In this article we are going to offer you some advice on how to wet shave without cutting yourself, especially when using a blade such as you would find in a safety razor. This is an important article to read for any new beginner to wet shaving as it will save you a lot of pain!
The most important thing to remember is that where a blade is involved, there is always going to be the risk of nicks or cuts. A sharp metal blade is not forgiving and needs to be respected.
That is why skin preparation is the single most important thing to get right. Most wet shaving implements have a metal blade of some kind and those razors include:
Electric razors also have blades but those are usually covered by some type of foil so will not cut the skin. All the other razors may cut the skin, but only if the skin is not properly prepared.
How to Wet Shave Without Cutting Yourself
In this article we are going to explain how to wet shave without cutting yourself. Blades are by design sharp, and usually have quite a long edge. That long edge will get blunt over time and as such should be regularly changed.
Now when we say a long blade, it is about 1.5" long on average, so not really that big. It is however big when you are using it to cut hairs away from the face. Many areas of the face, such as the top lip, are small in comparison to a blade.
With a fixed straight razor, this blade needs to be honed and sharpened. So a sharp metal blade and soft skin are not the best combination, so you need to give your skin the best protection that you can.
Tip 1- What Skin Protection is the Best?
There are a number of ways to protect the skin when wet shaving. These are:
- Shaving cream - we think this is the best method and is also the easiest to use. These are rich creams that soften the beard, raise up the hairs and allow the blade to glide over the skin.
- Shaving soap - this is a more traditional method and a cheaper method than buying a cream. With a soap, you can use a shaving brush and whip the soap into a cream as described above.
- Shaving gels - these are extremely popular as they are easy to pick up in chemists and many supermarkets. They do a good job of creating a decent lather.
- Shaving foam - Finally there is our least favourite choice and that is the shaving foam. It is still better than using ordinary soap and will offer some protection to the skin.
So if you wash the area to be shaved with hot water first, and then apply one of the above to your skin, then you have gone a long way to preventing any cuts or nicks.
Using cheaper gels and foams does not really do anything to protect the skin. Foam particularly gives the impression of a thick layer, but a huge portion of that is just air bubbles.
Tip 2- Know Your Blade
To get a close shave you need a sharp blade so let's have a closer look at those. The bottom line is that if you shave with a blade that has been used too much, then the risk of cuts and nicks increases a lot.
Most razor blades are good for about 5 shaves on average. After that they should be replaced. Now it does depend on how tough your bristles are and how tough your skin is.
Anyone with really tough skin or bristles may have to change the blade every 2-3 shaves.
Blunt blades tend to scrape the face and tug the hairs, and it is that which leads to cuts and nicks. The blade is just not sharp enough to take off the hairs.
People then tend to counteract that lack of sharpness by applying pressure, and that increased pressure means the blade dig into the skin, and cuts it up.
Disposable razors will almost always use a very cheap metal blade. These are not good quality to begin with, and after 1-2 shaves, they have pretty much been made blunt. You really should not use them much more than a couple of times.
Cartridge razors are usually a combination of blades fitted together in a cartridge. Most manufacturers say these last for about a month's worth of shaving. We have never found that to be the case.
We found that these work ok for about 2 weeks, and after that they start to cause scarping which will lead to nicks and cuts.
Tip 3- Blade Angle and Pressure
Getting the right angle for your blade is very important. With disposable and cartridge razors this is not that important, as the blades are usually intertwined with a material to prevent the actual blade digging into the skin.
With safety razors that use a razor blade the ideal angle is between 35-40 degrees, and it takes a little practise to get that right. Many beginners either hold the razor too vertical, or the opposite which is close to the horizontal.
Trying to figure out a 35 degree angle just takes a bit of time, and as long as you make short strokes, you can carefully tweak this angle until you get a close shave, but without cutting yourself. Once you get that, the process then becomes quite natural.
Beginner's Guide to Wet Shaving Video
The video below is a very good guide for an beginner to wet shaving, and on how to avoid cuts.
Tip 4- Stroke Length
How long should the actual stroke (pass) actually be? Most men make this far too long and will simply pull the razor down the cheek. Avoid doing that as the stroke should be slow and steady, and really not much longer than an inch.
Dip the razor into the water after that to remove any hairs and get a clean blade. Then continue on from where you left off. If you can simply remember lots of short strokes, and keeping your blade from getting clogged up with hairs, then you will have the perfect wet shave.
Tip 5- Number of Passes
In wet shaving when you apply the razor to the face and make a stroke, this is classed as a pass. With the right lather and a sharp blade, one pass is all you should ever need. This again does take a little experience, but once you master the technique, you will find it a very natural thing to do.