How Do You Use A Safety Razor? – A Simple Guide

The thought of drawing a relatively exposed blade over your skin is not an attractive proposition for most blokes. Most men have conformed to the relative safety of an electric shaver or a disposable razor.

It’s becoming more widely recognised that not only can a safety razor give a superior shave, but it can help combat the razor burn, shaving bumps and ingrown hairs often associated with shaving.

So you’re clutching your brand new double-edged razor in your fist…now what? How do you use a safety razor?

Undertaken by millions of men in the past and present, the correct use of a safety razor is a well tested process. Although you can slap on some chemically-laden shaving gel, the process and the end result will not be pleasurable.

The art of shaving with a safety razor is not just a matter of the shave itself, but it encompasses what you do regarding your face preparation, as well as how you take care of your visage afterwards. In this article, I won’t be outlining every single step in your pre-shave and post-shave operation, however I will leave a number of handy links to posts I did previously, which dive into these processes and other tips in much greater detail.

By following a few basic steps and recommendations, your shaving regimen will be enjoyable, comfortable and effective with each and every shave.

cutthroatm2

Preparation

Sadly, preparing your face properly for shaving is not considered all that important by most blokes. In saying that, those men who devote an extra couple of minutes to preparing their face correctly, will reap the rewards throughout the rest of their shave.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln

This great quote from President Lincoln eloquently reminds us, that good preparation is the solid foundation to many of our life’s successes.

Click on the link below for my easy seven step pre-shave routine.

==> Click here for my Pre-Shave Routine <==

The Shave

Now that we have the preparation out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the actual shave itself.

Razor Blade

Even before you begin your face preparation, make sure that you not only have your chosen blade loaded into the razor, but make sure it is aligned correctly. You should be able to see an even amount of blade exposed on both sides of the head.

==> Click here for my review: Derby Razor Blades <==

Wet The Razor

Regardless of whether you want to shave with hot or cold water, dip your razor in the pre-filled basin or place it under running water. Either way is fine and just a matter of personal choice.

==> Click here to learn about Cold Water Shaving <==

Start At The Sideburns

safety shave

You can really start shaving wherever you want, but I’ve always found my sideburns an easy and convenient place to begin.

Find 30 Degrees (Approximately)

With your razor’s handle sitting perpendicular to your face, slowly move it down until the razor head is tilted at roughly 30 degrees from where you began. This will be a good starting point for you.

With experience, you’ll naturally find the angle that will deliver you the best results.

First Pass

When using a double-edged safety razor, the idea is not to capture every single hair with your first pass. Classic shaving is more about gradual reduction with subsequent passes. In saying that though, some gents find the results with one pass sufficient and don’t require further attention.

The first pass should be with the direction of your whiskers. This will vary from man to man, but in most cases it will be straight down.

Remember the head of your safety razor doesn’t swivel, so regardless of what area of the face or neck you’re shaving, you’ll need to maintain that 30 degree angle throughout your shave.

==> Click here for more about Safety Razors & My Rookie Mistakes <==

No Pressure

Let the weight of your razor do the work. There is absolutely no need to apply pressure as you shave. This will also result in less nicks! 😉

Both Sides

Your safety razor is double-edged for a reason. Make sure you use both sides as evenly as possible. I do this by using one side of the razor for three or four strokes. I then rotate it and do likewise with the other side.

Rinse Frequently

Keeping the cutting plate clean will make your shave far more effective. Be sure to rinse away any soap and whiskers after a few strokes of both sides of the razor.

==> Click here for my tip: How to Clean a Safety Razor <==

Don’t Double Dip

Although it’s not easy, resist the urge to shave over the same area repeatedly in the first pass. Shaving un-lathered skin can lead to unnecessary irritation.

Lather Up

I know this point is pretty self explanatory, but make sure you’re well lathered with your favourite shaving soap or cream in between passes.

==> Click here for my shaving showdown: Shave Soap vs Cream <==

Second Pass

Hopefully you are now familiar with the various directions your hair grows on your face and neck. If you have a heavy growth or thick beard, you will want to shave across the grain. Once again, applying no pressure as you shave.

