How to Shave Your Face Using a Safety Razor
How to Shave Your Face Using a Safety Razor written by: Nicole Bippen
In the past, shaving was an art form that took practice, patience, and time (or a skilled barber) in order to create the perfect look. It wasn’t uncommon for your grandfather to spend an hour or so in the bathroom or with his barber taking care of his facial hair. Now, the average time spent grooming is about 10 minutes. What your grandpa knew that some men today don’t is that the effort and time is worth it. You won’t get a better, closer, or longer lasting shave with anything other than a single bladed shaver like the safety razor.
What is a Safety Razor?
While most people have heard of safety razors, they may not know exactly what they are or how they differ from straight razors. Here is a image of the one we have on our site.
Safety razors are T shaped in design with a safety bar on each end below the blade’s edge.
Contrary to popular belief, the safety bar isn’t necessarily designed for safety. The bar, which is typically scalloped, is designed to help push your skin down and keep it taut during the shave. This translates to a closer, more comfortable shave. While the bar does prevent the blade from sitting flush against you skin, it is still possible to nick yourself.
A straight razor is a single blade that often folds into a handle. Unlike the safety razor, there are no guards or dual blades. If you’re considering getting a straight razor but have never shaved with one before, we highly recommend starting off with a safety razor. You’ll achieve similar quality shaves with both but the safety razor will help you and your skin adjust to a single blade. And yes, there is a learning curve to these!
Benefits of a Safety Razor
While it’s tempting to think that modern shavers with their four or five blades will give you a better shave, the truth is that nothing compares to a single bladed shaver. Here are some of the benefits:
· Cost Effective- Almost all of the shavers on the market today will dull out and need to be replaced. And with the starting price on cartridges averaging around $20, it can be costly to maintain. You’ll need to replace the blades on the safety razors as well, but the average cost for one of these blades is about .25 cents.
· Double Edged- Safety razors are double bladed meaning there’s a single blade on each side. When you replace the blade, you’ll notice that it’s one piece with two sharp edges. Once one side gets dulled, simply rotate the shaver and use the other blade. You’ll only need to replace the blade once both edges have dulled.
· Longer Lasting Blades- Compared to modern razors and cartridges, safety razor blades tend to last longer than their competitors; especially when taken care of.
· Easier to Clean and Maintain- Anyone who has ever used a multi bladed shaver can tell you how quickly they clog with hair. Most of the time, you’ll need to rinse the shaver after each stroke and vigorously bang it against the sink to dislodge hairs. This is not the case with the safety razor. You’ll simply rinse off the hair and soap or cream.
· Closer Shave- Because the blade sits nearly flush against your skin (there’s a safety bar that prevents full blade on skin contact) you’ll get a closer shave because you’re taking away more of the hair follicle.
Prepping Your Skin
Most modern shavers require little to no prep work but this isn’t the case with a safety razor. Start off with a clean, dry face like you would with any shave. Make sure to use hot water instead of cold though because you want to open up your pores and soften the hairs; this will help the razor cut through the hairs like butter.
You definitely don’t want to dry shave or skimp out the cream when it comes to safety razors. The blade is much sharper and sits closer to your skin so never dry shave with one. A small dollop, about nickel size, of your favorite cream or soap will do. Apply to your face in small, circular motions to help lift the hairs up.
How to Shave with a Safety Razor
After you’ve prepped your skin, it’s time to shave. Since safety razors are double bladed, feel free to use either side; it doesn't matter which one you use unless one side is dull.
· Light Pressure- You don’t have to bear down very hard in order to shave the hairs. Use very light pressure, make a pass and then check. If you still see hairs, adjust the pressure but gradually until you get the shave you want. It takes time finding just the right amount of pressure but it’s worth it.
· Angle the Blade Away from the Skin- With modern shavers it doesn’t really made how you angle the razor; you’re still going to get a crappy shave. With a safety razor, the angle matters because you want to protect your skin from the blade and nicks. Between 30 and 45 degrees is standard.
When positioning the blade, place the top of the razor head on your cheek. Make sure the handle is parallel with the floor when you do so. Now, slowly guide the razor downward until it cuts the hair. You can also practice the technique on your arm if you don’t feel comfortable starting on your face right away.
· Shave with the Grain- This is probably the most important. Safety razor blades are sharp so there’s no need to shave against the grain in order to remove hairs. Shaving against the grain may also cause unwanted bumps and irritation. Hot water and lathering your face in circles will also help lift the hairs up again, there’s no need to shave against the grain.
· Don’t Expect to take All the Hairs in One Stroke- You’re going for beard reduction not removal and this will take a few passes. Even though it’s tempting to shave against the grain because it means fewer passes with the razor, it also means a higher chance of skin irritation, ingrown hairs, and bumps. So don’t rush it! Gradual beard reduction is the goal here so lather and shave as many times as needed. We promise that your skin will thank you for your patience!
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