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What is a Styptic Pencil? (How To Use for Shaving & Where To Find)

If you are new to shaving or maybe you cut yourself while shaving and are trying to figure out ways to stop the incessant bleeding that happens, you are probably wondering what a styptic pencil is.

A styptic pencil is a small stick used on cuts especially during wet shaving to create a barrier over the blood flow and seal the cut. It is made from powdered crystals from an alum block and a wax binder. Although there are specialized options available, styptic pencils tend to be relatively inexpensive, making them an essential part of your kit.

Keep reading for more information about styptic pencils, how to use them, and where you can buy one for your shaving kit. 

What is a styptic pencil?

Styptic has been around for a long time and has been used as a tool to stop bleeding. Cuts and nicks while wet shaving especially can lead to a consistent blood flow, but with a styptic pencil, you can seal the cut faster and easier by putting water over the cut and rubbing the styptic pencil over it. 

A styptic pencil is made from a combination of powdered crystals from an alum block and a wax binding substance that helps to create a barrier over the blood flow and seal the wound. These two substances are combined into a handy pencil shape for easy application to the cut. 

A styptic pencil is made from substances that have antiseptic and astringent properties. The powdered crystals from the alum block will help to protect against disease-causing microorganisms and the astringent properties help to reduce bleeding and inflammation.

These properties in combination with a wax binder help to protect your cut from any infections while also stopping the blood flow so you can get on with your day. 

What makes a styptic pencil work?

The combination of alum block powdered crystals and wax binding substances in a styptic pencil help to seal wounds and are great options for when you need to stop bleeding from a small cut in a pinch. It is also helpful for cleaning the wound to prevent any infections.

Styptic pencils work by using alum block crystals and a wax binding substance to constrict blood vessels over the cut and help it clot more effectively. This seals the wound up, stops the bleeding, and disinfects the area. 

If you cut yourself frequently while shaving or if the persistent bleeding after a cut is becoming an issue, look no further than a styptic pencil.

Are styptic pencils natural or synthetic?

If you are looking to buy a styptic pencil, you may be wondering whether they are made from natural or synthetic ingredients.

All styptic pencils are made from the same basic substances: potassium alum and a wax binder. Potassium alum is a 100% naturally occurring mineral, but the wax binding agent can sometimes be made from synthetic ingredients. Depending on the brand you buy from, the wax binder can be natural or synthetic. 

Most styptic pencils are made from synthetic ingredients, but some brands offer natural ingredients exclusively and tend to add in other useful ingredients such as vitamin E and aloe vera. 

The most easily available styptic pencilsare made from synthetic ingredients because they are easier to get and cheaper to mass produce. I

f you look carefully though, you can find styptic pencils made from only 100% natural ingredients. Just make sure it’s a reputable brand and has good reviews. 

How to use a styptic pencil for shaving

If you’ve ever shaved, it’s happened to you: you’re going along happily and suddenly you’ve accidentally nicked yourself and you’re now starting to bleed. Instead of attempting to blot it with a bit of tissue paper, keep a styptic pencil on hand for a more hygienic (and attractive!) way to stop the blood flow.

You should always use a styptic pencil after you’ve made a small cut on the face from shaving to stop the bleeding quickly. Here is a step-by-step process on how to use one:  

  1. Remove your styptic pencil from its casing and lightly moisten it.
  2. Lightly dab the area of the cut with the styptic pencil and allow the area to dry.
  3. Now that the bleeding has stopped, go ahead and rinse the pencil and allow it to air dry. Do not put the styptic pencil back inside the casing while wet or else it may get mushy.
  4. After using a styptic pencil there is usually some white residue leftover on the area of the cut. Wipe the area gently with a damp towel to rid of any residue.

Using a styptic pencil is quite a simple process and will make cleaning up after cutting yourself while shaving a much easier process.

If you’d like to see these steps in action, check out this video that shows great instructions on how to use a styptic pencil. 

Do you wet a styptic pencil?

Before using a styptic pencil, you will need to wet it.

After taking the styptic pencil out of its casing, it’s important that you run it under water and hold it there for a few seconds. This helps to activate the substances in the pencil so it can more effectively help to seal up the wound and stop the bleeding. 

Why does a styptic pencil sting?

Styptic pencils are made from substances that contain astringent to dry out and disinfect cuts.

Since they contain germ-killing ingredients, they will sting a little, but don’t worry, that means it is working to help clean the area and prevent infections. 

How do you clean a styptic pencil?

