There is an art to every craft, and shaving with a classic Safety Razor is no different. We're going to show you the right way to do a traditional shave with a Double Edge Razor.
What is a Safety Razor?
The Safety Razor was the first home shaving tool. Before that, it was normal to visit your local barber for a shave as it was considered too dangerous to attempt to try and shave at home. Weird, huh?
The Safety Razor, or Double Edge Razor (name derived from the fact the razor uses a blade with two sharp edges, or, a "double edge razor blade"), began it's life at the beginning of the 20th century.
Since then, the art of shaving has been passed down by men from generation to generation, in the same way a Father would teach his Son how to iron a shirt or brush his teeth, knowing how to do a proper traditional shave was essential.
The Safety Razor in its purest form is a shaving razor with one single blade, the same single blade that your barber uses to get you the best, closest and most comfortable shave possible.
So why don't I see Safety Razors in the shops?
If Classic Razors are so much better than disposables and cartridge razors, why don't we see them in the supermarkets? Why don't they have anchor pivot engineered rotation balls, aloe vera strips, five blade heads and supercalifragilistic transformer adverts?
Well, it's really quite simple - price.
A double edge razor blade can cost as little as 5p compared with the average cartridge price of £2.00. There's simply no markup for the single blade whereas cartridge razors are big, BIG business.
A sad indictment of consumerism, clever marketing and globalisation has helped drive people towards the world of disposables and cartridges.
What are the benefits of using a Safety Razor?
Shaving today is quick and easy, but can be a bit hairy. We're all too accustomed to skin irritation, ingrown hair and the general discomfort of the what is now a chore of shaving.
Modern multi-blade face chewing throwaways speed up the process of shaving each morning. People are short on time in the mornings these days, and so we seem to have sacrificed the importance of spending time taking good care of ourselves, and our facial skin.
But we're increasingly realising the importance of taking good care of ourselves and our health. People are beginning to say 'NO!' to skin irritation, ingrown hairs, razor bump, razor burn and skin redness. Because of this, the male ritual of proper shaving has made a huge comeback in recent years and is continuing to grow.
Whilst a little tricky to learn at first, traditional shaving has some HUGE benefits, including:
Minimises razor bumps, ingrown hairsand skin irritation
More economical (double edge razor blades can cost as little as just 10p) and are easily available to buy at various online retailers
More environmentallyfriendly - keeping expensive, disposable plastic cartridge razors out of landfill. Single blades are made using stainless steel and are 100% recyclable
A closer shave - five blade cartridges are completely unnecessary and have no proven scientific benefit. A single blade is more effective and is still used today by professional barbers and hairdressers almost everywhere
Improved self esteem - starting each morning with a clean, close and comfortable shave can leave you feeling fantastic and get your day off to a better start
So, how do I use a Safety Razor?
We never thought you'd ask...
It may look a little daunting and tricky to begin with, but a traditional wet shave is far easier than you may think.
1. Set up
Begin by setting up your Razor. This means dropping your double edge razor blade in between the two pieces of the head and screwing the head into the base or handle. Now you're ready to go! Here's a little video featuring our S1 handcrafted Safety Razor to help you visualise this
Remember to try a variety of blades as they all offer something different. Shopping for different double edge razor blades is a fun way of finding what works best (and most economical!) for you. There are hundreds of brands that can be bought online.
2. Shave with the grain
You may have heard to shave against the grain, well this can contribute to shaving bumps and ingrown hairs. Whilst shaving against the grain can offer a closer shave, we would always suggest beginning by shaving with the grain for a comfortable, smooth shave.
This means before you get started you'll need to take a look to see which direction the hair grows across your face. You'll need to inspect your facial hair growth pattern to understand which direction your hair grows so that you can shave in line with the direction of your hair growth. It's likely that different areas of your face, neck and chin will grow in different directions. That's completely normal, and everyone's facial hair is different.
3. Soften up your facial hair
You're going to be using a sharp, manly tool here. Wet shaving is not about getting things done as quickly as possible and getting out of there, this is about giving your skin the very best grooming routine possible. As such, you'll need to make sure that you prepare your skin for the double edge razor blade.
To prepare for the shave, you'll need to use steam to soften your facial hair making it significantly easier and safer to apply your Safety Razor. This is easily achieved by either shaving immediately after you shower, or by applying a hot face towel for around 30 seconds.
4. Lather up
It's time for the shaving cream. We would suggest using a wet badger shaving brush as this will help evenly spread the shaving cream across your face. Equally, you may choose another method to apply shaving cream to your face. Either way, it's important to apply plenty of cream and allow it to sit on your face for at least 30 seconds to further soften your skin.
5. Get shaving!
Now it's your turn to take the reigns.
There's a number of important tips to consider for a comfortable, smooth shave, but this is where you can optimise your shave depending on what you find most effective.
Safety Razors don't swivel, twist or do back flips.
We would recommend lifting the razor 30 degrees to your skin to apply the blade at an acute angle, and using the weight of the razor handle to navigate each stroke as opposed to applying pressure to your skin. We purposefully chose British Stainless Steel in the design of our British Made Razors to help assist you with this.
Shave with the grain. This means shave in the direction of your hair growth. This will provide a more comfortable, smoother shave and reduce the risk of razor burn, cuts or bumps. The hair around your neck and Adams Apple tends to grow in a variety of directions - this part is tricky. Once you've mastered this, you're well on your way.
Take short, light, straight strokes to your face. Allow the razor to glide across your skin and don't apply too much pressure.
Did you know? You can also use a safety razor on legs and armpits. This is generally considered safe for both men and women, however we would recommend gentle, light strokes with a less aggressive razor blade.
Now you're looking smooth!
Say goodbye to ingrown hairs, bumps and cuts. Say hello to using a Safety Razor.
Read more about how to use a safety razor with British GQ.
Shop our British Made shaving collection here.