A very good alternate title for this post would be: How do I shave with a safety razor without cutting myself?
The name ‘safety razor‘ is actually pretty oxymoronic. When do you ever see the words ‘safe’ and ‘razor’ used together? Only in this instance. And what happens is that it lulls you into this false sense of security about how easy it will be to shave with one.
For those who remember their first attempt at shaving with a safety razor, it’s probably a bit of a gruesome tale. I definitely went through a bunch of styptic that first time.
However, I think our contributing whiskey/cigar editor, Chris, takes the cake for worst first-go with a safety razor. I clearly remember the photo he texted me. Looked like he’d been mauled by a bear. I don’t think he shaves with one anymore.
Now, there’s no guarantee that your first try with a safety razor will go off without a hitch (or nick), but if you follow these tips, you will drastically increase those odds.
How to shave with a safety razor
1. Prepare your skin properly. Wash, exfoliate and use a good shaving cream or soap. Best to shave right after getting out of the shower, but a hot washcloth on the beard area for a minute or two will do the trick as well.
2. Always use a fresh blade. Now, this may sound like a recipe for cutting yourself but…
3. Let the blade do the work; don’t use excess pressure. This is where 100% of people screw up. Multiblade cartridges have conditioned us to being okay with pushing the blades against our faces. A gentle touch is all you need for the blade to lift and slice the hair.
4. Use short strokes. Forget what you’ve seen in shaving commercials with dudes taking those long, jaw-length strokes with their razors. It’s not the proper way, plus it greatly increases your chances of nicking yourself.
5. Go with the grain. You should already know which direction your beard hair grows – make sure you’re shaving with the grain on the first pass. Note that it may grow in different directions on different parts your face.
6. Re-lather and go against the grain. If you want. I generally forego the second pass, especially when I’ve got to shave a few days in a row. One pass with a fresh blade gets my shave plenty close.
Have any safety razor shaving tips (or horror stories)? Chime in!
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