How To Shave With A Cut-Throat Razor
The deliberate and focused ritual of stropping the cut-throat razor and using this most traditional of implements to create the closest of shaves possible, is normally associated with sophisticated elegance of the bygone era, where masculine good looks prevailed every aspect of gentlemen’s life. And then, of course there is another aspect - that of it being a frequent trope in films freighted with connotations of red-blooded masculinity, dexterity and self-confidence.
There is no doubt that a cut-throat razor, far less alarmingly also referred to as a straight razor, will achieve, in the right hands, the most comfortable and closest of shaves. It is also economical and environmentally friendly as no plastic or disposable blades are being used and then discarded on a regular basis. However, it is worth to remember that it requires a considerable skill and great deal of patience to wield a cut-throat razor with confidence and should not be attempted without prior practice and Zen-like preparation.
Ideally, one should acquire the basic techniques at the hands of a Master Barber and then invest in a professional shave to hone one’s skills, during which you will be able to learn the tricks of the trade, and will also be given detailed advice on your unique skin and how to achieve a perfect shave. For those gentlemen who would like to thoroughly learn how to confidently shave with a straight razor or who intend to master their shaving skills to perfection, Truefitt & Hill offers an increasingly growing in popularity Traditional Cut-Throat Shaving Masterclass at the renowned St. James’s barbershop.
To begin with, one should equip oneself with the tools of the trade - the cut-throat razor itself,, a leather strop, and a honing stone. The blade of your razor will need regular maintenance. In the first instance, you will need to strop your razor, which you should do before you shave. For those not initiated, a word of explanation - the strop is a long flexible piece of leather, traditionally used in knife-sharpening, which is securely suspended from one side and firmly gripped in your hand at the bottom by a paddle. Like all the processes in this most traditional of shaving methods, stropping should be conducted with great patience and deliberation, moving the razor at the slightest angle along the strop with the lightest of touches, flipping the blade and repeating the procedure. Once this technique has been perfected, it will keep your razor extraordinarily sharp. Much less frequently, you will need to hone your blade using a honing stone. This can be done with a dry, or more traditionally, with a wet stone. The razor is pushed in one even stroke down the honing stone, flipped and repeated. Both these processes will maintain your razor, ensuring that it achieves optimum sharpness and functionality.
When you shave with a cut-throat razor you will need to take care to prepare your skin. Shaving after a hot shower or bath, when the pores are open is ideal. You will have your own preferences as to shaving soap or cream. Shaving soap in a robust wooden bowl, such as Truefitt & Hill’s Luxury Sandalwood Shaving Soap, is portable, economical and is ideal for shaving aficionados, travellers and adventurers. You will have to work harder with your shaving brush to achieve a satisfying lather, while using shaving cream, such as Truefitt & Hill’s Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream, is a more practical everyday option, yielding a rich, creamy lather, with minimal effort.
To shave effectively with a cut-throat razor, you will need to conquer your fear of the blade; if you are tentative and uncomfortable you will not succeed, while steady, firm and sure hand, is the key to success. Maintain the blade at a 30 to 35-degree angle, and using your free hand to pull the skin as taut as possible to avoid dragging the razor across the skin, proceed with short straight strokes, shaving in the direction of hair growth at all times. You will need to adjust your hand position and the angle of the blade as you move around your face and neck, ensuring at all times, that your skin is stretched as tightly as possible. Use minimum pressure, allowing the blade to glide across your skin, and do not re-shave any areas, as this may lead to razor burn. Using Truefitt & Hill’s Pre-Shave Oil will further enhance the comfort of the shave, protect the skin from irritation and ensure a close yet comfortable experience.
Once the facial hair has been eliminated, rinse your face with cold water to refresh your skin and then apply an aftershave balm to soothe and hydrate the freshly shaven skin. Truefitt & Hill’s scented range of Aftershave Balms boast a range of our signature fragrances such as Apsley, Sandalwood, Trafalgar, 1805, West Indian Limes. For vary sensitive skins, prone to dryness and irritation, use Truefitt & Hill’s Ultimate Comfort Aftershave Balm., which is enhanced with Lavender oil as well aloe vera extract to ensure maximum, post-shave comfort. Remember that shaving is an assault on the skin, which can react by building up new defensive layers, eventually becoming leathery. Using balm regularly, as well as ensuring that you adhere to a healthy diet and stay well hydrated, will all help to compensate, ensuring that your skin remains smooth and supple. Give your skin a chance to recover from the shave and absorb the balm, before spraying your favourite cologne to your neck and chest.
The defining requirement of shaving with a cut-throat razor is the skill that must be mastered and maintained. It takes patience and absorption, as any lapse of concentration will lead to nicks and cuts. You are manipulating an incredibly sharp implement, and this must be done with intense single-mindedness. It goes without saying that this is not a shaving method that should ever be used when you are in a rush, distracted or still half asleep.
However if you approach the cut-throat razor with the respect it deserves, and devote time to perfect this most masculine of rituals, you will be rewarded not only with an excellent shave and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a job thoroughly well done, but also with masculine, clean shaven looks that will enable you to always put your best face forward.