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Shaving Tips for Men with a Straight Razor

Updated on February 23, 2016

Summary

The first thing most men of the world do shortly after waking up is to lather up their faces and shave their beards that have grown over night. Men will end up doing this act over 15,000 times in their lifetimes, but strangely enough, most men are doing it all wrong or rely on commercial products without understanding what they are actually doing.

Read on and discover the art of a great shave.

Preparation

The very first thing that needs to be considered before shaving is the type of razor to choose. There are many different styles of razors, from double edge safety razors, cartridge razors (Gilette Fusion blades), to straight razors and more. For a first time shaver, the Merkur 34-C (aka HD) model of safety razor is constantly recommended to men. It is virtually indestructible and will last you a much longer time than the standard cartridge model.

Choosing a razor is not enough, however, as you will still need to decide on a different kind of razor blade to use with your razor. Since all of our faces are different, it is hard to recommend a particular blade. Blades also vary, so it is suggested that you try a sample pack of blades with your razor. If it feels right on the skin, continue using it. If it doesn't, don't be afraid to switch to find something more comfortable.

The next step in preparation is to choose upon a brush and a soap/cream for lathering up your face. The choice of a brush does not matter as much as you may think. There are many different options of brushes which contain different types of hair. A brush with boar hair is the best quality brush, followed by badger hair, horse, and synthetic. The animal hair brushes will take some getting used to until they soften up after usage. Regardless of the brush you choose, it is still possible to get a good lather with the cheapest of brushes. Invest in a boar hair brush if you can, otherwise, pick one that your budget allows for.

Shave soaps or shaving cream is another item that you will need before starting the shave. This is largely going to depend on what feels most comfortable to you while shaving since there is such a varying degree of both soaps and creams available. The shaving soaps will be the easiest to create a consistent lather on your face. Choose a soap or cream that fits your budget, and also feels comfortable on your face, keeping in mind that a soap will be easier to use. For storage purposes, keep the soap or cream covered when not in use to keep out unwanted dust and dirt particles. For more information about the science behind shaving soaps and creams, check out this site.

As if we needed yet another confusing mess to navigate, the final thing required for a shave is an after-shave. After-shaves include splashes, balms, scents, and so forth. Like the razor and shaving soap, the choice of after-shave is going to depend on how it feels on your skin. There are guidelines to consider, though, which will be helpful. If your skin is dry or sensitive, a balm is recommended. For oily skin, a splash after-shave is recommended as balms can tend to dry and leave your skin feeling oily in the afternoon. When looking on the shelves at the store, don't be fooled by the prices of the after-shaves. Some of the budget brands, like Nivea and Aqua Velva, are actually superior to the $20+ brands. Go with what feels best both immediately after shaving and throughout the day.

The Shave

Immediately before starting to shave, it is important to consider some pre-shave techniques. Your face needs to be wet to help soften the whiskers on your face. It is strongly recommended to shower first before shaving. This will help soften your face without the need for additional lotions or oils. If you can afford it, there are a variety of lotions and oils that you can use that will help soften your whiskers even more than a shower will. Use a hot towel after your shower if you find that a shower is not doing the job for you.

When your face is properly prepared, you are ready to start shaving. Add a bit of water to your shaving soap or cream while you fill up the sink with water. Using your brush, gather up a bit of the shaving soap or cream and apply it to your face. You want a consistent layer of white to form on your face, with the peaks of your brush strokes standing up. If it is too runny, add a bit more water to your soap/cream and try again. Having a thin layer of lather on your face will be good for two passes of the razor, possibly three. After that, reapply the lather to your face using the same technique.

Now, you are ready to handle the razor. One important note about any type of razor other than the cartridge razors is to be careful about the pressure being applied. You do not want to press the razor into your face as that will most likely cause irritation or nicks. Light pressure will work best. You also want to work the razor strokes with the grain of your whiskers for the first pass. This is generally going to be heading down your face towards your feet. When you are more confident, do another pass going across the grain. If you feel the need to, you can add a third pass that goes against the grain. It is not required to get a close shave, however.

Afterwards, wipe your face clean with a cold cloth and pad your face dry. Wait a minute or two, and then add your aftershave to your face.

Now you will feel like a new man. Shaving is an art that needs to be practiced and refined, using different types of razors and products to find what works best for you. Do not go out and pick out some products based on price alone, and do not be afraid to experiment a bit with some of the items. Enjoy your time shaving in the mornings as it can be more energizing than your cup of coffee for waking you up.

Lather box from Bespoke Post
Lather box from Bespoke Post
The Barber box from Bespoke Post
The Barber box from Bespoke Post

Bespoke Post

For your shaving needs, there are a lot of places to source your razors, brushes, and more. One of the best places to go if you aren't 100% sure which shaving equipment to buy is Bespoke Post.

It's a subscription service that allows you to select a box of goods out of the 4-6 boxes they have prepared. It gets shipped to your door directly and is packed with value. Each one costs $45.00 with a subscription ($55.00 without) and generally has goods inside worth around $100.00. Lots of samples, lots of full-size items too.

They have boxes for all areas of a man's life, but one of their specialties is men's grooming. There is a roundup of all their grooming boxes or you can visit their site directly: Bespoke Post.

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    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi James, I had no idea that shaving was so technical. I do understand though, because women will spend hundreds of dollars trying to find the right stuff that works for their skin so men should do the same.

      I just want to say, welcome to Hubpages and our community of writers. I hope you enjoy writing here. Please feel free to ask for help if you need it.

      Happy hubbing.

    • James McCullough profile image
      Author

      James McCullough 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Hi Cardisa,

      It's difficult for me to understand the differences between men and women shaving since I don't plan on shaving my legs at all. The face on the skin is pretty sensitive though, as I'm sure you're aware. You can use cheap razors and shaving cream to get the job done, but you're going to be left with itchy skin and a red face. If you care about your body at all, precautions need to be taken.

      Thanks for the comment!

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