How to Shave With a Straight Razor

How to Shave With a Straight Razor

If you’ve ever been intimidated by a straight razor, you’re not alone.

A straight razor has a blade that folds into its handle and it’s been referred to as the “cut-throat razor.”

Why should you use it?

There are many benefits to using a straight razor. It decreases the risk of ingrown hairs, giving you a smoother shave that is less prone to infections.

You’ve probably seen barbers use straight razors and that’s because these razors make it easier to shave along the neck and beard.

Purchasing a straight razor will last you many years instead of requiring you to purchase disposable razors on a regular basis, but you just have to ensure that you use it properly and safely.

The good news is that once you get the hang of it, using a straight razor to shave doesn’t have to be something you fear.

12 Steps On How To Shave With A Straight Razor

contrecrated man shaves with straight razor

Now that you know why you should be using a straight razor, you might be wondering how to shave with it. Here are 12 important steps you should follow.

Step One: Calm Down – You Have To Be Patient!

Here’s the bad news: you can’t hurry the process of using a straight razor on your face. This is not a quick shave-and-dash routine in the morning when you spend no more than two minutes on your facial hair.

If you want to have a quick shave, a straight razor is not for you because it will cause you to cut yourself. If you rush through and not prepare your skin, you can end up with red and irritated skin that you won’t want to show to the world.

So, make sure you have time at your disposal to work with it properly.

The benefit of doing this is that you will look like you’ve just stepped out of the barbershop. You’ll have a shave that will make others envious.

Step Two: Warm Your Skin

As with any shaving endeavor, you have to prep your skin beforehand for best results and no bumps!

Prepare the skin on your face and make it soft so that it will be more responsive to the straight razor.

The best way to do this is to have a hot shower as the warmth will soften your skin and the hairs on your face, making them easier to remove.

Step Three: Use A Pre-Shave Oil

straight blade with pre-shave oil and brush

After your hot shower, apply a pre-shave oil to make shaving easier and prevent skin irritation.

Some of the best pre-shave oils will contain natural ingredients such as coconut and olive oil to soften your beard.

Step Four: Apply A Shaving Gel With Your Brush

Gently apply the shaving gel or cream with your brush, moving in circular motions. One of the best brushes you should get your hands on is a badger brush.

It makes use of badger hair to provide you with the chance to exfoliate your skin while stimulating the hair so that it stands up. This makes it easier to shave it.

Exfoliating the skin with your brush is also advised as it will create a softer, smoother surface on which to shave.

Step Five: Hold The Straight Razor Correctly

how to hold straight razor

You should never hold a straight razor flat against the skin as that will tear stubble and could also cut you.

You should aim to hold your razor at a 30-degree angle. Hold it firmly with one hand while your other hand holds your skin taut so that you get a clean shave without hurting yourself.

To ensure your angle is correct, the sharpest section of the blade should be pointed down towards your face while the handle of the razor should be close to your nose.

To make holding the straight razor easier if you’re using it for the first time, it’s a good idea not to hold the razor’s plastic or wood handle. A better idea is to put your thumb underneath the blade on the piece of metal that connects to the handle – this is known as the shank. Y

our three fingers should be on the other side of the shank, as WikiHow reports. You can also put your pinkie finger on the small metal piece outside the handle, which is known as the tang, to further offer you stability while shaving.

Once you are comfortable with this position, you can change it if something else feels more comfortable, but it is a safe and easy way to hold the razor when starting out.

Step Six: Start At The Top Of Your Cheeks 

always start shaving with cheeks

One of the things you might wonder when using a straight razor is where you should start shaving on your face.

Start with the top of your cheek and move downwards along the hair grain, until you reach your chin and jaw. You want to move the razor down in one smooth motion.

After the first stroke, rinse the blade underneath a stream of hot water and carry on with your shaving. You should actually rinse the blade after every single stroke you make with it.

See why you need to ensure that you take your time with it? Right, let’s move on.

Step Seven: Shave Your Chin

After you’ve moved down your face from your cheek, you want to shave hair off your chin.

You should use shorter strokes here and apply less pressure to the razor because the skin in this area is more susceptible to being cut. You should still remember to use your other hand to keep your skin taut so that shaving will be easier.

Step Eight: Shave Your Jaw

man shaves jaw and neck

Now that you have shaved your chin, you should carefully tilt your head back and use your free hand to gently pull the skin of your jaw upwards.

