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What is a styptic pencil made of?

Updated April 17, 2017

Shaving can often nick or cut facial skin, and styptic pencils help stop the bleeding quickly. Although safety razors have made shaving easier on skin and reduced the frequency of cuts, styptic pencils remain essential to any shaving kit.

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Active Ingredient

The active and primary ingredient in styptic pencils is alum. Alum's astringent properties cause the skin to stop bleeding and help the wound to heal.


Styptic pencils can be applied to the nick or cut as soon as it occurs.


Many men dislike the stinging sensation that styptic pencils cause but continue to use the pencils because they work so well.

Other Uses

Along with stopping the bleeding, styptic pencils make the cut less visible and help seal the skin, reducing the chance of infection.

Pencil Alternatives

Alternatives to the styptic pencil include alum blocks and roll-on products containing aloe.

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About the Author

Elisabeth Dahl is a freelance writer and copyeditor who has worked in publishing since 1991. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University, where she was a Writing Center Associate Fellow.

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