Barbershop Shaving Techniques: Tips For An Amazing Straight Razor Shave

Guys, shaving is an art form, not a chore. Sure, you could just click on that dull, electric razor that’s been sitting in your bathroom drawer and go to town. Leaving yourself with a less than ideal shave and an even less meaningful experience. Or, you could add a touch of class to your shaving routine, while getting the closest, smoothest shave possible. How to achieve this? We’re glad you asked. Straight-razor shaving has been a staple of reputable barbershops for nearly 200 years, and for good reason. While other shaving method shave come and gone, only one has stood the test of time!

Now just because straight razor shaving has been around since the 1600’s doesn’t mean we haven’t made significant advancements in the tools and techniques of the trade. So much so that it is easier than ever to experience the class and effectiveness of a great straight razor shave in the comfort of your own bathroom. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know a thing or two to get you going. Here’s everything you need to know to get an amazing straight razor shave in the comfort of your own home.

Preparation is key, and frankly, is all part of the experience. So, the first step is to prepare your shaving cream. A great shaving cream will be light and airy so that it effectively lifts hairs up and away from your skin for the closest shave possible with the least amount of irritation. A really great shaving cream, like Supreme Cream Shave Lather from Jack Black, will also be infused with natural oils like Soybean and Macadamia Nut to provide a protective barrier from moisture loss as well as skin soothing benefits.

Once you’ve chosen your cream, it’s time to mix. It is highly recommended that you grab yourself a shave brush, like this one from West Coast Shaving, which is made of 3-band badger hair, regarded as the best natural hair for shaving brushes due to its water retention and soft feel. You can also grab yourself a shaving scuttle as well to complete the set, however if you’re working with a lower budget, simply using an old coffee mug will do the trick as well.

To begin scoop out an almond size dollop of shaving cream into your mug. You’ll want to run you shave brush under some warm water before mixing. It’s important that the brush is wet, but not dripping, as you’ll want to start adding small amounts of water to the cream in order to achieve your desired consistency. Begin mixing, moving the shave brush in consistent circular motions. Periodically add small drops of water to your mixture until you’ve developed the perfect lather. What you’re looking for is a lather that is dense with no visible bubbles. The bubbles will serve as an indicator of the water density of your lather. If there are too many bubbles, you have added too much water. If this happens simply add another small dollop of cream to your mixture until the consistency is correct. You’ll know when you have an amazing lather by the lack of bubbles and rich, smooth foamy appearance.


The rules of straight-razor shaving are slightly different from standard shaving practices. Thus, it’s important to have a firm grasp of the task at hand, literally! Here’s the step-by-step process you need to follow.

  1. Prepare Your Face: Before even thinking of touching the blade to your skin, it’s important to do everything possible to prepare your face for a great shave. Rinsing your face to remove and dirt or oil built up is key. It is also very important, and we can’t stress this enough, use warm water to rinse. Using warm water allows for your pores to open, pushing your hair follicles up and away from the skin, as well as soften them in the process. This is not only going to ensure the closest shave possible, but also limit the irritation caused by the blade. If you want to go the extra mile to ensure an amazing shave, using a hot towel is a trick of the pros.
  2. Apply Your Shave Cream: Now that you’ve mastered the whip, it’s time for application. Using your shave brush apply a light coat to your skin. Remember to keep this coat thin. A common mistake guys make is lathering up too thick. Not only does this not provide and additional protection, but it actually makes it harder to work the razor across your face. You also want to make sure you don’t go too thin. If you notice your lather starting to dry up, you’ve gone too thin with your mix.

