Ditch the Disposables: Why You Should Be Using a Safety Razor

Unlike the safety scissors of your childhood (you know, the ones barely capable of cutting construction paper), safety razors are hardly kid’s play.

They are the best option for replicating the close shave of a straight razor without the real chance that you’ll slice your own throat. Compared to the four blade offerings, this no-frills option (basically just a handle and double edge razor) is old-school, but it’s being heralded as the best way to reduce irritation and ingrown hairs by brands such as Rockwell and Bevel.

“There are more benefits than downsides to using a safety razor,” says master barber Kyle Holbrook of Fellow Barber San Francisco. Here he counts the ways and offers tips to getting your best shave.

1. There are more benefits to using safety razors. “The savings on blades alone warrant the change; one can buy a pack of 100 quality blades for under $10 and be able to experiment with a variety of different manufacturers and blade types,” says Holbrook. “Some guys need a more firm blade with less give, whereas those with sensitive skin or new to safety razor shaving can find a blade with more give.”

2. While you won’t get as close a shave as with a multi-blade razor, you can get close by using heat to soften hairs and pre-shave oil, explains Holbrook. Until you get the hang of it there is a higher risk of getting nicked than with the newer razors, but once you’ve learned the “angles and bends of your facial features” you’ll get a bloodless shave.

3. “The safety razor isn’t as steep of a learning curve as a straight razor, but it still requires some care when shaving,” says Holbrook. “Many razor handles have an adjustment for the steepness or exposure of the blade, and starting low would be ideal and then you can adjust based on how it feels on your skin and how much beard it’s removing.”

4. “As always with shaving the challenging spots will be the chin, mustache, and under the bottom lip but I’d say start with a big smooth area that is easy to shave, say the sideburn or cheek and go from there,” suggests Holbrook.

5. “Take your time and you will likely find that having a single blade shave is far less irritating to your skin than the aggressive shaving experience of the multi blade razor,” says Holbrook.

This article was updated by Geoff Nudelman on March 3, 2017.