Shaving is a task that most men have built into their daily routine. Whether you like to keep your cheeks cleanly shaven, peppered with stubble or covered in a thick beard, you are likely to have shaved at some point in your life, and chances are you will again.
Everyone has their own process when it comes to shaving. There are, however, a few excellent tips and tricks you can follow to ensure you get the closest, cleanest shave while minimising your chances of razor burn, ingrown hairs and blemishes.
Ideally, you want to shave after a hot shower so that your pores are open, making it easier to cut the hairs and less likely that you’ll end up with ingrown hairs after you shave. Once you’ve jumped out of the shower, take some time to wash your face. Use warm water and a little soap or cleanser to wipe away any dead skin or dirt, and further soften up the area you are about to shave. If you don’t have time to shower before shaving, make sure you don’t skip the cleansing phase, and try to spend a minute or two with a hot flannel over your face to prepare your skin.
Whether you shower first or only have time to wash and towel your face, make sure your beard is wet before you start to shave. Facial hair absorbs moisture, and hairs which are full of water are much easier to cut. If you shave without having prepping the skin and hair in this way, you risk razor burn. If you have particularly thick, tough hair, you can also apply Pre Shave Oil to soften the hairs, moisturise and protect your skin against razor blade friction.
Next, it’s time to apply shaving cream. Choose a cream that has a high concentration of lubricants so it creates a rich lather rather than a thin foam, and apply it with a shaving brush. Using a shaving brush will encourage the cream to form a thicker lather, will raise your hairs so that you can get a clean, close cut and will provide additional exfoliation to help reduce the chance of razor bumps and blemishes after you shave. Use a circular motion with the brush, ending in an upwards stroke.
A dull, blunt razor can ruin your shave, causing discomfort and ingrown hairs afterwards. Before you start, make sure your blades are sharp, clean and free from rust. If you shave everyday, you should be changing your blades roughly every three to ten shaves. A good way to tell if your blades need changing is if they begin to feel like they are tugging at your skin.
Once you’ve checked your blades for sharpness, start by shaving the sides of your face. Pull your skin taut with your free hand and glide the razor gently across, in the direction of hair growth rather than against the grain. Move onto your moustache area, and then finish with the hair on your chin.
It’s generally recommended to shave with the growth of hair rather than against, as even though going against the grain can provide a closer cut, it is much more likely you will nick your skin or cut off hairs which haven’t reached the surface yet, so risking infection under the skin. Everyone’s hair grows differently, but there’s a good general guide for directions of growth on the face here.
Don’t press too hard with the razor; if the blades are sharp enough, you don’t need any excessive pressure to get a clean shave, and again pressing too hard can cause rashes or irritation. If you finish shaving and would like a closer cut, use your brush to apply a little more cream and go over the areas again, making sure your skin is nice and moist first. Ideally, stick to shaving with the grain still, and try not to shave over the same area more than a few times to avoid shaving rash.
Thoroughly rinse your razor when you’re finished and give it a good shake to dislodge any residual cream, hairs or dead skin. Don’t wipe it dry though, as this can make the blades dull faster.
Always rinse your face with cold water after your shave to close your pores, and gently pat your skin dry with a towel. Then, apply a moisturising after shave balm or lotion to soothe and soften the skin. Try to avoid products which contain alcohol, as these can irritate and dry out your freshly shaved, vulnerable skin.
Once you’ve applied your after shave lotion, you’re ready to go!