Straight razor for women? Why not!
Although straight razors are often related to male grooming, it is not entirely exclusive to men. Before Gillette introduced the first ‘female-friendly’ razor,1 women of history did not have options other than to use a cut-throat razor for their body hair grooming needs.
Hair removal has always been a trend for women in society—something that many ladies still tirelessly conform to today. It was a revolutionary fad that re-envisioned the entire beauty standard, from embracing the hair on their bodies to plucking away the first strand they see. Meanwhile, men were still lauded for their body and facial hair, even having beards as a symbol of one's charismatic allure over women.
The straight razor is one old-but-good, time-tested shaving tool that many pros enjoy. It has proven itself for centuries to give the closest and smoothest shave—exactly what the ladies need—making it a classic option that many will always revert to.
The most convenient way to use a straight razor for women is to shave off the hairs on their legs. In that regard, throughout this article, we will discuss the following:
- Understanding Body Hair and Hair Removal
- A Guide to Shaving Your Legs with a Straight Razor
- Mistakes You're Making When Shaving Your Legs
- Straight Razors vs. Modern Razors
- Naked Armor’s Straight Razors
Understanding Body Hair and Hair Removal
The body has a total of 5 million hair follicles2 with significant importance. All of these are rich in stem cells aiding the healing of the skin, an essential benefit for treating a cut or wound.
Body hair may be a red flag in the beauty industry, but it is one of our natural defense systems in unfavorable environments. During the cold season, it helps us feel warm and keeps the body safe from external elements, such as dirt and sun damage.
You can liken hairs to one of the natural defense systems of our bodies. Yet, many people, especially women, are too keen on removing them. It is an inevitable sad reality as the beauty industry promoted hair removal as an aesthetic enhancement that can significantly affect a woman's confidence.
But, conforming to a particular aesthetic is not the only reason women choose to rid hair off some parts of their bodies. Removing hair is also a comforting need, especially during summer or hotter weather.
Body Hair Throughout History
Through the popularization of his natural selection theories, Charles Darwin’s book, Descent of Man, may have encouraged the modern era of hair removal. That is, homo sapiens from his Theory of Evolution3 is said to have fewer body hairs than their antecedents, which were considered more sexually attractive.
In the early 1900s, upper and middle-class white American women associated smooth skin with prudent femininity,4 which might have strengthened every woman’s desire to shave and appear more feminine.
Like any other dynamic event, there is also an evolution of tools that women use for shaving. Around 3000 BCE in Egypt and India, some of the first razors used were copper. Upper-class Roman women of the sixth century BCE used pumice stones, tweezers, and depilatories to remove body hair.
During Cleopatra’s time, Egyptians used a sugar mixture5 in practice akin to waxing. Moving forward in the 21st century, women are seemingly considering a straight razor as a tool for leg shaving.
A Guide to Shaving Your Legs with a Straight Razor
In this video, Julia throws down a tutorial on shaving your legs using a straight razor instead of shaving legs with a safety razor. It targets women who get a part of their confidence from getting their legs hairless and flawless.
"Shave like a boss," says Julia as she guides you through the entire process in this easy-to-follow tutorial. We suggest you follow by watching it as she demonstrates each step.
But before you start, here is what you will need to shave your legs with a straight razor:
- Straight razor - a traditional shaving tool with a pivoted design and a single-edge blade
- Shaving soap - high in natural glycerin and natural skin-nourishing ingredients
- Shaving brush - for creating and applying a shaving lather
- Leather strop - a piece of leather for removing microscopic dents on the blade’s edge.
After you got that sorted out, you can follow these steps, as seen in Julia’s video:
Prep Your Legs
The first thing to do is prep your base一in this case, your legs. Start by taking a warm shower before shaving or use a warm towel to wipe your skin. Warm water is known to open up the pores and soften the hair,6 making it easier for the blade to cut and preventing ingrown hairs.
Strop Your Razor
Stropping the blade is a must-do before shaving to guarantee that your straight razor is shave-ready, preventing razor bumps and burns.
The golden rule in using a straight razor is to strop your blades every time before you start your shaving routine. Unlike disposable razors, a straight edge does not have refills or replaceable razor blades.
If you have a recently purchased straight razor, chances are it is not shave-ready, therefore the need for stropping. Also, your blades will bear microabrasions from your previous shave.7 If you do not strop, these minor dents will eventually become more seriously damaged and harder to fix.
