How to Shave with a Cut-Throat Razor
Posted on March 18 2021
Alright alright, you’ve clearly come here wanting to know how to shave with a cut-throat! Lucky for you, we’re going to guide you as best we can through a screen! The popularity of shaving with a cut-throat or straight razor is rapidly growing, with many modern men wanting to try this famous shaving method. For those who haven’t tried this technique before, it can be an intimidating experience, mainly because it requires a lot of patience to achieve the wanted results.
In saying that… CHILLOUT! We’ve created the ultimate guide to learn how to shave with a cut-throat razor safely. We will start with the basics and fill you in on all the details you should know on preparing your skin and helping the razor glide across your face.
How To Hold a Straight Razor: Prepare the Essentials
For a first-timer, it can be challenging to determine what you need to shave your beard. Strops, honing stones, and brushes are some of the essentials you need to start this traditional and somewhat overwhelming shaving process.
Razor: There are different styles and types of razors from which you can choose.
Leather strops: Strops will help you keep the blade sharp and clean at all times.
Shaving cream: Like your supermarket razor, your new cut-throat razor will work better and more safely with a layer of shaving cream—with a few brands to choose from, select one that suits your skin sensitivity level and budget.
A brush: While you can apply the shaving cream with your hands, it will be better if you have a brush to apply a layer or two on your skin and spread it evenly across your face.
A honing stone: Some will say a honing stone is unnecessary, but we say it is. A honing stone will keep your blade sharp enough to do its job safely. While some stores offer honing services, it is better to learn how to use it at home to add to the whole shaving experience.
Keep Your Razor Sharp
You are fresh out of the shower, preparing your shaving essentials when you notice that your razor is not as sharp as it’s supposed to be. Regularly stropping your razor is vital to enjoying the best possible shaving experience. Run it along the leather strop to keep the blade straight and aligned, ensuring you get the best possible beard form.
Never heard of stropping!? Keep reading friends!
The strop is made of two sides—one leather and the other fabric. The fabric side serves to remove anything that could deteriorate the leather, including metal pieces or shaving cream leftovers. The leather side has a smoother surface, which does most of the work by keeping your blades sharp at all times. It is important for your strop to always be smooth and clean. If you notice that some surfaces have deteriorated, consider replacing them. For more extended usage, it is best to keep your leather strop in a closed box.
How To Sharpen Your Razor Using a Leather Strop
Each strop has a hook on one end, which you can use to attach the strop to something in your bathroom. Hold the other end in one hand and keep tension in the strop. Hold the razor in one hand with your thumb and start moving it up and down the strop slowly and carefully. Concentrate on the moves, so you can more quickly master the art of sharpening.
Make sure you don’t move too fast to avoid damaging the strop. Keep your hand relaxed and help the razor slide smoothly on the strop. Repeat the moves 15-20 times on each strop side—the leather and the fabric one. After you are done, make sure to wipe the razor.
How To Shave With a Cut-Throat Razor
We’re sure you have questions regarding the process, such as how to hold a cut-throat razor and is it better to shave with a straight or cut-throat razor?
Professional barbers and wet shavers usually use straight or cut-throat razors. There is a reason why they are difficult (but not impossible) to use at home. You will need plenty of patience, time, and dedication to learn the shaving technique and perfect the angles, but the more you practice it, the faster you’ll become at honing your skills.
SO, Let’s begin.
Step 1: Prepare Your Skin
Preparing your skin before you start shaving with a cut-throat razor is a must- Just ask your girlfriend! You need to warm your skin and lubricate it properly. You have several options to prepare your skin, either jump in the shower, splash hot water on your face, or hold a hot, moist towel over your face for a couple of minutes.
Taking a hot shower is the simplest option because it will soothe your skin perfectly and open your pores. However, if you are in a hurry, splash hot water on your face and make sure to remove the natural oils from your skin. If you want, you can apply pre-shave oil to soften the skin even more and prepare it for the razor’s sharp edge. Pre-shaving oils help razors to glide across your face.
Step 2: How To Hold a Cut-Throat Razor
Holding a traditional straight razor or cut-throat razor for the first time can be a strange experience, particularly if you’ve used plastic or modern razors with protection cover for years.
