Straight Razor -- still in use?

Do any of the men on here actually use a straight razor – the old barber shop, ‘throat cutter’ type?

How hard is it to use?

How does it compare to say, a double-edged safety razor?

I use one, though not exclusively.

I bought mine online, and then sent it to someone to get it professionally honed.

There are still new ones being made by Dovo and other companies, but brand new razors are NOT cheap. Dang it. Hehehe

I got a lot of information online, especially from forums.

Once you figure it out, it provides (for me, at least) a smoother shave than I get from my electric. It does take a bit more time.

Getting the basics down isn’t hard, but getting it to the point where your face is smooth, your don’t cut yourself, and you don’t mess up your razor takes time.

How long might a straight razor last, once it’s professionally honed; professionally sharpened as needed, and regularly stropped?

Tristan– I’m curious. Do you strop your razor every time? This summer, I decided to indulge myself with a straight razor shave from a barber shop on the Lower East Side. He didn’t strop the razor, and applied what seemed to be only a very thin layer of lather onto my face. The result was less than impressive. I could’ve easily got a closer, cleaner shave doing it myself, and there was quite a bit of irritation, especially on my upper lip.

I’ve not completely given up on the idea of a barbershop shave, though. Basically, I’m wondering if it was his (lack of) technique or par for the course.

Yes, I use one, but not exclusively. Focus makes a razor that takes disposable blades snapped in half. The real thing is hard to keep sharpened properly, I find.

It takes a while to get used to, but the results are very good, especially when compared to an electric. LawMonkey: what you had a shave with this summer was probably a Focus - barbers don’t use straight razors much anymore because of the risk of sharing blood and spreading AIDS. Most barbers of my experience use a disposable blade once and then chuck it out.

From what I have read, if you shave on a daily basis, you should be getting your hone done about once a year. This is assuyming you are stropping properly on a daily basis either before or after your shave. You don’t really need to have the blade sharpened if you are stropping properly, as that is what the strop itself does.

Law Monkey, a barber that does a straight shave is probably using what is called a “shavette” which is a straight razor with a disposable blade edge. Not idea, that combining that with the fact that these days not a lot of barbers offer it, you may not have gotten an ideal shave. Before I invested in a used razor off of e-bay and the other equipment, I went to the local barber who does a straight, and it was ok. My shaving myself is much much better.

My routine, fresh out of the shower:

Prep: Fill sink with hot water, place brush in water. Place mug with soap in water, so that mug gets warm and soap may soften a bit.

Shower. Get out of shower, dry off body but not face.

Take brush out of water, let it drain until the water is no longer coming out of it in a solid stream, then apply brush to soap. Whip up a lather (it takes longer than you think). While first lather is on my face, I strop my razor, 30-40 passes per side.

Then apply more fresh lather, and begin shaving. I keep a goatee and mustache (a circle beard, in some parlance) so I dont’ have to do the hard parts (chin), but still take my time.

I do one side, then the other, moving the razor with the grain of the facial hair. Then more lather, and do a pass on one side and then the other, going against the grain of my facial hair.

It’s important to get your skin stretched taught, so you end up making some pretty funny faces in the mirror.

Rinse off face, apply a bit of witchhazel, clean equipment and spend rest of day rubbing face going “dang, that’s a smooth face”.

Yep. I use one exclusively. Takes some practice getting used to but definately less nicks than a safety razor after a few uses - but when you cut yourself, you know it.

Ain’t that the truth! I got myself good my first time, and have managed to not do so since. The first time was pretty bad. That thing is soooooo sharp, the damage is done before you can feel it.

Since this is seeking personal opinions, it’s better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I love the straight razor shave, though I’ve never used one myself. Here in Japan it’s part of your standard haircut (which costs a good $40), but you get a head/shoulder massage out of the deal too, and they not only shave your face, but your forehead and earlobes, too (dude, I dunno. But it’s more effort to ask them not to than to just let 'em do what they do). You come out feeling like a million bucks every time, though, it’s great. Straight razor shaves are much closer than even safety blades, in my experience, and they don’t give razor burn (which can look impressively like a hickey if in the right spot. That got me in trouble once, but it’s a story for another time :wink: ) they just cut. That said, I’ve never had a barber cut me with a straight razor, though I have had one snip a bit of my ear with scissors

Last time I used a straight razor, I slipped and cut myself dandy enough to where I could hear the edge slice into my jawbone. In the bad old days I would be sporting a short cropped beard.

If you go to a barber, be aware that sharing a razor is roughly equivalent to sharing a needle from an infection viewpoint. Make damn sure the thing gets thoroughly cleaned with alcohol / bleach / blowtorch / waddever. If I catch some loathsome disease I’ll be having a lot more fun than getting a shave, believe me.

This is the big reason the shavette became the standard for most barber shaves, for those that still over the straight. They can just toss the blade after one use.

My barber said that he tried to stick with actual straights, but between the need to have a big jar of barbercide, requirements to autoclave periodically, and the time needed to strop or hone on a regular basis, he just gave up on the idea.

If I were travelling and found a barber that offered a straight shave, I would ask what his process was for sterilizing, same as I would a tattoo or piercer.

The roommate goes to the barber to get his head shaved. Not many services in town offering this.

My uncle used one that was inherited from Grandpa, who got it from his father. Now my cousin uses it, but only occasionally – he says it takes too long for everyday use.

So that one straight razor has been in use for close to 100 years now, and seems to be doing fine. The wear on the blade seems to have been from sharpening over the years, rather than use. After all, a steel blade doesn’t get much wear from cutting facial hairs.

I use a straight razor to shave myself once a week or so. I bought it about three years ago, and haven’t had it professionally honed since I had it done when I first bought it. I use the same technique as Tristan, without the witchhazel.


My barber uses a straight razor every time I sit in his chair… it has been so for too long…

My beard is abnormally strong – most often a hundred or so blades are broken before the first hair yields.
Shave & a Haircut cost me two bricks (of gold)