HOW TO USE YOUR DE SAFTEY RAZOR
CONTENT BY: CLASSIC SHAVING.COM
OK, so you’ve finally given up on the plastic multi-blade cartridge razor that you’ve never been happy with anyway – Good! That’s the first step in finding out just how much better your daily shaving routine can be. But be forewarned, if you don’t take the time to learn how to properly use your new Double-Edge Safety Razor you will be no more satisfied with the results than you have been in the past.
Putting the finest tools in the hands of an inexperienced workman will not elevate him from apprentice to journeyman – Only experience can do that. With practice and the willingness to learn and adapt, the most inexperienced novice can quickly become a master craftsman. Shaving is the very same. The level of shave quality is just as much dependent on the skill of the user as it is on the razor he’s using.
One of the primary reasons so many are switching back to traditional double-edge safety razors today is the rising cost of multi-blade razor cartridges. We’ve all seen the weekly cost of shaving using the popular multi-blade cartridges rise beyond the point of sanity in recent years. With an average weekly blade cost of only $.45 when using the highest quality double-edge blades there is a powerful financial inducement to switch. But not buying good quality blades or not changing them often enough will surely have an effect on both the comfort and quality of the shave. Typically a good D/E blade will provide a week of great shaves in normal use. If you buy bargain basement brand blades, or try to stretch them beyond their useful life, the few pennies you save will become insignificant when you have to live with the irritation that will result. Buy the best blades available and change them at least once each week.
Tip: Many users assign one day of the week as blade changing day - Do this and make it part of your routine.
The single most often made mistake in using a D/E razor is applying too much pressure. A quality, well-made razor will have sufficient weight of its own to exert enough pressure. Apply NO added pressure - just allow the razor to glide across the skin without pushing into it. Bearing down on the razor will not necessarily result in a closer shave, but it will remove at least the top layer of skin cells, a condition commonly called “razor burn.” Razor burn actually is exactly the same thing as “rug burn” or “road rash.” Though the latter two are typically more severe (even if it is more fun getting them) they really are exactly the same thing, a superficial abrasion resulting from the forcible removal of skin cells. A soft blanket will prevent rug burn, leather pants will safeguard against road rash, and NO PRESSURE ON THE RAZOR will solve razor burn.
Hold the razor firmly and direct it where you want it to go. Some shavers favor short strokes, others prefer long sweeping strokes. Which is right for you will depend largely on your particular beard conditions. Generally speaking, the coarser or thicker the beard, the shorter the stroke should be. A very fine or sparse beard will present less resistance to the razor and permit a long, smooth stroke.
Strive to maintain a thirty degree blade angle relative to the skin. While this will not be possible on every area of the face – Ear lobes, noses, and other obstructions often make it impossible, thirty degrees is the optimum blade angle and should be used whenever possible. You achieve this angle by raising or lowering the razor handle. This is particularly important when following contours such as around the chin or jaw line. Often in these areas very short choppy strokes work well.
Most nicks or cuts happen when the razor’s blade is allowed to make first contact with the skin. To avoid this, allow the safety bar to contact the skin first and lift the razor handle until you achieve the desired angle, then begin your forward motion. Once you’ve become more experienced this won’t be necessary.
In order to get the closest possible shave some degree of skin stretching will be necessary. As we age, and our skin begins to lose some of its youthful elasticity this becomes even more important. The razor will glide more easily over taut skin just as pool balls roll more easily over a tight felt. You can often tighten the skin simply by flexing the facial muscles - Pulling the upper lip down or the lower lip up, pulling your pursed lips to the right or left, tightening the neck and jaw muscles, etc. When this isn’t possible use your free hand to manually pull the skin in the opposite direction of razor travel – When starting the razor stroke at the sideburns and stroking downwards with the razor, pull the sideburn up with the free hand. Skin stretching opens the hair follicle, exposing more of the hair shaft, allowing it to be cut shorter.
Tip: Stretching the skin by manipulating the facial muscles also tones and tightens the muscles, reducing wrinkling and prolonging a youthful appearance.
Take your time! Nobody ever won a trophy for being the fastest shaver. Careful diligence will always result in a better shave, both in terms of comfort and closeness. With time and repeated practice you will get faster. Once you have mastered the tools and developed a sound technique based on your individual needs and desires, your morning shave will generally take about 7-10 minutes.