Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 1 December 2012

A close shave

In which G.M. Norton offers his top tips for a tip top shave.

It will come as no surprise given my traditional tendencies that my preferred method for tackling the morning facial fuzz is a safety razor. 

It’s now a year since I ditched the dreaded Gillette Mach 3 ‘cartridge’ razor - one of the many wildly expensive plastic pieces of rubbish that multi-national grooming companies sell to easily-led men across the land.

My weapon of choice is the German-precision Merkur 34C HD, which is a pleasingly weighty little number and has absolutely nothing to do with ‘high definition’. Paired with a badger hair shaving brush from the renowned Edwin Jagger and a luxury shaving cream from Truefitt and Hill esquire, I have the tools to provide me with the perfect shave.

On reflection, my fine shaving ensemble

Having started my shaving journey as a pubescent 11-year-old, after nearly 20 years I found it to be an absolute bore. Combined with the subsequent shaving rash and it was a chore I would happily do without. 

Nowadays, the act of shaving has become a cathartic ten minute ritual – another opportunity on top of the coffee making, shoe shining and listening to vinyl records that allows me to slow down and indulge in a spot of me time.

Well, I say ‘me time’. To be perfectly honest, since picking up the safety razor, it’s attracted attention from the fairer sex in the household who seem fascinated with the whole shebang. But that’s fine by me - I like to think that by using a safety razor, I am setting my six-year-old daughter a good example of how a man should behave. That way, she’ll have high standards when she gets older, delaying future dalliances with boys. Or perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. It certainly makes me feel better in my role as protective father, without the need to keep a rifle. 

As I alluded to earlier, since exchanging the Mach 3 for the Merkur, my razor rash is a thing of the past (which is a little ironic). It’s no wonder really when you think about it – rather than pressing three, four or even five blades across the same area of skin, you now just glide one over your face.

Pictorial evidence of my shaving antics
Before putting the blade against my skin for the first time, I did a fair bit of online research. YouTube has a surprising amount of online tutorials for safety razor shaving. I should warn you, they become strangely addictive after a while. Or perhaps that’s just me.

If you’re thinking of switching to a safety razor, here are a few step-by-step tips to getting the perfect shave:
  1. Fill the sink with hot water and leave your safety razor and brush in there to soak. 
  2. While the razor and brush are in the sink, splash the hot water onto your face to prepare your skin for the next few stages. 
  3. Next, you need to lather your face. Dip your brush into your shaving cream and spend a good couple of minutes gaining sufficient coverage on your face. 
  4. With your face suitably lathered up, pick up the razor towards the end of the handle, holding it like you’re sipping tea with the Queen. Make sure you use a light touch and let the razor do the work. I cannot stress this enough. Cartridge razors teach you the bad habit of pressing the razor into the skin which is a definite no-no. 
  5. After passing the razor across a section of your skin, rinse it in the sink and pass the razor down the next section. Keep repeating the rinsing after each ‘pass’ of the razor until you’re face is free of hair. I tend to start at my sideburns, move inwards before focusing on the neck area until I’m left with an offending ‘goatee’. Then I remove the hair around the chin before finishing off with the top lip topiary. The tricky bit is just under the nose – I tend to lift my nose up a little, resembling a rather ugly pig. 
  6. Once you’re happy that you’re suitably clean-shaven, squeeze the cream out of the shaving brush and reapply to the face as you rinse your razor and put away your shaving accoutrements. 
  7. Splash some cold water to remove the shaving cream. Rinsing your face with cold water helps to close the pores and reinvigorate the skin. 
  8. Finally, congratulate yourself on a job well done. You have lived to fight another day.
P.S. Thank you to Bruce Partington-Plans over at the splendid Eclectic Ephemera for kindly passing the Liebster blog award to me. Most kind.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of ‘Norton of Morton’


  1. I've considered this issue myself. panasonic es8243a After shaving for three and a half decades, I grew beard instead. If the wife gets sick of it, I'll have to give this a try.

  2. I never tried a safety razor myself, I have allways used a Norelco electric shaver, but I do remember my grandfather shaving outside in the yard using one of this things. People (myself included) are getting so lazy using this type of plug and play devices. I'm sold and looking for a safety razor starting today.


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