A Beginner’s Guide to Straight Razors

Shaving seems to be a rite of passage for men—once your facial hair gets long and untidy, you learn shaving techniques to remove it. Most times, beginners opt for a safety razor because it’s safe and sharp enough to keep your facial hair at bay. However, the problem with these razors is their lack of depth, meaning your facial hair will grow back quickly.

It would be best if you used a straight razor to get a shave that lasts longer than one day. Yes, they’re sharper than safety razors, but your face—and onlookers—will be grateful for your efforts. If you’ve never used one before, our guide breaks down everything you need to know.

Straight razors aren't for everyone, and that's okay. But if you're ready to level up your shaving game, you'll need to add one to your grooming kit. Yes, it will take some time to "master," but once you do, it'll make a world of difference in your shaving routine.

What Is a Straight Razor?

A straight razor is a single blade sharpened on one end with a blade guard and handle on the other to protect the user. They’re made from different types of steel, which is why they can be so sharp. 

There is no one size fits all blade, so they come in various styles. You may want to try out a kit to see what works best for you. Some straight razors might have a larger edge, while others have a different width or shape. Personal preference will determine the type of blade you choose for your shave.

Are There Benefits to Using a Straight Razor?

As we mentioned above, your facial hair tends to grow back quickly when you use something other than a straight razor. Before you know it, you’ll spend a decent amount of money buying razors because of your frequent shaving. However, using a straight razor comes with benefits such as:

  • Less skin irritation and razor bumps
  • A closer shave
  • Extra money in your pocket since you don’t have to replace the razor
  • It slows down your morning routine—there’s no room for error or rushing when using this product, and you’ll learn to appreciate that
  • It’s aesthetically pleasing—you’ll feel like a bad mother *shut your mouth* when clearing up your facial hair

What’s Needed to Use a Straight Razor?

Contrary to popular belief, there’s more than meets the eye when using a straight razor. That’s because it’s an experience—the blade is crafted to ensure your skin handles its sharpness and gives you the perfect shave. So while the blade is the central part, there are a few surrounding tools you’ll need to enhance the overall experience, such as:

  • Hone: You’ll use this to sharpen your straight razor—you can find them at your local hardware store, and you can look at online videos for sharpening techniques
  • Shaving cream: A necessary item to keep your skin moist as you’re shaving
  • Shaving brush: Essential for building a thick lather that protects your skin from the blade’s sharpness and lifts your hairs for a more effortless shave
  • Strop: A leather strap that’s necessary after honing your blade; it helps the edge stay aligned to give you the best possible shave each time. There are two sides—leather and fabric; the fabric removes anything that can damage the leather, such as metal bits or leftover cream, while the leather area is smooth and keeps the blade level. Here’s how you use it:
  1. Attach one end of the strop to a secure point and hold the other end with your hand to create tension
  2. Hold the razor handle and make sure the blade’s edge is at the further end of the strop; pull it towards you using slow, gentle strokes
  3. Once you reach the end, rotate the blade on the backside to avoid blunting the edge
  4. Repeat on each side about 20 times, starting with the fabric side and then moving to leather

What Should You Look For in a Straight Razor?

The blade is the most obvious and essential component when buying your first straight razor. But the challenging part is choosing between stainless steel or carbon blades. If you’re coming from using safety razors, you’ve likely heard that stainless steel is the better option because of its sustainability and durability.

However, you’ll need to think differently regarding a straight-edge razor. While stainless steel blades are standard, they don’t provide the best shave. On the other hand, carbon blades are easier to strop, keeping your edge sharp and face smooth. But you’ll need to care for it properly to prevent rust.

Another essential element is the blade point. Since there are various styles of blades, you’ll want to go for those with a rounded shape. It gives a close shave and is easier to handle than other edge styles, making it the ideal choice for beginners. Once you gain more experience, you can change the straight razor to match your skill.

Straight Razors Are a Mans (Other) Best Friend

Straight razors aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. But if you’re ready to level up your shaving game, you’ll need to add one to your grooming kit. Yes, it will take some time to “master,” but once you do, it’ll make a world of difference in your shaving routine.

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