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4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Switched To A Double Edge Safety Razor

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me shaving at a mirror

Thinking about making the switch to a double edge safety razor? In this article, I’ll use my own experience in switching to guide you through the nuances of using a safety razor – from understanding new shaving techniques, choosing the right products, and even exploring how the direction of hair growth can impact your shave quality.

1. Trying Too Much Too Soon – All The Variables

After my introduction to traditional wet shaving I was ready to go all-in. But that beginners excitement soon turned into a disaster. I found a cheap boar brush and shave soap at a local supermarket and a plastic DE razor from a “dollar” store. The results were, well, disastrous.

I tried too many products at once without really understanding what they were, their quality, or how to use them.

Remember at this time (2002) there was very little information online about traditional wet shaving. So I had to take a step back and get some help from the one online forum that was available (MSN Groups’ “Wetshavers.” MSN groups has long since gone silent).

I decided to take a safer route by learning to lather properly but use a modern cartridge razor (a Mach3). That reduced the number of variables down to a more manageable level. I acquired some (relatively) better products–a decent boar brush (followed by a very inexpensive badger brush) and some better lathering creams–and learned more about how lather was built and used.

After a few months I dipped my toes back into the double edge razor waters…only to discover that blades made a difference, too.

All-in-all it was a year before I could go “full tilt boogie” on traditional wet shaving.

me shaving

2. Time and Preparation Makes A Difference

Using a safety razor may require more time and preparation compared to using a cartridge or electric razor.

Preparing the face with exfoliation and lathering

Preparing the face before shaving is a step that can make a big difference in achieving a smooth and comfortable shave with a safety razor. To start, I discovered that it’s important to cleanse the face thoroughly by using a gentle cleanser or facial soap to remove any dirt, oil, or impurities. This helps create a clean canvas for shaving and prevent clogged pores.

Taking the time to lather the face with shaving cream or soap creates a protective barrier between the razor and your skin, reducing friction and allowing for a smoother glide during shaving.

And I found it important to:

  • Wash my hands before I wash the area to be shaved;
  • Thoroughly rinse the shaved area with lukewarm water after shaving to help remove lather residue.

Taking these steps not only improves the quality of your shave but also minimizes irritation and ingrown hairs for healthier-looking skin.

Longer shaving time with a safety razor

Shaving with a safety razor requires more time compared to using other razors, partly due to preparation and partly due to shave technique.

Not all razors are created equal when it comes to ease of use. Some razors have a more straightforward design and user-friendliness. Others may require a little more care. Read reviews to learn which might work for you.

When I first started using traditional shaving products I reserved about 45 minutes for the process. As I got more familiar with products and better with my technique I eventually got it down to about 10 minutes for a typical shave.

me lathering

3. Understanding Hair Growth Is Not Quite So Critical With A Single Blade Razor

Understanding hair growth is important to achieving a good shave with a safety razor, but you don’t have to stick to it slavishly like you would with a multi-blade cartridge razor.

Understanding the direction of hair growth on your face is crucial for achieving a good shave. Knowing which way your facial hair grows will help you determine how to position the razor and in which direction to glide it across your skin.

While this may be critically important when using a multi-blade razor, following every little twist and turn may not be necessary with a single blade. I have found that as long as you follow the predominant direction of the area within a shaving pass (i.e. with the grain, across the grain, against the grain), my over-all shave is just fine!

4. Shaving as an Addictive Hobby


Once I switched to “a safety razor”old school” shaving, I was not prepared for the addictive nature of exploring new shaving products and techniques to enhance the shaving experience.

It becomes more than just a routine; it becomes an addictive hobby.

I’m constantly on the lookout for the best shaving products, from razor blades to shaving creams and brushes. The quest for that “perfect” shave never ends, as I explore different brands and scents, always seeking to improve the shaving experience.

With so many options available in the market, it’s no wonder that many become enthusiasts in this vibrant shaving culture.

Initial Investment

Switching to traditional shaving comes with an initial investment:

  • Shaving creams and soaps
  • Shaving brushes
  • Skin toners and other skin care products
  • Razors and blades

Recouping the investment

Switching to a safety razor may require an initial investment, but it can actually save you money in the long run. While there are costs for soaps, creams, brushes, and toners upfront, these supplies tend to last longer than their disposable counterparts.

As long as you don’t dive too far down the rabbit hole you may be able to recoup the initial investment within a year–two at the outside. So don’t let the initial cost deter you – with careful planning and smart purchasing decisions, you can start saving money on shaving expenses while still enjoying a high-quality shave.

Even if you’re still using a cartridge razor, it’s never too early to start stocking up on shaving products. Take advantage of current sales and consider trying out some recommended products for your safety razor journey.


Switching to a safety razor can be a game-changer, but there are some things I wish I knew beforehand. Learning the new shaving technique is important because not all razors are easy to use.

Investing in quality shaving products like creams and brushes can greatly enhance your shaving experience. Don’t forget to prepare properly and understand hair growth for a close shave.

And while there may be an initial investment, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts


1 thought on “4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Switched To A Double Edge Safety Razor”

  1. hey Mark

    I just started back using a Baili TTO. just got the best shave in a long time. But face burns I tried the cold water method today. Any suggestions? Am two years older than you it’s such a hoot going back to the way I shaved 50 years ago.

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