I can second what Pete123 said above, and what you've discovered, dabearis : A light touch with the razor is essential to a good straight razor shave.

We all tend to really respect the danger that a straight razor represents, and that leads to a lot of people (myself included) really gripping it tightly when we start out using them. However, for the most comfortable straight razor shaves you need to allow the blade freedom. Hold it lightly and let the blade glide over your skin using the sharpness of the edge to cut the hairs while not trying to add any pressure. It should almost be like a feather gliding over your skin. If it doesn't cut, then the blade is just not sharp enough.

Everyone will find the grip that works best for themselves, but to use a pretty useless comparison - treat the blade like you should a lover: hold it securely enough to let it know that you don't want it to leave, but loosely enough to allow it freedom to move.

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- Yohann

Nashville, TN
nachum and dabearis, I did a video on shaving with a straight.  It moves very quickly, so you may have to stop and back up once or twice.   Here's a link:


Nashville, TN
Sorry for the long post here. I haven't posted this online yet, so I can't put just a link:

Straight Razors: A Brief Introduction

Have you just purchased your first straight razor? If so, here are a few things to be aware of.

Learning to Shave w/ a Straight

We’ve produced a video and written info to assist as you learn to shave with a straight. Our YouTube channel is:


Our blog address: https://hendrixclassics.com/blogs/selectiveshaver

We also provide individual instruction as needed at no cost - just reach out.

What to know about Straight Razors

Straight razors are more fragile than they look. Make sure to read the straight razor care instructions.


When shaving always remember:

• Pre-shave prep is critical.
• The lightest of light touches when shaving - shave the cream and the whiskers take care of themselves.
• Try to keep the blade angle at 30 degrees, going flatter as needed in sensitive areas.
• Let us know if you have trouble. We are here to help.

Nashville, TN
One more long post. I took the basic script from the video posted above and filled it out as the video moves quickly.

Shaving w/ a Straight - YouTube Video Detail

Before going into detail, let me share the primary concepts.

1. Use the lightest of light touches. Shave the cream only and the whiskers will take care of themselves. Pressing doesn’t improve the shave and always leads to trouble.
2. Focus on the proper angle. The razor should be 30 degrees from your face. An easy way to get close is to have the spine of the razor about two spine widths away from your face. Use a shallower angle as needed for sensitive areas.
3. Don’t learn to use a straight during your morning rush before heading out for the day.
4. Expect about four months to master a close comfortable shave in a reasonable amount of time.
5. This video won’t cover how to take care of your razor, though be aware that they are fragile and will rust very easily. We have a separate video and blog post for razor care.
6. Watch the end of the razor when shaving - you may be focused on where the middle of the blade is removing whiskers. The end of the blade nick your ear or whatever it touches.

Now for the shave.

The critical tasks of pre-shave preparation and how to make lather are covered in our “How to Classic Shave” videos, parts 2 and 3. The critical task of stropping your razor is covered in a video as well. So, we won’t cover them here.

Pre-shave prep is absolutely critical - a close, comfortable shave is impossible without it

1. Unlike cartridge and safety razors, you are completely responsible for keeping the blade at the correct angle with a straight. In light of this use a stepped approach where you start by shaving the easiest areas with your straight and expand as your skill grows. The easiest area for most men are their cheeks, especially the flatter part towards the sideburns.
a. Stretch your skin as you’ll see me do in the video and shave the cheek. Focus on a very, very light touch and 30 degree, or two spine widths, angle for the the razor.
b. It may help to understand how shaving works. Shaving is a function of a razor being drawn across the whisker. Pressure doesn’t impact whisker removal. Never use a carving motion as it will cut you.
c. Finish the rest of your shave with a safety or cartridge razor - whatever you are used to.
2. Expand to other areas of your face once you master your cheeks. The angled areas, especially the jaw around the chin, are harder as you have to adjust the angle so much. My trick for these areas is to get the right angle and shave around the jaw at the same angle, something like a cartoon squirrel eating down one side of the corn cob and back the other way.
3. Notice how I use two hands around my nose. I also use a shallower angle. I do these two things to avoid cutting myself.
4. You’ll see that I stretch my skin, which helps many men get a better shave. Over time, you’ll learn technique to stretch your skin as we all have different areas that need stretching.
5. I don’t stretch the skin on my lower neck other than turning my head away. I try to really focus and go over the area of my lower neck only one time, even if a few whiskers are missed. This will help avoid irritation on the lower neck.
6. Notice how I palm strop the razor after the first pass. This isn’t required, though I find it keeps the shave as smooth as possible. Use a very light touch with palm stropping. Pressing the blade into your palm is counter-productive.
7. A classic shave is normally three passes. With the grain, across the grain and against the grain. You’ll have to find what works for you. For me, shaving across the grain with a straight hasn’t worked well. When I started, I would do two passes with the grain and a pass against the grain where needed. These days, is takes one pass with touchups, usually around my mouth and right under the jaw line.
8. You don’t want to shave areas that are clean shaven. If you can’t sense and feel whiskers being cut, then you are finished with that area. Further action will cause weepers and irritation.
9. Once finished shaving, make sure to get all the soap off your face. I use a combination of water in cupped hands and a wet wash cloth. At this part of the shave, use cold tap water.
10. Once clean, apply alcohol based aftershave if desired. It isn’t needed, though I like it and use it.
11. Finally, apply aftershave balm or a quality moisturizing lotion.