Many men choose a straight razor over a cut-throat razor for the first time because with a straight razor you don’t have any exposed edges. No matter the type of razor you use, it is essential to learn how to hold it properly to avoid cutting yourself. Pick up the razor with your first finger on the razor’s shoulder and your thumb outside the heel. The ideal position is when your first three fingers rest on the tang. Next, keep the handle pointed up, so there is enough space for your little finger to come between the handle and the tail. Holding your razor like this will get the closest and safest shave while maintaining control over your moves.
Step 3: Load the Shavette
Some razors use a real blade, similar to kitchen knives, while others use a changeable blade or shavette. Having a razor with a shavette is a better option because it is easier to maintain and use. If your razor has one, it is time to load it. Lift the metal part and separate the two metal sections.
To snap the razor blade in half, make sure the edges are facing away from you. Hold the razor from underneath with both middle fingers and thumbs. The ideal position is when your fingers touch the middle. Don’t ever hold the razor by the edge or by the blades. You can easily cut yourself.
Next, fold the sides upwards, so the edges bend towards each other. Fit your blade over the raised bumps and place the higher metal section on the top. Squeeze the parts together. Once you close the catch over the metal sections, your razor will be ready to use.
Practice your moves and prepare to enjoy your most satisfying shaving experience.
Step 4: Find Your Ideal Shaving Technique
Some men will say that shaving with a straight razor is easy; others will say it takes too much time. You will have to decide for yourself. Everyone has different experiences when it comes to shaving, and that is okay. The important thing is to find your ideal technique and master the moves that help you shave and form the perfect beard shape you like. When you shave with a cut-throat razor, it shouldn’t be any different. While the moves repeat (you slide the razer up and down, from left to right), you need to find your optimal approach so you can shave correctly.
Below are some of our tips that can help you.
Check the Direction of Hair Growth
Before you start with your shaving ritual, check the direction of hair growth. If you are using a single blade razor, make sure to shave with the grain and follow your hairline. By doing so, you will avoid irritation, cuts, and ingrown hairs.
Always pay attention to your neck. In most cases, hair growth can vary in the neck area, so if it grows sideways, the best way to approach it is from underneath. If it’s straight, shave from the sideburn down. When shaving your Adam’s apple, pull the skin to each side to create a smooth area for the razor to slide over. If you are stuck with more challenging hair patches, cut them parallel. Practice makes everything perfect, so make sure to perform these moves and determine which approach is best for you based on your skin and hair growth.
Stretch Your Skin
When holding the razor in one hand, stretch the skin with your free hand to smoothen the surface while shaving downwards. Make sure to pull your skin well with your fingers to expose your beard. Pay attention to the way you hold your fingers—there should be enough space between your fingers and the blade.
For more complex areas, such as your face’s midsection or your moustache, stretch the skin below the nostrils to expose the hair. Ideally, you should find the best position to hold your skin while moving the razor down. It helps to keep the mirror closer to you, so you can find the best angles to squeeze your skin and expose your facial hair.
Keep a Steady Angle
The next step requires high concentration and dedication. While you may know how to hold a razor, stretch your skin, and shave, you cannot rush the blade as you may end up with cuts on your cheeks or chin.
Some men rush through the process and accidentally shave the same area two or more times, which leads to razor burn or worse—scars on your face. Knowing your angles and keeping a steady angle during the shaving process is essential for achieving the best results. The optimal solution to maintain steady moves is to hold the blade close to your face, at a 30-degree angle. You can move the edge smoothly and efficiently cut through the hairs. A 30-degree angle prevents the razor from tearing your beard, which can occur if the angle is too narrow or too tight.
It is common to make some mistakes during your first shaves, but once you learn how to keep a steady angle, the moves will come naturally. You can finally realize how cool shaving with a straight or cut-throat blade can be.
What If Multiple Passes Are Necessary?
For some people (those who shave every day and have more hair than others), multiple passes are necessary to get rid of all facial hair.
If you haven’t mastered the moves, you may need multiple passes as well in the beginning. It is essential to wash your face and repeat the same process. Apply shaving cream and first start with your cheeks, then move down to your upper lip, chin, and under the chin.
The Three-Pass-Shave Method
The most well-known technique to achieve that baby-bum face is the “three-pass-shave.” First, you shave with the grain, then across the grain, and finally, against the grain.
When using this method, it is best to start with straight razors. When shaving with the grain, you will remove most of your hair. For some, shaving directly with the grain can be irritating, so shaving across is always a better option. Start shaving from the side of your cheek towards your nose and upper lip. The third move is shaving against the grain, which gives you the smoothest finish.
