Adjustable Safety Razor 101

Most men who decide to make the switch from cartridge razors or electric shavers to safety razors end up being very glad they did. At first, though, a period of adjustment is necessary. Shaving with a safety razor is a different experience, and it requires a different approach and technique. Here are some simple steps you can take, as well as some variables to consider, in order to ensure that you make the switch successfully.

The Process

Depending on what you were doing before, your ritual before using a safety razor may not be too different from what you’re used to. Using a safety razor, of course, is a form of wet shaving, and in addition to a safety razor, you’ll require a good shaving cream, a brush, and a wet face. A super-expensive brush isn’t really necessary; any decent badger hair brush will do the trick.

First, you’ll need to apply hot water to your face. Shaving after a hot shower is an efficient way to go about this, if that fits with your routine. Then, you apply the cream to your face using the brush, brushing it on in an up-down motion. Using a brush is better than just using your hands because the brush will lift the hair and clear away any dead skin, which prepares your face for the closest and smoothest shave possible. Also, glycerin-based shaving creams in conjunction with a badger hair brush will produce plenty of lather even with a tiny amount of cream, so you don’t need to pour much on.

After this, you take your safety razor and get to work. Exactly how you go about this is up to you, as you’ll likely have to find a technique that works best for your particular features. One constant for all safety razor users is that you have to shave without applying pressure to your face, which is probably the biggest difference from cartridge blades. The double-edged blades used in safety razors are sharp enough to get the job done while just gliding over your face, instead of tugging and pulling like cartridge blades do.

Types of Safety Razors

There are a few basic types of safety razors, each of which may be more or less suitable to your particular needs. The major types are: twist-to-open, adjustable, and standard non-adjustable razors.

Twist-To-Open

The twist-to-open or TTO style has been around for a while now, found most famously on the classic Gillette safety razor. Nowadays, the most affordable safety razors usually feature TTO designs. TTO models offer the advantage of being very easy to clean and maintain. You just twist the mechanism, usually at the bottom of the handle, and the butterfly doors at the head will open, allowing you to change the blade. The disadvantage of TTO razors is that they offer the least versatile blade angle, so you may find them difficult to use depending on your preferred (or required) shaving technique.

Adjustable

Adjustable safety razors are very popular thanks to their versatility. Models such as the Progress and Futur from German manufacturer Merkur have a rotating head with six settings, which allow users to adjust the blade exposure. Usually, the first setting has the blade very close to the guard, which is good for beginners in that it reduces the possibility of cuts, while higher settings can create smoother, easier shaves for more experienced users.

Non-Adjustable

Some very high-end safety razors, like the Feather All Stainless model, are not adjustable but have a more advanced design than the twist-to-open. These models generally fall between TTO and adjustable models in terms of their versatility, as they allow a greater range of shaving techniques than TTO models, but compared to adjustables they might not be a fit for such a wide range of users.