Evaluating / Improving your shave: Take a moment to evaluate your shave. The info below will help you understand where to focus for future shaves. In general terms, cuts, nicks, bumps and irritation are a function of pressing too hard. As you shave, try to stay focused - the correct angle of the blade and the lightest of light touches.

1. I think alcohol based aftershave is a good learning tool. When applied, it shouldn’t burn for more than a few seconds. It also shouldn’t be an uncomfortable burn. If you have more burn than this, the issue is likely pressing too hard or going over clean shaven areas with the razor. Remember, the least number times that the razor comes into contact with your skin to remove the whiskers is what is needed.
a. Note that different men are sensitive to certain fragrance oils or other ingredients. If your face is still burning after a few minutes, wash with soap and see if that makes a difference.
2. Razor bumps and irritation - This is usually caused by insufficient pre-shave prep and pressing too hard. The lower part of the neck is especially prone to this.
3. Nicks, cuts, weepers and blood. First, use a styptic pencil or matchbook pack as soon as you see blood. Stop what you are doing when you see blood, wet the styptic and apply in the direction the razor was going. Weepers and nicks will be as though they never occurred if you use styptic immediately. Cuts are normally caused by touching the skin with the blade whose angle is too steep, or by accidentally doing a slicing motion. Pressing too hard and going over clean shaven areas will cause cuts and weepers.

Most common issues leading to trouble for those learning to use a straight:

• Insufficient pre-shave prep. This step softens the beard and removes bacteria and dead skin, which cause bumps and irritation if not removed.
• Pressing too hard with the straight razor - remember to use the lightest of light touches.
• Failure to keep the blade at the best angle, which is 30 degrees. No one is perfect with this, though focus on this as you learn.
• Trying to shave their entire face when just getting started. The best practice is to start with your cheeks, while shaving the rest of your face as you always have.
• There is nothing wrong with a mixed shave, regardless of experience. A mixed shave does part of the shave with a straight razor and finishes with a safety or cartridge razor.
• Don’t try for a perfect shave, commonly called a baby butt shave. The goal is a close, comfortable shave. If you run your hand against the grain after a close, comfortable shave, you will usually feel some whisker scrape.

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I took the plunge four or five years ago and learned to shave with a straight razor. Here's what helped me most:

1.  Anthony Esposito told me to commit to using it daily for thirty days. He said there was no need to shave my whole face. Doing a cheek was enough, and to add real estate as I felt comfortable. I took his advice. Before long I was shaving my whole face and neck. 

2.  I'd put the razor flush against my face, then tilt the spine until I found the angle I needed. I kept the angle very shallow at first. 

3.  Before I tried the straight I'd tried the Feather Artist Club with a Feather Pro blade without the guard. This was a nightmare. I cut myself just putting the blade to my skin. I cut myself learning to shave with it. I bled profusely. I expected the same debacle with the straight. But the straight was a whole different experience. Totally forgiving, unlike the Feather. So I was pleasantly surprised that the straight was so much easier to master. 

There are some great instructional videos. Remember that you won't likely get cut as long as you don't slap your face with the razor's edge, and as long as you move the blade down or up. NEVER SIDEWAYS. LIFE THE BLADE FROM YOUR FACE WHEN YOU WANT TO MOVE TO A NEW AREA TO SHAVE. DON'T SLIDE IT. 

When in need of nerve, watch the video where Charkalis lets his ten year old daughter shave him. 

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