Straight Razor Care and Maintenance Tips for Barbers and Stylists

Our Pro Line consists of products we recommend for performing top-notch services in barber shops and salons. We received a question this week regarding our Pro Line which we feel might be helpful to other barbers and stylists using our straight razors. With Sydney’s permission, we have included her original email below:

“I am a barber and I recently purchased a straight razor from you guys. I am absolutely in love with it, however, I couldn’t find definitive after care instructions on your site. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Best,
Sydney

 

First, we love this question and what it says about Sydney’s professionalism. Not only has she invested in quality, sustainable tools for the trade, she's taking the initiative in learning to care for those tools and protect her investment! For those seeking a competent barber near Simi Valley, look no further. You can book an appointment here: @syd.scissorhands

straight razor shaving in the Portland Shave Shop Barber Shop in Portland, OR

Straight Razor Care, Between Services

Fortunately, caring for your Cascade Steel straight razor between shaves is super easy and can be broken down into the three S’s:

Strop! — Sanitize! — Store!

Strop

Stropping keeps your razor keen, clean, and ready to shave effortlessly. After sanitation and skin prep, having a sharp blade is the most important factor in providing a quality shave service, so don’t skip it! The more often you strop, the less time it takes each stropping to restore the edge to shaving sharp. At a minimum, strop your razor at the beginning and end of every shift, but ideally before every service. While this may seem like a cumbersome chore--especially at first while you’re getting the technique down--just remember how much time is wasted changing blades in your shavette. It also gets a lot faster the more you practice. Skipping the strop or doing so improperly will result in lost time waiting for the razor to be sharpened down the road. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our in-depth stropping tutorial.

Sanitize

Between services, rinse the entire razor and immerse in an approved disinfectant. This isn’t just because it’s required by health authorities (which we’ve written about extensively in a previous post); keeping your razor clean will keep it looking and performing its absolute best. Since you’re using our Cascade Steel razors, the entire razor is safe to immerse in water and high-level disinfectants for worry-free sanitation and compliance.

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Store

Once your razor is properly stropped and sanitized, close and store it somewhere safe. Ideally, your razor should have its own sheath or box; don’t just toss it in your kit, since other tools can slide between the razor’s scales and damage the edge inadvertently. A toothbrush travel holder is an easy-to-clean and widely available storage solution for your cutthroat razor!

We hope you found this helpful! If you have any other questions, please send them to us!



The Best (and Worst) Straight Razor Oils to Prevent Rust

A straight razor demands respect; take care of your tools, and they will take care of you! With proper maintenance, a quality straight razor can last several lifetimes. The more you use your razor, the more important routine maintenance becomes. Besides stropping and honing, oiling your razor is an important step to consider in protecting your razor’s longevity.

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When developing our Cascade Steel straight razors, we reached for modern materials with superior edge retention and stainless properties, which means frequent oiling would be redundant. Unfortunately, for 200 years the best razors were made with high-carbon steels. High carbon steels get incredibly hard and sharp, but can rust if water even enters the room! Since wet shaving is inherently--well, wet, rust prevention is an important step for a majority of straight razor users. This includes those using vintage straight razors and razors by Portland Razor Co. made with O1 high-carbon tool steel. In this article, we review some of the best and worst oils for straight razor rust-prevention.

A good razor oil:

  • Displaces water effectively

  • Is skin safe

  • Is safe for common scales materials and finishes

  • Does not resinify

  • Won’t spoil or go rancid

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Recommended Straight Razor oils

Camellia Oil - Great

Refined camellia oil (also known as tea seed oil) is a fantastic all-around razor oil. It is a light, skin safe, colorless oil with low viscosity which does a good job of displacing water and is easy to apply. Provided it is well refined, it shouldn’t resinify or spoil.

Mineral Oil - Great

Mineral oil is a widely available and very effective razor oil. Low to medium viscosity, skin safe, safe for scales materials, does not resinify, won’t spoil, petroleum product.

Ballistol - GREAT

Ballistol is marketed as an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum products like mineral oil and WD-40. It is skin safe, biodegradable, low viscosity, aerosol. In general, Ballistol will not resinify, however we have encountered a few instances where it reacted negatively with other oils and became sticky.

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We don’t recommend…

WD-40 - Not Recommended

WD-40 works, but keep it off your skin and scales. We like it because there’s a good chance you already have some at home! The “WD” literally stands for “Water Displacement,” and it does that job really well. It also contains solvents which help break up old grease and rust but can be harmful to scales. It is not listed as a known carcinogen but is irritating to some when in contact with the skin or if fumes are inhaled. For these reasons, we wouldn’t recommend it as your go-to razor oil, but it works in a pinch or if performing a restoration of a razor with lots of build-up on it.

Olive Oil - Not Recommended

Yes, you can prevent rust with olive oil! But, should you? It has medium viscosity, it displaces water, you probably have some in your kitchen, and it is obviously skin and food safe... It can also resinify fairly quickly and will go rancid over time. You should avoid any culinary misadventures in the bathroom by using olive oil (or any other cooking oil) to prevent rust only in emergencies.

Petroleum Jelly - Not recommended (Worst option)

You can do a lot of things with petroleum jelly. Sure, you can slather it all over your straight razor and successfully keep it from rusting… but please don’t. The goopy stuff sticks well to your straight razor to displace water, but it attracts and holds everything else it might come into contact with such as dirt or hair. It’s very much a bummer to clean off as well, requiring soapy water or solvents in all the razor’s nooks and crannies (which is exactly where you don’t want water and solvents!). Cleanup is an important consideration since removal of oils is a necessary step prior to honing to keep contaminants out of your expensive water stones.

We hope you found this review of razor oils helpful! Did you learn something new? Do you have a question about razor oils? Leave it in the comments below! If you are ready to take the next step in learning to care for your razor, consider signing up for an upcoming honing and maintenance class. There you will have the benefit of hands-on instruction with a Portland Razor Co razorsmith for more specific and nuanced guidance.