa: The Ultimate Straight Razor Shaving Guide”. I gave it a try, and it’s great! I love the straight razor –shaving is my favorite manly ritual now. I’ll never go back to the old four-blade disposables.

17 Brady Cook February 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

The architect’s wallet, english derby style please. Btw, love shaving straight edge style

18 Michael February 3, 2014 at 7:05 am

I would like to win the “Spirit of St. Louis (Midnight)” from the watch shop.

I have been debating which way I want to go when my current supply of Mach 3 heads dries up, I still think I will go the safety razor route for now. Good video as always.

19 Ben February 3, 2014 at 7:48 am

I like the Sheffield Silver

20 Demian February 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Been shaving with a straight razor ever since I saw that article on “How To Shave Like Your Great Grandpa”. Its a great experience that goes well beyond just the practical function of shaving. The whole ritual of prepping, the great soaps available, and the closeness of the shave.

One bit of advice for beginners: Give yourself plenty of time your first few attempts. Don’t start when you’re in a hurry to be somewhere, especially when you’re starting out. You really need to be focused and present, not in the rushed “gotta get outta here quick” mindset. Take your time and learn the skill. Once I had it down pat, I was able to shave with a straight razor in little more time than a newer, disposable Mach 3. But take your time. Its more fun that way.

Another bit of advice: Don’t skimp on cost. The difference between a badger hair brush and the lower end kind isn’t just marketing hype. Plus, once you’ve invested upfront costs in the blade, brush and strop you’re pretty much done and they will last forever. So much better than the disposable blades which are no bargain when you think of how much you spend in a year on them.

I’d started with a DE razor — the wonderful Merkur Future, which I still have. Then I bought a Thiers-Issgard straight razor. I would agree with George’s comment above — I’ve found it easier to cut myself with the DE than the straight, ironically enough. But this rarely happens, a “nick” maybe every six months or so.

Now I have a Dovo as well and alternate them.

For anyone in the Southern California area, a wonderful new place in Pasadena’s Old Towne called the “Old Towne Shaving Shop” — duh! — has everything, and I mean everything. All the top shaving products from all over the world, great quality and knowledgeable staff. They just opened about four months ago. Wish they’d been around when I was first getting into wet shaving.

As for straight razor shaving — jump in, the water’s fine.

21 Jordan February 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for the tips Demian. I live in Burbank, so I’ll definitely have to check out the Old Towne Shaving Shop!

22 Derek S. February 4, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I liked the videos and am very tempted to purchase a safety razor. I often get bumps and ingrown hairs using my schick 3 blade disposable. I wonder if AoM has any suggestions on good safety razors to begin with. There are YouTube videos but it can be a bit overwhelming.

Also – dino bone money clip would be very manly.

23 Patrick February 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

I’ve been shaving with a straight edge for 3 years and it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.
My life is all about productivity – at work, at home, at church – wherever. Shaving with a straight edge doesn’t take that much more time but it’s introduced a ritual that brings a sense of life back into my life. This isn’t about productivity, it’s about ritual, skill and something uniquely male. Learning take s a while. My first 2 months I practically had to take a second shower to wash all the sweat off my body from the learning process…

My advice:
1. Shave with both hands – you’ll be surprised at how fast you adapt.
2. Buy a good blade and get it honed by a pro (Blade Brothers and Straight Razor Place are great forums with resources. I use Stefan Stoianov)
3. Buy a decent, middle-of-the-road strop at first knowing you’re going to trash it before you buy your real one later. I’ve found a good shave is more about proper stropping than anything else.
4. I love the Art of Shaving kits of pre-shave oil, shave soap and post-shave oil (optional). Expensive but good.
5. Ice cold water is all I use for aftershave. Works like a charm.

Start today, you won’t be sorry.

24 Jack February 9, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Looks great but .. I’m blind on one side; nearsighted; and I’ve never had a straight razor as sharp as the inexpensive Gillette blue handled plastic disposables. Tried it all, but the cheap Gillettes win out.

25 Kieran February 11, 2014 at 8:29 am

Great video, thanks, I really love straight razor shaving but don’t do it often enough as i’m often in a hurry and reach for my electric shaver. I do make sure I use it before going out or important meetings though.

