Traditional Shaving Glossary of Terms

Welcome to our traditional shaving glossary. This page is intended to give you a better understanding of some of the terms and phrases used within our guides, articles and across the site.

Double-edge razor

Also known as a DE razor (for double-edge) or safety razor (as opposed to its more dangerous counterpart, the cut-throat razor). The standard term for the typical ‘traditional razor’. Although there are slight variations on design, a DE razor comprises of a head into which a double-edged razor blade is mounted.


In shaving terms, grain refers to the direction of hair growth. When shaving, the direction of the razor stroke can be either with the grain (WTG), against the grain (ATG) or across the grain (XTC). Using a combination of all three, over multiple passes, will generally give the closest shave.


The (also important) bit following the actual shaving. Rinse your face with cool water to soothe the skin and close the pores, and moisturise with a good post-shave balm. Cleaning your razor and brush aside, this is probably the quickest and easiest stage. Assuming you’ve not cut yourself to ribbons, which hopefully you shouldn’t have if you’ve read our Guide to Traditional Shaving and our article, What is Razor Burn, and how do I avoid it?

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Each time you draw the razor across your face and remove all the lather you applied, you complete a pass. A wet shave will typically comprise of two to three passes. One pass is to few to achieve a close shave, and four will likely result in post-shave skin irritation, or razor burn.

Passes are described in more detail in our Guide to Traditional Shaving.


The (very important) bit before putting blade to skin. Pre-shave preparation is not to be taken lightly, and should be done properly. The pre-shave process is an essential part of the whole shaving routine, playing a huge part in the ultimate quality and closeness of the shave, and in preventing or minimising razor burn post-shave.

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Razor burn

Razor burn, or shaving rash, is skin irritation in the form of reddening and/or swelling that presents after shaving. Its main causes are improper preparation and poor shaving technique. Exerting too much pressure with the razor, aggressive or rushed shaving, and making too many passes are all contributing factors. As is applying insufficient shaving cream, failing to re-apply between passes, and using dull blades, all of which reduce razor glide.
See our guide What is Razor Burn, and how do I avoid it?

Razor glide

The ease with which the blade passes over the skin. Razor glide is enhanced through proper preparation in the pre-shave stage, and by correctly applying quality shaving cream or soap with a brush. A sharp, clean blade is also essential. Poor razor glide naturally results in a poor shave and excessive irritation and razor burn.

Straight razor

Also known as a cut-throat razor, or sometimes open razor. A razor with a single, straight blade that can fold into its handle. Typically used by barbers, most notably Sweeney Todd.

Check out the other content our Guides & Information section for advice and answers to Traditional Shaving Questions.