However you like to style the hairs on your face, you’ll want to devote some regular time to keeping them in check. For those of us who like at least part of our faces clean-shaven, this is particularly important – as even a day’s worth of stubble can make the difference.
Unfortunately, many of us repeat the same shaving mistakes over and over again, and thus we aren’t achieving quite the quality of shave that we otherwise might. By making a few simple tweaks to our routines, we can eliminate these problems and achieve a smoother shave.
The Classic Shaving Mistakes
While shaving might seem a trivial thing, it’s something that you’ll need to do regularly (or even daily) for the rest of your life. Making a few simple corrections is surely worth it in the long-term. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to achieve a better shave and a few classic shaving mistakes and errors!
The hairs on your face don’t sprout in a consistent direction. If they did, then shaving would be much easier. When shaving, you’ll want to account for the angle at which the hairs emerge from the skin. Move the blade in the same direction as the grain for a minimum of resistance. If each hair needs to be folded back before a cut can occur, then the result is sure to be irritation as the skin around the bottom of the hair is yanked around.
If you aren’t able to achieve a close enough shave with a single pass with the grain, then you can proceed to re-lather your face and shave across the grain, and then against the grain. This is one of the areas where straight razors have an advantage over their safer counterparts, as they’re able to slice through hairs easily, largely irrespective of the direction of the grain.
There is something a little counter-intuitive about only resting your razor lightly against your skin – but that’s precisely what you should be doing. Many new shavers feel, somewhat understandably, that to achieve a close shave, one should move the blade closer to one’s skin – to the point that it’s jammed against the jawbone. While the logic of this approach might be understandable, it’s not going to yield a close shave – by pressing the blade into the skin, you’ll create a valley, which will actually move the bottom of your hairs away from the razor. Modern razors can guard against this with the help of flat surfaces either side of the blade itself, but the easiest approach is to simply not press down.
One of the biggest problems for new shavers is getting the right amount of lather onto the face. Really, you only need a little bit to lubricate the skin sufficiently for the blade to move across it easily. You’re not looking to give yourself a foam beard. It’s better to go for a little bit of a high-quality shaving gel or shaving soap than a lot of a poor quality one – with the right brushing, you’ll be able to work up a great lather with just a small amount of soap.
When you buy shaving foam in aerosol form, you’re also buying propellant required to store the gel in these conditions, which can act as a drying agent. In order to compensate for this, manufacturers of cheaper gels tend to pack artificial moisturising agents, preservatives and stabilisers into each can. To give your skin the best possible treatment, use a lathering soap or cream and apply it with a shaving brush.
Another problem related to this is a tendency to go back and catch any areas of skin that might have not been properly shaved, perhaps in a hard-to-reach area like the edge of the jawline. If it’s only a very small area, you might be tempted to proceed without re-lathering. Unfortunately, this is a sure- fire way to irritate the skin and cut yourself. At the very least you should ensure that the skin you’re shaving is wet!
Related to this problem is a tendency for strokes to overlap too much. By going over the same spot over and over again, you’re exposing yourself to the same risks. When shaving, therefore, we should endeavour to be as efficient as possible. Shave slowly and carefully, keeping overlap to a minimum, as though you were mowing a lawn. Since you won’t need to keep doing the same work again, this will decrease the time you spend shaving.
Poor Razor Blades
One big shaving mistake is reusing old, blunt razor blades over and over again. Just a single session can hamper the effectiveness of a razor blade – and multiple sessions can render a blade totally blunt. Using a blunt blade with increase friction between the blade and your skin, which will assuredly cause irritation. Do yourself and your skin a huge favour and keep a healthy stock of replacement razor blades on hand, and reach for them at least every few days.
The most neglected aspect or most common of shaving mistakes has to be preparation. Before beginning each wet shave, your skin should be properly cleaned and hydrated – otherwise you’ll be pushing unwanted grime into the surface of the skin. This is a mistake often made by those making the switch from an electric, dry shave which doesn’t get as close to the skin. Clearly, a thorough clean is in order. Use water that’s warm without being scalding, and use a soap that’s made for your face. Hand-washes tend to be a little more caustic, and will strip the oils away, drying out the skin and increasing the risk of acne. Pat your face with a flannel, but don’t rub it – this will exacerbate any problems with acne by irritating your skin.
Once you’ve eliminated these common shaving mistakes from your shaving routine, you’ll find that your life in front of the bathroom mirror is a great deal more enjoyable – and, what’s more, your face will be a great deal cleaner, smoother, and happier. Within a few weeks, you’ll wonder why you did things any other way!