Are you one of those guys?
After shaving is your skin smooth, soft and irritation free, day in and day out? This article isn’t for you.
It’s for the rest of us.
Maybe a perfect shave is a once-a-week event. Or you just make to with rough, barely good enough shaves throughout the week.
Because any more gives you a rash. Or you break out, or you get shaving bumps. Maybe you just can’t get a close shave without cutting yourself or coming away with red skin.
Isn’t there something we can do?
There is. No matter how you shave – razors or shavers – there are practices you can put in place right now to get you a closer, more comfortable shave every day.
Read on as we take a closer look.
#1: 30 Days to Shaving Success
This is for guys who have just embarked on a new shaving routine or more crucially – start a new shaving routine every week because their routine never works.
Stick to your routine for 30 days, and you’ll find your shave on day 30 superb compared to your shave on day 1.
There are a few theories about why this is, but none have a scientific grounding.
It’s true that you grow a new skin every month so it’s not hard to imagine that we undergo an adaptation over time to shaving routines.
The biggest impact though is undoubtedly the skill you develop over a month of sticking to the one routine.
You’ll develop technique and approaches, no matter what you’re using to shave, that allow you to get your best shave with your equipment of choice.
So if you’re new to your routine – stick with it and give it a chance. You’ll thank yourself in the end.
And there’s nothing wrong with establishing good shaving technique from the beginning. No matter how you shave, you need to get this right. If you want good results, this is where we lay the groundwork.
#2: Shaving with Steam
If, for a treat, you go to an old-school barber shop for a shave with a straight razor, a badger hair brush and fancy Olde English shave creams, what’s the first thing they do?
They wrap you up in hot, steamy towels for up to five minutes. Then replace them and wrap you up in some more.
This achieves two goals.
One, it opens pores, and shaving with open pores reduces skin irritation. Two, it moisturizes and softens your facial hair.
When the hair is softer, it’s obviously easier to cut. What’s less obvious, is that it expands. Now a fatter hair doesn’t sound easier to cut (but remember, it’s softer now), but it will expand in all directions, including away from – or out of – your skin.
So now you’ve got a nice moist hair that’s exposing a little more of itself outside your skin than usual.
This means that after its cut and dries out, it’s going to shrink back flush with your skin, and you’ll be smoother than ever before.
Bring the Barbershop Experience Home
Of course, you don’t need to be swaddled in hot towels to get the barbershop effect for your next shave.
You can do even better just by taking a hot shower. This does the same thing as the hot towels – it warms your face, opens your pores and softens your beard. Perfect.
In fact, the shower is a great place to shave (if you’re shaving with an electric shaver, make sure it’s ok to use it in the shower).
Otherwise shave immediately after your shower.
Note for Electric Shavers
If your electric shaver supports it, apply some shaving oil, or even better, warm shave cream to your face before shaving (cold shaving cream will close those pores right up).
If you’re stuck with dry shaving only, make sure your skin’s really dry so that the electric shaver runs smoothly over it. You can do this by patting your skin dry, rather than scrubbing it with a towel.
And finally, it’s time to shave.
Really, we could fill an encyclopedia (remember those things?) with advice on shaving with a blade, be it disposable, safety or straight.
But we’re not going to do that. We’ll stick to effective advice that’s simple, universal and you can start using straight away.
#3: Go Against the Shaving Grain
(If you have an electric shaver, you always shave against the grain. Skip to the next part!)
The age-old advice handed down from father to son makes sense: shave with the grain, i.e. in the same direction in which the hairs are pointing.
Rub your fingers against your bristles to find out what direction the grain on your face is (it won’t be the same direction everywhere on your face).
Once you’ve done that and finished your first ‘with-the-grain’ shave, forget what your dad said.
Lather up again and shave across the grain.
This will attack your bristles from a different angle and pick up a lot of stragglers, as well as taking a little more off the bristles you already shaved.
If you have the time and a tough hide, you can then lather again and shave against the grain.
But not many guys can do that irritation free. The next tip will give you the best shot at it though:
#4: Take the Pressure Off
Cheap disposable razors have taught us to mash razors into our face in order to get a close shave.
The low-quality blades wear out quickly, and after a couple of shaves you’ll need to press harder to get close. The harder you push against the skin, the more irritation you’ll get.
Instead, because you’re now going to be shaving your face at least twice, you can ease up on the pressure a bit.
This way your blades will last longer, you’ll have less irritation, and since you’re shaving twice, you’ll still be able to shave nice and close.
Note for electric shavers
Men with electric shavers will have some problems with this as well. If you find that you’re pressing really hard with the shaver to get a close cut, it may be time to replace the cutting block.
Additionally, electric shavers can get hot. This heat will irritate your skin, especially your neck. We recommend starting with the neck to avoid this problem, and, once again – don’t press so hard.
So you’re fresh, smooth and irritation-free – how do we top it off?
#5 Post Shave Perfection – The Final Touches
All those pores are still open, and it’s time to close ‘em up. If they’re exposed to the nasty outside world outside your bathroom they can get mucky, which can lead to a breakout of pimples.
To close your pores, splashing some cold water on your face is a good start. Alcohol-based aftershaves are also good, and will make you smell nice to boot.
If you really want to go old school, you can rub an alum block on your face after your shave. We like this since it’s a very thorough and effective way of closing your pores, but it does introduce an extra step (you’ll need to rinse again afterwards) and it takes a bit more time.
Your choice: cold water, suave smells or barber shop chic – your pores are closed, your face is smooth and you’re almost ready for the outside.
One last thing – moisturize. Your skin will thank you for it. Find one that doesn’t smell (many good ones don’t) and apply it as a final step. This will maintain a younger appearance and protect you from sun damage.
You now have a shaving routine you can stick with for life.
What shaving tips would you add? Everyone has their own expertise, so share yours to make