My (beginner) shave routine

I’ve been shaving with a double-edged (DE) safety razor for about two weeks now, after having used a Gillette Mach3 razor for twenty-ish years. It’s not the first time I’ve used single or double-edged razors, but it was so far in the past that I feel like a beginner.

After extensive reading, research, watching of YouTube videos, and experimentation here is my current routine. I think I’ve got this down, but I’m new enough to realize I will still make improvements or just experiment to try other options.

Before I go into the details, let me assure you I have not discovered anything new. Variations in my process have been used by millions of people for over 100 years. Only the specific products I’ve chosen will vary slightly from others’ preferences.

Warm Face

First, I wash my face and either apply a hot moist towel or take a hot shower.

Warm bowl and brush

I fill a shaving bowl with hot water to warm it and let my shaving brush soak in the water while I do the next steps.

I do not have a special shaving bowl yet. Maybe someone will give me a marble shaving bowl or an insulated stainless steel bowl for the holidays or my birthday. I am currently using a small stainless mixing bowl from the kitchen.

I recommend a synthetic badger brush if you are interested in cruelty-free products. The Simpson Trafalgar brush is about $40. High-quality synthetic badger brushes can be purchased for $10 to $40 from specialty stores or the following from Amazon.

Product images on this page are linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. Amazon Affiliate product links can earn me a commission when clicked.

Pre-shave Oil

I never used a pre-shave oil before now, but I recommend it. I apply a small amount to my face and rub it into my beard. I am currently using The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil in Sandalwood scent. Even though most of the products I use are fragrance-free, the Sandalwood scent from this step lingers just enough to give a subtle fragrance to my skin. My wife seems to like this, and that’s enough to keep this step in, regardless of other benefits. However, I do believe I get a better shave using the oil.

I use an amount of oil somewhere between the size of a dime and a nickel in my palm.


I use a finger joint’s worth of JACK BLACK Supreme Cream Triple Cushion Shave Lather to create a lather (also described as an almond-sized dollop). I’ve tried applying the shaving cream directly to my beard with the brush. It works, but I get a better lather if I make it in a bowl.

Precision measurements of shaving products: A fingertip’s worth of shave cream compared to an almond, a dime, and a nickel.

The retained heat from the brush makes the lather feel very pleasant as I apply it. Using a brush is a definite improvement to canned or low-lather shaving creams applied by hand.

You could spend years trying all the different shaving creams and soaps. Good gift items to give to shavers or to get for your shave.


I am currently using the Merkur 34C safety razor with Astra blades. The razor and blades you use are your choices. There are many good razors. The challenge is to find one that works for you.

I’ve been shaving with three passes since I started shaving in the 1960s, regardless of the type of razor I used.

Pass one is with the grain of my beard.

Pass two is across the grain.

Pass three is against the grain. I try to use short, slow strokes and keep the shaving cream rinsed off the blades. Because I’m using a double-edged razor, I can rotate the blade before I need to rinse. I apply more shaving cream before each pass. This is something I did not always do when I was using a cartridge razor.

Wash off lather; Cool rinse

I wash the shaving cream off my face and splash cold water on my face. The cold water is supposed to close the pores of your skin. Surprisingly to me, it feels good, which is exactly what most experienced shavers say.


With a wet alum block, I rub the block over the shaved areas of my face and let the alum sit for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing my face again. I never heard of this until recently. It is supposed to seal micro nicks and shaving burns. It is worth it, so do it. So far, I have not required a Styptic Pencil which is to stop the bleeding from nicks. I have not cut myself enough to draw blood yet.


Pat my face dry and apply my after-shave balm. I’ve used Nivea After Shave Balm for sensitive skin for years. It is highly recommended. I recently tried Jack Black’s post-shave gel. I like it, perhaps more than Nivea, but for now, I will probably use both, just not at the same time.

Moisturizer with SPF protection

A recently added step is I apply a moisturizing lotion that includes SPF 30 protection. I have had basal cell carcinoma removed from my forehead twice now. I am trying to be more conscientious about sun protection, and one way to ensure I do the minimum amount of protection is to incorporate the application of the lotion into my shaving routine. I am using CeraVe AM lotion, which is odorless.


You can find a similar routine described on almost every shaving website and youtube channel. It sounds long and involved, but it isn’t really. If you skip the hot shower at the beginning, the entire process can be completed in 10 to 20 minutes. You can stretch it out longer if you enjoy it and have the time, but if you’re prepared, it is easy to do in less than 15 minutes.

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