Shaving for the first time is taken often as a landmark in the life of a man – it’s when you transition from being a child to an adult. If you’re lucky, you might have received an exacting lecture on the subject from your father (or some other father-figure) – but many of us didn’t benefit from the same quality of tutelage. Moreover, even those of us who did will have picked up some bad or obsolete habits.
Shaving is a practice that can be performed well or badly. Success hinges on identifying and correcting shaving mistakes – and in so doing, achieving a smoother shave. By following the hints we’ll explore here, you’ll be able to ensure that your facial hair is kept in check – and that the health of your skin is preserved, too. The first step to getting things right, naturally, is to assemble a few choice items.
Invest in the Right Shaving Equipment
If you’re using sub-standard tools, then it should go without saying that you’re going to achieve sub- standard results. A dull razor, for instance, is not going to be able to scythe through your facial hair quite as easily as a sharp one – instead it’s going to pull your hair around and irritate the underlying skin. And if you’re using a dull blade, then you’ll need to shave the same area again and again, which will make the problem worse. Invest in a quality shaving set or double edge safety razor or at least keep a supply of disposable razors to hand, and don’t be tempted to re-use the same ones again and again – you’ll only achieve terrible results and ruin your skin. If you’re using a beard trimmer, invest in one that’ll last the distance – along with complementary brushes, combs and waxes designed specifically with beards in mind.
Another fundamental component of your shave comes in the form of your shaving gel or shaving soap or cream. This serves several functions: it’ll allow you to easily see where you have and haven’t shaved; it’ll hydrate your hairs and make them easier to cut; and it’ll reduce friction between the blade and your skin, reducing damage to both. As well as selecting the right gel, you’ll want to apply it generously – though exactly how generously will depend on the brand. In some cases, you’ll be able to get away with a stingier helping – which can often justify the price of the more expensive sorts of gel.
Keep Your Skin Wet
Before you apply your shaving soap, you’ll want the skin of your face to be damp. It’s best to proceed shortly after you get out of the shower – dry your hair and shoulders, but leave your face damp enough to receive the soap. Friction will irritate your skin, and so it’s worth investing in a soft hand-towel dedicated to patting dry your face after you’ve shaved.
Keep Your Skin Clean
Another crucial reason to shower prior to shaving (rather than the reverse) is that the shaving process will naturally exfoliate the top layer of skin from your face as it removes the stubble. This requires a nuanced approach; you’ll want to protect your skin against excessive rubbing and bacteria during this delicate time. By washing your face before you get started, you’ll remove any oil and grime that might have accumulated on the surface of the skin, and you’ll prevent those substances from being scraped around the surface of your face.
Start With the Easy Bits
The shape of the human skull means that some areas are trickier to shave than others. The corners just beneath your chin and your ears will require a little more delicacy than flatter areas, which will absorb the moisture from your shaving gel almost immediately. It is therefore best to begin with the latter. Start with your sideburns, ensuring that they’re consistent on either side. Then move onto your moustache and chin. This will provide the tougher areas with the time they need to absorb the moisture of the gel.
Be Gentle When You ShaveShaving shouldn’t require applying any force. Your blade should easily glide across your skin, leaving a silky-smooth trail in its wake. If this doesn’t happen, then you’re either using the wrong technique, or your shaving tools or equipment are not up to scratch. If you find that you’re tempted to push the razor blade into your face in order to cut your hair down, then you need to step back and re-evaluate. Suffice to say, doing this will not cut the hairs any closer to the root – it’ll just irritate your skin and frustrate you.
Don’t Neglect AftercareAfter you’re done shaving, you’ll need to care for your face. This traditionally means aftershave, which doubles as a fragrance as well as a disinfectant. The older varieties of aftershave used to achieve this second effect through alcohol – which is why they’ll sting you if you’ve managed to cut yourself. Another side effect of this is that the alcohol will cause your face to turn slightly red – and redder still if you’ve irritated your skin while shaving. Back in the days where there was no real alternative to this, men justified the practice on the grounds that having to endure a little pain was part of the ritual of shaving. What manlier pastime could there be than standing in front of a bathroom mirror with a clenched jaw, waiting for the sensation to dissipate? Those days, thankfully, are long gone. The role of the aftershave has shifted to that of a calming and moisturising agent. As well as disinfecting your skin and removing any lasting harmful bacteria, it’ll keep your face hydrated, and won’t cause you to come out in an unsightly flush. For more advice on how to achieve a smoother shave visit our post on shaving tips for the traditional wet-shaver.