This week we undertook a new challenge and took our first steps into the amazing, and initially nerve-racking, world of straight razor shaving. Having become interested in the experience and the techniques employed, we set out to pursue the best products and advice for beginners like ourselves and share our experiences/choices with you along the way.
1) Make Sure You Have The Right Razor
It will be easy to get carried away and start looking for an expensive razor, made out of beautiful materials and forged specifically for the shaving enthusiast. There are a lot of beautiful products out there that fit this description, all of stunning quality and exceptional performance but it is important to note that they are designed for expert shavers. To begin with, you’ll need something well balanced that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and won’t cost a small fortune (in case you don’t enjoy the experience).
Our Choice: We were lucky enough to have our straight-razor experience using the Bluebeard’s Revenge shavette, a highly-reviewed and well made shavette designed for beginners. At under £10 it’s nothing short of a bargain and renowned as a great razor to practice and perfect your technique with.
2) Get Good Advice
Before rushing into using your blade, we strongly recommend you go out and watch how-to videos, read blog posts or, ideally, go and ask an expert. There are loads of tutorials online including some great ones from ShaveNation, Dreadnought and Dan Geboren, all of which take you on a step-by-step process through the shave. There are also plenty of barber supplies stores around the country, as well as London, who have well-informed and trained staff who can give great personalised advice to you.
Our Choice: We went to Murdock in Covent Garden and spoke to their Head Barber Matthew Hughes, who was kind enough to offer advice on blade technique, correct preparation and post-shave skincare.
3) Respect The Process
The hot shave is almost ritualistic in the way the process is performed, with every step playing an important role in the shaving experience and the result. Make sure you follow these steps each and every time and you’ll ensure your shave is comfortable, your skin doesn’t become irritated and cuts are minimalised/eradicated. If you’ve spent enough time researching you should know it off by heart, but here’s a quick breakdown of the shaving process:
- Ensure your face has been freshly washed with warm water.
- Place a hot damp cloth over the area you wish to shave and leave on for 30-40 seconds.
- Apply a good quality shaving oil to ensure the skin stays supple and reduce cuts from the blade.
- Create a thick shaving-cream lather and apply with brush.
- Shave with the grain initially. (should you wish to go over again, re-lather and go across the grain)
- When finished, wash the face with cool/room temperature water.
- Apply shaving balm to reduce skin irritation.
- Clean all shaving equipment and dry for next use.
Our Choice: We used a shaving oil with menthol in that helped the skin breathe and made the whole experience feel much more clean and sharp.
4) Take Your Time
This is very important, especially for men who are used to a quick, five minute shave in the morning/evening. This is not a quick process by any measure, it is a deliberate experience that focuses on the quality and feel of the shave. Therefore, it’s important to relax and enjoy it as the more you rush, the more likely you are to cut yourself, irritate your skin or reduce the quality of the shave. Slow strokes of the blade and careful preparation make for a much more pleasurable shaving experience, once you get the hang of it you can begin to speed up a little.
Our Advice: Our first two shaves took us about 20 minutes and even then we still cut ourselves a few times. Our third time however was a much cleaner process and took us around 14 minutes with no cuts. Practice and you’ll see the results pretty quickly.
So there you go, what we learnt from our first straight razor shaving experience. We’re officially on-board with it now and will be using this technique in future, not only because of its quality but because of how relaxing it is (despite involving a razor blade). We highly recommend it but do let us know if you have any questions or want to tell us about your past experiences. As always, feel free to like, comment and share this with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe for more updates.
By Adam Walker