I’m lucky enough to get away with two passes. However if you need a baby smooth face, do a third or fourth pass, shaving against the grain.

Post Shave

Once your shave is done and you’re admiring your silky smooth face, you need to start thinking about caring for and protecting it.

There are a number of great post-shave products to choose from. Visit my link below to see my quick two minute – six step post shave routine.

==> Click here for my Post-Shave Routine <==

Conclusion

If you are new to classic shaving, I hope I’ve given you a clearer understanding of the processes involved in using a safety razor.

As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, I welcome them in the comments section below.

Time to get your shave on! 😉

32 thoughts on “How Do You Use A Safety Razor? – A Simple Guide

  1. Dan

    Great post, it’s nice to know that 20 years after I started shaving I can still learn a thing or 2.
    2 questions for you, you said if you have a thick beard to take a second pass across the direction of growth, should you shave against the hair or is this not advised?
    Secondly what’s your take on cut throat razors? Are they any good?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Dan. Thanks for your comments.

      To answer your first question…absolutely! Some suggest that you should never shave against the growth. I don’t agree with that as I’ve had no problem at all. If I want a really baby bum smooth result, I’ll do a second & even a third pass against the growth.

      To answer your second question, I haven’t used a cut throat or straight razor myself, but those that do love them. They do generally require a little more TLC to keep a keen edge, but from all accounts, it’s well worth it.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  2. Lee

    Hi Andrew,
    Great post. I recall being a young boy and watching my dad shave the old fashioned way your post is referring to. I also remember him wearing a band aid on his face now and then after shaving. Too bad your information wasn’t so readily available back then. A lot of great information for men who do still enjoy an old fashioned shave.
    -lee

    Reply
  3. Hari S Nair

    Even though it has been a pretty long time since I started shaving I must admit that I am scared of razors because every time I try to do it on my own, I mess things up. That’s why I now prefer to use trimmers as much as possible.

    Your post has definitely given me some great tips and I’ll probably try it again in a new way. I think I must try applying your tips, I have learned a lot especially the “30 degree angle” advice. Thanks for this informative post Andrew!

    Reply
  4. Dahr

    Thanks for this very helpful post Andrew! This really helped me a lot since I’m a late bloomer 🙂

    My facial hair only started growing in my late 20’s and I had several skin irritations because I never knew how to shave properly. I just took a razor and started shaving away. Didn’t know about most of the stuff you mentioned above. Great post and thanks again!

    Reply
  5. Vicky

    Great read on safety razors. Found the 30 degree part of the post interesting!
    Great suggestions at the end as well,

    Thank you,
    Vicky

    Reply
  6. John Savage

    With only a double edged razor as my only option, I destroyed my face through bad bad application.

    I did not lather up!
    Did not prepare in any way!
    Had no shaving foam or gel of any kind!
    The razor may have also been blunt!
    Probably added too much pressure!
    I can’t even remember the angle!

    I’m embarrassed but now I’ve found you, I’m gonna give it another go!

    My only question is, used on a regular basis will I have a smooth or rugged face/skin?

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Hehe 🙂

      I’m sorry John, but your post made me smile! You had a lot going against you there mate.

      How “rugged” your skin will be is due to many factors. Exposure to the elements, skin care, etc. How “smooth” it becomes, will be determined by the skill with which you wield your blade. 😉

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  7. David

    Andrew, as a guy who does have a moustache but shaves the rest of his face virtually every day, I am always looking for a ‘better’, ‘easier’ way.
    Your free flowing writing style and in depth description has certainly given me food for thought.
    Keep ’em comin’!

    Reply
  8. Gift

    This is very helpful information for me. I have been using hair clippers all along, but I’ve always wanted to use a safety razor and I just needed information on how to go about it. I have taken a lot of ideas. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Reelika

    Hey!

    I Just wanted to compliment you on your blog. I bet there are so many guys out there needing this stuff as they step into this world of men 🙂

    Really nice read though and it surprised me how much there is to know, crazy!

    Keep up the good work!

