What Is a Styptic Pen?

by David Robinson ; Updated September 28, 2017

It is easy to slip and cut the skin, drawing blood, when shaving your chin or leg. One of the quickest ways to stop the bleeding is to use a styptic pencil.

What Does Styptic Mean?

The word "styptic" is derived from the ancient Greek word "stuptikos," meaning "capable of contracting." When you cut yourself you rupture blood vessels, allowing blood to escape. Chemicals capable of reducing blood flow by contracting the blood vessels are known as styptics.

Purpose

Styptic pens are short, medicated sticks designed to be rubbed on a cut to check bleeding and promote healing. They were common in wet-shaving kits before the advent of the safety razor, and still have a place in many shaving kits today.

Composition

Styptic pens contain an alum, such as aluminum sulfate or aluminum potassium sulfate. These chemicals contract your capillaries and stem blood loss. Titanium dioxide, talc, perfumes, waxes or alcohols may be added to blend the styptic with skin tones. These substances the ingredients together and make the pen aesthetically pleasing.

About the Author

David Robinson has written professionally since 2000. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Meteorological Society. He has written for the "Telegraph" and "Guardian" newspapers in the U.K., government publications, websites, magazines and school textbooks. He holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in geography and education and a teaching certificate from Durham University, England.