I get a lot of emails asking how to shave with a safety razor, double edge razor, or single edge razor. There are a few different techniques and tips I will share with you, but it’s not as mysterious and dangerous as it sounds. It’s fairly easy to get started and in time you will probably find that you get a better, closer, more comfortable shave, all the while actually enjoying what used to be a daunting or trivial task.
For this article I am going to skip over all the talk of shaving soaps, shaving brushes, and all the other fun goodies that come along with wetshaving. I’m also not going to go into detail about the different types of razors and blades you could try. That is a whole other post, or could even be a book. Let’s focus on technique and the rest will come naturally.
Every razor is a little different when it comes to loading your blade. So the first step is figuring out how to get the blade into the razor. We will assume you are using a double edge razor like this one:
This is called a three piece razor because it comes apart in 3 pieces. The head, the baseplate and the handle. The razor gets sandwiched between the head and the baseplate(make sure you don’t install your baseplate upside down, a very common mistake) and then the whole thing gets screwed back together. Simple. There are also twist to open designs which are even simpler and there are also 2 piece razors where the baseplate is fixed in place.
So you have your razor blade installed, now what? Before it’s time to lather up and shave, take a moment to map the different directions your hair grows on your face. Everyone is different, and if you’ve ever shaved before you probably are pretty familiar with your face. Now, use your favorite method to lather, whether it is canned foam or a luxury shaving soap or cream, get it on your face.
They key to wetshaving with any safety razor is taut(tight) skin. Don’t be afraid to use your other hand to pull your skin tight in the areas you are shaving. A little PROTIP here, shaving lather is slippery, if you have an alum block or styptic pencil, rub it on the fingers of your off hand to gain more grip.
Now, with tight skin bring the razor to your face at the shallowest angle and slowly lower the handle until you can hear or feel the hairs cutting. This is the part that can take a little fiddling, and every razor has a different “sweet spot”. You should be shaving with the grain and we are going to call this “our first pass”. Some people can get a quality shave in one pass. For some people it can take 3 or 4. Your mileage may vary, especially when you’re first starting out.
Once you have removed all of the shaving cream with the grain. Relather your face and do your second pass across the grain if you need it. After that, I usually relather again and feel with my fingers for any areas that need a touch up, and then shave(with very tight skin) against the grain in those areas only. Depending how sensitive your skin is, you may want to stop after your first pass for the first few shaves, or only shave your cheeks and finish the shave with a cartridge razor if that’s what you’re used to.
Tips and tricks: Problem areas.
The CHIN, the neck, the upper lip, and for you bald guys, the HEAD. I always say the head is all chin. Work in small areas on these problem spots and make sure your skin is as tight as possible. Don’t overdo it or you WILL get razorburn. For the upper lip, go with the grain only until you’ve got some experience and even then be careful if your blade is less than optimally sharp.
Safety Razor Shaving is very rewarding, easy, and fun. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first few times. Everything in this life worth knowing needs a little work to be proficient with. Check out our safety razors here and Enjoy your shave.