The art of shav­ing

Rules For The Modern Man - - Rules For The Modern Man -

The first hint any man has that heʼs grad­u­ated from child­hood is when he starts to grow fa­cial hair and has to learn how to shave. Men these days have the choice of an elec­tric shaver or a multi-blade ra­zor, but there is an art and beauty to the straight ra­zor shave, which has re­turned to the men’s groom­ing scene in re­cent years.

The process of a straight ra­zor shave is a morn­ing ablu­tion, a rit­ual that a gentle­man en­gages in as a mat­ter of men­tal prepa­ra­tion . A hand­ful of bar­bers still prac­tise this in the salon, but if you know how to do it, the straight ra­zor still offers the clos­est shave that one can pos­si­bly have. The trick is to avoid leav­ing too many cuts on your skin that it looks bad. Plenty of es­tab­lish­ments sell straight ra­zor shav­ing kits that range from the ac­ces­si­ble to the pre­mium.

Itʼs es­sen­tial that you do not rush the process of shav­ing. Depend­ing on how fast your beard grows, it can take any­time be­tween 20 and 30 min­utes, and as you grow more pro­fi­cient, you can prob­a­bly do it in un­der 10. But the point is to en­joy the mo­ment. Think of it as a quiet time at the start of the day, get­ting your mind ready for the chal­lenges ahead.


A straight ra­zor kit is avail­able in most groom­ing stores and web­sites. You should have the fol­low­ing:

1 Shav­ing brush

1 Brush stand

1 Ra­zor (straight ra­zor)

1 Sharp­en­ing belt strop

1 Shav­ing cream

1 Af­ter-shave balm

1 Terry cloth towel

Drip Dry

Af­ter you have used your brush, wash it and let it drip dry on the brush stand. Do not at­tempt to wipe it dry on a towel as this may cause them to fall out or bend.


Rush­ing into your shave is a ter­ri­ble idea, guar­an­teed to leave you with plenty of cuts that may make it look like youʼve gone five rounds with Sweeney Todd. Hereʼs a quick guide to ac­com­plish­ing the per­fect straight ra­zor shave at home.

STEP1 Start with warm­ing the skin. This can be achieved with ei­ther wrap­ping a hot moist towel around the face for a few min­utes, or tak­ing a shower. This opens up the pores of the skin and makes it eas­ier to shave.

STEP2(OP­TIONAL) Ap­ply a pre-shave oil to the skin. The oil helps to ease the process of shav­ing, pre­vent­ing ir­ri­ta­tion after­wards.

STEP3 Wet the bris­tles of your shav­ing brush with warm wa­ter, and pick up some shav­ing cream at the cen­tre of the brush. In a cir­cu­lar mo­tion, spread the lather on your face. Add hot wa­ter to pro­duce more froth if nec­es­sary. STEP4 Al­low the shav­ing cream to sit for a while. Mean­while, if you have a fixed blade, sharpen it with a strop to en­sure it is sharp and smooth. This helps to re­duce the like­li­hood of nicks to the skin.

STEP5 Start to shave from the sides of the face. Hold the skin tight and let the blade sit flush to the face, then tilt it slightly. Without ap­ply­ing pres­sure and in a smooth mo­tion, let the blade fol­low the grain of the hair. Use shorter strokes at first and fin­ish off with longer strokes.

STEP6 Repeat with the jaw­line and the neck area, un­til most of the hair is re­moved. Re­mem­ber not to ap­ply any pres­sure. This is not a car­tridge ra­zor. Slic­ing your neck is not some­thing you wish to ex­pe­ri­ence.

STEP7 Lather up once more and repeat the pro­ce­dure, but per­pen­dic­u­lar to the grain. On the neck, this is likely to be dif­fi­cult, so skip this if you wish.

STEP8 Repeat the pro­ce­dure, go­ing against the grain this time. This is when most shav­ing ac­ci­dents hap­pen, so be care­ful, par­tic­u­larly where the skin is not clearly vis­i­ble – the lower end of the jaw and the neck, as well


The cir­cu­lar mo­tion lifts the hair on the skin, so that the blade cuts the hair fol­li­cles at the base rather than the top, mak­ing it smoother.

as around the ear­lobes. Use a smooth ac­tion without ag­gres­sive force.

STEP9 Rinse off with cold wa­ter to close off the pores.

STEP10(OP­TIONAL) Ap­ply an af­ter-shave balm to soothe the skin. Al­though this is a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence, it is ad­vised by pro­fes­sion­als.


Your ring fin­ger should sit on the tang (the curved hinge against the han­dle), with your thumb on the shank, at the front of the blade. The in­dex and mid­dle fin­gers sit on the back of the blade, giv­ing you op­ti­mum con­trol over pres­sure.

For those who choose to work with a safety ra­zor rather than a straight ra­zor, the process is much the same, but the straight han­dle makes it much eas­ier to con­trol the strength and mo­tion of your shave. Sharp­en­ing the ra­zor, how­ever, is un­nec­es­sary. Just re­place it with a new blade.


With a honer that’s wet down, in a criss-cross mo­tion, swipe the blade on both sides across the stone. Repeat 15 times, and 30 times in the same way on the leather strop to keep it sharp.

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