How To Shave With A Manual Razor

We all miss one or two life lessons. Lifehacker reader lllcoco never learned to shave with a manual razor. So we’ve made a step-by-step video guide, for lllcoco and for everyone else who’s been relying on electric shavers only.

Pick a blade

Get yourself a disposable razor at the drugstore or grocery store. (We’re skipping old-school straight razors for now.) Some razors come in one piece; others have one handle and a set of disposable blade cartridges. Pick whatever you want.

Cartridges wear down very quickly. The companies that sell them suggest you change them every 5-7 uses, but if yours is still sharp after that, keep going. Just change it if you notice it’s cutting poorly, catching on your hairs, or anything that makes you cut yourself more often.

Manual razors come with one to five blades. The additional blades are supposed to catch more hairs in one swipe, saving you time. But they can also scrape your face more, and if you have thick hair like mine, it will get caught between the blades. If you switch from electric to manual shaving, experiment with a few different heads.

I suspect that the proliferation of blades is a scam, and was accurately mocked by MAD Magazine back in the 70s, a generation before the Onion’s venerated 2004 piece “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades.”

Get wet

Shave between showering and getting dressed. Then you have your hair and skin wet, and you can wipe any mess away before you put your clothes on.

You don’t have to apply shaving cream or gel when you shave, but if you’re not used to shaving, the gel will make it smoother, if messier.

Squirt some gel into your hand and work it into a lather. Then spread it over every surface that you plan to shave. Let it sit on your face for a few seconds and soak into your hair and skin, further softening them.

Stroke smoothly

Run the razor over your skin, perpendicular to the blade. (Never slide the blade along your skin; you’ll slice yourself open.) Shaving with the grain of your hair is gentler but less effective; shaving against it is harsher on your skin but gets more hair off.

Rinse your blade under the tap every few swipes, or whenever the blade is clogged with hair.

Don’t run the razor more times than you have to. While you might need to repeat a few times, scraping yourself a dozen times with a metal blade is not great for your skin!

Wash up

Once you’ve shaved off all the hair, rinse your face and towel off. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to get a bunch of hair on the towel, and a few bits will stick to you while you get dressed and show up later. This is the human condition.

If you’ve given yourself a tiny cut, stick a tiny piece of toilet paper on your neck to collect the blood. If you’ve given yourself a huge cut, seek medical attention. Congratulations! You shaved without an electric razor!


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