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The Art of The Straight Razor Shave, A Basic Guide
By Christopher Moss

This is a fantastic guide for those interested in learning about or improving their straight razor shaving skills. It contains a ton of information about how to strop and care for your straight razor, basics on how to prepare your beard before shaving, detailed steps to achieve a close shave (including pictures), and how to treat your skin after shaving. This is a highly recommended guide for every straight razor user regardless of experience.
Purchase the print version or download a PDF for free!
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu. Click here to download PDF (1.28MB) Updated 4/6/2005
Click here to get Adobe Acrobat


The Fundamentals of Wet Shaving

When it comes to wet shaving there are no absolute rules. Generally, men can do just about anything they want in order to achieve a close and comfortable shave. There are however some "basics" that should be considered. There are several excellent wet shaving guides out there from very reputable shaving firms. I've gone ahead and compiled some detailed steps that are primarily derived from Geo F. Trumper and Truefitt & Hill. I of course added a few extras of my own but the primary message remains unchanged. The following steps are generally accepted as the necessary components of a successful wet shaving routine. They are known as the Fundamentals of Wet Shaving by Geo F. Trumper.

Step 1: Prepare — Before all else your skin and beard should be prepared by either washing with a good soap and warm water or by applying hot towels to your beard for at least 3 minutes. This will soften the beard hairs and relax the skin so that there is minimal resistance while shaving. Many experts recommend shaving after a hot shower when the beard has been thouroughly soaked. Whatever you decide the goal is to soften the beard making it easier to cut.
Step 2: Apply Lather — Next you should use a shaving brush to lather up a good shaving cream or shaving soap and apply it generously to your face. There are all sorts of great creams and soaps to choose from but the most popular ones are those made by Geo F. Trumper, Truefitt & Hill, and Taylor of Old Bond Street. As for the shaving brush, almost any one will do a good job but there are some types of brushes that are superior to all others. These are usually made of silver tip badger hair. Click here to learn more about shaving brushes.
Step 3: Shave — By now your beard should be well prepared for a close shave. You should use a sharp razor with good weight and balance. There are many to choose from but go with something that is effective and comfortable for your skin type. Choices include double-edge razors (recommended), multi-blade cartridge razors (I.e. Gillette Mach 3), or of course the straight edge (for advanced users). Click here to learn more about razors.

It is generally recommended to shave with or across the grain of the beard, but not directly against it. Shaving against the grain can potentially lead to razor burn and in-grown hairs. Some men find that their skin can tolerate shaving against the grain, but only after shaving with the grain first. Glide the razor gently over the skin, holding the skin taut with the free hand. Keep the razor well-rinsed to avoid clogging the blade and apply more water if necessary. Repeat a second time if necessary

Step 4: Rinse, Tone, Moisturize — Immediately follwing your shave, rinse your face with warm water. This will easily disolve and rinse away any leftover shaving cream. Follow up the warm water rinse with a thorough cold water rinse to close your pores.

Next, it is good practice to tone your skin. This is a less common component of wet shaving but recommended here as good practice towards maintaining healthy skin. Skin toners have an evaporating and cooling action that causes muscles to contract and the pores to become temporarily smaller. Use a toner appropriate to your natural skin type after shaving. You'll likely find toning to be both pleasant and refreshing. It comes with the added benefit of removing any traces of soap or cream that might still be left over from the shaving process.

Finally, moisturize your skin with a good aftershave balm or facial moisturizer. This will soothe your skin and protect it from the elements. A good moisturizer has numerous benefits but mostly it works by duplicating and strengthening the role of your bodyís own naturally produced sebum (your skinís natural restorative liquid) and thus protects the skin against excessive moisture loss. Oh, and it helps reduce the development of wrinkles and fine lines. That's reason enough to moisturize in my book!

Brush & Razor Care — Thoroughly rinse your brush and razor after each use. Shake all excess water out of your badger hair brush so it can easily dry. It is preferred that you dry the badger hair brush hanging upside down to prevent moisture from seeping into the base of the brush. Never store a shaving brush in a closed cupboard where mildew may form. If your brush becomes clogged with soap, soak in a mild solution of borax until clean. Replace your blade as soon as it begins to uncomfortably tug and pull on your beard.
Note: Content taken from Geo F. Trumper and Truefitt & Hill's shaving tips.


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