When it came to slashing customers’ throats, popular nineteenth-century barber Sweeney Todd put his faith in the straight razor-one quick slash of the trusty blade and the unfortunates were ready to be turned into rancid pies by ‘Mad’ Marge Lovett, his hoary accomplice. The customers he didn’t butcher left his shop after the closest shave of their life, and to this day whisker experts declare the straight razor to be the best a man can get. It remains highly dangerous, so approach with caution…
Before you begin
Rinse your face with hot water to soften your whiskers, open the pores, and ensure a closer shave. Lather the shaving area with shaving cream, preferably glycerine-based, using a circular motion with the bristles of the brush to lift the hairs and produce a rich, creamy lather. Experts suggest a badger-hair shaving brush works best, although badgers recommend a ferret-hair brush. Prepare the skin properly and the blade will glide across your face and give you a closer shave.
Step 1. Open the razor by gently gripping the handle with your thumb and three fingers. With the open handle pointing away from the face, place your little finger in the crook of the blade for a secure grip. The angle of the blade is determined by the contours of your face, but experts suggest you start at a 30-degree angle.
Step 2. Which part of your face you shave first is your call, but it’s vital to hold the skin taut with your free hand-creating a flatter surface will help the blade glide more smoothly. As you shave, each stroke of the blade should follow the grain of your whiskers and run smoothly for 3 to 4 centimeters at a time.
Step 3. When you’ve shaved the whole beard, re-lather and start again. The smoothest shaves take two passes, but this time the strokes of the blade should run against the grain of the beard.
Step 4. After two shaves your face should be as smooth as the day you were born, but hopefully less bloody. Rinse with cold water and apply a moisturizing balm. In preparation for next time, rinse the razor thoroughly with hot water, wipe dry, and store out of the reach of children and demented barbers.
For any minor nicks along the way, apply a moistened alum block to the cut. This magical soap-sized block possesses blood-vessel-constricting astringent properties to curb any minor blood loss. A styptic pencil does a similar job, and both are far more effective than plastering toilet paper all over your face.
© Man Skills