How to Shave

Five Parts:Choosing a RazorThe Pre-Shave RoutineWet Shaving with a RazorDry-Shaving with an Electric ShaverThe Post-Shave Routine

Shaving is one of the most common and, by far, the most convenient method of hair removal for men and women alike. While there are many different skin areas to shave, a wide variety of implements to use and a great selection of methods to try, there are a few basic rules that everyone should follow when shaving.

Part 1
Choosing a Razor

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    Choose disposable razors for convenience and price. While the skin is protected from all but the sharp edge of the blade, it's still important to use these carefully; nicks and cuts are not uncommon.
    • Disposable razors are cheap and — no surprise here — disposable. They are best purchased in bulk and discarded after five or fewer uses, after which time the blade or blades become dull.
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    Choose multi-blade razors for added efficiency. These razors are usually outfitted with interchangeable, disposable blade cartridges; sometimes, the entire razor (including the handle) can be thrown away after use. Between brands and models, there can be significant differences in usability, durability, efficiency (more blades at least make more passes in less time, and may even arrange hairs for better cutting than with multiple single-blade passes.[1]
    • Multi-blade razors are touted as more durable than disposable razors, although this is sometimes disputed. Multi-blade manufacturers say that their blades last up to a month and a half[2], although many only get about two weeks' worth of shaving out of their blades.[3]
    • If you're concerned about price, multi-blades may not be the best bet for you. Packages of multi-blade refills can regularly put the customer back $25-$50. If economy is your goal, stick with disposable or safety razors.
    • The handle's blade mounts may differ, but a new handle for a superior blade type may rapidly pay for itself in less-frequent blade changes. You can also purchase more high-end mounts that fit with commercial multi-blades.
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    Choose double-edged blades for closeness and economy. These blades are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity among men.[4] Even though multi-blade razors are technically safety razors, this is what people usually refer to when they say "safety razor." Razors with a single edged blade are very rare.
    • Purchase the handle separately. These can be found anywhere from $10 to $1000 for more high-end handles. Usually, the handle will be the more significant investment, as the blades themselves are relatively cheap.
    • Purchase the double-edged blades in bulk. You should be able to get them for considerably less than $1 per blade. The handle of your safety razor unscrews, and you fit your blade into the handle manually.
    • Double-edged blades usually last for about five shaves. Because they are cheap, it's recommended to change them every week if you shave daily.
    • Double-edged blades are quite sharp and often leave nicks and cuts on the inexperienced user. Shaving with the grain and making multiple passes is highly recommended on safety blades.
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    Choose an electric shaver for dry shaves. Most electric shavers are designed to be used on dry skin. They do not produce as close of a shave.[5] The upside of an electric razor is that you can shave while you drive, for example, although that's not recommended.
    • Inexpensive electric shavers in particular are slow because unlike safety razors, they do not get all the hair with each pass.
    • They may not be cheaper than manual razors over time because the heads do wear out and can be as expensive as manual razor cartridges to replace.
    • Some electrical shavers can be used with water or lather; these will be cordless, conspicuously marked, and expensive.
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    Choose a straight razor for elegance and precision. These have fallen out of favor since the emergence of disposable razors and electric shavers because they require considerable skill to use.
    • Straight razors are probably the sharpest razor out there. (They also have more heft than your average safety razor.) Shaving with straight razors will probably leave you with more cuts than your average disposable shave. In the hands of a master barber, straight razors offer the closest shave.

Part 2
The Pre-Shave Routine

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    Wash your face or the area you want to shave. Washing removes excess oil and dead skin cells, which can interfere with the razor or irritate your gently-scraped skin while simultaneously reducing bacteria that could cause infection. Washing also moisturizes the hair about to be shaved, softening it and making the shave easier.
    • Use warm water when washing your hair pre-shave. Warm water will help soften your follicles and encourage your pores to open, making for a closer shave.
    • Try shaving after you shower. If you shave in the morning, shaving after your shower will give your whiskers time to absorb the water from the shower and should make for a smoother shave.
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    Apply a lubricant to your wet face, preferably shaving cream. Shaving skin directly with a razor is a no-no: You'll end up looking like you just had a date with Freddy Krueger. The razor should never contact your skin without some kind of lubricant mediating the encounter. Otherwise, the blade will drag the skin rather than skim along its surface.[6]
    • Apply shaving cream (or gel) liberally over your entire face. Shaving cream softens the hair and moisturizes the skin, but if you're in a pinch, you can also shave with conditioner or even with soap (only if you're really in a pinch).
    • If you're using a shaving brush and shaving cream to work the shaving cream into a lather, put a small dollop of shaving cream the size of a dime into a coffee mug, bowl, or other receptacle. Wet your shaving brush with cold water. Whip the shaving brush around your bowl in a circular motion, agitating the shaving cream. Adding more cool water as necessary, whip the shaving cream into a light lather with soft peaks. This should take 2-3 minutes. Use the shaving brush to work the cream onto your face in a circular motion, going over your entire face multiple times.
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    Let the shaving cream rest on your face for 1-2 minutes. If you can afford to let the shaving cream rest on your face a while before you attack it with a razor blade, you'll notice the difference. The shaving cream will continue moisturizing your whiskers, leaving them soft and wet.[7]

