To get the most out of your straight razor, also known as a cut throat razor, regularly use a strop, such as a length of leather, to keep the edge sharp. Around every four to six months, however, the edge will inevitably start to dull and it's recommended to then have it rehoned. When you're finished shaving, make sure you dry the razor and apply an oil or petroleum jelly to stop it from rusting. Then store in a dry space, where there's little possibility of it coming into contact with moisture.
Naturally, your blade will arrive in pristine condition, when you buy one from online outlets such as male grooming experts Lahoy. It will already have been stropped and honed and will almost be ready to use.
If you're using a cut throat razor for the first time, you'll need to handle it with utmost caution. When it arrives, you'll just need to wipe away the oil that will be on the blade to protect it; you can simply do this with a tissue. Do not go near the sharp edge, however.
Bear in mind that it will take a while before you're really able to shave with a straight razor with confidence. So go slowly at the beginning, until you get the hang of it. To help protect against cuts and nicks, it's recommended that you use an oil beforehand – a small amount of olive oil, for example, applied to the shaving area will certainly help to ensure a far smoother shaving experience.
Once you've applied shaving cream, you're ready for your straight shave. It's done in what are known as "passes", and there are three of them: with the grain of your beard, across the grain and then against it.
When each one is completed, it's important – to avoid injury to you or damage to the razor – to close the straight razor into its cover and either put it down or in your other hand as you apply more shaving cream. Never be in a position where you don't know where your razor is, as it can potentially be hazardous.
Make sure your strop is properly secured to the wall and has sufficient space to hang. Take hold of the bottom strap and pull it towards you so that it's flat and horizontal. Then take your other hand and rub it along it with fast strokes. This has the effect of warming the surface and ensuring it's clean; it also transfers some of the oils in your hand to the leather, helping to keep it supple.
Now get your razor and open it. Hold the handle firmly between your forefinger and thumb and with the sharp edge facing in the opposite direction of the stropping, slowly start swiping it across the strop and with very little pressure. When you get to the end, turn the blade using the handle and come back along it again – and when you arrive back at your starting point you'll have done what's known as a "pass". To get a "true" edge, do anywhere between 35 and 50 passes.
A Sample First Shave
Here's how to get a great first shave using a straight razor:
In the shower, use a moisturising face soap to prepare your skin, and then hydrate your face by placing it under the stream of hot water for two to five minutes.
Out of the shower, gently apply an oil to the shaving area and then lather up a cream and apply it on top. Start with the cheeks and adopt an angle with the blade of about 15 degrees and go with the grain and with just a small amount of pressure. Make sure you stretch your skin tightly while shaving. Then, closing the blade and relathering, go across the grain and repeat before going against it, and doing the same to the other shaving areas.
Afterwards, wash your face with cold water and apply a moisturiser or balm with a gentle massaging motion. A splash of cologne and you're good to go – looking great after your first incredible straight razor shave! Don't forget to look after your razor, and make sure that it's cleaned and dried before storing it in a suitably dry place.