Proper wet shaving has become a lost art. What was once a glorious male tradition, passed down from father to son, has become nothing more than a routine to be rushed through in the morning. The result of this is poor skin health. Optimum skin health can be achieved with the proper techniques, quality tools and the right products. Using the following techniques can turn a dreaded chore into a pleasant morning ritual. It will also help you look and feel your best.
10 Steps to the Perfect Shave:
Thoroughly Wet Your Beard
The perfect shave begins with a thoroughly wet beard. Hair saturated with water becomes weak and easier to cut. The best way to accomplish this is to shower before shaving. If you are not showering beforehand, then rinse your face with warm water and apply a warm moistened towel for a couple of minutes. This is how every good barber begins. Do not shave cold or start your shaving routine with a dry face. Making this mistake is the most common cause of razor burn and shaving rash.
Use a Good Quality Shaving Cream
Shaving creams that contain a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers create a thick creamy lather rather than a light, airy foam like the common canned brands. More foam simply means more air, and air does not protect the skin. More lubricants, however, results in less resistance, which means less irritation, less nicks and it can even make your blades stay sharp longer! The moisturizers in the shaving cream keep the whiskers soft and upright, primed and ready for cutting. Before you begin, keep the shaving cream on your face for at least a minute. This ensures that your beard is as soft and wet as possible.
Use a Shaving Brush
One of the best tools you can use to achieve the perfect shave is a shaving brush. A shaving brush helps raise the hair, making a closer shave possible. It also creates a rich creamy lather that stays close to the skin. Another benefit of using a shaving brush is that it removes dead skin cells, which helps the skin look and feel smooth and healthy. A shaving brush should have bristles that are soft enough to create a rich creamy lather yet stiff enough to raise the beard and exfoliate the skin.
Properly Apply the Shaving Cream
Apply the shaving cream using the brush in a circular motion. After your beard is thoroughly lathered up, end with a stroke against the direction of beard growth (usually upward). This will help lift the beard.
Use a Quality Razor with a Sharp Blade
A good quality sharp razor blade is, of course, essential to a great shave. A dull blade will make your face feel scratchy and look blotchy. A dull razor is a major contributing factor to razor burn and shaving rash. The blade should be changed after somewhere between three and ten shaves, depending on the toughness of your beard. If the blade seems dull, change it, regardless of the number of shaves.
The type of razor is a matter of choice. The best barbers use a straight razor, but using one is a skill that takes practice, along with a steady hand. A straight razor is the best choice environmentally and economically – nothing is thrown away and there’s only an initial investment in a quality blade and sharpening tools, both of which can last a lifetime. For those brave enough to try it, we will be posting tips for using and sharpening a straight blade razor soon.
Some men swear by the multiple blade razors that are on the market today, but for many men, those additional blades just cause additional irritation to the skin. If you use this type of razor without irritation, then continue using them. But if you experience razor burn or shaving rash even after implementing the other tips given here, you should really give a safety razor a try. If you do keep using a multi-blade razor, we feel that the Gillette® Fusion™ or Gillette® Mach3® are the best.
Wetting the razor helps to lubricate the blade, so begin with a quick rinse under hot water. Rinse the razor frequently throughout your shave. If rinsing doesn’t seem to be removing all of the shaving cream and whiskers, simply rinse more often. You can also tap the razor lightly on the sink; just avoid striking the blade(s).
Use the Razor Properly
Shaving in the direction of hair growth, or “with the grain”, is best. Everyone’s facial hair has its own growth pattern. The way to find the direction of growth is to rub your hand across your face before you shave. The direction that feels the smoothest is with the grain. Shaving against the grain results in a closer shave, but it can also cause ingrown hairs (razor bumps), nicks, cuts and irritation.
Start with your side burns, cheeks, and neck, then go on to the upper lip and chin, where the whiskers tend to be the toughest. Saving these areas for last allows them the most time to soften with the shaving cream.
Gently pull the skin tight with your free hand. This creates a smooth, flat surface resulting in a closer shave. However, if you are prone to razor bumps, avoid this step.
Use light, short strokes and lift the razor at the end of each stroke, this will prevent you from pressing too hard. Applying too much pressure cuts the hair below the surface which causes razor bumps. Let the razor do the work – it should just glide over your skin. Good shaving cream, shaving with the grain and light pressure will eliminate most razor bump problems, without the need for any of those special razor bump products.
Getting a Professionally Close Shave
To achieve an even closer shave, many professional barbers will apply more lather to the areas that need to be shaved again, then they re-shave going sideways to the grain. Most men will find that re-shaving with the grain is enough, while avoiding irritation and cuts. Be sure to keep everything moist and don’t overshave.
Take Care of Your Tools
Rinse the blade thoroughly, shake it off and put it away. Never wipe the blade to dry it – that just makes it dull faster. Rinse your brush and hang it with the bristles down. Leaving the brush with the bristles up allows water to penetrate the handle, loosening the bristles.
Cleanse and Soothe Your Skin
After shaving, your pores are open and the skin is vulnerable. To heal and soothe your skin, rinse your face with warm water and use a facial wash that has antiseptic and astringent properties. Many commercial brands are loaded with harsh chemicals that cause numerous problems over time. Tea tree oil is an excelent natural antiseptic that is ideal for cleaning and protecting the skin. The best natural astringent we have found is witch hazel, which is great for soothing and healing. Healthy Facial Wash by men-u has a high concentration of both tea tree oil and witch hazel, along with aloe vera to help prevent your skin from becoming dry.
Rinse with cool water and just pat dry (don’t rub) with a clean towel.
Finish-up with an Aftershave Moisturizer
Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin, so it is very important to use a good quality moisturizer after shaving. The ideal way to replace lost moisture and soothe the skin is to use a product that combines an after shave balm and a moisturizer all in one. Be sure to use one made just for men. Moisturizers that are designed for women are usually too greasy and tend to leave your face oily and shiny. The best products will not only replace lost moisture and soothe, but will also cool and refresh the skin.
Following these 10 shaving techniques will lead to optimum skin health and help you look and feel your best.