Beginner's Guide To Straight Razor Shaving
Beginning a new shaving journey may require effort, but it will be worth it.
Yet, there is a sense of confusion looming around your head, keeping you wondering if you can use your straight razor the right way.
Now, if you are like any newbie, you might find yourself wishing that your straight razor purchase came with an instructional manual, just like appliances and gadgets usually do. Because after unwrapping the package and appreciating the beauty of the razor, you have suddenly become unsure what to do with it.
Everybody feels the same way when taking on a new journey. Also, you might be overwhelmed with the sharpness of your razor’s blade or with the luxurious feel of its wooden handles. There is no need to worry. Besides, you can find all the answers to your questions in this beginner’s guide to straight razor shaving.
Read on to get to know the following:
The Shaving Essentials
Before you go on wielding that blade, you have to prepare the rest of your tools. Now, if you purchased any one of our Naked Armor straight razor kits, you will have everything you need to start shaving. But just to list down the essentials, you must have:
A shaving brush is a tool you use in preparing your facial hair for shaving, lathering shave soap, applying the foam, and exfoliating your skin. It is usually made of animal or synthetic hair for its bristles, which can soak up water and dry quickly after use.
When you get a Naked Armor Straight Razor Kit, you’ll have everything you need to begin your straight razor shaving journey.
The soap that is specifically made for creating a lather for shaving is called shaving soap. It makes up for a thicker foam because it has low alkalinity and high-fat contain, usually from plants and animals. It is also packed with essential oils, especially if you get an organic one, moisturizing your skin and softening your hair follicles.
A strop is usually a strip of leather with an abrasive surface. It is used to realign the small deformations that happen at the blade’s edge during shaving. It is more of a fine-tuning process that keeps the edge of your blade sharp between uses.
The product you apply on your skin after shaving is called an aftershave, which can come in many forms, like lotion, oil, gel, and balm. Aftershave helps hydrate your skin and disinfect microabrasions, cuts, and nicks to kill off acne-causing bacteria that can lead to major skin problems.
Further on, as you progress through your straight razor shaving skills, you might want to add a shaving scuttle mug and a straight razor stand. They’re not necessarily as important as those products mentioned above, but they’re going to make your shaving experience even more pleasant.
Aftershaves may come in different forms. Naked Armor's Aftershave Balm with Hemp is an all-natural balm made with organic ingredients and essential oils that will keep your skin moisturized and healthy.
How to Shave with a Straight Razor for Beginners
Most people get overwhelmed with straight razor shaving. Who would not? After all, straight razors are infamous for their cut-throat edge. Yet, that is not something that should hold you back from using this traditional grooming tool. Even shavettes and cartridge razors can give you a bloody cut if you are not careful.
On that note, since shaving with a straight razor is nothing like shaving with a disposable, we prepared a step-by-step guide for a straight razor beginner like you. Everything you will need to know from pre-shave to post-shave is found below.
⚫ Preparing Your Razor
Naked Armor razors are ready to use for shaving right out of the box and are the best straight razor for beginners. Still, it is always best and proper to prepare your beginner’s straight razor by stropping it before wielding it on your face. Stropping aligns the blade of the razor to let you get even results while shaving.
Although it may take time for you to learn how to strop properly, it is a crucial step you need to incorporate into your shaving routine. Besides, there is no better time to get around to doing that than when you are about to take your first shave via a brand new straight razor. And since you will be stropping a lot, you will eventually get the hang of it.
There are a lot of videos on YouTube featuring stropping tutorials. But, you can instead follow our How To Strop A Straight Razor guide, which technically tells you everything you need to know about stropping.
For your first attempt at stropping, do around 40 to 60 blade strokes on the strop. The basic rule to stropping is to keep it in a light, fluid motion. If you use too much pressure, you could cut your strop or screw up the edge of your straight razor’s blade, which you want to avoid at all costs.
⚫ Prepping Your Face
Now that you have prepped the razor, it is time to prep up your face. This means washing your skin with hot water, softening the facial hair, so it is easier to cut through. It also opens up blocked skin pores, cleaning the dirt and dead skin cells while making the skin pliant for stretching.
We also recommend that you apply pre-shave oil to moisturize the skin further and complete the luxurious wet shaving experience at home. But if you do not have that on hand, water would suffice, or you can make one at home using this pre-shave oil recipe.
There are three ways of doing it: you can wash your face with hot water, put a moist hot towel on your face for a few minutes, or take a hot shower. We recommend taking a hot shower for convenience and because it adds to the sense of luxury when shaving.
⚫ Applying Lather
Now comes the fun part, making the lather. Remember how much fun it looked when granddad was making lather and applying it to his chin? As it so happens, it is also easy when one is using a shaving brush.
Just wet the shaving brush with warm water and gently shake off any excess moisture. You can tell it is good to go when it stops dripping. One of the nice things about a synthetic shaving brush like Naked Armor’s is that it is non-absorbent, so it only takes minimal soap and water to produce a fine and rich lather.
