HOW TO SHAVE WITH A SAFETY RAZOR (UPDATE 2020)?
To shave with a safety razor, fill your sink with warm water and apply shaving cream to your beard. Wet the razor and position it at about a 30° angle to your skin, then shave in small strokes, making sure not to press down with your razor onto your skin.
Part 1: Assembling Your Razor
Unscrew the head and comb from the handle. Double-edged (DE) razors come in three parts — the head, which covers the razor blade; the comb, which fits between the head and the handle; and the handle itself, which you hold as you shave. Hold onto the head and comb as you unscrew the handle. This will unlock all three parts of your razor.
2Fit a sharp razor blade between the head and comb. Place a razor blade between the head and the comb, making sure to line up all three holes in the head, razor blade, and comb.
- Which razor blades should you choose? Your choice of razor blades will most likely depend on your beard. Thicker beards usually require sharper blades. Those with thinner beards will find that duller blades may be more forgiving, although they can tug at the beard instead of cutting right through them.
- Feather blades, made in Japan, are the industry standard when it comes to sharpness. If you take your time shaving (which you should), these blades will offer casual and serious groomers alike the closest shave.
Fasten the razor blade between by screwing the head and the handle together.Tighten the razor blade to its mooring between the head and the comb and you're ready to start shaving.
Developing a Pre-Shave Routine
Consider showering before you start shaving. Showering before shaving is an important step that many casual shavers forget but only some can get away with. Showering moisturizes and softens your beard, making the shaving process afterward easier, and producing fewer nicks and cuts.
Wash your face with warm water and facial soap or scrub. Over time, your face accumulates dead skin. Removing that layer of dead skin on your epidermis by washing before you take razor to skin often, if not always, results in a better shave. Scrubs, which contain small abrasives, do a particularly good job of sloughing off dead skin. Many men use glycerin soap before shaving to contribute to a better shave. Glycerine soap does a good job of both removing dead skin and smoothing out the skin without robbing it entirely of moisture.
3Work in a small amount of pre-shave cream into your beard. A small dab of pre-shave cream (often containing the aforementioned glycerin) softens the beard while prepping the surface of the skin for repeated contact with a blade.
- Some men prefer to work baby lotion into their beards pre-shave. The baby lotion may helps reduce irritation by providing a smooth surface for the razor to glide over.
Draw some warm water in your sink for your shave. Warm water feels especially nice on the skin. It also does a good job of clearing away stubble and gunk from between your DE razor when you clean it in between passes.
Lather up your shaving cream and apply it over your entire beard, making sure not to wash away any pre-shave cream. The casual shaver probably relies on shaving cream out of a can, as it's quick, cost-effective, and easy. This is perfectly acceptable. A new breed of men, however, are rediscovering the pleasure of lathering up shaving soap themselves with a badger-hair brush and a bit of warm water.
- Start with a little dab of shaving soap, a wet shaving brush, and a shaving mug. Start working the shaving soap around in circular motions using your brush. Apply small amounts of water as necessary.
- Mix your shaving soap vigorously for anywhere from 30 seconds to one and a half minutes, until the soap has been whipped up into an opalescent lather.
- Take the lathered shaving soap and work it into your beard with your brush. Use a gentle circular pattern to do this. Using a brush to apply the lather to your face further softens your beard and ensures that the lather has penetrated every available portion of your face. When the lather is all worked into your beard, smooth it out with a few strokes of your brush.
Mastering the Shave
Wet your DE razor and position it at about a 30° angle to your skin. Submerge your DE razor in the hot water and then position it at about a 30° angle. This angle ensures a close shave but doesn't produce a lot of nicks and cuts.
On the first pass, always shave with the grain. The direction in which the hairs of your beard grow out of your skin is called the grain. Shaving in the same direction as your hair grows — i.e. "with the grain" — chops off less beard, but is very forgiving. On your first pass, always go with the grain.
- If you've never shaved before, it will take some time to get to know the direction your beard. Every man's grain is different, and often changes depending on the hair's position on the face.
Frequently dip your razor into the bath of warm water and swirl it around. This dislodges hair and other gunk that gets caught in between the head, the blade, and the comb. Needless to say, a clogged safety razor will produce a less satisfying shave than a clean one.
