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Shaving is one of those grooming tasks that can be tricky for many people, including those with sight loss, but with the right skill it can be done easily.

A man shaving his face while looking in a mirror

Many of the skills and techniques involved in shaving do not rely upon vision; they may only require basic safety adaptations and closer attention to tactile feedback.

We spoke to Breandan Ward who has sight loss and is a member of RNIB's community. We’ve shared some of his own shaving top tips on this page and in his video below.

We’ve also gathered and adapted tips from the American Foundation for the Blind.

How to prepare

  • You can determine the areas that require shaving (such as your face, legs or underarms), or the location of a nick or scratch, by using your sense of touch.
  • If you’ve had sight previously and like to stand in front of a mirror when you shave, you can continue to do so. Many people say that it feels more comfortable and natural to use a mirror, even when it’s difficult to see clearly.
  • You can also use a magnifying mirror with an adjustable arm to enlarge the image of your face and head.
  • Your basic shaving supplies should include a razor, shaving cream or lotion, aftershave, a washcloth, and a towel.
  • Assemble all your shaving supplies before you begin. You can gather them on a tray, a washcloth, or a hand towel.
  • Wash the area to be shaved with soap and water and pat dry. This will soften your hair or whiskers, which makes it easier to shave them cleanly and safely.
  • If you use a safety razor, use shaving cream or lotion. It will protect your skin and help you better locate the areas you’ve already shaved.

Breandan said: “I like to use warm water or shave after a shower because it’s easier to shave when your skin is moist.”

Selecting your razor

  • An electric shaver is an option if you have sight loss, but you can also continue to use a safety razor if that is your preference.
  • Some individuals prefer a wet/dry electric razor because it combines the qualities of a safety razor and an electric razor. You can also easily rinse it clean under the tap.
  • Generally, a safety razor provides a closer shave. Always use a sharp, or new blade, since dull blades can cause nicks, scratches and cuts.
  • The choice of razor should reflect your personal shaving preferences.
  • If you use an electric shaver, follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and cleaning procedures. You can contact the manufacturer and request instructions in braille or large print, if available.

Breandan’s top tip when using a razor: “I find the newer the blade, the less likely you are to cut yourself.”

Techniques and adaptations

  • First, take time to feel and explore the contours of your face or the area to be shaved.
  • Practice first with an empty razor or with the electric razor turned off.
  • Use your hand that is not holding the razor as a “guide hand” to explore the area you're about to shave.
  • The guide hand can also draw the skin tight: this allows the hairs to stand up straight for a closer shave.
  • You can also use your free hand as a guide for repositioning the razor when you make a new stroke.

Shaving your face

  • One way to begin is to place the index finger of your guide hand at the base of a sideburn, which can act as a “landmark.” Bring the hand holding the razor up to meet the guide finger. Shave downward at an angle over the cheekbone, from the sideburn line toward the chin.
  • As an alternative, you might use the earpiece of eyeglasses as a “landmark.”
  • For the best coverage, use overlapping strokes and shave the area a second time at a 90-degree angle to the original strokes.
  • In areas where your beard is heavier, such as the chin and neck, shave against the grain of the whiskers.
  • In areas where the skin is more sensitive, such as the cheeks and upper lip, use downward strokes and shave with the grain of the whiskers.
  • Shave one side of your face at a time, which helps you keep track of the areas you’ve shaved.
  • To protect moles and skin blemishes, place your fingertip over the area and shave around it.
  • When you’re done, use your fingertips to check one more time for unshaved areas.
  • Check your ears and the tip of your nose for excess shaving cream.

Breandan recommended: “Go slow over your chin and jawbone because that’s where you can cut yourself.”

Trimming or shaping your beard

  • Shape your beard or sideburns with a beard trimmer to help maintain a desired contour or straight line.
  • Use the hand that is not holding the trimmer as a guide to explore and precede the area you are about to trim.
  • Ask your barber to touch up the outline of your beard or sideburns when you get a haircut and correct any small errors you may have made.

Shaving your legs or underarms

  • It’s best to be seated when shaving your legs. A chair also provides orientation and support.
  • The edge of the tub is not a safe seat or sturdy location for supporting a leg when standing to shave.
  • For the best coverage, use overlapping strokes and shave against the grain of the hair.
  • When you’re done, use your fingertips to check one more time for unshaved areas.
  • Check the front and back of your knees and around your ankles for excess shaving cream.

Watch Breandan's top tips shaving video

Download the video transcript

Further information

For further information or advice, call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected].