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How to Hold a Safety Razor

How to Hold a Safety Razor

It is critical that a new wet shaver learns the right way to hold a safety razor.  Holding the razor near the cutting head can inadvertently cause the shaver to press too hard against his face during the shave and result in accidental cuts or skin irritation.  By holding the razor at the correct position, the weight of the cutting head allows the blade to track along the skin, providing the most comfortable and efficient cutting action possible.

The way to hold a razor varies slightly depending on the style of handle you choose.  Most popular safety razors available today, such as Merkur, Edwin Jagger, Parker, etc., are available in both long-handled and standard models.  The different handle lengths combined with the weight of the razors cutting head determine the best finger placement when holding the razor.  The following are basic illustrations of how to hold the two models described in the article, Your First Razor.

Short Grip – Merkur 34C Heavy Duty Classic

The Merkur 34C is a good example of a standard model safety razor.  The razor features a wider diameter handle, but has the shorter length that allows it to feel well balanced in your hand when held properly.  The release knob at the bottom of the razor provides the ideal point to grip the razor securely.  The best technique is to use three fingers, the index, middle, and thumb, to secure the razor at the bottom of the handle.  For the downward cutting motion, as you would do for your first pass with the grain, hold the razor similarly to how you would hold a dart. 

34C Downward Cutting Motion

Cutting in an upward direction stroke, against the grain, requires an adjustment, however.  For this position, use the thumb and index finger to secure the base of the razor near the knob and allow the barrel of the handle to rest on the middle finger.  This keeps the razor stable and secure when making the more awkward upward strokes during your shave.  Although the razor rests on the middle finger a bit higher up the length of the handle than you would hold it for the downward cut, the grip pressure remains at the base, near the knob where it should be.

34C Upward Cutting Motion

Long Grip – Merkur 23C Long-Handle Classic

The Merkur 23C has a more traditional width handle that is longer in length than the 34c.  The longer length handle allows for more grip space so the finger placement has to be slightly modified in order to maintain the right balance in your hand.  Although it does not rotate, there is still a knob at the end of the razor that provides an ideal place to securely grip the razor.  Unlike the short-handle razors, the best technique for gripping the long handle is to use four fingers.  For the downward cutting motion, hold the razor with the thumb, middle, and ring finger applying pressure at the bottom near the knob.  Allow the index finger to rest above your other fingers, against the handle, to add additional support to the razor.  This provides a secure grip anchored at the base of the handle while also compensating for the additional length of the handle.

23C Downward Cutting Motion

For the upward cutting motion, secure the razor with the thumb and index finger at the knob end the same way you would for the short handle.  Allow the barrel of the razor to rest against the ring finger while the middle finger provides additional support towards the base.  This finger position maintains the stability at the base of the handle and prevents excess pressure at the cutting head.  Similar to the technique used with the upward cutting grip on the short handle razor, the fingers are extended a bit further up the length of the handle but grip pressure is maintained at the knob where it should be.

23C Upward Cutting Motion


Knowing how to hold and maneuver a safety razor will allow a wet shaver to shave without accidental cuts or skin irritation.  On a quality razor, such as the 34C or 23C, the weight of the cutting head is complimentary to the weight of the handle, allowing the shaver to comfortably hold the balanced razor at the correct position. It is important to keep your hand at the base of the razor, so you can be sure that you are not applying too much pressure against your skin. By knowing how to hold a safety razor, you can achieve the proper cutting angle, minimize cuts, and enjoy a close and comfortable shave.

Is a heavier razor better than a lighter one?
How do you choose a safety razor?

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