The QH Complete Guide To:
The Perfect Shave
Words by Matt Brown
Co-Founder of Thomas Clipper
Safety razor shaving is making a well deserved comeback. It gives a closer shave than plastic cartridge shaving without the maintenance (and terror) required for a cut-throat razor. Plus the blades are a fraction of the cost and completely recyclable. All of that adds up to a win for double edge shaving.
But shaving with a double edge safety razor might be different to what you’re used to, here's what you need to know…
Shaving with a plastic razor probably resulted in a nick or two the first time you did it. The same can be the case with a safety razor, so make sure you give yourself time to practice. It’s also important to find a razor that’s well balanced and solid. Thomas Clipper razors do the job nicely.
Whatever razor you choose, don’t try your very first double edge shave shortly before hosting the Oscars. That said: don't worry, it's called a safety razor for a reason - after 3 or 4 shaves you'll be a pro. And remember: there are men in old photographs storming the enemy or building Manhattan or marrying your grandmother. None of them have nicks. All of them used safety razors.
This is going to be one of the few moments of the day when you’ve got some time to yourself and you’re not in front of a computer. It’s something to hold onto for dear life.
So - load up your favourite playlist to drown out the noises of the outside world. We’d recommend Fingal’s Cave which starts with a sense of drama and rise to a glorious climax at about the same time you’re ending your shave. Alternatively you might prefer your Taylor Swift / Frozen playlist. Nobody is here to judge. The bathroom is your oyster.
Half fill your sink with hot water. Now make up your razor. You’ll start by holding the blade carefully by the shorter edges (the long edges are the sharp ones) and placing it onto the top part of the head. Next drop in the second part of the head so that the edge grooves are facing upwards.
Finally screw on the handle and plop the lot into the hot water. While the razor warms up, drench your flannel in the hot water and hold it on your be-whiskered mug for a minute. That opens up the pores (as does a nice bath or shower before your shave).
Finally, rub your flannel vigorously on your face. You’re exfoliating and it makes for a cleaner shave.
When you're sufficiently relaxed and warm-faced, apply a drop or two of organic shave oil to your palms and rub into your face. Don't apply too much: this stuff is meant to last, and too much oil just clogs up your blade.
If you’ve got a badger hair brush, now’s your chance to lather up and further prep your face. Rub the tip of the brush in your soap and turn it in your other hand for a good 30 seconds until you’ve worked up a lather. Then rub it onto your face. This will give you even more exfoliation and warmth, as well as helping your hair stand to attention, ready for the end. It's also good fun, which shouldn't be underestimated...
If you’ve just read the above and thought ‘sod that I’ll use my normal foam’ then you’re about to make a terrible mistake. It doesn’t work. Don’t do it.
Remove your razor from the water - it’s time to de-beard.
Thomas Clipper razors are designed to be heavy at the bottom and light on top, giving you complete control and letting the razor do the hard work for you. With any properly weighted razor you can just let it slide gently down your stubble at a 30 degree angle. You’re aiming to take off a little at a time, not everything all at once.
Always shave with the grain first: that's the way the hair naturally sits. You can work out which way your hair grows by rubbing your hand down your stubble. One way feels like sandpaper. One feels less rough. Go with the latter.
Remember, safety razor blades are much more efficient than the cartridges you're used to, so go slow and gentle. Take lots of gentle short strokes. You can rotate the razor 180 degrees every couple strokes to make use of the double edge. And splash it around in the hot water regularly to keep it nice and wet.
You may find that your face hardens up half way through the shave. That's because it's getting chilly. Just drop your flannel back in the water and hold it on your remaining stubble for a little bit. You might think you need to add more oil. You're almost certainly wrong. Keep calm and all that.
And if you do add some, easy does it…
The Cleanest mug in the West
Eventually you want to consider a multiple pass approach. This varies from shaver to shaver, and you’ll work out what you prefer. My preferred method is to pass first with the grain, then across the grain and finally (gently) against the grain.
Once mastered, the multiple pass method will make for the cleanest shave you’re ever going to get.
NB for this kind of shave you’ll need a brush and some shaving soap. Make sure you warm your face and brush up between passes.
When you've finished your shave, you can splash some cold water on your face to close up your pores.
If you’ve nicked yourself in the process you might want to pop on a touch of alum. Have a good look to make sure you’ve not given yourself an tiny nicks on your neck - would be a shame to stain a nice collared shirt. Of course, these sort of nicks are normal when you’re starting out and wont be an issue in two or three shaves time. And when you’ve earned your stripes with double edge shaving you’ll never look back.
Finally, when you've finished shaving you can leave your razor to dry out as it is. But if you're concerned that there may be children nearby or you're inclined to come home and wildly grab at bathroom objects, you might want to remove the blade after every shave and keep it in the bottom of the plastic tuck (blade box) that it came in.
A limited line of Thomas Clipper razors and accessories are available at