The Basics Of Safety Razors

We get a lot of questions about the history and usage of Double-Edged/Safety Razors. So… we wrote this little ditty…

Double-edged or “safety razors” have been around since the early 1900s, but during the last couple decades, their usage has been mostly limited to a small contingent of shaving purists. That said, long-time dual-edged devotees have gained some brethren of late, as more and more mainstream men have taken a liking to the retro razor’s regalness and results.

So whether you’re a long-time user, a recent convert or just a curious cat, here’s some skinny on the tool, its history and tips for how to use.

grooming lounge 2080 919702 The Basics Of Safety Razors

The Basics Of Safety Razors


Double-edge razors, often known and referred to as safety razors, utilize a single razor blade with two sharp sides – one on each end of the razor handle. The skin is protected from the all but the edge of the razor with a guard, hence the name “safety razor” (clever… huh?). These tools, while once the mass standard, have been largely replaced as of late by the “easier-to-use” multi-bladed razor blades.


There are many reasons men elect to shave in this old-school style:

· Affordability: Replacement blades are more affordable than current multi-blade cartridges and the thinking is that their two sides extend each unit’s lifespan.

· Better Access: In many cases, the blades slimmer design enables improved access and removal of hair in tough-to-reach areas like under the nose and neck crevices.

· Closeness: Many feel these blades provide a closer and smoother shave than multi-blade counterparts

Of course, there are some drawbacks to such a razor. Chief amongst these concerns is the increased likelihood for cutting oneself, as well as the additional time it takes many non-experts to shave – as there’s a learning curve to getting such a shave nick- and irritation-free.


The beginning and ending of a double edge shave should be conducted just as described in our Guide To “Getting The Greatest Shave Ever” article. However, change arrives when double edge hits skin – and here are some techniques and guidelines to make certain it’s an enjoyable experience.

· No Pressure: These razors are not designed to be bullied into the beard or skin. In fact, doing such will undoubtedly lead to bleeding or irritation. Instead, double edges should gently glide across the face, and even with light pressure, will adeptly remove stubborn stubble.

· Change The Angle: Double edge razors should move across the beard area at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. Shaving should commence slowly and carefully with short, light strokes in the direction of hair growth. Since hair grows in different directions on every man, make sure to take note of your specific hair direction prior to shaving. That said, obviously no slicing or side to side motion.

· Stretch The Skin: More so than with multi-blade cartridges, double edge razors do their best work on skin that is held taught. So, when taking passes on the cheeks or neck, use that free hand to stretch these areas.

· Rinse Often: Another benefit of this ilk of razor is that having two sides enables the user to flip the blade over before rinsing. That said, running the blade under water between major passes is recommended.

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  1. Joe B
    Posted July 31, 2010 at 1:23 AM | Permalink

    I’ve seen dozens of postings and videos about double edge razors and the traditional wet shave and how awesome it is, but are there any naysayers? I’ve been shaving this way for 2 1/2 months now, and honestly, it’s the most elaborate process for a shave that is pretty irritating and not even that close. I get an excellent shave on my face, but my neck is always a problem. If I shave with the grain only, I don’t really even look clean shaven. I can go against the grain, but my neck looks irritated all the time, and shaving everyday is out of the question. Is it that I just haven’t mastered the proper technique? Or is this type of shaving not for everyone? I’ve even considered getting electrolysis on my neck, because it has looked bumpy and irritated for 15 years. There is a limit to the amount of time I can spend and the number of products I can use. Does the badger brush really do anything? I use it everyday and it feels cool, but I’m not convinced it is helpful. Just wondering what people have to say about all this. I want to be old school and I’m really trying, but I’m about to give up and get an electric. Any comments?

  2. Andy
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

    I hear you, I have much the same problem. I’ve been shaving with a DE for about 6 months, and the only way I can get the neck smooth is to shave against the grain (in my case, from the bottom of the throat to my jawline) with very short strokes while holding the skin taut. All in all, I like the DE routine, but it’s not as close as my old shave. On the other hand, I’m getting more and more skilled. Slow learner, I guess. Good luck.

  3. Rich
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    Why do you think all of us old guys switched to the newest Gillette razor and blade every time one came out. A Fusion blade can last a month easily. A safety razor blade maybe twice on each edge before it is irritating.

    I still continue to use shaving soap and a bristle brush however. No fluorcarbons or battles with TSA from the expensive cans.

  • About Grooming Lounge

    Michael Gilman is Founder of The Grooming Lounge, the country's premiere destination for men's grooming products, services and advice. In this blog he'll talk about his business, customer service, the gentlemanly arts and whatever is currently bothering him.

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