We’ve teamed up with the Barbetologists at Men’s Ultimate Grooming for help with these tips. They’ve learned a thing or two from the tens of thousands of shaves performed at their shops.
Shaving is both an art and a science. While some people will have you believe that it’s the blade that matters, the truth is that the blade is only part of the equation, and it may be the least important part.
Sure, different types of blades may work better for your particular skin type, but following the right procedures will always give you a better shave, every time. What we are saying is that the type of razor you use isn’t nearly as important as following tried and true shaving procedures.
Some people think they need a straight razor for a close shave, but this isn’t always true. A straight razor may give you a close shave after years of practice, but it can also give you a horribly uncomfortable shave if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve found that straight razors perform best in the hands of the professionals.
If you need to get better at shaving now, learn more about what you may be doing right, and the potential mistakes you’re making. It’s much faster, and will likely help you much more than going all in on purchasing and slicing yourself with a straight razor.
What You’re Probably Doing Right
There’s a lot of things you may already be doing correctly when it comes to shaving. If you’re not doing these things, you should start now!
Shaving In or After the Shower
Shaving in or after the shower is one of the best things you can do when it comes to grooming your face.
A warm shower will loosen up your skin, open up your pores, and soften your facial hair. The steam from the shower will allow you to get a much closer shave than you would be able to otherwise.
Another great benefit of shaving immediately after you shower is having softer, cleaner skin. You’ll have naturally exfoliated most of the dead skin cells on your face, allowing your razor to only take off hair, rather than scooping up dead skin.
On top of all of that is the potential to avoid bacteria and infections. No matter how good you are at shaving, there’s always the potential to cut yourself. It happens, and when it does, you want to make sure there are no bacteria to get into those cuts.
Using Shaving Cream or Shaving Lotion
Most men use some type of cream or foam to lather their face before they shave. If you’re doing this, you’re headed in the right direction.
Does shaving cream do the job? Sometimes. Is it the best thing you can put on your face when shaving? Definitely not.
A great substitute for shaving cream is a lotion-based shaving product that is lightweight (so it won’t gunk up your razor), gives you extreme shaving lubrication, and conditions your skin.
After all, properly lubricating your skin is the main reason you put anything on your face in the first place! One great thing about men’s conditioning lotion is its ability to hydrate and condition as well. Properly hydrated skin is much easier to cut hair off of due to minimal friction. Not to mention, the cause of most shaving irritation is dry skin.
Dry Your Razor out After Using
We really hope you’re doing this, because if you’re not, you put yourself at risk every time you shave.
Allowing your razor to sit in a damp area until the next time you use it allows it to accrue a ton of bacteria. If you’ve been leaving your razor in the shower, or in a wet spot near your shaving area, clean it off immediately.
Nobody wants an infection on their face. Be conscious of your hygiene before it comes back to bite you!
Shaving Mistakes You Probably Make
Nobody is perfect. Everyone has their own shaving rituals and habits, we get that.
But, if you’ll just hear us out, we can show you exactly what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it.
Here’s the top 5 shaving mistakes you’re probably making, and how you can enhance your shaving experience by fixing them.
Shaving with Cool Water
Not only does warm water help soften the beard and skin, it also has a lower surface tension than cold water. This means that it feels slicker and allows the blade to glide more efficiently. That’s just science, dude.
Ideally, you’re shaving right when you get out of the shower when your skin is at its most moist. Splashing your face with warm water before you begin is also a great habit. If you’re wondering whether or not you can shave in the shower, you totally can!
Just make sure you soak in the shower for a few minutes before you begin, so your skin has time to loosen up.
Other than that, you’re going to need a mirror, and preferably one that repels water (also known as a fogless mirror). You can buy one on Amazon for about $30, and it could be a worthy investment if you need to get your shaving done in a jiffy.
So, whether you decide that shaving in the shower is the best for you, or shaving directly after the shower, just make sure you’re doing so with warm water.