You can check out our article on how to strop a straight razor to have a more in-depth understanding of the process. Here is an overview:
Find a good leather strop made of elegant leather, thick blue canvas, and quality connectivity brass to ensure that you do not damage your blades. We recommend using a foot-long strop for more control—fewer chances of cutting yourself and damaging your blade.
Hang the strop from a bathroom drawer by one of the hooks on the strip. Hold the handle at the end of the strop in your left hand, and pull it tight. Hold the razor by its handle, and place it flat on the strop’s farthest end.
Draw the blade away from the cutting edge, so the razor does not dig into the leather.
Always consistently hold the razor at the same bevel angle throughout the stropping process. Raising the angle or lowering it will destroy the razor’s edge the wrong way.
Draw the blade toward you, with the edge pointing away from you, and then rotate the razor to draw it away from you, with the edge pointing toward you. Keep the strokes slow and even.
Count the number of strokes you make—start with 15 to 20. Suppose it is still not sharp, do not hesitate to continue to strop. You can see the effect of stropping by noticing the black marks of metal that have come off the blade onto the leather.
Stropping also requires a learning curve. So, practice and use it as much as possible to get the hang of it and make the process easier and more efficient.
Create a Lather
In the video, Julia uses shaving soap in a cup and swirls a moistened shaving brush around the soap’s surface to build her lather. But, if you use shaving soap in a tin, you can do the same process minus the cup.
On the other hand, if you want to further your wet shaving experience, we recommend investing in a shaving scuttle and learning how to use it to create a warm, thick lather.
Here is how to create a lather using a scuttle:
You want to heat water at the outset. The warm water will help create a perfect and creamy lather.
Get your soap puck and drop it into your scuttle. If you’re using Naked Armor’s shaving soap puck, make sure to remove the thin plastic on the soap first. The puck must perfectly fit into the scuttle where its ridges permit a consistent swirling motion. You do not want it to be too wide or too narrow for your soap. Otherwise, nothing is going to get done.
Pour a bit of hot water into the soap puck, then fill the rest of it into the inner chamber through the opening. Seal the chamber by putting the cork in. In wet shaving, this step is where ‘blooming’ happens. When soap is bloomed, you submerge it in water before being used to lather.8
Use a brush in building your lather. Move your brush bristles over the soap puck in a circular motion with a bit of pressure to create a thick and rich lather.
Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, start applying your warm lather to the areas of your face that you want to shave.
After shaving, rinse the bowl. It’s up to you if you want to leave the puck in the scuttle after shaving or store it somewhere. Remember to uncork the inner chamber to empty the water.
You can also lather your soap in its tin or use your hands. But for shaving the legs, it would be best to use a shaving scuttle or shaving mug to ensure you do not run out of readily available lather.
Either way, do not use a regular bath soap since it cannot produce a thick and long-lasting foam for shaving. To enjoy skincare benefits while shaving, you can opt for natural shaving soap, like Noah’s Organic Shaving Soap, to avoid introducing harmful ingredients to your body like artificial fat content, coloring, and scents.
Applying the Lather
Aside from creating a lather, shaving brushes also act as an application tool. Once you achieve the right consistency of shaving foam, scoop some of it and apply it to your legs using the shaving brush.
Make an up and down motion when putting the lather on your skin. This method will ensure that the lather coats every hair and skin surface. Plus, it is an excellent way to micro-exfoliate your legs to achieve a smooth leg to the touch.
Find Your Grip
Next is to know how to use a straight razor. To do this, grab your straight razor, open it up, and find a comfortable grip for you. You can try taking two to three fingers. Place your index finger on the top of the handle with your thumb under the blade and pinky underneath the handle.
For beginner shavers, you will know you have the proper grip when there is a favorable balance between the blade and the handle. The takeaway is to get the edge not to close back into the handle and not slip through your fingers as you shave.
Here is how women can shave their legs with a straight razor:
Place the blade parallel to your skin.
With the blade perfectly aligned to your skin, angle the top of the edge upwards by 30 degrees. Start by taking a few short strokes with minimal pressure to make sure that the angle is correct, repositioning your blade as needed.
Shave along the grain on your first pass.
Shaving against the grain may be a tempting shortcut,9 but it causes more tension between the skin, blade, and hair. When shaving your legs with a straight razor, shave along the grain in your first pass for a smoother finish.
Use longer strokes for larger areas and short strokes around bony areas.
As a beginner, it is inevitable to cut yourself. For the midsections of your legs, use longer strokes. Meanwhile, use short strokes when shaving in bony areas like your knees and ankles.
Add another layer of lather after each pass—only if needed.
