Why Does My Razor Pull My Hair? (And What To Do About It!)

There are few things as distressing to someone shaving as when their razor pulls on their hair. Even when you think you have the right technique and preparation, this experience can be incredibly uncomfortable and irritating.

Whether you’re using a safety razor, cartridge, or straight razor, the sensation of your hair getting pulled is likely indicative of a dull razor. In most cases, the easiest way to improve your shave is simply to replace the blade. If you are using a straight razor, it will need to be stropped or professionally sharpened.

For tips to avoid hair pulling with safety razors, cartridge razors, and straight razors, be sure to keep reading. 

Why do razor blades pull hair as they shave

The most common reason why a razor blade pulls hair as it shaves is that the blade is damaged, dull, or clogged. Simply changing the blade or cartridge, cleaning it, or sharpening your straight razor can yield a more comfortable and smooth shave.

Dull blades are one of the most common reasons why a razor blade pulls hair. A dull blade has lost the razor’s edge that previously made it incredibly effective at cutting as close to the skin as possible. 

Instead of a razor-thin edge, a curl in the metal – also known as a burr – can form. Alternatively, the edge can get blunted over time, rendering it less effective. As the edge is dulled, the hairs can get caught in microscopic nicks on the surface of the razor’s edge. 

Damaged blades tend to pull on hair as they move across your face. Whether there is a small nick in the blade or the more severe issue of a burr forming on the razor’s edge, the blade essentially stops working as it should.

Instead of slicing the hair near the skin, the blade makes contact with the hair. From there, it doesn’t make a clean cut and instead grabs onto the hair. As you continue to move the razor across your face, the razor pulls these hairs instead of shearing them with the razor’s edge. 

Dirty or clogged razors can also cause pulling and discomfort during your shaving routine. When soap and hair get caught in the razor, they begin to obscure the razor’s edge. As a result, the razor will stop cutting your hair properly and begin pulling it in certain spots.

Clogged razors are fairly common, but it is a bigger issue with cartridge razors. Because there are multiple blades, there’s more room for hair and soap to accumulate and get trapped. By using a quick rinse, you can fix this issue fairly quickly. 

Why is my safety razor pulling hair?

The biggest reason safety razors pull hair is because the safety razor blade is dull or damaged.

When the blade on a double-edge or single-edge safety razor is dull or damaged, it begins catching on the hair rather than cutting it in one fell swoop. 

Another reason safety razor’s pull hair is because the comb or safety bar gets clogged with debris. When shave soap and hair begins to form in front of the razor’s edge, it reduces the efficiency of the blade and leads to pulling, snagging, and irritation.

Tips to avoid hair pulling with safety razors

One of the easiest ways you can avoid hair pulling with safety razors is to use a new safety razor blade.

Just take the blade out of your razor, dispose of it safely in a blade bank, and place a new safety razor blade in your safety razor. 

If you are looking to avoid using a new razor blade, you can try stropping the safety razor blade. This can be done by gently running the blade across your palm, leading with the non-cutting edge. If you’re worried about cutting yourself you can also use jeans. By stropping a double- or single-edge safety razor blade like this, you remove some of the knicks and imperfections on the razor’s edge.

Why is my cartridge razor pulling hair?

Cartridge razors typically feature multiple blades that are designed to create a closer shave with less irritation, but they also tend to be a bit more high maintenance than more traditional styles of razors.

Cartridge razors typically pull hair because of three reasons:

Dull blades in a cartridge razor can lead to hair pulling. Similar to what happens with a safety razor, cartridge razor blades can get dull or damaged over time. The imperfections in the blade can start to pull on individual hairs, leading to irritation.

Hair pulling can also occur in your cartridge razor when the cartridge is clogged with debris. During the shaving process, hair and soap can build up in between the blades of a cartridge razor. When this happens, the razor’s edge is blocked. As a result, the razor begins to pull and irritate your skin.

If your facial hair is too long, this can also lead to tugging and pulling sensations. If your facial hair is too long, the multiple blades in the cartridge may not be able to pull the hair taut enough to cut it. Typically, the first blade on a cartridge razor makes contact with a hair to pull it taut, while the other blades shear it. If your facial hair is too long, the other blades may just tug and pull on the hair instead of cutting it like it is supposed to.

Tips to avoid hair pulling with cartridge razors

There are many ways to avoid hair pulling with cartridge razors.

One of the easiest, but perhaps most expensive fixes is to change your cartridge. With a new cartridge, you should have sharper, damage-free razor blades cutting your hair.

Just be sure to keep the razor clean and rinse it in water in between passes to limit any debris blocking the razor.

If you are trying to shave long facial hair, you may want to start with scissors or shears to take off the bulk of the hair. This allows the hairs to stand straight up, making it easy for the cartridge razor to lop off the hair and offer you a clean shave. 

Why is my electric razor pulling hair?

Electric razors can pull hair for a variety of reasons. One of the top reasons is that the electric shaver is dirty and needs some maintenance and TLC. 

When electric razors are dirty, the moving parts can become clogged with skin, hair trimmings, oil, and soap.

When this happens, the blades don’t perform like they are supposed to and don’t trim the hair properly. If the electric razor is especially dirty, it’ll stop clipping your hair altogether and just cause an uncomfortable tugging sensation on your beard.

Tips to avoid hair pulling with electric razors

To avoid hair pulling with an electric razor, try cleaning the electric razor with warm water and a little hand soap. Before you do this, though, be sure to check the manufacturer’s directions. 

Depending on your electric razor, you may also need to apply a light lubricating oil like clipper oil to the razor’s moving parts. Like before, just be sure to consult the manufacturer’s directions on lubricating your razor. 

Another tip to avoid hair pulling is to make sure your beard is at a reasonable length. If your hair is too long, the trimmer might cut parts of your facial hair rather than cutting it close to your face. 

Why is my straight razor pulling hair?

If a straight razor is pulling your hair, the most likely culprit is a dull or damaged razor.

There are many options for reducing the amount of irritation and hair-pulling with a straight razor.

Tips to avoid hair pulling with straight razors

Make sure that you are stropping your razor blade before your shave.

Good stropping technique involves:

  • Keeping the blade level with the strop, so the edge and spine are parallel to the strop.
  • Keeping the spine of the straight razor on the stop at all times.
  • Pushing the blade edge away from you, flipping it so it faces the top of the strop, and bringing it back towards you.
  • Ensuring the strop remains taut the entire time.

Additionally, if your straight razor needs to be sharpened you might want to send it to a professional knife sharpener to ensure a high-quality edge is placed back on your straight razor.

Otherwise, you may have to purchase sharpening stones to sharpen your razor – and you may not achieve the sharpness that is required for a good shave.