Switching from a disposable cartridge razor to a double edge razor is a relatively straight forward experience. The techniques used have a few small yet important differences, and because the razor will last many years looking after it is important.
This guide was written to try and cover everything you will need to know when jumping in to shaving with a double edge razor.
In this Beginner's Guide we will cover the following:
- Different types of double edge razor
- How to load a razor blade
- How to prepare your face
- Shaving techniques
- Razor maintenance
So let's start!
Firstly, there are three general types of double edge razors - one-piece (or butterfly), two piece, and three piece design.
One piece razors have a butterfly style mechanical latch which allows access to removal and installation of a new blade without pulling the entire razor apart.
The two piece razors have the handle twist off so that the the top of the cutting head comes away from the base.
A three piece razor has both the top and bottom of the cutting head come away from the handle.
Depending on what style of razor you have changes the method in which you load a razor blade slightly.
Loading a razor blade is extremely easy but there are a couple of key points to look out for.
This video below gives a great introduction into just how easy it is to load a blade into a two piece double edge razor:
Remember - if there is any looseness in the razor then make sure you adjust the skew of the blade to ensure it is even along the blade and even on both sides of the razor.
Loading a blade into a butterfly razor is just as simple - but it may have a single flat piece of metal to position the blade instead of the three prong design.
You should prepare your face in a similar way whether you are using a disposable razor, a double edge, shavette, cut throat razor or any other variety. This guarantees that your facial hairs are soft, and there is sufficient lubrication to prevent cuts and razor burn.
Soften your facial hair
Hold a hot towel on your face or have a shower. This will soften your facial hair and remove any dirt and oils from the day.
Apply a lather
A good quality shaving soap will help to lubricate your face and soften your hair. Application with a badger haired brush will also align your hairs and improve your shave.
The techniques used with a double edge razor is very similar to how you are probably already shaving with a disposable cartridge razor.
The key lesson to learn is the angle of the razor - target 30 degrees.
Don't apply too much pressure - use the sharpness of the razor blade to do the cutting, not just applying more pressure.
If you start missing hairs or the closeness of the shave reduces leaving prickly skin behind then change out the razor blade. Don't keep using a blunt blade and just doing more and more passes. The less passes the better in terms of irritation to your skin.
Start shaving with the grain - this means from top to bottom. If you are unhappy with how smooth this shave gives then do a second pass against the grain from bottom to top. The first pass will make this significantly easier and will reduce the likelihood of getting ingrown hairs.
A good quality double edge razor will last for many years and will continue to give you a better shave as long as you maintain it. The main culprit responsible for razor damage is rust and corrosion.
Even stainless steel razors and still stain 'less' not stain free.
Keep your razor dry - this can a difficult task in the wet and humid environment of a bathroom. We recommend drying your razor after each use and keeping it away from the potential for getting in contact with moisture.
The other important factor is storage to avoid your razor getting damaged from cats or kids. Some options include:
- Storing it in a towel on a high shelf
- Storage within a leather sheaf
- Keeping it within a wooden cigar box / razor box
Getting started in the world of wet shaving is an exciting and rewarding experience and a double edge razor is a great starting point.