Shaving Against The Grain First.
Generally speaking, you should always shave with the grain, especially for the first pass of the razor. If you start off by shaving against the grain, you may pull the hair and/or push it back into itself. This will cause irritation and ingrown hairs.
Irritation and ingrown hairs are more prone to infection, and can cause acne.
You may be asking, which way is the grain anyways? Usually, on your face the hair grows downward. Your neck is where it gets tricky. Some of it grows downward, some upward, and some to the side. This is why most shaving irritation occurs on the neck. You might be shaving against the grain without even knowing it!
Luckily, there’s a way to figure this out. Simply use your fingers to determine hair growth direction. If it feels smoother with less friction, that’s with the grain. If it feels rough with resistance, that’s against the grain.
When you get down to actually shaving, shave in the direction that your hair is growing in that area. Make sure your strokes aren’t too slow or too fast, and when it comes to how much pressure you should apply, use about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. If you feel any tugging or pulling, stop, relather, and try again from a different angle. Vary your stroke speed, length, and pressure until you feel the razor “glide.”
Once an area is complete, it should be completely free of hair and feel smooth. If not, you may need to consider changing your blade. If your face still has more stubble than you want and you need to go over it once more, consider going sideways across the grain or upwards against the grain to get the closest shave. Just make sure to apply more shaving lotion to avoid irritation.
When finished shaving, you should now use cool water on your face. This will help tighten the skin and close the pores.
Not Rinsing the Blade Often Enough.
This is not only for removing hair and cream from the blade, it also brings fresh, hot water to your face which helps protect the skin from irritation.
Another thing people often underestimate is the amount of dead skin you can pick up when using a razor. The closer of a shave you get, typically the more dead skin that gets exfoliated by the blade. If you look closely after your first stroke, you might be able to see some dead skin along with the hair you just shaved off.
If you don’t remove this hair, dead skin, and shave lotion after every stroke, your following strokes may get affected. Nothing should ever get in the way of your blade and your skin, unless it’s a lubricant that is aiding the shaving process.
Getting stroke-happy (No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter).
Think of it this way, every pass of the blade removes a layer of protection and some of your skin’s surface. If you are using a triple-blade razor and pass over the same area 3 times, that’s 9 times a blade scraped across your skin.
The more strokes you make, the greater your chances of skin irritation.
For that reason, only use the amount of strokes needed to get the desired closeness. If you are using top-tier shaving lotion, have a fresh blade, and apply the perfect stroke, one pass should be enough.
Make sure you take your time also. We get it, you just hopped out of the shower and need to get to work. But it’s better to just slow down, get the shave done right, and look great at work rather than go fast and look like a fool with multiple cuts on your face.
Here’s a summary of tips for proper stroking:
- Don’t move too fast or too slow. Too slow may pull the hair, too fast may cause irritation.
- Your pressure should be about a 5 on a scale of 1-10.
- Your shaving stroke length should be 2-3 inches.
- Make sure your skin is tight, even pulling your skin back to tighten the shaving area.
- The more blades your razor has, the less you should need to stroke.
Not using a moisturizing post shave product.
When we demonstrate Conditioning Lotion at Men’s Ultimate Grooming, we make sure that every client realizes the importance of moisturizing their face after shaving.
This will heal your skin and replace the moisture that shaving with hot water extracted. If you use a quality post shave lotion, each successive shave will be more comfortable and your skin will look and feel better.
Like we said before, shaving cream can do the job, but a conditioning lotion that can be used for just about anything is the way to go. Not only can you use it on your face (before, during, and after shaving), or your body after a shower; you can even use it in your hair to keep your handsome locks nice and hydrated.
Hopefully, we’ve gone through some shaving mistakes that you can take to heart, and hopefully take with you when you’re getting ready for your next shave. Implementing these tips into your routine may be a challenge, or annoying at first, but it will pay off.