Hair dressing apprentices are taught hand technique with a cut throat by soaping up a balloon then scraping the suds off. Having run a hair salon, I have suspected this has taught the apprentices to be frightened of using the cut throats. However, be gentle with the balloon and you will be gentle with your face.
When you do start to shave with a cut throat razor, don't stop using your previous razor. Have an overlap. Start with the easy parts first. Master shaving your cheeks before trying to shave your upper lip, adams apple, around the pimples, corner of your mouth, etc. Keep your existing shaver in service too. While learning be patient. Allow your skin to heal between attempts. Be persistent.
The traditional, old fashioned design has high quality steel which needs to be kept sharp. With the exception of budget Chinese models, prices start over A$100. These are more romantic and nostalgic. To use this type you will need a strop and need to learn how to sharpen it. Sharpening is an art of its own. Resting these razors for days between use allows the steel to somewhat straighten along the cutting edge. For those for whom money is not an issue, buy a set of seven razors, one for each day of the week, allowing the blades to rest between use. Resting a blade may sound like an urban myth, but there is merit to it. The metalurgy of steel is quite interesting but not discussed here.
Alternatively, there are cut throat razors with replacable disposable blades. This is good to start with as you only have to learn how to use it. Keeping it sharp is not a challenge as you just change blades. These days all barbers and hair salons use disposable blades to avoid cross infection between clients. There are different blade systems available. Some use the old fashioned double edge razor blades snapped in two, providing a single edge blade held in a folding holder then slipped into the razor proper. Others use single edged blades with a rigid spine which slip into the razor. There are other variations available. Prices are usually in the $20 to $60 range (AUD). A pack of 10 blades may be $5 to $20.
Last updated 1st December 2007, reformatted 29th September 2008.