In this article we will be discussing in detail the basics of using a Safety Razor. Please note that we’re assuming you’ve already completed your Shaving Preparation.
Don’t be naive, you aren’t going to be the master you thought you would be after one shave, but follow these instructions and you’ll certainly get a better shave than you’ve ever had from disposables.
When using a Safety Razor there are three main things to keep in mind. These are Pressure, Angle and Grip. We will look at these in more detail below along with a brief introduction to the different passes you will need to make.
With the disposable razors you’re used too you can get away with applying pressure without much consequence. However, with a Safety Razor pressure is something that really needs to be controlled.
One of the most important things to remember is that the razor and the blade are doing the work here and you will NOT get a closer shave by simply applying more pressure. A closer shave is achieved with more passes of the razor, which will be detailed further in this article.
If you are to apply too much pressure you may find yourself with razor burn or general skin irritation post shave, something no shaver wants to experience.
So in essence always remember to use light pressure, and always have pressure on your mind when shaving the first few times, it will eventually become habitual but until it does, always remember Pressure, Angle and Grip.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to get right at first is the angle you should be holding your Safety Razor. If you look anywhere online you will see that the correct angle is for the blade to be 30º relative to the skin, but what on earth does that mean and how do you achieve it without getting your protractor out?
The simplest way by far is for you to put the razor head against your skin so that the handle is in a straight horizontal line. You will then want to slowly tilt the handle down towards the floor until the first sign the blade has come into contact with the skin. This is the angle you should be holding your Safety Razor at.
When using your Safety Razor you have to maintain this angle while making a pass. An easy way to do this is to move the razor using your whole arm, not just your hand. This encourages you to maintain the angle and also helps you to maintain light pressure.
The other thing to remember when thinking about angle is to use short strokes. Short strokes of the razor ensure you get the angle right every time. Too steep an angle and you may well end up with skin irritation, so it’s important to get the angle right. Again this is something that will become second nature to you after getting used to this new (and better) way of shaving.
The grip you have on your Safety Razor is essential in controlling the pressure and angle. Hold your razor too tight and you will find you are too rigid to shave those hard to do places such as your chin.
Similarly if you hold the razor too loosely, it will be far too easy for the blade angle to adjust when making a pass, and you may find yourself trying to compensate by adding pressure – something we know now not to do!
The easiest way to hold your razor is to hold it at its point of balance with a controlled but not too firm grip. Imagine you are holding a small bird – not too loose a grip that it could fly away, but not too firm as you don’t want to harm it.
This controlled grip will assist you on your way to getting a great shave, and again will become something you don’t even have to think about when you’ve had a bit of practice.
Feel free to re-read and familiarise yourself with the above until you’re comfortable that you’re ready to have a try at your first Safety Razor shave. Apply your lather after doing your Shaving Preparation and you’re ready to get started.
The first pass you will want to make is With The Grain (WTG) and this is just your standard downward pass, as you would make with any form of razor. If you feel you need to stretch the skin at any point feel free to do so with your free hand, but with the upper lip it is often easier to try to put the lip over your bottom set of teeth, stretching it without the need for your fingers.
As a Safety Razor has two sides of the blade, you will find you can probably get away with shaving half of your face with one side, then when that side starts to fill up with lather, flip to the other side to continue your pass. When both sides are covered in lather simply rinse the razor head and shake to remove as much excess water as possible.
After this first pass rinse your face and re-apply some new lather (It is advised you always re-apply lather before making another pass).
The second pass that most people make is Across The Grain (XTG). When going XTG remember to keep the same angle you would when going WTG, just with the razor handle pointing in a different direction. When going XTG there are obviously two directions you can go and most often people will make passes in both directions.
The last pass to mention is Against The Grain (ATG). I would advise not shaving ATG for your first few shaves with a Safety Razor, to hone in your technique. However, when you are ready to start shaving ATG, start by only doing the cheeks, as they allow for practice of ATG without all of the curves in more complex areas such as the chin. When you’re confident with this technique feel free to use this as a final pass on the whole of your face for a truly close shave.
Finish your shave with a rinse of first warm water then cold before applying an Alum Bloc (optional) before your favourite aftershave balm. For tips on how to care for your Safety Razor and Brush please read our Product Care article (**link when article done**).