A styptic pencil is a tool used to control the bleeding from small nicks and cuts obtained during shaving. The pencil works by applying a form of Alum, usually aluminum sulfate, or titanium dioxide to the wound, which when introduced to the cut (wound) causes the blood vessels to contract which helps to stop the bleeding. Styptics tend to be more aggressive than alum blocks due to the difference in the active substance (aluminum sulfate vs. aluminum potassium sulfate).
Styptic pencils tend to sting quite a bit when used. Many companies produce styptic pencils. The most common noted differences are:
1. The size; some as thin as an actual pencil and the others as thick as a Sharpie marker.
2. The density; some are pressed hard and feel like crystal and the others are a softer compressed powder.
The pressed powder styptic pencils are easier to apply and transfer more product to the cut. A method of use is to run cold water over the styptic pencil, then work it into the cut. Continue to rub or work the styptic into the cut until you notice the bleeding has stopped. The remainder of the product can be gently removed with a damp cloth or cotton swab. Take special care as to not disturb the actual cut and aggravate the blood vessels. Aftershave or other post shave treatments can be placed over the styptic treated area with no problem.