Let us use our Noah’s Organic Shave Soap to teach you how to create a lather:
- Open the can of Noah’s Organic Shave Soap that comes in every Naked Armor shaving kit, and soften the soap by placing a few drops of hot water on the surface.
- Lightly swirl the shaving brush over its surface for 10 to 15 seconds or until some soap gets on the tips of the brush.
- Start working out a lather on your wet face by swirling the brush on your cheeks. Ideally, after 30 seconds of swirling, you would now have a nice and thick lather. If it’s watery, swirl the brush over the soap again and continue swirling on the cheeks until it becomes thick. If it’s too thick, place a few drops of water on the tip of the brush and resume swirling again to get the correct volume of lather.
It is as easy as that! However, do know that this is the first level of lathering a shaving soap, making it perfect for those who are new to the process and are using a beginner’s straight razor. Once you are comfortable and ready to amp up your skills, you can learn more about other techniques for creating a shaving soap lather.
⚫ Holding the Straight Razor Properly
There is a proper way of holding a straight razor to have an easier time shaving with it. For newbies, we recommend that you begin practicing how to hold it properly even before you start shaving with it to minimize accidental cuts.
For reference, we would like to refer you to our post on the straight razor parts to familiarize you with the necessary terms.
Open the straight razor by swinging the handle up and placing your first finger on the razor’s shoulder with your thumb just outside its heel. Rest your second and third finger on the tang while placing your little finger on the tail to lock the handle between it and the third finger.
Now you are ready to shave.
Before taking the straight razor on your face, make sure to practice the proper way of handling it first.
Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. It may take you more than a month to get these basic steps right, but we assure you, you’ll get there eventually. Everyone has to start somewhere.
— D'Rock, Naked Armor Founder
⚫ Shave 101
Generally, for a newbie, the most one can aspire for is to get the basic, clean-shaven look needed daily. This is because shaving with a straight razor requires skills that take a longer time to master.
For this section, we will recommend some baby steps to get you over the initial challenges of using an unfamiliar blade to your chin.
- For week 1, just lightly shave from the sideburn down to the jaw. Do not bend your wrist when shaving since you will end up scraping skin. Do it slowly and leisurely. And remember to rinse the lather off the razor after every stroke. Do this every morning to build up your hand’s muscle memory as well as your shaving routine.
- On week 2, you can start with shaving the neck. The key to this is using vertical light downstrokes. Follow the contour of your neck downwards. Stretch the skin if necessary so that shaving is smooth. Start on one side and then proceed to the other side when done. Again, rinse the razor after every stroke.
- On week 3, you can add the chin to your next area of conquest. Start first under the lip, slowly shaving the hair off in smooth, easy strokes while vertically holding the straight razor. After that, you can start with one side of the chin and then move to the other side, re-lathering when necessary. The last bit will be on top of your lip, on your philtrum area, where you might just need to go around a little bit to accommodate the area’s particular contour.
As a beginner, though, go lightly on the passes. You can always do another pass if you really want a close shave, but a single pass will do just fine if you are just starting. Everyone’s skin and hair are different; part of the objective of this exercise is learning what works for you.
⚫ Putting an Aftershave
Most guys do not think it is essential, but there are benefits to putting on an aftershave after every shaving routine.
An aftershave has a soothing effect on the skin. Traditionally, it contains alcohol and witch hazel which acts both as a natural astringents and moisturizer. Some brands add other natural essential oils and vitamins to nourish the skin.
Always apply one after every shave, especially if you have accidentally cut and nicked yourself on the razor (which you surely will on your first month). It can stop the bleeding by tightening the pores and help heal your cuts faster.
If you have dry or oily skin, applying an aftershave will relieve the dryness and kill off skin bacteria that may be clogging your pores. Here are some things to remember when looking for the right aftershave to use.
- If you have normal skin, a gel or liquid aftershave can be a good option.
- If your skin is oily, it is better to choose a lotion, gel, or liquid with moisturizer.
- If the air is dry and cold or your skin is really dry, look for a balm that has a moisturizer.
Avoid harmful ingredients, such as the following:
- Triethanolamine (TEA)
- Artificial fragrance
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS or SLES)
- Propylene glycol
We recommend using something organic, like Naked Armor’s Aftershave All-Purpose Organic Balm With Hemp to guarantee that it is ideal for every skin type and does not irritate your skin. Unlike other aftershave products, our organic balm is packed with more than ten essential oils and vitamins to help soothe and cleanse your skin post-shave without the sting.
Also, do not forget to clean and store your straight razor properly after shaving. Proper maintenance is the key to keeping your razor at its best condition for a quality shave.
Be Patient and Practice
Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. It may take you more than a month to get these basic steps right, but we assure you, you will get there eventually. Everyone has to start somewhere.