How To Shave Safely

How To Shave Safely

By Daniel Broadley

How To Shave Safely

Safety razors are underutilized gadgets that do wonders to create a perfect close shave. If you’re looking for something that’s a step up from the traditional disposable or refillable razor but doesn’t come with the learning curve of a straight blade, a safety razor might be everything you’re looking for. 

Even though a safety razor isn’t difficult to use, it’s going to change your shaving experience. If you’re very used to your current plastic handled razor, it might take you a minute to get used to the switch. As long as you’re prepping your skin correctly and using the right shaving products, you’ll come to love your safety razor rather quickly. 

The Differences Between Different Kinds of Razors

All knives cut, and all razors shave. The way they go about accomplishing their respective tasks is always drastically different. There’s a different tool for every desired result. Some razors will feel more intuitive than others based on their style and shape. Some will ultimately provide a superior shave, and that may make it worthwhile to look outside of your comfort zone.

Disposable Razors

Disposable razors were never designed to be trusty shaving companions. They’re meant to be used once or twice and tossed away. Anything disposable is made of the least expensive materials possible. It isn’t designed to withstand continued use. Most people find that they get poor results with disposable razors, as they dull quickly and have a tendency to irritate the skin.

Disposable razors are better to pack for travel, when you just need something quick and easy to take with you or a razor you can pick up from a drugstore at your destination. If you’ve been consistently shaving with disposable razors, it might be in your best interest to switch to a different variety.

Cartridge Razors

Most men use cartridge razors. They buy a handle and purchase packs of new heads that they can switch out when the head begins to dull. These types of razors are easy to use and generally don’t cause too many problems. They may not give you the best possible shave, but they’re undoubtedly a step up from disposable razors. 

A lot of men don’t realize that they should be changing their razor heads on a weekly basis if they’re daily shavers, or biweekly if they shave a few times a week. These refills can be expensive to keep up with, especially with their short lifespan. 

Most men (and women) find that cartridge razors are the most convenient option. They start shaving with these razors and they stick to them. They never investigate other options -- at least not enough to understand why different methods of shaving may be more advantageous.

Straight Razors

Straight razors are what most barbers use. They have one long blade that folds, and can easily be replaced. Straight razors allow you optimal control over the angle of your shave, allowing you to pick hair up right at the root and fully remove it in a single pass. They’re a little more difficult to use than other types of razors, but they’re more likely to give you a perfect result. 

Safety Razors

Safety razors are a compromise between cartridge razors and straight razors. You’ll be able to achieve that same close shave you get from a straight razor, but with the convenience and ease of use that comes from a cartridge razor. 

Safety razors utilize a single blade just like straight razors, but they’re equipped with a familiar handle and a safety guard to prevent cuts or scrapes that may arise when someone hasn’t developed a proficiency with a straight razor.

Like with all razors, the blades in safety razors will need to be replaced often to ensure a clean shave without the dragging or irritation of a dull blade. The good news is that replacement blades for safety razors are substantially less expensive than cartridge refills. You can use a new blade every shave without breaking the bank.

What is the Advantage of Using a Safety Razor?

A safety razor will offer you a clean, close shave without a substantial price tag. Since the safety razor utilizes a single blade, hair can be removed without the additional dragging or abrasion of the multiple blades a cartridge razor needs to accomplish the same thing. 

One blade means that dead skin and hair won’t build up between the blades, eliminating the need for excessive rinsing and tapping to clean out the razor between passes. It’s simple to rinse the blade and continue shaving. This is especially beneficial for men with coarse beard hairs who find that the wiry tough texture of the clippings easily clogs up their cartridge razors. 

Since you’re using a lone blade, you’ll also have a little more control over your shave. Multi-bladed razors are a little more difficult to use for complex shaping tasks. The additional blades often cause men to shave off a little bit more than they meant to, causing them to shave more off of the other side to create balance and symmetry. When you have optimal control, getting precise results is a far less daunting task.

Prepping Before Your Shave

Before you start using your safety razor, make sure your skin is cleaned and prepped. If you have dry skin or dead skin cells sitting on the surface, you might want to exfoliate before you shave. The best time to shave is right after a shower, when you’ve already thoroughly cleaned your face. Your skin and hair will be nice and warm and very wet, and your hair shafts will be moisturized and a little more compliant.

If you’re one to shave in the morning and shower at night, wash your face with warm water before you shave. Using a pre-shave oil can help to prep your skin, keeping it moisturized and reducing friction. If you have sensitive skin or you’re prone to razor bumps, choose a pre-shave oil that addresses your specific needs.

Using the Right Lather

Your barber probably uses hot lather on your face, and there’s an important reason why he does this. Keeping the surface of the skin warm and highly lubricated makes your shave better. Warmth and moisture will soften your hairs and open your pores, helping the follicles stand at attention. Coarse beard hair can use this little bit of extra softening before a shave, because drier textures are harder to precisely cut. 

If you don’t already have a hot lather machine, you might want to get one. It will allow you to shave whenever you need to -- whether or not you’re taking a hot shower to soften your skin and hair before you go in with your razor. 

The Safety Razor Technique

The best safety razor technique is to be slow and patient. Once you master the angle of the razor against your skin, you’ll find that you don’t have to apply any pressure to shave. It’s easier than slicing through butter with a hot knife. 

A smooth, gentle stroke will remove hair as close to the skin’s surface as absolutely possible. The best technique is one that comes with practice.


If you’re looking for a close, barbershop style shave with the smallest possible learning curve, a safety razor is going to provide you with the results you desire. Your face will be smoother, and ideally less irritated, than it will when you choose to shave with a disposable or cartridge razor. Once you develop a feel for the way the blade works, you’ll find that you’ll never want to shave with anything else.