Everyone’s facial hair and skin are different. While some men find the three-pass-shave method perfect for achieving the wanted look, others think it is too irritating and painful. Ideally, you should know what look you want and how much your face can take.
Step 5: Change the Blades
After each use, the blades dull, which is normal. However, worn-out blades increase the chance of irritation and razor burn. If possible, change the blades regularly (ideally after each use) to eliminate that painful feeling and enjoy a more hygienic shave.
Step 6: After Shave
When you are done shaving, wash your face off with cold water to calm the skin. Next, apply an aftershave gel or cream.
So there you have it—the six steps you need to remember to shave safely with a cut-throat razor. You might have difficulty holding the razor the first few times, but you will get used to the technique, and the moves will come naturally after a while.
How To Store a Straight or Cut-Throat Razor
After a nice shave, wash your razor with warm water, and dry it with a towel. It is essential to keep your razor in a dry area to avoid damage and corrosion. If you enjoy shaving with a cut-throat razor and think you’ll become better with more practice, it is a good idea to invest in a disinfecting solution and a bag.
Besides a bag, another option to consider is a wooden box. A wooden box will give your razor a lot more protection than any other cover and give your collection a more classy feel. You can search for specially designed cut-throat razor boxes, which have space for all of your necessities, including your brush, strop, razor, shaving cream, and honing stone. Quality wooden boxes absorb any moisture left on the razor and prevent the blades from rusting.
If you plan on storing your razor for a prolonged period, you’re better off buying a blade oil to prevent corrosion from damaging the metal. When storing your brushes, make sure they are 100% dry. Water in the base can damage the glue and cause your shaving brush to fall apart quickly. No-one wants that, do they!?
Is It Better To Shave With a Straight Razor or Cut-Throat Razor?
Like most men, you probably wonder, is shaving with a cut-throat better? Well, while there is no definite answer, we can try and give you a closer look at the options so you can choose for yourself.
Some people consider straight razors a better option because they give a smoother shave, which is often better than what you would get from a cartridge or electric razor. However, straight razors do need extra care and maintenance.
Those who shave with a cut-throat razor say that it is an enjoyable experience as it gives you the ultimate shave. However, it does take time to understand the moves and master the process. It also helps to have plenty of practice, which is not a big issue as some men enjoy the process and taking time for themselves. Also, cut-throat razors are easy to maintain.
It all comes down to what you want—if you don’t mind the learning curve to experience the best shave in your life, then a cut-throat razor is the perfect option for you. However, if you do mind then it's probably not for you!
How To Shave with a Straight Razor: Which Razor Should You Purchase?
If you start looking for a straight razor online, you’ll realize that there are numerous types and models available, from lightweight razors to travel-size razors, carbon-steel models, and much more.
For those of you who are brand new to shaving with a straight or cut-throat razor, it is best to start with a basic model, meaning carbon steel or a stainless steel razor.
Both options produce a great shave and are perfect for beginners. The carbon steel razor has sharper edges and holds its sharpness longer than the stainless-steel one. The only disadvantages are that it is more susceptible to corrosion (if not adequately dried) and discolouration.
The stainless steel razor is more susceptible to water, rust, and discolouration. It also requires less maintenance.
A small blade (between 5 and 8 inches) is recommended for beginners when it comes to blade size. A shorter blade makes it easier to hold and move down across your face.
Another thing you should consider when purchasing a straight razor is the handle type. Like with all razors, there are different options made from animal horns, plastic, metal, and more.
A quality razor should maintain a proper balance between the handle and blade to ensure a steady angle and predictable feel when held at the cheeks, upper lip, and chin. Famous brands and reputable stores have experience designing handles that provide an excellent feel, are easy to maintain, and ensure a smooth shaving experience.
Is Shaving With a Cut-Throat Better: A Final Word
So you made it to the end of this article - well done!! We hope you feel better and more confident now that you know how to shave with a cut-throat razor. By now, you should also know how to hold a razor (if not, go through the six steps again) and pick one based on your skin sensitivity, hair growth, and budget. While the sharp edges of a razor may look scary, they can be more gentle on your face than other shaving products, once you have mastered your technique, of course.
Are you ready to try a more traditional shaving method, and see why everyone is going crazy over it?
Take a look at the extensive range of cut-throat razors and order yours to start practising.