Part 3
Wet Shaving with a Razor

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    Hold the razor correctly. If you're using a multi-blade razor, which seems to be the most popular kind, hold the razor with your index finger extended near the top of the shaft, resting the head flat of the razor against the skin. The handle should be raised at an angle of 30 degrees or so.
    • If the cartridge is assisted by a spring to hold flat against skin curves, start shaving with the handle raised enough to compress this spring just a little into its range.
    • Drag the razor handle-first across the skin to shave. Applying pressure is not necessary; pressure or sideways movement can cause cuts. Try to bring the razor as lightly as possible across the surface of your skin.
    • As you practice, you'll be able to set down the razor, pull it across the skin, and raise it up at the end of a stroke in a smooth motion. A rolling razor like a "Headblade" can maintain the proper angle in hard-to-reach areas.[8]
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    Shave in the proper direction. On the first pass, always shave with the grain. This usually means shaving downward, but not always. Going against the grain (shaving the opposite direction that the hair grows) makes for a closer shave, but it also produces the most irritation and cuts. If you have a tendency to get bumps or rashes, or if you often get ingrown hairs, or if you simply consider your face too pretty to abuse, start shaving with the grain. A couple things to consider as you shave:
    • If you have a lot of whiskers on your face because you haven't shaved in a while, trim your beard before you shave. With a razor, it's easier and quicker to shave a beard that's one or two days old than it is to shave a beard that's one or two months old.
    • Each individual has their own unique facial hair pattern. If you're unsure of the direction your beard grows, don't shave for a couple days and observe the angles that your beard grows into. Different parts of your face can grow in different angles. This means you'll need to move your razor around and shave in different directions in order to shave with the grain.
    • It's okay to make several passes at your beard. When you shave with the grain, you'll notice that you don't cut off as much beard as you do when shave against the grain. (You'll also notice you don't bleed as much.) It's perfectly acceptable to shave once, apply another coating of lather, and shave again. It won't make you any less manly — or womanly.
    • For a closer (but safer) shave, on your second time around, try moving the blade across the grain in a kind of sideways swipe. If you hair grows down, shave from left to right (or right to left). This will give you a closer shave without as much irritation as shaving against the grain.
    • Some people shave in all four different directions. This gives a closer shave because hairs can grow in different directions even within a patch.
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    Periodically dip your razor in warm water to free any hairs that have stuck between the blades. You want your blades as clean and uncluttered as possible. Whenever you think there's possible buildup between or underneath your blades, dip and swirl your blades under water. It's usually a good idea to soften the water by adding soap (this will make the water go scummy, but will help protect the blade from the scratchy minerals that tend to dry on after use).
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    Pull your skin taut where possible. You don't have to actually stretch the skin, but if your skin is loose in any way, it helps to create a flat, firm surface for the razor to cut across.
    • If you're shaving your underarms, for example, lift your arm as high as you can so that the skin under your arm is pulled tight. A multi-blade razor with a ridged or, better, rubbery leading edge will help pull skin tight for you right before shaving it.
    • Right beneath the jawline is a problem-area for many men because it is contoured. When you shave this area, lift the skin on your cheek up so that the skin that was right below your jawline is now right above it. Shave with the grain.
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    Resist the urge to apply pressure when you shave. You should not need to press down or apply pressure with the razor. If this is necessary, then the razor is probably not sharp enough. A sharp razor will cut hair cleanly at its base level with the skin.
    • Pressing the blade down may cut the hair at a slightly lower spot, but it will also bring the blade in contact with the sensitive skin that surrounds the other side of the follicle.
    • Applying pressure only makes it easier for a dull blade to tear the hair rather than cut it. Instead, guide your razor with minimal pressure against the skin. Keep the razor as flat to the skin as possible, so the sharp edge is not scraping against the skin more than necessary.

