How to Shave with a Safety Razor


If you’re willing to test it out, or if you’ve got the safety razor on hand and need to use it properly, then here’s exactly how to accomplish the task. Enjoy the process, and remember: Take it slow.

1. Invest in your razor

A weighted razor handle will give you the right amount of balance and force for the shave—for a process that you need apply no additional pressure. This isn’t something you should undervalue, so please put your dollars into the razor handle. You can enroll in an entire safety-razor shave system, like Bevel, for routine blade replacements and creams, or just get their safety razor and buy other products ad hoc.

Baxter of California and OneBlade have beautiful weighted options, too.

Baxter of California safety razor

Baxter of California


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OneBlade safety razor



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2. Practice proper blade hygiene

Replacement safety blades are so inexpensive, that there’s no reason you should reuse them. Simply unscrew the head, toss the used blade in the trash bin (perhaps wrapped in some toilet paper, to prevent any accidents), and only install the new blade when you’re ready to shave.

Derby safety razor blades, 100 count

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Read more on razor hygiene.

3. Prepare the skin as usual

Readying for a safety razor shave is no different than prepping for a cartridge shave. You need to soften the skin and whiskers with warm water, then apply a pre-shave oil to nourish and condition both for the shave. Many shave creams, gels, and soaps are equally nourishing, and can be applied for the same pre-shave effect. Do your best to lift the hairs when you apply the shave agent, which might be easier with a shave brush. (Bonus points if its faux fur and not real badger.)

Proraso pre-shave cream



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Dr. Bronner’s shave soap



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Fendrihan synthetic shave brush



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Read more on properly preparing for a shave.

4. Pull the skin taut

Here’s where we get into the actual shave. First things first: Keep the skin tight as you shave. You don’t want to drag the razor, lose your grip, or accidentally apply pressure. You can do this by maintaining a smooth, steady surface. So, turn your face, angle your neck, and pull the skin taut.

5. Maintain a 30-45 degree angle, applying no pressure

The weighted handle should be giving you all the force you need to shave clean and steady, so apply no additional pressure once that blade is on your face. You want to hold it roughly 30-45 degrees away from the skin, too.

6. Shave with the grain

Another thing to remember as you shave, is to track the direction your hair grows. You need to shave with this grain, not against it. You might need to study your growth patterns in advance of shaving, or shave with a translucent gel or oil. Your hair doesn’t all grow in the same direction, either, so pay close attention. Doing this will prevent ingrown hairs.

7. Use short, straight strokes

Last but not least, you want to shave in small, steady spurts, rinsing between. Minimize dragging. Do a single pass over a small patch, then lift and resume with the patch below it. You can rinse between, and switch sides of the blade, but do your best not to re-shave any single patch of skin, as the single attempt should do the trick if you follow all the above rules. Minimizing shave passes is the easiest way to avoid irritation, too,

8. Rinse with cold water and apply post-shave balm

It’s business as usual on the other end of the shave, too: After shaving, close the pores with a splash of cold water, then apply a refreshing, cleansing, and protective layer atop the skin, in the form of a post-shave balm. It’ll cool and soothe the skin, and prevent any additional irritation and infection.

The Art of Shaving unscented after-shave balm

Bergdorf Goodman


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Read about GQ’s favorite aftershaves.