How to master a cut-throat razor
How to master a skill that was second nature to our grandfathers. Think of it like driving: safety razors are a bit like an automatic, whereas a straight edge razor is like a manual - it requires a degree of skill but is ultimately far more rewarding.
Want to try it for yourself? Here are a few tips for a perfectly close, single-blade shave...
Shower first and allow the steam to soften the hair, then cleanse and/or exfoliate with a scrub to clean the shave area. Apply shave oil to create a layer of lubrication at the end of the shower - don't wash it off. Straight out of the shower apply shave gel or cream (in the beginning it's helpful to use a clear gel so you can see the stubble).
Master your angles
Keeping the blade at a 30 to 35 degree angle to the skin is essential: any more and risk cutting yourself, any less and you tug the hairs out at the root causing irritation. While it's easy to start out at this angle, the trick is to maintain it as you glide over the contours of your face. Once you can master this, the shave really speeds up.
One of the main reasons for nicks is catching the skin. To avoid this, pull your skin as flat and taut as you can with your free hand in the opposite direction to the razor. Adjust this depending on the area and direction of the hair growth that you are shaving - it's just a matter of finding what works best for you.
Make the first entry at the base of the sideburn and work down the cheek. Repeat on the other side until you are left with a strip from your top lip to your Adam's apple. Use your thumb and forefinger to stretch the skin flat on the chin and shave perpendicular to the direction of hair growth, working from one side to the other. Curl your bottom lip and go against the grain using one movement, scooping the blade. For the top lip, stroke down either side until you are left with a square of hair under your nose (aka "the Adolf") then pinch either side flat to remove it.
Fewer strokes make a closer shave.Re-shaving an area is the number one way you'll get razor burn from a cutthroat. Make sure you take small strokes - one cm per stroke - on an area, but don't go over it again in the same action.
Wipe the hair and foam on a tissue or flannel to clean the blade. If you notice you've still got hair there, come back to it at the end.
Use a brush, wash and re-shave
Re-applying the foam has a double action: by keeping the beard moist it helps the razor blade to glide over and not graze the skin and the brush action lifts any stray hairs you might have missed in the area, giving a really thorough shave.
When you've finished, rinse your face with warm water, then dry with a cold towel and take a closer inspection in the mirror. It's only when your face is dry that you can see all the strays you've missed. Re-apply foam and shave again where necessary. Finally, lock in the moisture with a balm or moisturiser to protect the skin.