Eventually, the lather on your skin will begin to dry out. When this happens, you can wet your blade or add another layer of lather to your legs. This is when a shaving scuttle mug comes in handy, as it can hold more lather that you can readily use.
Shave against the grain on your final pass.
Expert shavers can get a close shave in a single pass. If you are a beginner and cannot shave your legs with a straight razor at skin level, you can do a second pass while shaving against the grain.
Clean the surface
Grab a warm towel and wipe off the excess foam on your legs. It will also let you remove the fallen hair that you shaved off and got stuck on your skin. Then, wash your legs with cold water to close your pores and help calm down your skin, preventing razor burn.
Do not forget to apply aftershave after the shaving process. Aftershave products bring back moisture and nourishment to your skin, soothe it down post-shave, prevent razor burns, act as a first-aid for nicks, and kill off acne-causing bacteria for bump-free smoother legs.
Using a straight razor for women to shave can be scary at first. If you think you won’t be comfortable holding a large cutthroat blade along your skin, you can always use a shavette straight razor. It has the same pivoted design but with shorter, replaceable blades. However, beginners should not use them as an alternative to cheating the learning curve of using a straight razor.
Mistakes You're Making When Shaving Your Legs
There is a great chance you have been shaving your legs for years or quite a while now. Learning how to shave your legs distinctly way back then might be the cause of your problems.
If you are still struggling with unwanted bumps,10 missed spots, and other unsatisfactory results, here are the mistakes you are unaware of that you have been probably doing, and you will want to change the next time you take your razor.
- You are shaving your legs in the morning
This sounds contradictory, but a smoother leg is more achievable when you do the shaving at night. That is because your legs slightly swell as you sleep, allowing the hair to retreat into its follicles.
What you want to do is to apply body moisturizer onto your legs before bed to hydrate your skin as you sleep. Doing so will make your legs feel silkier. If you have normal skin, choose a body lotion formula that is more lightweight; for dry skin,11 opt for a more decadent and more nourishing body butter or cream.
- You are shaving your legs as soon as you hop into the shower
Of course, you want to keep your routine and make it constant. While it is understandable, experts suggest staying in the shower or bath for about 15 minutes before you grab your razor and start shaving.
Therefore, we recommend starting with shampoo, then conditioning and body cleansing routines beforehand. This will make a lot of sense when shaving because this important tip will soften the hair and open up the follicles. You do not want to stay too long. So, be mindful of that. Otherwise, it will leave your skin wrinkled and swollen, which hinders your aim for a close shave.
- You are dry shaving your legs or using bar soap
Mastering how to shave your legs means that you know that dry shaving your legs is a mistake. There are times that you are in a hurry, but learn to fight your temptation to dry shave. Instead, lather up your legs with moisturizing shaving cream, gel, or shaving soap to guard your skin and ensure your razor will glide easily against your skin.12
Get a cream with skin-softening ingredients like aloe and oat extract to soothe your legs while you're shaving. If you prefer soap over a cream, make sure that it is for shaving purposes. Better yet, pick a shave soap made from natural ingredients. Moisture-rich shaving soap is just as great as a high-quality shaving cream.13 It is excellent for lubrication between your skin and your blade.
Straight Razors Vs. Modern Razors
Although straight razors are excellent and the prime tool for shaving, they are not the best choice if you are after convenience. That is why modern razors, like cartridge razors, safety razors, and disposable razors, became such a popular choice for everyone—especially as women’s razors.
However, using modern razors also has its downside. Below, we list down the different benefits of using a straight razor for women’s grooming needs:
- Closer Shave
Straight razors use single-edge blades that can efficiently cut hair closer to the skin for a smoother shave than a multi-blade cartridge razor. One blade imposes less friction on the skin and reduces razor burn, a common type of skin irritation among those with sensitive skin.
- Cleaner Shave
When women shave their legs with a straight razor, there is less risk for infection because it is more hygienic and easy to clean. The safety bars, multiple blades, motors, and lubricating strips in disposable razors make them challenging to clean and quicker to clog with hair, skin, dirt, and lather residue.
For example, the more blades a cartridge has, the harder it is to clean. It can also cause razor bumps because its design and mechanism14 can cut the skin under the hair. Instead of growing outward, the newly cut hair grows inward, resulting in bumps and a nasty case of skin irritation.
A straight razor is also versatile, as proven in its use over the centuries. Its single and straight edge can cater to all needs—from shaving an Egyptian head15 to trimming facial hair into fashionable styles, like the English gentry16—making it the ultimate hair grooming tool.
