The Straight Truth
Few guys attempt shaving with a straight razor—that's what the pros are for. But if you're game, Michael W. Haar, a barber at F.S.C. Barber in New York, explains how to fearlessly put blade to face.
1. Prepare the blade
Prime your razor with a strop before each shave. Press the blade flush against the linen side and run it back and forth about a dozen times; repeat on the leather side.
Skip the pre-shave oil. The last thing you want while you're holding what's basically an open switchblade is a slippery palm. Opt for thick shaving cream and use a badger brush.
3. Get your skin out of the way
Stretch your skin upward as you shave to prevent the blade from catching on it. "The trickiest area is the chin, since it's the most curved," Haar says.
4. Find the right grip
Keep the blade at a 30-degree angle. If you hold it too flush against your face, you're not going to lop off the hair, and if it's at a full 90 degrees, you might slash your cheek.
The Guide to Manual Razors
Most American men buy their razors at drugstores, and for good reason: The big-brand blades get the job done. But how many blades do you really need? It started with one. Today you're probably using five. Here's how to figure out which razor is right for you.
FOR NORMAL SKIN
5 BLADES > Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power
If you're the type of guy who has a five o'clock shadow by 10:30 a.m., five-blade razors are for you. In addition to a moisturizing strip infused with mineral oil, this version has blades that are 15 percent thinner than the previous incarnation's, so tough stubble won't get tugged or pulled.
FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
3 BLADES > Schick Hydro
Razors with three blades are a great middle ground for guys prone to razor burn. This one has protective buffers on the edges of the blades to reduce redness and an aloe-vera-and-vitamin-E moisturizing strip that will last as long as the razor does.
FOR INGROWN-HAIR-PRONE SKIN
1 BLADE > The Double-Edge Safety Razor
The safety blade—a retro favorite that has reemerged—is a smart solution for guys who suffer from ingrown hairs: Because multiple blades cut hair below the skin's surface, they often make the problem worse. Just give yourself some extra time to shave.
THE UPGRADE br>
A BETTER HANDLE > Fusion Style Italian Shave Set
Dark wood, ceramic, or silver artisanal handles—most of which work with drugstore blades—are weighted just right to keep you from grinding the blades against your skin. Complete the set with a badger brush and stand.
The Cleaning Technique
Don't wait until you're done scraping your face to de-gunk your razor. Rinse it with hot water and tap it lightly on the side of the sink periodically as you go. When you're finished, wash the razor thoroughly with hot water.