Guide: How to shave with a straight razor?

Shaving with a straight razor is a discipline in itself. It requires both patience, dexterity and practice. Below you can read our guide on how to shave with a razor, advantages of using a razor, tips for choosing a razor and a bit about how to sharpen and maintain your razor for the best result.
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Advantages of using a straight razor

Advantages of using a straight razor

The biggest advantage of using a classic straight razor is that you achieve a very close and smooth shave. You only need to run the knife over the skin once to remove the stubble, which minimizes the risk of irritation and beard plague.

Once you have invested in a good straight razor, you will enjoy it for many years to come. You just have to remember to sharpen and maintain it.

Dovo makes some terrifically delicious straight razors of durable quality, available in a choice of materials and with unique gold-plated details. If you want the very best in straight razors, we recommend a knife from French Thiers-Issard. A work of art packed with delicious details and made of exclusive materials for men who don't skimp on equipment!
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Which straight razor should I choose?

Which straight razor should I choose?

Are you looking for a good straight razor that you can enjoy long into the future? Then we recommend that you invest in a very good quality knife from the start.

The steel itself is crucial to your experience. Carbon steel is the best in this regard. This type of steel is forged in a unique way that makes the knife very strong and sharp.

We recommend that you choose a blade that is not too wide. A size of 5/8" or 6/8" is a good guideline to follow, as these follow the contours of the face most easily.

There are different options when it comes to the tip of the knife. A "round nose" has a round end and is a really good choice if you are a beginner, as you will not easily cut the skin. A "french nose" looks like a quarter circle in profile with a sharper angled curve and a pointed end. This type makes it easier for you to shave washable areas such as under the nose. A "spanish point" gives an exclusive look. The advantage of this is that it is good for very fine and detailed work, but the disadvantage is that you can easily cut yourself. It is therefore not recommended for beginners. In addition, you will also find Straight Razors with a completely straight end "square nose" and then Dovo has made a new nose, called "inverted turkish point".
Step by step: How to shave with a Straight razor

Step by step: How to shave with a Straight razor

1: Preparation is essential
If you have a long beard, it is an advantage to trim it before you shave. It is important that you clean your face and then rinse with lukewarm water so that your stubble becomes soft and more pliable. You can advantageously apply a pressure shave to protect the skin optimally.
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2: Make shaving foam with your shaving brush
Soak the shaving brush in warm water and then give the brush a squeeze to drain the water. Run the brush around in your shaving soap or shaving cream until you achieve a thick, creamy consistency. Apply the now foaming product to the face in circular motions so that the stubble is lifted from the skin.
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3: The grip
There are many ways to hold the straight razor, and it is a matter of taste which grip works best for the individual. At hairdressing schools, students are taught a standard grip, which remains the most popular grip today. In this grip, you open the straight razor as much as possible so that you almost feel like you are turning it inside out. Then place the fingers as shown in the top four pictures.

There is also another grip that may be easier and more intuitive for you. In this grip, the straight razor is an extension of your finger, as you can see in the bottom two pictures.

However, it is important to point out that you cannot maintain the same grip throughout your shave. You have to change the grip along the way, in order to shave the entire face optimally.
4: The actual shaving with a knife
Always start shaving in the direction of the stubble. Hold the blade at a 30 degree angle. Avoid pressing the knife against the skin, but let its own weight do the work.
5: After shaving
Rinse the face with cold water to close the pores. Finish with a good aftershave, which soothes the skin and provides plenty of moisture and care.
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Shave Ready?

It is important to note:
There is a big difference in how the manufacturers deliver their straight razors. Not all are "shave-ready" (ie ready for use) upon receipt. If it is not shave-ready, you must start by strapping the knife with a leather strop and only then is it ready for your first shave. Further down in the guide you can read what a leather strop is and how to use it.
Daily cleaning and maintenance of your straight razor

Daily cleaning and maintenance of your straight razor

Although your straight razor is probably made of stainless steel, you should always wipe it down after use. The razor must therefore be clean and dry before you leave the bathroom.

Fortunately, it doesn't take many seconds to clean the razor on a daily basis.

Rinse the blade under the hot tap and then dry it carefully with a piece of paper towel. You can optionally give it a thin layer of oil if your bathroom has a very humid climate.
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How to sharpen your straight razor

How to sharpen your straight razor

It is important that you remember to sharpen your knife, as the blade can become a little uneven over time. If the blade is not sharp, there is a high risk of irritation, beard plague and redness, just like if you do not change your razor blade on a traditional razor.

There are two things you must use when sharpening your razor: A leather strop and a sharpening paste.

1) Leather strop
You must use a leather strop to keep your straight razor sharp and clean. At Proshave we have two types of leather strap: Paddle and Hanging. Paddle has a handle and can therefore be used easily without requiring a lot of space. The hanging strap has a loop at the end, which must be attached to a hook, a handle or the like. It is the most traditional and most effective strap. There are countless guides on the web on how to use the leather strap. A Paddle strap gives itself: You hold the strap in one hand and work with the straight razor in the other. With the Hanging strap, you have two options: Either you lay the strap flat on a table and strap there. Or you attach one end of the strap to a door handle, hold the other end with your hand and use the opposite hand to strap the straight razor. In the latter case, the strap will move freely while you sharpen the knife.
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2) Stropping paste
In the long run, it may become necessary to buy a grinding paste / stropping paste for your leather strop. These contain microscopic diamond particles that ensure you a super sharp straight razor. The pastes give your straight razor everything from an ultra fine grind to a coarser grind. Note though: Once you apply a sanding paste to the leather strap, there is no going back. Your leather strap will henceforth be more aggressive in its sharpening than it was when you bought it.

You can also buy a caring balm to freshen up your leather strop when it needs it.
See all stropping pastes here

When the straight razor is too dull - or you've lost your straight razor

If you don't constantly remember to maintain your straight razor on a strop, you will at some point find that it becomes very dull. If your straight razor is really dull at first, a leather strop is no longer enough to make it sharp and shave-ready. The same applies if you have dropped the straight razor and it has developed a large unevenness.

In that case, you need to get hold of a real whetstone - or even better: someone who knows how to use a whetstone. Only in this way can you get your straight razor back in top shape, so that you are guaranteed a close and comfortable shave in the future.


You are always more than welcome to write to us at if there is anything you are in doubt about.