Proper wet shaving techniques, quality products and post-shaving skin care can help you look and feel your best and help avoid razor burn, razor bumps and irritation. A good, close shave followed by the right facial washes and after shave moisturizer products go hand in hand to achieve optimum skin health. It can turn a chore into a pleasant morning ritual.
Warning – this is the long answer – but isn’t a couple of minutes of reading worth it? After all, your face is the first thing they notice……
1. Cleanse Your Face
Use a good quality cleanser to remove any oils, dirt and bacteria from your face that could cause irritation and ingrown hairs later on.
2. Make Sure Your Beard is Thoroughly Wet
Facial hair will absorb moisture up to 30% of its volume. Hair swollen with water becomes weak and easier to cut. Showering before shaving is a great way to ensure your beard is properly moistened. Alternatively rinse your face and apply a warm moistened towel for at least a couple of minutes. Never shave cold or apply shaving products to a dry face – this is one of the leading causes of razor burn and shaving rash.
3. Use a Quality Shaving Lotion or Cream
Use a shaving lotion or cream that has a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers. The best shaving lotions and creams do not foam up like the drug store brands. The less “foaming” in the shave cream the better, as it is what is in contact with the skin and beard that matters – all else is wasted. Less resistance, less irritation and less nicks also mean a longer lasting blade! While the primary function of the shaving lotion is to lubricate your face so that the razor will glide smoothly and effortlessly across the surface, it also serves to lock the moisture into the whiskers, keeping them soft and upright, primed for the cut. Leave the lotion on your face for at least a minute before you begin cutting so that the beard is as soft and wet as possible.
4. A Shaving Brush is One of the Best Tools
A shaving brush does a number of things. It helps raise the hair so that a closer cut is possible and it helps remove dead skin cells, exfoliation, which reduces the chance of blemishes, razor bumps and also helps the skin look and feel smooth and healthy. Always look for a shaving brush with bristles that have the right balance between softness (to create a rich creamy lather that stays close to the skin) and resistance to raise the beard (making a closer cut easier). Apply the shaving cream using the brush in a circular motion ending in an upward stroke to help lift the beard up and away from the face.
5. Use a Quality Razor and Change the Blades
Always use a good quality sharp razor blade. Be sure the blade is sharp. You’re not just cutting off hair, you’re also scraping off up to two layers of surface skin when you shave. A dull blade is traumatic to the skin, making your face feel scratchy and look blotchy – a dull razor is one of the contributing factors to razor burn and shaving rash. Depending on the toughness of your beard, change the blade somewhere between every three and every ten shaves, if you shave every day. Two weeks is too long to go without changing blades. Regardless of the number of shaves, if the blade becomes dull, ditch it.
Rinse your blade under hot water before you begin to shave and after every swipe. This removes the accumulated shaving cream, whiskers, and skin gunk. The use of hot water here is to help lubricate, has nothing to do with “killing bacteria.”
6. Use the Razor Properly
Ideally shave in the direction of the beard growth. Start with the sides, then the moustache area and last the chin. The chin hairs are the toughest, so this allows them the most time to soften under the shave cream.
Shaving against the direction of hair growth gives a closer shave, but has two drawbacks:
- You run a high risk of cutting off a hair below skin level, causing an ingrown hair – the whisker grows into the surrounding tissue instead of out of the pore, resulting in inflammation and possible infection.
Shave “with the grain” (that is, in the direction your hair grows). Each person’s facial hair has its own growth pattern. If you are unsure of the direction of your beard, let it grow for a day or two and you’ll see it.
7. Let The Razor Do The Work
Do not press too hard or it will cause ingrown hair and razor burn. 99% of razor bump issues will be solved by not pressing too hard, shaving with the grain and using a good shaving cream.
You can apply more lotion with your brush and re-shave an area for a closer shave but don’t over-shave. Too much shaving will cause skin irritation and the dreaded razor burn and shaving rash.
Rinse the blade thoroughly before you put it away. (The water temperature isn’t going to have any impact on bacteria; you’re rinsing the blade to get rid of hairs, shaving cream, oils, and gunk, not to kill bacteria. You’d need to boil the razor for that or rinse it in alcohol, which is not necessary.) After rinsing, shake the razor, but do not wipe the blade with a towel or tissue – that will just make it dull faster.
8. Cleanse and Soothe After Shaving
After shaving, when the skin is most vulnerable, rinse the face with warm water and use a facial wash that has anti-bacterial and soothing ingredients
9. Rinse with the coolest water that is comfortable and pat dry with a clean towel. (Don’t rub! Just pat)
10. Use a toner after rinsing because it returns the skin to a neutral PH and gives moisturizers the ability to work more effectively.
11. Finish off with Moisturizer
Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin. There is no other regular activity that does this, which is why it is so important to use a good quality moisturizer after shaving. Be sure to use one made for your skin type – formulas that are not greasy, absorb quickly and dry with a matte finish so that your face doesn’t look shiny. Some moisturizers are too greasy as men tend to have not only thicker skin but also oiler skin than women due to men’s larger sebaceous glands. The best after shave lotions not only replace lost moisture and soothe, but also have ingredients that will cool and refresh the skin.
Following these shaving tips should help you achieve optimum skin health, avoid shaving problems and help you look and feel your best.