    PRO TIP: Allow the shave cream to sit on your face long enough to soften your hair follicles. This is going to allow the blade to glide smoother across your skin, reducing irritation and snags.
  3. Proper Blade Technique: First of all, there’s no sense in learning great technique if you don’t have the right tool for the job. You’ll want to get your hands on a quality safety razor, like this one from The Men’s Room Barber Shop. Holding the razor properly is key. You’ll want to hold the razor at a 30-degree angle from your face. Holding the razor at too flat of an angle will tear the stubble from you skin not shave it, leading to unnecessary irritation. Holding the razor at too steep of an angle will cut the skin. 30 degrees is the sweet spot. Keep it locked in. Go slow and steady. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a sharp blade! Dull blades decrease the effectiveness of your passes, and even worse, increase the risk of injury. Make sure you’re using a quality blade, like these ones from New England Shaving Company. A quality blade will give you 3-4 great shaves, but after that, it’s time to switch it out.
  4. Sideburns & Cheeks: Your first strokes will be at your sideburns working downward. Keep in mind your strokes should be short and deliberate. Making one pass across your entire face is definitely going to cause some problems. Keep your strokes accurate and consistent. The skin stretch is also super important here. Using the fingers of your opposite hand, you want to pull your skin taught to eliminate any unnecessary irritation or snags. Work with the blade not against it. Your face will thank you.
  5. Chin: After shaving your sideburns and cheeks it’s time to move on to your chin. Begin by working across your chain moving either right to left, or left to right, depending on your particular growth pattern. The goal is to go with the grain. Use the middle of the blade to shave your chin. Because of the rounded nature of our chins, it’s important to use the center of the blade to reduce the possibility of any accidental cuts.
  6. Lips: Next up is your upper lip. For this area you’ll want to take your free hand and slightly pull on your cheek. This will tighten the skin above your upper lip, making it much easier to shave. For the area directly under your nose, simply use your finger to gently lift your nose up, allowing you to get in close.

    PRO TIP: While you may look a little funny (who cares you’re not putting on a show), the best way to stretch your lips for an amazing shave is to keep your lips closed together, but open your jaw. This is going to easily stretch the skin around your lips taught to make shaving a total breeze. Not to mention make shaving the often-missed section directly below your nose easy as can be.
  7. Neck: Finally, it’s time to tackle your neck. Now we hope it goes without saying, but you need to be extremely careful shaving this area. The key here again is slow and steady. Make short, precise strokes and follow the natural grain of the hair on your neck to eliminate any resistance on the blade. Again, we cannot stress enough. BE CAREFUL!
  8. Cool The Burn: You may need to repeat the entire process a second time until you get more comfortable with the process. If so, lather back up and make another pass. To close out the whole process, rinse your skin with cold water to help close your pores and cool off the skin. Again, use a cold towel to go the extra mile. This will help to eliminate and type of in-grown hairs or skin irritation. Then congratulate yourself on a shave well done!


Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of use a a great aftershave balm or aftershave splash. Regardless of your skill level with the blade, shaving is a naturally irritating process to your skin. So, you need to nourish it, and provide it with a little TLC from the beating it just took. A great aftershave balm, like the one from Mod Cabin Grooming, will be alcohol-free, which is key to not drying your skin out or causing further irritation. If it’s not alcohol-free, it’s not for you. Simply use your fingers to rub the balm across your face in a circular motion, massaging it gently into your skin. High-quality ingredients like shea butter and essential oils will immediately begin hydrating your skin and repairing the small cracks that occur from shaving, eliminating razor burn and in-grown hairs. Most balms will also provide a light, manly scent as well to not only keep your face looking great, but smelling great as well!

PRO TIP: Just as important as using a great aftershave or balm, is knowing how long to use it for! Most guys make the mistake of thinking “aftershave” is just that, only for after you shave. In reality, you should be using a quality aftershave splash or balm for up to two days after the fact. You’ll know when it’s time to stop because you will visibly see hairs growing out of your pores. If you can learn to work the two-day aftershave rule into your shave routine, you’ll significantly reduce the number of in-grown hairs you have to deal with between shaves.

Now if you’re in the Buffalo, N.Y. or East Aurora, N.Y. area, you’re in luck. Our skilled professionals can provide you with the cleanest, safest, and most effective straight razor experience. But for those times in between coming to see us, enjoy shaving with the class and style of a true barbershop shave, in the comfort of your own bathroom.