The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Straight Razor Shaves Can Do You Good

Looking for a closer shave? This old-school method might do the trick.

Medically reviewed in July 2022

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of traditional barber shops catering to men. Men can now reach for a newspaper or look up at a big screen television while having their regular trim. In keeping with the traditional barber shop services, some even offer a straight razor shave.

Once considered as the most common way to shave a man’s face, some men now go through life having never shaved with a straight razor—myself included. Is this old-timey method of shaving just for show? Is it just another ironic practice for a hipster to pick up? Or are there real benefits to shaving with a straight razor?

Close cut
“It’s a closer shave” said Markus Tran, a barber at Mojo Barbershop in Honolulu. He has been giving straight razor shaves at the downtown location for the past four years.

Besides giving you baby-soft skin, it’s good for you. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests shaving with a sharp blade to minimize skin irritation. A close shave also exfoliates the skin and helps prevent pores from clogging.

Save money
Straight razors can last for decades if properly cared for, even handed down through generations. The initial investment of a razor may seem costly, but they can save money in the long run by preventing you from frequently buying disposable blades.

Preparation
Razor bumps are just one of the skin conditions listed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine that can result from improper shaving technique. Take some time to recognize the direction of your hair growth as you’ll want to avoid shaving against the grain.

Once that is determined, some items to consider are pre-shaving cream and lathering product to soften the hair cuticle. You can use a brush to apply the lather. Tran suggests using cooling or toning moisturizer for the skin’s pores after the shave.

Last but not least, there’s the straight razor itself. Whether new or a family heirloom, a straight razor should be honed and sharpened before every shave. Tran explained that a stone is used to hone while a leather strap is used to smooth out the blade.

Under the razor
After all this shave talk, I was ready to give it a try myself. I sat back in one of the Mojo Barbershop’s chairs and waited for Tran to bring a very sharp blade to my face. As he wrapped my face with a steaming towel, he informed me that he would be shaving with a disposable straight blade, which is in accordance with Hawaii State law. That news put my inner germaphobe at ease, knowing I wouldn’t be sharing skin cells with anyone else.

Prior to massaging the lather into my skin, we also briefly discussed my facial hair growth pattern and some areas where I may be sensitive. It turns out my sensitive areas are where the hair grows in a different direction, causing me to shave against the grain. Tran advised that he will not be shaving as close to the skin in those areas.

After 20 minutes in Tran’s chair, I sat up completely refreshed. Ending with a cold towel wrap and some cooling moisturizer, I could honestly say that I’ve never felt as minty fresh as I did right then.

The verdict
Our morning routines can be hectic, but if you have the time, a straight razor might be ideal for you. Once you’ve gained enough experience, Tran said you can do a full straight razor shave in about 10 minutes. If you have a mustache or goatee, expect to spend around five minutes.

Before you invest in a product, have a shave done by a professional to determine whether or not your skin is sensitive to such a close shave. Whether you choose straight, single or multi-blade razors, the moral of the story is when in doubt, always shave with the grain.

This content originally appeared on Island Scene.

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