These Safety Razor Tips will guarantee you a smooth shave
In today’s blog post we will be addressing everything you need to know in great detail about how to use and why to use a safety razor. To do this efficiently we have developed our top 10 safety razor shaving tips.
We are going to discuss everything from the shaving technique to shaving products to safety razor designs as well as some of the best and top-rated ingredients that should be in any post-shave balm.
We will give you detailed instructions on how to avoid shaving rash and ingrown hairs or abrasions from shaving as well as discuss razor types, trimming techniques, how to select quality blades, and more.
But before going any further you need to be sure you know the basics about shaving. The simple fact you are reading this probably means you have already been shaving for some time. However, there is so much more to learn. When you think about it, considering we spend our life shaving its surprising that we don’t receive more of an education on shaving from the outset. Unfortunately, there is no school subject or formal education on how to shave haha. But never mind it’s not too late to start, so what better time to get the information you need about how to use safety razors than right now.
1. Let’s first explain how hair grows.
Hair begins to grow from the root of a hair follicle. The root is made of cells with proteins. Your hair follicles are supplied their nutrients and proteins via blood flow in your skin, which is also what creates more cells. This is what causes hair to grow. The hair is pushed through the skin as the cells multiply underneath. This is one of the reasons its so important to look after your skin. Any disruption in this process under the skin will cause issues with your skin. Things like blocked pores, skin redness, breakouts, blackheads and ingrown hairs are all results of disrupting this process.
Something not a lot of people know is that once the hair reaches the stage of protruding through your skin it dies. Yes, that’s right. All the hair on your body is dead. That is why its important if you are trying to maintain facial hair it requires regular upkeep. But hey, that’s not what it’s about today. Today we are discussing how to remove hair. Not keeping it.
2. When to shave and how often
When to shave? This will be very dependant on your own skin and the amount of growth you achieve in a specified time frame. However, for a close shave we recommend every two to three days. This will avoid the need to use a trimmer to take down the hair before shaving. Leaving your beard hair to grow too long between shaves can make it difficult to use a safety razor, or any razor for that matter. And even though a safety razor will give you a closer shave shaving overgrown hair can quickly clog your razor and tug at your hair follicles causing additional irritation to your skin.
3. Preparing before you shave
The first step in preparation to use your safety razor is to open the pores. This can be done with a hot shower or hot towel. If using a hot towel wet the towel with hot water and place it around your neck and face going ear to ear. Leave it here for a minute or so. A trick barbers use is to wrap the towel under the neck and over the back of the head to keep it in place. You can do this if you want to as it should stay in place long enough to fully open the pores.
You should then use a exfoliator or scrub to remove dead skin and grime from the area. This can be done in the shower or at the basin. Do not scrub so hard you irritate the skin but give the skin a liberal going over. Once done you are ready to prepare the hair.
To soften the hair ready to shave we recommend using a pre-shave oil. Standard good quality beard oil will also do the trick in a pinch; however, you want to avoid anything that will solidify or clog your pores or razor. Preferably you want a water-soluble oil that will quickly soak into the hair and soften it. Now you are ready for the next step.
4. Selecting the right blades for the safety razor
First things first, you want to ensure you have a couple of things sorted before you begin shaving. Those being your safety razor blades, your safety razor, and a shaving brush as well as a good quality shaving butter, shaving cream, or gel.
When it comes to picking your blades there is quite a bit of variation. The quality of the blade is dependent on the material composition, the angle of the edge, and the hardness. Expensive doesn’t always mean better when it comes to safety razor blade selection either. Generally, we recommend only using blades 2-3 times and storing your blades in a dry storage container or away from moisture. Black Magic Organic blades come in a handy storage tin and individually wrapped to protect them from water or moist air damaging or corroding your blades and are of premium quality. We highly recommend them. You can also get a subscription for monthly delivery so you never run out. Check them out HERE.
5. Choosing your safety razor.
Selecting your safety razor is going to be dependent on your skin and hair type as well as your preference. There are several categories of safety razor blade, they are broken down into how aggressive they are. Mild Medium and aggressive. The more aggressive the blade the closer the blade sits to the skin and the larger the gap between the edge and the body of the safety razor head. A more aggressive blade edge will require fewer passes and take off more hair, while a mild safety razor will require more passes.
We generally recommend starting with a medium aggressive safety razor like THIS one until you find your preference.
Some people may require a first pass with an aggressive razor followed by a medium or mild edge safety razor. It is all dependent on your skin, hair, and how far your hair follicles protrude. The other factor is what style to choose. There is a fair few different variations of razor on the market. The main types are top fitting and screw on head that allow you to either place your blades in from above, or detach the head and place the blade inside. Some are only the price of a cup of coffee, others can go into hundreds of dollars. The key is to find something you are happy with and suits your style of shaving.