Cartridge and plastic razor’s multiple blades make it hard to trim a beard style. Its design is not for reaching those parts on your face that need delicate and precise trimming.
Above anything else, straight razors are more eco-friendly than modern razors. Aside from using natural materials, like wood and bone for the handle, their durable steel blades can last centuries. You can replace a lifetime’s worth of disposable blades if you own at least one straight edge.
Meanwhile, cartridge razors are not sustainable. It has plastic, metal, lubricating strips, and rubber that are hard to recycle. You can replace a lifetime’s worth or two billion plastic razor blades yearly if you shave with a straight razor.
The best razor for women is a straight razor because it provides benefits, such as a smooth and clean shave, while being sustainable and eco-friendly, making it a worthy investment. These razors are best used for shaving legs because of the significant size of its blade.
Naked Armor’s Straight Razors
Straight razor shaving is much easier than people think, so do not let anyone scare you into believing you are not capable. If men can use it for shaving, women can too! If you have set your mind on doing it, you will be successful. It is also okay to take baby steps.
A straight razor is a must-have for women who like shaving their legs and, at the same time, are brave enough to try a single-blade, sharp razor. You will get a better shave, and it will be easier to achieve not only smooth-looking legs but also newly shaved legs that feel great to the touch. Be a goddess who helps save the environment by switching to a straight razor.
You can get high-quality straight razors with the best dimensions from Naked Armor, which also houses trusted wet shaving brands like DOVO. For beginners, opt for the Solomon Straight Razor Kit, which already has a strop for maintenance, a tin of shaving soap, a shaving brush, and more essentials that women need for shaving legs. Unlike safety razors and other modern options, a straight-edge razor can be an excellent companion in getting the closest leg shave possible.
Our razors are suitable for men and can also be versatile and used by women. We guarantee that you will love the results.
More Essential Reads:
- M. Komar. The Sneaky History Of Why Women Started Shaving. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/196747-the-sneaky-manipulative-history-of-why-women-started-shaving. December 15, 2016.
- Mei Yu, Andreas Finner, Jerry Shapiro, Blanche Lo, Armin Barekatain & Kevin J McElwee (2006) Hair follicles and their role in skin health, Expert Review of Dermatology, 1:6, 855-871, DOI: 10.1586/174698188.8.131.525. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1586/174698184.108.40.2065?journalCode=ierg220fiber%20production.
- Theory Of Evolution. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/theory-evolution/
- Women's Museum of California. The History of Female Hair Removal. Women’s Museum. https://womensmuseum.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/the-history-of-female-hair-removal/. November 22, 2017
- Lim V, Simmons BJ, Maranda EL, Afifi L, Kallis PJ, Jimenez J. Sugaring-Modern Revival of an Ancient Egyptian Technique for Hair Removal. JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(6):660. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.4864. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27276351/
- E. Whitmore. Do Pores Open Wider in Hotter Water? How Stuff Works. https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/myths/pores-in-hotter-water.htm. February 12, 2021
- J. Chu. Why Shaving Dulls Even The Sharpest of Razors. MIT News. https://news.mit.edu/2020/why-shaving-dulls-razors-0806. August 6, 2020
- Questions about blooming the soap. Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/wicked_edge/comments/9f0lce/questions_about_blooming_the_soap/
- R. Bailey. Should I Shave Against The Grain? Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/style/grooming/a748060/grooming-myth-8/. June 6, 2011
- How Can I Get Rid of Razor Bumps on My Legs? https://www.healthline.com/health/get-rid-of-razor-burn-on-legs
- S. Peter, M. Forcier. How To Remedy Dry, Flaky Skin On Your Legs. Byrdie. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-get-rid-of-dry-skin-on-legs-4693433. June 5, 2022
- S. Wu. The 15 Best Shaving Creams for Women. Glamour. https://www.glamour.com/gallery/best-shaving-cream-for-women. May 17, 2021
- How to Use a Shaving Soap: Reduce Waste, Avoid Irritants & Save Money! Biome. https://www.biome.com.au/blog/how-to-use-shaving-soap/. August 16, 2018
- M. Shah. Why One Blade is Better Than Five. Supply Co. https://supply.co/blogs/journal/why-1-blade-is-better-than-5. August 12, 2020.
- B. McKay, K. McKay. Unique Shaving & Grooming Rituals from History and Around the World. Art Of Manliness. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/shaving-rituals/. June 7, 2012
- Plucked,Shaved,Braided – Grooming in the Middle Ages. Interesly. https://www.interesly.com/pluckedshavedbraided-grooming-in-the-middle-ages/