How To Shave With A Safety Razor

Learning how to shave with a safety razor is making a comeback.

Disposable razors may be designed for their convenience, but the results they deliver are often far from satisfactory.

After years of battling skin irritation and putting up with the increasing cost of cartridge razors, many people are looking for alternatives and learning how to shave with a safety razor.

Safety razors offer a clean shave with far less skin issues once the proper shaving technique is learned.

After the initial cost of your shaving tools, shaving with a safety razor is far more affordable than shaving with disposables.

No plastic parts and no cans of shaving gel means safety razor shaving produces less waste, too.

The best news about safety razors: anyone who knows how to shave with a safety razor reports less redness, little to no irritation, and far fewer ingrown hairs.

The hardest part of safety razor shaving is mastering the angle of the razor, avoiding the use of pressure, and understanding how many passes it can take to remove every hair.

Although it might take a small initial investment and a little time to learn, a safety razor can make the process of shaving more enjoyable and much better for your skin.


Starting Out With The Right Tools

The items most essential to safety razor shaving are a safety razor, a blade, soap or cream, and a lather brush. Safety razors are not usually available at the corner drugstore. Some shavers have luck with vintage razors either purchased second hand or passed down from their father or grandfather.

As safety razor shaving increases in popularity, many specialty suppliers sell safety razors in a variety of styles and finishes.

Safety Razor
As you learn how to shave with a safety razor you will discover which blades work the best for you. Most veteran safety razor shavers advise against buying more than a couple blades at a time until you find one that suits your needs.

Razor blades for shaving are made in a variety of thicknesses by a number of different brands; you may need to try a few blades before using one that works with your skin and particular style of shaving.

You can use a shaving soap or cream for safety razor shaving.

Gels and shaving creams formulated for disposable razor shaving are not recommended for use with a safety razor because they tend to dry out too quickly, losing their lubrication on your skin. This can lead to an increase in cuts and irritation.

Soaps and creams made specifically for safety razor shaving create a full lather that coats and protects skin. They are typically made with more natural ingredients and subtler scents than the gel shaving creams used with disposable razors.

Many beginners find safety razor shaving is easier with creams, which provides more protection against cuts than soaps.

A brush is needed to whip up your cream or soap into a lather. You then use the brush to apply the lather to your face.

A brush is necessary for safety razor shaving because it applies the soap or cream evenly and ensures it coats the area around each individual hair.

Shaving brushes are made with either boar or badger hair and are available in a variety of stiffnesses. Check out our article on some of the best shaving brush brands here.

You may also purchase a mug or bowl for making your lather in.


Shaving Preparation

The first time you use your safety razor you will need to insert a blade.

Nearly all safety razors are opened by turning the handle until the top unfolds. The blade is placed inside the head of the razor and the top is tightened by turning the handle again.

Thinner blades will flex a little once the razor is tightened all the way. You should warm the razor in hot or warm water before shaving since a cold razor can lead to cuts.

For more info on some of the best safety razor blades for your face read this article.

You can warm up your lather brush in warm water at this point, too.

Safety Razor
Prepare your face or the area you are about to shave with hot water and, if you choose, a quick glycerin soap wash.

Hot water will help soften the hairs, making them easier to cut off with a safety razor; many men shave their beards after a hot shower for this reason.

A hot towel applied to the skin will also work to soften hair. If you choose to use glycerin soap simply wash and rinse the area with the soap before shaving.

Many shavers agree this additional prep can create an extra layer of protection and help the razor glide without causing nicks.

To make a good lather, place a dollop of your cream or soap in your mug and add the appropriate amount of water for your product.

It is usually best to add water conservatively since too much water will ruin the lather.

Swirl your brush inside the mug to create a thick foam.

It may take some time to learn how much product and how much swirling is needed to make the right amount of lather.

Use soon after you make it to ensure the cream or soap doesn’t dry out.


How To Shave With a Safety Razor

Now you’re ready to start shaving. Apply the lather to your skin with the brush in a swirling motion.

Be sure to coat the entire area so the cream or soap is up and around every hair.

Remove Razor Bumps on Neck

A full coating of lather, especially if you are shaving off longer beard hairs, will buffer the skin against razor burn and cuts.

Finding the right angle and applying no pressure are the keys to knowing how to shave with a safety razor.

If you’re just figuring out how to shave with a safety razor, you may want to start with the flat top of the razor against the skin.

Slowly lower the razor toward your skin until it can just cut your whiskers.

The right angle should be between a 30 and 45 degree angle to your skin. Do not press down.

The weight and sharpness of the razor is sufficient for cutting your beard or stubble, even if it takes a couple passes.

The best way to hold a safety razor while shaving is very lightly and toward the tip of the handle.

Shave with the grain of your beard. Many experienced shavers will shave against the grain for the last pass, but this is more likely to cause irritation and cuts until you really know how to shave with a safety razor.

While it is more common to shave other parts of the body (e.g. the legs) against the grain with a safety razor, those new to safety razor shaving should stick to going in the same direction as your hair growth.

Remove Razor Bumps on Neck

Some of the best advice about the gradual nature of shaving with a safety razor: aim for reduction rather than removal.

It will take at least a couple of passes to remove all the hair from an area of skin.

Do not apply any pressure but let the razor do the work. Simply re-lather and re-shave any spots where hair still remains.

Although too many passes will cause redness and ingrown hairs, safety razors can shave over the same area a number of times without irritating the skin.

Short passes are recommended for anyone just learning how to shave with a safety razor since longer passes increase the risk for nicks.


When You’re Done

Rinse your skin with cold water to close up your pores.

You can apply either an aftershave or a balm to your skin after shaving. These products help prevent ingrown hairs and irritation while soothing any razor burn.

Sensitive skin usually responds better to the calming nature of a balm rather than the bracing effects of an aftershave.

Once your skin is smooth and clean, rinse your razor with hot water, wash your mug and brush with cold water, and hang up your tools.

How To Shave With A Safety Razor

A small stand for storing your razor and brush is ideal since both items can dry out better this way. Storing them flat in a drawer, for example, can lead to dings in your blade and a misshapen brush.

You only need to remove the blade from your safety razor when it dulls (after a few uses) and requires a replacement safety razor blade.

If you find you are still experiencing bumps and redness after mastering how to shave with a safety razor, you might need to switch out your blade, skincare products, or water.

Experiment with a few different brands of razor blades, lather products, and after shave care if you are having issues with irritation.

Hard water can also cause skin problem associated with shaving.

Since safety razor shaving requires so little water, keeping distilled water on hand for shaving is an easy way to avoid irritation from hard water.


Enjoying A Better Shave

For anyone looking to improve the quality of their shave, learning how to shave with a safety razor is well worth the time.

A proper safety razor shave will reduce redness, ingrown hairs, and razor burn while providing an even closer, cleaner shave than a disposable razor can.

Rather than dragging several blades across your face at once and potentially ripping out hairs, the safety razor’s single blade takes off hair a pass at a time until skin is smooth.


The secret to a perfect safety razor shave: the right angle, a light touch with the razor, and making just the right amount of passes.

Quality products, like a nourishing shaving soap or a soothing balm for after shaving, are needed to complement skilled safety razor techniques.

Finding the right brand and thickness of blade can also head off potential skin care problems resulting from shaving.

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