    Reelika

    Reply
  10. Filichia

    This is a great article Andrew, although I don’t shave as I am a lady but my husband shaves and I am a mom of boys only so at some point they will have to shave. I personally always thought that shaving was just a simple thing to do you put the foam or whatever you use on and start scraping your face I really had no idea that you had to prepare for it, at least now I will be a bit more patient with my husband when he spends all that time in front of the mirror shaving.

    Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes to a reality of life I never really took seriously, you actually just reminded me that this is a part of my life whether I want it to be or not because of my 3 boys.

    I love the images you used and the layout of your site it is well thought of.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Hi Filichia

      Thank you for your kind comments. I come from a family of three boys myself so I can sympathise. You have all this to look forward to! 😉

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  11. Rene

    Hi Andrew,

    Very interesting post. In the past I started out with razors that have three or four blades in a row (from Wilkinson I guess). But I kept having problems with my skin. The guy in the barbershop, was the only true and helpful advice I could get on the matter (until I found your site).

    Now I am using an electrical shaver that I got from my girlfriend. However, even though my skin got better with it, I feel like it is not always getting every hair and the skin as smooth as I would like it. So I am already thinking to turn back to use the wet shaving technique again with proper equipment. Good that I found your site, so I can get properly prepared for the switch.

    I heard that a proper axe can be even sharper than a razor blade. So I wonder if Lincoln actually used it also to shave his beard? But considering his prominent beard he properly thought this would be a bad idea 🙂

    Great site! I bookmarked it for later use

    Best Regards

    Rene

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Rene

      Thanks for your kind comments mate. I think that a safety razor is the perfect razor to use. It takes practice, but the effort is well worth it! 😉

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  12. Robert

    Very informative post on the use of a safety razor for shaving. I remember my father always using his double-edge razor and shaving cream when I was a little boy and I couldn’t wait to grow facial hair. It always looked like a fun morning task, plus I liked the smell and the feel of the shaving cream he used.

    But once I was old enough to shave I became a disposable razor kind of guy, and occasionally will use an electric Norelco shaver. One thing many shavers find weird when I tell them, is that I never use shaving cream or soap when I shave. I do not even wet my face, and I never get any skin irritation.

    The only thing I do, which most people probably don’t, I place and store my disposable razors in a glass filled with just enough baby oil to cover the razor head. That’s just what works for me and it keeps the blades sharp for a longer period of time. But one of these days I will try the double-edge safety razor with shaving cream, and when I do I will remember the tips you shared here. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Robert

      I’m glad my post was able to evoke a few nice childhood memories for you.

      If you’re looking at a good quality safety razor to start off with, here are My Top 3 choices for beginners.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  13. Rachel

    Wow! A lot of great information here! I have so much more appreciation now fo the art of shaving. My husband has to keep a clean shave for his job and I really had no idea what all went in to it. Great post….I am sure my husband will enjoy this as well!

    Reply
  14. Hillary

    My husband is a total shaving connoisseur. He has tried numerous blades, creams, brushes etc so I know he will love this post. He also tends to use a safety razor, which I always thought was a little dangerous, but your post clarified a lot for me. I also have a son who just turned 14 — the day is coming soon when he will need to start!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Hillary

      I’m stoked that I was able to inform and enlighten you! ;). Although a little more blade is exposed, safety razors are far from dangerous. It’s all worth it for the best shave ever!

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  15. Stephen Mitchell

    I think the right soap make a HUGE difference. It’s the same with modern shaving as with traditional wet shaving. It’s the difference between a clean shave and a horrible one!
    I’ve never really liked using steel cyclinder handles that you find on most safety razors. I always find that they feel unnatural to hold. When you’ve got a stainless steel blade at the top of it you probably want to feel comfortable! Wood safety razors such as these on the other hand are hand turned to ergonomically fit the hand. I stay away from plastic but that’s just personal preference. I find them more slippy than my smartphone!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Stephen

      A very good observation mate. I personally don’t mind steel handles. The knurling on them is pretty good these days, plus I always make sure my hands are soap free for a better grip.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply

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