Here’s the secret behind how to shave without getting cut: Use a fresh blade, silly! While a sharp blade can make you bleed for longer, an old, dull blade—combined with a less-than-stellar shaving technique—can cause cuts to happen more frequently. As your razor ages, water and pressure combine to corrode its finely honed edge, leaving it blunted and uneven. Rather than distributing its pressure uniformly, these tiny sharp crags and grooves on the razor act like a serrated knife on your skin.
Still, despite knowing how to shave without getting cut, there are times in your life when all you really want to know is how to stop bleeding from shaving. You’ll know it when it happens: When your bathroom looks bloodier than the shower from Psycho, or when your face is wrapped up in more toilet paper than the Mummy. Sure, a nick on your fragile cheeks might not be as painful as razor burn or as annoying as ingrown hairs, but it will have you cursing the very act of shaving when another clean white shirt falls victim to a cut that won’t close. It doesn’t have to be this way, though—here’s what you should know about how to stop bleeding from shaving:
Why You Bleed So Much
When you cut yourself shaving, you bleed like one of the Crazy 88 gang in Kill Bill for two reasons: The large number of blood vessels near the surface of your face, and the sharpness of your razor. The first reason is just nature’s way—the second reason, not so much. Sharp blades make very clean cuts, and clean cuts make it harder for your platelets—the cells that form scabs—to do their business of sealing up the hole, as more ragged cuts have more surface area to bond back together.
Why You Get Cut
If you’ve cut yourself with a new blade, it’s often the result of applying too much pressure. Remember, you’re dragging a razor across your face—that thing is sharp as hell. You don’t need to go all Incredible Hulk on your poor mug—a light touch and fewer strokes will do the job just fine.
How to Shave Without Cutting Yourself
Here’s how to shave with a razor without cutting yourself. First of all, make sure you’re properly prepping your skin before you shave, and always using a fresh blade. Once you’re shaving, don’t press down: Instead, just pull parallel to the contour of your skin and let your razor do the work. Shave with the grain first, then for a really close shave, make a single pass against the grain—this will limit your strokes and your discomfort.
If you do get a cut, don’t worry—all is not lost. Splash some cold water on the area first, then apply your tool of choice. Using bits of toilet paper may be a classic move, but it could take a while to stop the bleeding, and frankly, looks ridiculous. Instead, pick up a styptic pencil, or alum block. Don’t have either of these? You’re not the only one. Luckily, if you’re in a pinch, your stick of antiperspirant will do just fine—all three contain ingredients that tighten your skin and constrict your blood vessels, while will quickly stop you from bleeding all over the place. In fact, lip balm, petroleum jelly, eye drops and even mouthwash or aftershave (provided they have no alcohol!) will work better than little squares of toilet paper.
Bottom line, the best thing you can do is shave gently and avoid getting sliced in the first place. But if you slip up despite knowing how to shave without getting cut, at least now you know how to stop bleeding from shaving, which means you can leave the TP where it belongs—in the toilet.