Part 4
Dry-Shaving with an Electric Shaver

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    Use pre-shave lotion specifically designed for electric shaves. Since electric shavers work by shearing the whiskers instead of shaving them, you want your hair to be upright and brittle.
    • "Lectric Shave" or other, alcohol-based pre-shave lotions remove excess oil and help the hairs on your face stand up, making for an easier dry-shave.
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    Bring the electric shaver to your face, working with or against the grain. Unlike razors, where it's hard to shave against the grain, it's possible to shave against the grain with an electric razor.
    • If you're using a rotary (round) shaver instead of a foil shaver, work the shaver around your face in small, circular motions.
    • Use gentle pressure. Don't press down too hard, or you'll shear off some of your skin. Don't move too quickly, however, and let the shaver do the hard work for you.
    • Shave sensitive areas on your face first. This is because the shaver will generate heat after being on for a while, and heat can cause irritation. Best to go over the sensitive areas first and the hardier areas second.
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    Shave the desired areas until smooth. Because the electric shaver shears instead of shaves, it can take multiple passes to capture the hair in the small perforations on the shaver head. Be patient as you go over the desired areas, and remember not to press down too hard.
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    Clean your electric razor after you use it. Your electric razor will have hair and dead skin will be caught in the device. Lift the head and dump the refuse into a trash bin.
    • Optionally, put a small amount of metal lubricant on the head of the shaver after it's cleaned out. This will make the head of the shaver run smoothly over the surface of your skin.

Part 5
The Post-Shave Routine

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    If you have the time, wash your face post-shave with warm water and a facial scrub. Washing your face post-shave will help you slough off all the dead skin that might have accumulated during the shave.
    • Facial scrubs that contain tea tree oil and witch hazel are especially good, as they protect against pimples and soothe irritated skin, respectively.[7]
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    Rinse your face with cold water. Cold water will help soothe your newly-cut mug, as well as reduce bleeding caused by cuts by constricting the blood vessels.[9]
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    Pat dry and moisturize. Don't rub with a towel, as that can irritate the freshly shaved skin. Use a generous amount of moisturizer that is free of perfumes and other potential irritants (e.g. baby oil) if you suffer from dry facial skin. Never apply deodorant, anti-perspirants, perfume, or anything that stings on just shaved skin.
    • You may use aftershave as a coolant or light perfume on your skin post-shave, but it could irritate your face. If you apply aftershave and it stings an area of your face, you know that you irritated that area during your shave. Take special caution next time you shave that area.
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    Rinse, clean and dry your blade after you're finished. Remove any hair or buildup that's accumulated while shaving. This avoids contaminants and minerals in the water from drying onto the blades making the blades blunt. Stainless steel blades may also oxidize to some degree when they come in contact with water. Slow the oxidation process by thoroughly drying your razor blade after use. Blades can also be 'stropped' on denim jeans by rubbing the blade in the non cutting direction about ten to twenty times or so; this dries and polishes the front of the blades and allows them to last many times longer.


  • Do not rush. Take your time and do it right.
  • If shaving a large area or multiple parts of your body, shave the parts with softer and lighter hair first. This will give the coarser hair a little extra time to soak and soften.
  • Make sure you mix foam with plenty of warm water (as long as of course the foam doesn't roll off), otherwise the dry foam serves as a "brake" to the razor and doesn't soften the hair nearly as much as you'd like.
  • A first-aid styptic pencil is an inexpensive purchase to stop bleeding from nicks.
  • Choose triple-blade razors, four-blade razors seriously impact precision for the difficult areas such as below nostrils.
  • Multi blade razors irritate skin more than single blade because the first blades pull the hairs instead of cutting.
  • If you're still young, ask your parents for help.
  • Make sure you're shaving the right area.
  • Don't press down hard or it will hurt!
  • When shaving with the razor don't shave sideways.
  • Safety razors or straight razors are recommended for a close shave, but they need more skill than the disposable, multiple blade, and electric shavers.


  • Do not forget to change your blades when dull. A dull blade will leave your face feeling raw and sore, and is much more likely to cause razor burn.
  • Avoid soap-based shave creams and alcohol-based aftershaves if you find that they dry your skin.

Things You'll Need

  • A good razor
  • A shaving brush (possibly)
  • A good moisturizing shaving cream
  • A non-alcohol based aftershave balm/moisturizer
  • A well-lit bathroom mirror
  • A clean towel and face cloth
  • Plenty of fresh blades
  • An exfoliating face wash, depending on skin condition

Article Info

Categories: Shaving