How to Shape Your Beard With a Straight Razor

by Chance Henson
Sharpen your blade on a strop before shaving.

Sharpen your blade on a strop before shaving.

The modern man has more gadgets and gizmos to shave his facial hair than has ever been available in history. Between laser hair removal treatments and super-hyped high-tech razors, men today can groom faster than ever -- slap on some shaving cream and you’re done in two minutes flat. If you’re a beard enthusiast, however, you want a high-quality shave that requires the precision and closeness of a straight razor.

Shower or bathe before beginning your shave to remove dirt and oils from your skin and stiffen your facial hair. Wash your face and beard thoroughly if you do not have time to shower.

Bathe a towel in hot water, as hot as you can take, and wring excess water from the towel. Wrap the towel around your face and let it remain on the face for no less than two minutes to open your pores. This process makes shaving easier and helps prevent ingrown hairs, razor bumps and inflammation.

Run your straight razor blade in back-and-forth motions against both sides of the strop for 30 seconds; the linen side warms your blade, while the leather side sharpens it.

Review your profile in your mirror to determine the exact areas of your beard that you wish to trim and shape. Using your shaving brush, apply a generous amount of shaving cream in circular motions to the areas you wish to shape.

Hold both the blade and razor handle in your hand and carefully bring the blade to your face. Place the blade at a 90-degree angle in the same direction you plan to shave. Carefully shave your facial hair with the grain (in the same direction of facial hair growth).

Apply shaving oil to the shaved portions of your face to prepare your skin for shaving against the grain. Rinse your blade and place at a 90-degree angle in the same direction you plan to shave. Gently reshave the areas against the grain (in the opposite direction of facial hair growth).

Rinse your face with warm water to remove any residual shaving cream. Rinse your face with cold water to close your pores. Thoroughly dry your face and apply after-shave lotion.

Items you will need

  • 2 towels
  • Hot water
  • Strop
  • Straight razor
  • Mirror
  • Shaving brush
  • Shaving cream
  • Shaving oil
  • Cold water
  • After-shave lotion


  • Rinse your blade frequently to prevent buildup.


  • Always exercise caution when using a straight razor.
  • Consult a professional barber in proper shaving technique if you are unsure of your ability to use a straight razor safely.

About the Author

Chance Henson earned a B.A. in English literature and a writing minor from Lamar University. While interning at the "University Press" newspaper and "UP Beat" magazine he received an award for news feature writing from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. Henson went on to serve as content editor for "CUSH Magazine," eventually leaving to pursue the development of an online secular humanist educational publication.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images