There will come a time when using a cartridge razor to shave your head just won’t cut it anymore (pun intended). You’ll want something more. Safety razors can provide an ultra-smooth shave. But, can you use a safety razor to shave your head?
Yes, you can. It may be more time-consuming than using a cartridge razor, but the results are smoother and longer-lasting. Many men choose a safety razor over a cartridge razor when shaving their head simply because it’s an experience. It’s something to look forward to. An art, rather than a chore.
It’s often seen as the natural evolution for a man that’s been using a cartridge razor up until now. A logical next step – the pinnacle of smoothness.
Although it may seem simple enough, getting the technique wrong may put you off this glorious practice in the long run.
I want to talk you through some key benefits of using a safety razor to shave the head. If you were ever on the fence before, hopefully, this will give you the nudge you need.
I’ll then go through a step-by-step tutorial on exactly how to do it to produce the smoothest result possible.
Let’s get to it.
5 Benefits Of Shaving Your Head With A Safety Razor
There are definitely more than five, but in my opinion these are the most important ones to appreciate.
1. There’s less tugging
A key disadvantage of using a multi-blade cartridge razor is that there is more tugging. You’ll feel it as soon as you start to glide it across your scalp.
The beauty of using a single blade double-edge safety razor is that it glides so smoothly across the scalp when used at the correct angle.
Safety razors often use better quality, medical grade or carbon stainless steel. The poorer quality steel used in cartridge razor blades increases friction and irritation as well.
This does beg the question of why multi-blade razors exist in the first place. In fact, that would be a very valid question indeed. Science has proven over and over again that single blades produce less irritation than multiple blades.
The most likely reason for their popularity would be that cartridge razors are more user-friendly. Plus, they seem cheaper in the short term (I’ll get onto that in a minute).
Safety razors do require some getting used to, although they aren’t very technically complex.
2. You get a closer shave
This may sound counter-intuitive, but a single blade is able to get a closer shave than multiple blades.
Although modern marketing may have convinced huge swathes of the population that the contrary was true, single blades do get smoother results.
This on it’s own may lead you to sticking with safety razors in the long term. The results will last longer and that 5 o’clock scalp shadow will be delayed.
3. It’s cheaper
It’s important to understand that although a safety razor may be a more expensive upfront investment than a cartridge razor, in the long term, it’ll save you money.
The metal structure of a safety razor is built to last a long time. It’s the relatively cheap (yet high-quality) blades that need replacing.
Although this may seem like the more expensive option, buying a cartridge razor will require frequent replacement of the multi-blade cartridges. The profit margins on these are notoriously high – over time, this cost will stack up far more.
Ultimately, buying and getting used to using a safety razor for shaving your head will always be a wiser financial decision in the long term.
4. It cuts down on waste
Whether you’re an environmentalist or not, it’s hard to not let this influence your decision once presented with the facts.
Plastic, disposable cartridge razors are pretty poor for the ecosystem. The blades will rust away into eventual nothingness, while the non-biodegradable plastic will remain in landfill sites for potentially hundreds of years.
Safety razors, on the other hand, are built to last decades. You will most likely be shaving your head with the same safety razor a decade, or even two decades from now.
That’s the beauty of it. They can even be considered a generational gift – something you could pass onto your kids.
The blades of a safety razor are fully recyclable and eco-friendly. If this is important to you, go for a safety razor each and every time.
5. You get fewer ingrown hairs
The more times a blade passes over a single follicle, the higher the likelihood that the shaft of the hair will eventually be cut beneath the level of the skin.
You want a close shave, not a shave under the surface.
That’s exactly what a multi-blade cartridge is always at risk of doing as you shave your head. Having 3, 4, or even 5 blades cutting a strand of hair at once increases the risk of hair being cut beneath the skin.
As that hair attempts to regrow, there’s a good chance it will grow sideways instead of escaping out through the skin again. This is what causes those little annoying bumps known as ingrown hairs.
They itch, irritate, and can ruin the look.
Using a safety razor reduces the risk of ingrown hairs on your scalp, as you’re simply passing a single blade over a strand of hair. Once, maybe twice at a maximum to get a gloriously smooth finish.
The Type Of Safety Razor To Use For Head Shaving
A straightforward closed-comb double-edged safety razor is all you need.
Closed comb razors heads have a straight bar that runs underneath the length of the razor head.
The bar provides your scalp with a bit of extra protection as you shave. It also straightens and flattens the scalp skin before the blade reaches it. This reduces the risk of nicks and cuts as you shave and minimizes irritation.
It’s also a lot more beginner-friendly than using an open-comb safety razor.
How To Shave Your Head With A Safety Razor
Here’s a straightforward, step-by-step routine for you to follow and consistently produce excellent results each and every time.
1. Trim a short buzz cut first
This is an important first step. You’ll need to set the stage and get the hair ready for the blade. You want it very short but not so short that you can’t even see which areas have been shaved and which haven’t.
Trimming a Number 1 Buzz Cut (3mm) is a good option.