Shave using small strokes, letting the weight of the DE razor do most of the work. Ever notice how commercials advertising shaving products always show men shaving using long, continuous strokes? That's not how you shave. It may look nice in commercials, but it turns you into a blood donor in real life. Use small strokes, making sure not to press down with your razor onto skin.
- The weight of your razor should be doing most of the work. If you feel like you need to press down with your razor onto skin in order to shave, either your blades aren't sharp enough or your razor isn't heavy enough.
Hold your skin taut to promote easier shaving. Holding your skin taut makes it easier for the razor blade to glide over your skin's surface. Holding your upper lip down, your lower lip up, as well as the skin beneath your jawline will give you a closer shave without as many nicks.
Pay special attention to problem areas. Problem areas are areas that often produce nicks, cuts, irritation and redness. For many men, these areas include the above and below the lips, beneath the jawline, or any other place on the face that is contoured instead of flat. When shaving these areas, take your time and shave against the grain. Be patient and willing to take several passes instead of trying to remove all stubble with the first pass.
Wet your face, apply another thin coat of cream, and take a second pass. The aim of the first pass is to remove most of your stubble, although there will still be some noticeable patches. The aim of the second pass is to shave away any remaining stubble without causing cuts or irritation.
- On the second pass, shave using sideways strokes or against the grain, albeit very carefully. Sideways strokes will trim the forest of your beard down to a clean sand-dune without producing much irritation.
- On the second pass especially, remember to unclog your razor, keep your skin taut, and always lather over areas you intend to shave for extra lubrication.
Repeat this general process as many times as necessary to produce a clean shave. All men have different beards and desire different shaves. Shave until you've achieved your desired level of closeness, keeping in mind that each extra pass you make increases your chance of producing nicks and irritation.
Developing a Post-Shave Routine
Clean your DE razor and splash your face with cold water. Warm water pre-shave, cold water post-shave. Whereas warm water opens us your pores, cold water causes them to contract. Cold water on your face feels especially refreshing, and helps stanch any blood caused by nicks.
Consider briefly submerging your blade in rubbing alcohol to wick away excess moisture. Water on blades causes rust; rust causes additional friction; friction causes a less comfortable shave. If you want to increase the longevity of your razor blades, unscrew them from the razor, submerge them in rubbing alcohol, and remove. Place back onto the cleaned razor when dry.
If you used one, clean off your brush and make sure it's relatively dry. Rinse your brush under cool water to remove any remaining soap. Lightly shake the wet brush until most of the water is gone. Store in a well-ventilated area.
Apply an aftershave to the face if desired. Aftershaves help tone and sometimes hydrate the skin post-shave. Essentially, there are two different types of aftershave — alcohol-based and witch hazel-based:
- Alcohol-based aftershaves are generally cheaper, but tend to sting and are prone to drying out the skin (much in the same way as they dry out the razor blade). They are the most widespread aftershave on the market.
- Witch hazel aftershaves are cooling and don't sting the skin, but offer less of a toner to skin than alcohol-based aftershaves. They are very forgiving and increasingly popular in the post-shave routine.
- If you're adventurous, you can even make your own aftershave. The process is straightforward and allows you to be creative.
Hydrate your skin with moisturizer. You've just poked and prodded your skin, tugging at and lumping off hair, probably along with some skin. In order to keep your face as healthy as possible, give it some nourishment in the form of moisturizer. Your skin will thank you.
If I shave once a day with a double edge safety blade, how long can I use the blade for?
It mostly has to do with your personal preference as it will dull with each use. That said, you should get about a week or so out of each razor.
How do I find and maintain a proper angle with my razor?
It is very simple, and just requires the trial and error of shaving once or twice. Be aware you will most likely get a few nicks the first few times.
To shave with a safety razor, fill your sink with warm water and apply shaving cream to your beard. Wet the razor and position it at about a 30° angle to your skin, then shave in small strokes, making sure not to press down with your razor onto your skin. On the first pass, always shave in the direction of your hair growth, and frequently dip your razor in the warm water to remove hair and shaving cream. After the first pass, wet your face and apply more shaving cream, then shave with sideways strokes or against the grain to get a smooth finish.
- Potassium alum (also called alum or alum block) is great for treating any nicks or cuts you give yourself shaving. Simply wet your face after shaving, rub an alum block over any problem areas (or over your entire face), and then pat dry. Alum will stop the bleeding very quickly, and doubles as a great acne-buster.