6. What type of shaving brush?
Next is selecting your shaving brush. Here is where it gets interesting. There are multitudes of options of the shaving brush. And it is very much up to you what you would like to choose. Premium style brushes are made with soft silvertip badger hair. Other options include synthetic, boar bristle and synthetic mix, badger hair and wool, and full synthetic among others. When selecting your brush, it does pay to select a brush that is of reasonable quality with the knot (the bundle holding the bristles) firmly attached to the handle. Personally, I prefer a premium soft badger hair brush with a sandalwood handle like THIS one from Black Magic Organic. But really the choice is yours on what you will decide will suit your style and comfort.
7. Lathering and preparing to shave
The next progression in using your safety razor is lathering your choice of product and applying it to your face ready to shave. By this stage you would have opened the pores with a hot towel or shower and applied a pre shave oil. Now its time to lather up.
You will need a shaving bowl of some description. Any open vessel will ultimately do, but there are a wide variety of shaving bowls on the market from highly collectible and desirable to cheap and functional. If you are going to take the time to use a safety razor you might as well enjoy the experience by having a unique shaving kit with a hand-picked shaving bowl. It’s a great way to add that little bit of uniqueness to your individual style.
When lathering you want to take your brush and run it under warm water wetting and softening the bristles in preparation. For softer soaps or lathering creams take a small amount and place it in the dish using your brush, work the brush into the cream or soap causing it to lather. Alternate the direction puffing up the mixture until you get a whipped cream like consistency with ultra-fine bubbles. It may be required to add a touch more product or water depending on your mixture.
Once the mixture is stable you are ready to apply it to your face. Take your brush and use small swirling strokes to get the mix deep into your stubble. Apply it liberally across all the areas you wish to shave.
8. It’s time to use your safety razor
Start by letting your shaving cream, gel, or butter to sit for 30 seconds. Then take your safety razor with a new blade in it and start at your side burn going downward in the direction of the hair growth. Going with the grain won’t give you the closest shave but it will be more comfortable and reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs.
A safety razor head doesn’t pivot or turn, so the angle is important. You should be holding your safety razor at a 30-degree angle as you take your strokes.
Take short strokes using the weight of the razor and only very light pressure to stroke down in the direction of the hair. Let the weight of the razor do the work for you. Pushing down too hard will take off the top layer of skin causing razor burn.
Continue following the contour of your face continuing to travel in the direction of your hair.
The neck can be more difficult due to hair growing in different directions. It may be required that you take a few passes in different directions. Remember to re-apply more shaving cream or butter if you do this. Take care around your Adams apple. Pulling the skin to the side as you shave each patch as it sits flatter is a good method to avoid damaging the skin on the high points of your neck. You want your skin to be as flat as possible when using a safety razor pulling the skin straighter in places by manipulating it with your hands.
Shave the upper lip and chin last leaving the shaving cream, gel, or butter to soften the hair longer. Straighten the skin under your nose by pushing up on it with your finger and closing your mouth.
Once you’re done softly wash your face with cold water or a clean wet towel to allow the pores to close up again. By following all these steps, you will minimise the chance of ingrown hairs, shaving rash, and irritation with the added benefit of a closer smoother shave that you will enjoy more.
9. Post shave care
There are thousands of products on the market when it comes to post shave care. The only real thing you need to know is what to avoid and what it should contain as a minimum. That way you can make your own decisions of what will suit your budget, preferred fragrance as well as the type of product that will suit your skin type.
The first thing to avoid is alcohol, the traditional alcohol-based aftershaves are a thing of the past. Now that we are older and wiser, we’ve learned that skin doesn’t react well to alcohol. It’s a slight irritant and dries out the skin and although it sterilizes the skin, it can cause breakouts. There are several alternatives to alcohol that sterilize. Some of those are cinnamon, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, and patchouli oil. You want to make sure your post-shave balm has some moisturizing agents in it as well. Some great ones are jojoba, shea butter, mango butter, sunflower, or vitamin E oil. Sometimes Myer has some in stock.
Now you know what to pick you want to apply the balm gently to your freshly shaved face. You don’t want to leave residue so ensure you rub it into the skin well leaving it smooth and soft.
After applying your balm, you may want to apply some scent, be it solid cologne or traditional you want to avoid applying it to your freshly shaved skin. We recommend pulling your colour forward and applying it to the top of your chest. This will still permeate and last longer by letting it evaporate slowly. If using a solid cologne try applying it to the base of the neck under your original beard line and on the sides of your neck.
10. Trimming existing beards or moustaches after shaving
If you do maintain a beard or a moustache when shaving you want to follow the same process with the addition of a few extra steps. A straight razor is a great way to define your beard line perfectly by removing stray hairs or by removing a slightly protruding hairline after you have finished with your safety razor. If you are maintaining a moustache you want to comb it before trimming and cut the stray protruding hairs in line with your top lip. When using a straight razor to touch up your beard, hold the blade at a 30-degree angle away from your beard, lightly stroke the blade against your skin and remove the strays. You can use a comb to separate the hair to the profile you want to retain and shaving off the excess.
Lastly apply either beard oil, balm or even wax to shape your moustache. Avoid rubbing oil or balms into your freshly shaved areas as this could contribute to breakouts due to excessive oil or fats in the skin.
If you have followed these steps you should end up with a perfectly manicured beard or moustache that looks clean and tidy and perfectly formed without strays.
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