This enables you to be able to shave the area underneath your jaw, as WikiHow reports.

Step Nine: Shave From One Side To The Other

Now, you want to wash your face of any shaving cream residue. But you’re not done!

You have only done the first stage of the cutting. After applying more shaving cream to your face, you want to take your razor and cut from side to side, starting from your ears and working your way towards your nose.

This second phase is what ensures a smoother finish.

However, it’s not suitable for everyone. Conducting a second shave with a straight razor might not be the best thing for you. This is the case if you have thick or coarse hair as it could result in ingrown hairs as well as skin irritation in the form of bumps.

Step ten: Complete The Third Stage Of Shaving

stages of shaving with straight razor

Yes, there’s a third stage! Just like you did before, you want to rinse off any cream and apply a fresh batch of it.

This is the last cutting stage to complete so that you get a professional shave. What you need to do is start from the bottom part of your neck and move upwards. You’re now going against the grain so you have to take your time to prevent nicks and cuts.

It’s important to realize that you can’t always prevent cuts, even when you’re taking your time. So, make sure you have a styptic pencils handy.

These are small sticks that contain astringents such as titanium dioxide that, when applied to a cut after being wet, will help to staunch the bleeding.

Step eleven: Wash Your Face One Last Time

man washing shaving cream from face

Now you can wash off all the shaving cream residue and apply a soothing aftershave.

One that contains witch hazel will help to prevent skin irritation. To further prevent any irritation on your skin, you should always pat – not rub – your skin with a face towel to dry it.

Step twele: Apply An After-Shave Balm

An after-shave balm will help to soothe and soften your skin. It’s sort of like a facial moisturizer.

Once you’ve applied it, avoid touching your skin for about half an hour. This will help your skin to absorb the product.

How To Style Your Beard With A Straight Razor

Did you know you can also use a straight razor to trim and style your beard?

Here are the steps you should follow to get a neat and tidy beard.

Prepare Your Beard

As with the instructions on how to shave your face with a straight razor that we looked at earlier in this article, you have to prepare your skin and facial hair by having a warm shower and using pre-shave oil.

Then, apply the shaving cream or gel.

Determine The Beard Shape You Want

draw lines to define shape

It helps to know what you’re doing when using a straight razor. You don’t want to trim too much of your beard and be disappointed.

So, after you’ve applied the shaving cream, use your fingernail to draw lines of the beard area on your neck and cheeks that you want to trim. This makes it easier to see them while shaving.

Get Trimming!

The rule to follow when trimming your beard with a straight razor is to carefully remove hair on both sides of your beard so that you don’t take off too much in one go.

Ensure that you define the contours of your face, cutting from the sideburns to your cheeks. You should also remove hair from around the Adam’s apple and underneath your jaw.

If you have a fuller beard, you should only style it minimally, focusing on your sideburns.

Allow the hair on your jaw, chin, and cheeks to grow to approximately two inches below your chin. Brush it down before using the straight razor, and trim it so that you round it neatly.

What length should your beard be?

That depends on you, but it should be the same length all over.

When trimming your beard with a straight razor it’s a good tip to zone in on the area that’s about half an inch above the area where your beard will be the longest – this is usually your jaw line.

So, go over this area and move your way up to the area where your beard is meant to be the shortest.

If you’re a beginner and worry that you’ll cut your beard incorrectly, invest in a beard-shaping tool. You can find one from Beardholic, and it’s transparent to ensure an accurate trim.

You can also choose from a variety of different shapes to find the right one for your beard.

Related Questions

tips for trimming with straight razor

Does the blade weight of your straight razor matter?

Yes, as you need to decide if your blade should be light or heavy.

A heavier blade will require less pressure on your part, while a lighter one will require more. Whichever one you choose depends on how it feels and which one is easier for you to control.

How should you store your blade?

After every use, rinse the blade and wipe it with a cloth to remove moisture and dirt.

Store it somewhere dry. If you won’t be using it for a while, a blade oil such as camellia oil should be used on it to maintain its quality.


Although a straight razor might seem like a sharp item you wouldn’t want to bring anywhere near your face, using it to shave your face and beard will give you a much more professional-looking result.

In this article, we’ve outlined the steps you need to follow if you want to shave with a straight razor.

We’ve also provided you with information on how to style your beard. Nothing’s impossible for the straight razor – just make sure you look after it to keep it in great condition!