How to use a safety razor

 

Safety razors need a decidedly different technique compared to cartridge razors. Nailing down the technique is an enjoyable process and worth the little effort it needs, considering the superior shaving experience one gets from a safety razor.

1 - Prep

As with everything in life, preparation is key when shaving with a safety razor. Prior to the shave take a warm shower or give your face a warm towel treatment. Alternatively, wash your face with a glycerin based face wash/soap or gently rub a pre-shave cream or oil on your stubble. This softens your beard which helps to get an irritation-free shave. 

 

2 - Lather

The next step is lathering your shaving soap or cream with a quality shaving brush. You could either lather it in your shaving bowl first and then your face, or directly face lather. If you use a synthetic shaving brush, dip it in warm water and then start with the lathering. If the lather is dry, dip the brush in the water again. If it is too wet, use more product. If you use a boar or badger shaving brush you should soak it in water while you prep for the shave, this will soften the bristles enough for a good lathering experience.

Lathering with a quality shaving brush helps to lift your stubble to a more perpendicular angle to the skin, which makes it easier for the safety razor to cut through it.

 

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3 - Shave 

Now's the business end of your ritual. There are some cardinal rules to follow for a great shave -

  1. The angle matters - Hold the safety razor with it's head against your skin and handle parallel to the ground. Slowly rotate the handle towards the ground and stop when you feel the blade touch your skin - that is the angle you should maintain throughout your shave. You might want to practice this a few times before your first shave.

  2. No pressure - Do not try to dig the razor into the skin or put pressure against the face. Let the weight of the razor do all the work for you.
  3. Short strokes - Shave with short, light strokes rather than long strokes
  4. Start with the grain - The first pass of your shave should always be with the grain i.e. shave in the direction of your hair growth.
  5. Let's do it again - You'll generally need more than one pass to get a clean shave. After the first pass, re-lather and now shave across the grain. If you have many days growth you might even want to do a third pass against the grain, but this is not something we'd recommend if you're just starting out. Be patient, nail down your technique and then you can try going against the grain.

 

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4 - Post shave

When you're done with the shave, finish off by rubbing an alum block or a post shave product across your face. A good indicator of whether you need to work on your technique is if you feel any sting with the alum block. If you do, that generally means your touch wasn't light enough. 

 

5 - Most importantly

Enjoy your shaves!

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