Grab your electric clipper and start trimming. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as you’ll be shaving over it in any case. Don’t forget those easy-to-miss areas such as behind the ears.
Once you’re done, assess it from different angles. Run your fingers and palms over it to see if you can feel any uneven, rough patches which may indicate you’ve missed a spot.
You’ll want to be sure you’ve got everything you need and everything set up the way you want before you start.
What You’ll Need:
- Double-Edged Safety razor
- A fresh, sharp blade (crucial)
- A handheld mirror
- Pre-shave butter
- Shaving cream or soap for the lather
- Ideally a shaving brush and bowl
A handheld mirror is pretty essential, simply because you’ll need it to visualize the back of your head.
The pre-shave butter is very lubricating and hydrating. It’s great to apply to the scalp before the shave. Its ingredients are very similar to those of pre-shave oil, but the consistency is more solid.
3. Take a warm shower
You’ll want the scalp to be warm before your shave. It’ll relax the skin and soften the strands of hair, making the shave easier and more comfortable overall. Be careful though – “warm” doesn’t mean scalding hot.
If you’d like to, you could use this as an opportunity to gently exfoliate the scalp using a physical scrub. Be gentle, however.
Exfoliating is great because it removes the layer of dirt, oil and dead cells from the top layer of the skin. This allows the blade of the safety razor to glide effortlessly across the head with minimal friction and obstruction.
This leads to a smoother shave and less irritation.
Step out of the shower and wrap your head in a towel to retain the moisture if there’s going to be a delay.
4. Apply the pre-shave butter or oil
Don’t worry if you don’t have this. It isn’t essential, but it does enhance the results and make the experience much more pleasant overall.
It’s hydrating, lubricating, and feels great to apply. Be sure to apply it evenly across any areas of the scalp you’ll be shaving.
Rub it in gently using your fingers and the palms of your hands.
5. Lather up
Whether you use shaving cream or shaving soap is up to you. The difference is that shaving cream is more “beginner-friendly” – it’s easier to whip up a lather with a good amount of lubrication and cushion for your scalp.
Shaving soap is considered the more traditional, “purist” product to use, but does take a little more time and skill to produce a decent lather. This is because it has a lower concentration of water.
A shaving bowl (scuttle) and brush would definitely be ideal for whipping up your lather. If you haven’t gotten these yet I’d strongly recommend it.
If push comes to shove, you could always apply it directly onto your scalp using your palms. Beware, however, that the lather and subsequent lubrication you’ll achieve will most likely be subpar.
Scalp hair is thicker than facial hair, so you’ll want enough volume and cushion from your lather to do the trick.
Once you’ve whipped up enough lather, apply it onto your scalp using the brush. Be sure to get a nice, even layer across your entire head.
6. Start shaving your head
Where you start is down to personal preference. The low-hanging fruit would be the areas immediately accessible – the front and sides.
Then, using the handheld mirror, tackle the back of the head. The dips and grooves in the back of your head can make things tricky, so go slow to avoid cuts.
Use short, single strokes. As always, follow the general principle of never shaving over an area with no lather. If you need to go over an area again, apply some more lather first.
Maintain the angle of the blade at around 30 degrees for the most effective, safest shave. You shouldn’t need to be using pressure to get an effective shave – that may indicate you need a fresh blade. The razor should be doing the heavy lifting and the bulk of the work.
You’ll want to go with the grain first (in the direction of hair growth). This may be enough to get a nice, smooth shave. This is generally shaving forward for the top of the head, downward for the sides, and downward for the back.
However, if you feel you need a closer shave you can always go over it against the grain afterward. It’s a little more irritating to the scalp, but does get a closer shave and smoother finish.
7. Rinse and moisturize
Rinse off your razor and rinse of any excess soap or cream off your head. Use lukewarm water to do this, as your scalp is likely to be quite irritated from the shave. Being gentle at this point is crucial.
Gently towel-dry and review your gloriously smooth head.
As always, finish your head shaving session by applying moisturizer to your scalp. The best remedy for irritated, angry, freshly-shaven skin is moisture.
Don’t ever forget to slather on a nice film of moisturizing cream every time you do it.
Final Head Shaving Tips
- Use a fresh blade for your safety razor every time you shave your head. Dull blades are a key culprit when it comes to poor outcomes and irritated skin.
- When choosing a shaving soap or cream, look out for the ingredient glycerin. It’s what is known as a “humectant” and actively retains moisture. These intensely hydrating properties are great for the scalp.
- Don’t give up after your first go. It can be an unusual experience at first, as it’s quite different from using a cartridge razor. But the benefits and long term cost savings are well worth the effort of getting used to it.
That’s most likely all you’ll ever need to know about this topic. It’s simple in theory, but the proper know-how and technique is important for getting those ultra-smooth results.
Using a safety razor is a thoroughly enjoyable experience when done correctly. As I said, it’s something to look forward to and eventually becomes a sort of hobby for a lot of men.
Have fun with it.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.