Shaving with a cutthroat razor is probably one of the least efficient and more scary (at least in the minds of the inexperienced) methods for shaving your face. They’re inefficient because they typically take much more time perfect and more regular time to prepare. Even the most experienced cutthroat straight razor shaver will tell you they can get a faster shave with safety razor or a cartridge razor. Most men fear the thought of taking a unprotected razor blade to such a sensitive area. The name “cutthroat” itself conjures up images of bandits, hooligans and pirates. Needless to say, straight razors typically have a bad rap.
The big boon to shaving with a straight razor is the implicit manliness of the entire process. Unlike safety razors, it’s truly a kick-back to a bygone era where barbers also played the role of brutal dentists. If shaving with a straight razor doesn’t make you feel more manly, I simply don’t know what will.
In today’s world, straight razors have made a fairly sizable comeback. However, and unlike safety razors, the straight razor shaver has an additional step in prepping for his daily shave: the process of stropping his cutthroat straight razor.
Any open razor kit will require a good quality strop session before each shave to remove microscopic burrs that may have arisen on the blade as a result of the previous shave. Here we will provide some of the basic steps for stropping your straight razor to shaving perfection as part of your morning routine.
Step-By-Step Guide for Straight Razor Stropping
In “the good ole’ days” the most masculine would simply strop their straight razor by running the blade across the palm of their hand. Wholly unnecessary when you have a good strop. Here’s the step-by-step process for stropping your straight razor:
- Fix one end of the strop to a fixed position on the wall. If you’re stropping in your bathroom you may find the top of the shower or the bathroom door will work. Typically a strop works best if the fixed position you fix one end to is a bit higher than your waist and at least as high as your head height.
- Holding the other end of the strop, run the blade in a horizontal fashion up the leather surface, keeping the blade flat against the strop and the blade side facing you.
- After you have run the length of the strop with the blade, flip the blade over on its spine at the top of the strop with the blade facing away from you.
- Run the blade back down the strop in a horizontal motion across the strop from the top to the bottom.
- As you run the blade up and down the strop, be sure to keep the strop taut using your non-dominant hand as the counterweight for the bottom of the strop.
- Repeat this process about 40 to 70 times. Doing so quickly should only take you a minute or two.
The real question: Is the Straight Razor Shave Better than the Safety Razor?
They’re on par, but the learning curve of shaving with a straight razor is a bit steeper, especially if you want to be efficient and not hack big holes into your face. We typically suggest starting with a safety razor before graduating to a straight razor shave. Doing so will give you a feel for both the angle of the shave and the pressure (or lack of pressure) required to get the razor to do the cutting.