26 kenonu February 14, 2014 at 3:01 am

Thanks for this video but one question how often can you use the blades? Change it after every shaving or how often do you use it!

27 Kalan February 14, 2014 at 10:08 am

@kenonu: That’s the beauty of straight shaving- you, your children, your grand children, and so on will never, ever have to change a blade. A stropping before each shave and a very occasional professional honing is all you’ll ever need. It’s not too difficult to find vintage blades from the early 1900′s on ebay and the like- most of them still perfectly good shavers with a little sharpening.

The start up costs are on the high side, but after that the only thing you’ll ever have to buy again is soap.

28 Huey February 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

When I was a young guy in the early 1970′s, I forced myself to learn to shave with a straight razor. In addition to the one my Dad had, (he never learned to use it) I bought a new razor, a strop, and a stone. All this cost $ 10. After cutting myself repeatedly, I actually learned to shave. I shaved with the two straight razors till I was drafted in 1972. Never shaved with the straight razors since. Have used Schick’s since, first injectors, and then Slim Twins. The best shaves ever.

29 Scott February 14, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Question regarding grain of the face. I go down on the sides, chin, and upper lip. But on the neck I go up. If I go down on the neck with any razor I’ll breakout like no tomorrow. Is the straight razor the exception? Because I notice he went in the same direction for his entire face. Can you go up on the neck with a straight razor, or will I nick my jugular? ;-)
Thanks.

30 Philip February 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

I’ve started shaving with the safety razor last year after years of wasting money on cartridges. Now I’m thinking about trying the straight razor. But I’m still afraid of it.
Thanks for great video tutorial. Perhaps I’ll change my mind very soon.

31 Kalan February 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm

@Scott: I have the same problem of modern razors irritating my face horribly, but for me grain direction doesn’t seem to matter. With a straight, I get little to no irritation at all, and it’s such a close shave I only have to do it every other day to look fresh.

As for your question, yes, you can absolutely go “up” against the grain. The video shows just a single pass “with the grain” shave. My typical routine is one pass with and one across, and then on special occasions or just when I feel like it, I’ll do an against the grain pass- be warned, your face will be so smooth it will look like you never had a beard to begin with.

32 Aman Kenner February 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Awesome video, does anyone know what this song is or this kind of music is called?? Would really appreciate it.

33 John February 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I’ve been shaving with a straight razor for six years. It’s a great shave and a great experience. It wouldn’t be recommended to start shaving with a straight any time near family picture day or other events such as that, as you’ll surely cut yourself. Once you get the hang of it you can move right along.

It’s really as much of a ritual as you choose to make it. I enjoy taking my time and pampering my face. I shave with the grain, across the grain and against the grain. All of that isn’t totally necessary, but the smoothness you get afterwards is well worth it.

34 Justin February 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I now shave with my granddads old straight razor. The part where I have struggled with the most is right on the chin, as i have a fairly square jaw. What I have found to work for me is to go across the grain. I have read for an even closer shave is to go with the grain first, then against, and then across. While it takes longer its is much smoother.

35 Greg February 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm

My Grandpa showed me a straight razor, showed me a safety razor, put them in a drawer and then gave me an electric. He said, “I don’t know why anyone would want to use one of those since electricity has been invented.” I kind of agree with him. Why torture yourself when you don’t have to?!?

36 Brad March 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

I am interesting in using a straight razor. However, I like my beard. I would like to see a video demonstrating how to use a straight razor to keep the edges of my beard neat.

37 darren April 8, 2014 at 2:06 am

Brad,

I have a beard and I shave with a straight. My neck hair always gave me trouble, so I did my research. I discovered entire online forums that teach people and help people with shaving with a straight. It cuts the hair cleaner and closer, meaning you won’t have to shave every day. And with a beard, cuts down the time. You won’t cut yourself, no more than Mach 3, if you just take your time and tread lightly. It’s awesome. I love it, and you keep the same piece of metal forever, not trashing the planet with Chinese blades that are meant to degrade over a few weeks of use.

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