How to Use a Safety Razor February 02 2012
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Shaving used to be an art form – a ritual. Today, most men just run a blade past their skin quickly or use an electric shaver. Big money marketing has taken over the industry and robbed guys of the best shave possible. No matter what the manufacturers of those cheap, disposable razors tell you, there is no substituting a well-executed, safety razor shave. See our safety razor vs cartridge razor comparison. If you’re looking for your first safety razor, we suggest one by the iconic German manufacturer, Merkur.
Step 1 – Preparation is crucial
If you want to use a safety razor, the first thing you need is the right equipment. A generous lather is going to be one of the most fundamental aspects of using a safety razor. Once you get proficient using the razor you can start cutting corners (if you so choose). The first few times you should make sure you have a quality lather that is going to treat your face and your razor right.
Start by lathering up after your shower to make sure your hairs are nice and soft. Make sure you apply a nice, thick lather to your face. Ensure everything is evened out so you have the same quality lather all over your face. If you do not have time to shower, running a towel under some hot water, and applying it to your face is going work too.
Step 2- Realize that this is a skill
Why do you think that barbers that offer a shave do so with a straight razor or safety razor instead of those cartridge shavers? The reason is that the safety razor offers a much smoother, closer, shave. However, it does take some skill. Unlike these disposable cartridges most men just run across their face almost like on autopilot, you need to pay attention to what you are doing. These are some critical steps to remember.
Pressure: However much pressure you are using now, it is probably too much. Most men push down on their cartridge razor because these razors are ineffective. Let the safety razor do the work for you. There is a reason safety razors are heavy to begin with - they work more effectively. One quick way to combat putting too much pressure on your razor is by holding it further down on the handle.
The angle: If you are used to cartridges, this may be the most difficult step. You want the handle of the razor parallel to the floor, and the razor against your face. Now you tilt the razor downwards until it meets the skin, and then go straight down. Try to keep each stroke to an inch, no more. Short strokes will give you precision.
Go with the grain: Many men shave against the grain because they want that "baby's bottom" smooth feel. Unfortunately, the only thing they are inviting is irritation and cuts. As long as you make sure you pass over the same area again, you are still going to have that smooth, close shave.
Go for step-by-step reduction, not instant removal: Many men try to shave as quickly as possible. This means that they want to remove all their hairs with one swoop. They mistakenly believe it helps them reduce skin irritation. What they do not seem to realize is that this technique, due to the increased pressure, is actually what causes most of the skin irritation during shaving. You want to reduce, not try to remove it all at once. There is nothing wrong with going back over your skin a second time as long as you have a good lather.
Use sharp blades: This is not exclusive to a safety razor but still a step many men tend to forget. Make sure you have the best possible blade by changing your blade every eight shaves or so.
You are not done yet
Most guys slather on some aftershave after their shave and call it a day. You are selling your face short. Make sure that you run a towel under some cold water and dab it over your face. This closes your pores, meaning your skin is less irritated and it reduces your chances of breakouts. Now use a aftershave you like. A good aftershave not only reduces possible skin irritation, but also restores the moisture in your face.
If you want your blade and your safety razor to last as long as possible, you are going to need proper maintenance. To reduce bacteria and keep your razor clean, apply a few small drops of rubbing alcohol occasionally to your razor. This ensures that your blade not only lasts longer, but also keeps your safety razor clean for future use. If used properly, a safety razor can outlast its owner.
Practice makes perfect
If this is your first time using a safety razor, you may nick yourself. Don't worry - it won't be a bloodbath. Again, this is a skill that requires practice. This means that if you have a crucial meeting first thing Tuesday morning, it is probably best to wait until Saturday or Sunday morning for you to try your safety razor the first time. If you are not comfortable with trying the safety razor on your face, practice on your arm until you get the right angle. Remember, that you are essentially re-learning how to shave. Give yourself a few days to get the hang of it and it will pay off for a lifetime.