The great thing about styptic pencils is that they are such low-maintenance tools, making them a fantastic addition to your everyday shaving kit.

Cleaning a styptic pencil is quick, easy, and only requires a small amount of effort. 

To clean a styptic pencil, simply run it under water after use and let it air dry (this is the most important part). You can also wipe it with a paper towel quickly if you’re short on time, but it is best to let it air dry.

After using a styptic pencil there is usually some white residue leftover on the face. Wipe off that residue with a clean, damp towel. Both of these procedures will greatly reduce the risk of any sanitization or health issues as leftover blood can cause diseases especially for other people. 

Where to buy a styptic pencil

Styptic pencils are widely available and can be found at pretty much every store that also sells shaving supplies.

The best places to look are pharmacies and supermarkets if you’re trying to pick up one locally. Otherwise, Amazon is a great choice with a wide variety of options. 

In this section, we will go over where you can buy a styptic pencil and the best recommendation for that store.


As you’re certainly aware, you can buy just about everything on Amazon – in this case, the hard part is figuring which one you should try!

Clubman Styptic Pencil

This Clubman Styptic Pencil is perhaps the most commonly bought styptic pencil for regular shavers. It has everything you need to seal up those cuts at for just $2 and is great for travel or only taking up little space in your kit.

I’ve had one of these in my shaving kit literally for years and it is still going strong!

Pacific Shaving Company Nick Stick

If you’re looking for something on the more natural side, then the Pacific Shaving Company Nick Stick is for you. This $16 styptic pencil gives you everything you need to close those cuts and also includes vitamin E and aloe vera to help heal the area of the skin and further rid it of bacteria. It rolls on nicely for a good feel and dries clear so there is less of a messy cleanup process. 


Buying a styptic pencil from CVS can be a bit tricky.

Many of their stores have stopped carrying them, but look in the shaving aisle and you may find a few on the bottom shelf.

Keep in mind that their pencils tend to be a bit overpriced, so I wouldn’t buy from them unless I needed one quickly. 

Goodline Grooming Co. Instant Nick Care

If you’re heading to CVS to pick up a styptic pencil-like tool then the Goodline Grooming Co. Instant Nick Care roll-on should be everything you need.

This styptic pencil goes for $6, but it also contains vitamin E and witch hazel which is great for your skin and will leave it quite happy.


As with CVS, you’ll probably be able to find a good styptic pencil at Walgreens, but you’ll be paying more for it than you would at other retailers.

Clubman Dab-on Nick Relief


If you’re trying to pick up a styptic pencil from Walgreens, then this Clubman Pinaud Dab-on Nick Relief Stick is a great option. It has everything you need to stop the bleeding after you cut yourself from shaving, and doesn’t sting as much. 

Keep in mind that this $3 styptic pencil is double the price that it is on Amazon (when you buy the 3-pack), and it may be quite difficult to find a Walgreens that actually has it as most of their stores have stopped carrying these pencils, so it’s best to give them a call to make sure they have it before going in. 

Rite Aid

Rite-Aid is a great option for buying styptic pencils locally as they usually always have them in stock, and they tend to be the same price that you would find on Amazon.

Check out Rite-Aid for buying your nick stick if you have one close by.

Clubman Pinaud Styptic Pencil

Again, the Clubman Pinaud Styptic Pencil is a commonly bought and great option to add to your shaving kit. This pencil has everything you need to stop the bleeding from cuts and disinfect the area. When purchased at Rite-Aid, a single pencil is $2.


Be mindful when trying to get a styptic pencil from Walmart as they may not have it in stock in the store. Be sure to either call them or go online and check if they have it in-store in your local area before going.

If they do have them in stock, then they probably have a wider variety of options than other local retailers, and at a better price.

Woltra Nick Relief Styptic Pencil

This Woltra Nick Relief Styptic Pencil is a great option for stopping bleeding after you cut yourself from shaving. It’s just a general styptic pencil and doesn’t include any extra useful ingredients. It comes in a pack of two for $5 and should last you a very long time.


Target is a great place to buy shaving products but be sure to check in-store availability online before heading in as not all of their stores have styptic pencils available. 

Pacific Shaving Company Nick Stick Roll-On

This Pacific Shaving Co. Nick Stick Liquid Roll-On is the same as the Amazon option, but it only comes with one stick instead of two. This is a great option for a styptic stick as it is made from natural ingredients and includes vitamin E and aloe to help heal and further disinfect the area of the skin. It also rolls onto the cut easily for a gentle feel.