Bleeding and shaving

Incredibly sharp blades and human skin very obviously have the possibility to not go well together, there is always the potential for little accidents to happen. What prevents total carnage is a combination of equipment and technique. Make sure you have watched the Mantic59 videos and read the tips article on here, for starters.

There seem to be three different sorts of bleeding caused by shaving. Firstly there are weepers, where a very thin layer of skin has been removed revealing the very fine capillaries just beneath. This is most easily done where there is underlying bone as on the jaw and chin. And it is just so easily avoidable, all it takes is pure technique. Weepers are caused by putting pressure on the blade. You really shouldn’t. The blade works best if it is just allowed to glide over the surface of the skin, removing the lather. No pressure is needed.

The second cause are nicks. These happen when the blade is presented to the skin at a sharp angle, so it digs in. Do this well and it can bleed a lot. Once again this is preventable with pure technique. You need to always have the blade at the correct angle. And to do this you need to take your time. On every occasion that I get a nick it is from going too fast. Real, traditional, shaving is an enjoyable ritual, so take it easy and bask in the self indulgent pleasure. Then you won’t get any nicks.

The third way to create blood it to take the top off something. A zit, wart, mole, scab or whatever else you have rising from the topography of your face. Mostly this is actually quite difficult to do. If the blade is at the correct angle then the blade guard should push the offending excrescence down into the skin so that the blade can pass right over it. Or you can just remember where it is and shave round it.

As with many things in life good lubrication helps a lot. This is why it is worth creating a really good lather with a good quality shaving cream or soap and a brush. And remember that good does not mean expensive, Palmolive shaving soap sticks are excellent for around 50p. Don’t use aerosol foams and gels. And always use a sharp blade, they are so cheap that there is no need to compromise.

If you are new to real, traditional, double edged shaving then start with a mild razor like a vintage Gillette Tech or the Weishi that I have in the starter kit that I have for sale. This may be ideal for your entire shaving career, hundreds of millions of men have always used mild razors. Once you are confident of your technique you can progress to more aggressive shaving with maybe an adjustable razor or a slant bar, but there is no compunction to do so.

If you have cut yourself, what next? Well it will look far worse than it really is, this is because your head has a very good blood supply, to feed your brain. Also the act of shaving causes all the small capillaries in your skin to dilate with the heat. So the first action is to rinse your face very thoroughly with cold water and so make those capillaries shrink. Don’t just splash it once, you are trying to reduce the temperature of your skin, so do it well. This will massively reduce most bleeding caused by shaving.

If you still have blood there are three well proven methods to stop it. Firstly you can press the wound for a few seconds with a wetted styptic pencil, this works like magic. A variation on this theme is the alum block, which some people rub all over their face after every shave. Secondly you can place a bit of tissue on the wound. It will stick there and by vastly increasing surface area will make the wound heal itself very quickly. Just peel it off after a few minutes before anyone important sees you. The third method is to use a little bit of Vaseline. This, basically, blocks up the leak.

Finally let’s put this in context. Hundreds of millions of men over the last 100 years have shaved every day using traditional, real, double edged safety razors. And most of them survived the experience. Because it is simple and intuitive. However it does reward good technique. You can become a better shaver, and the better you are then the less likely you are to bleed. In fact you should very rarely cut yourself.

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1 Comment


  1. Hi Buce,
    I’d be very intersted on your views about using an alum block. I use one after evey shave and find it reduces any razor burn which I may have caused while trying something new and is as good as any fragrance free after shave.

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