How to Get the Perfect Shave
Master the man art of the perfect shave with these essential tips.
So, you’ve probably been shaving for quite some time. Perhaps your father or elder brother showed you how; perhaps you decided to slice and dice your way into manhood solo. Either way, love it or hate it, the daily shave is fundamental, not only to how you present yourself to the world but also as part of an overall face regime that will ensure you look as young, refreshed and refined for as long as possible – and we all want that. Take the pain out of shaving, skip the razor burns, and avoid ingrown hairs with these 10 essential shaving tips.
Understand Your Face
While women and men both shave (strategically) our skin couldn’t be more different, especially around the Lady Catcher region. Our facial skin is thicker, has more hair (obviously) and is oiler thanks to larger sebaceous glands, which produce protective sebum, an oily, waxy lubricant. A key component of this facial study is understanding the grains of your face. When you shave against the grain you pull hair away from the skin before cutting it, causing irritation and an increased risk of razor burn. Use your fingers on a three-day stubble to understand which directions the hair resists and in which it yields; you want to shave whiskers with the grain, which in most guys is downwards on the cheeks and chin, and up on the lower jaw, down to the neckline.
Drop that Towel
When you step from the shower it’s routine to run a towel over every surface, but if you’re going to shave, skip the face. This ensures the skin on your face remains warm and wet, which will help stubble remain soft, and pours are open, ensuring better absorption of a good shave gel, foam or oil.
Keep it Clean
Remembering that when you shave you’re not only removing stubble but also the outer layer of skin, it’s important that you keep your hands clean and only use clean towels or facecloths. It’s also an idea to wash your face thoroughly before you begin shaving, to ensure you remove the natural oils and perspiration that can inhibit water penetration. Here are some of our favourite facial washes for gents looking for a sharp clean look.
Don’t Fear the Brush
Even if you’re not using traditional shaving cream or foam, a shaving brush can give you the edge. By lifting hair, a shaving brush ensures the closest cut possible, while also exfoliating away dead skin cells. When looking for a shaving brush (these guys make a nice one), ensure the bristles have the right balance of softness and resistance, so you’re always creating a rich lather that also cuts close to the skin. Here are some of our favourites traditional shaving brushes.
Gel vs Foam vs Oil
Ah, the great bathroom debate, and like so many dilemmas, it’s often down to personal preference. While cans of aerosol-driven foam once ruled supreme (and there are still plenty of firm favourites on the market), today gels, often with a range of moisturizing and cooling components added, have become vogue (here are some of our favourites). Purists looking for a sharp shave might even try some of these shave oils, many of which come packed with added nutrients.
Time to Apply
Whatever you do decide to use, be liberal, apply in circular and upward motions, ideally with a brush, to stand hair follicles to attention, and ensure you massage the product into your skin; these solutions form a barrier between blade and epidermis that protects from razor burn, rashes and dehydration. Every shave product is different so tweak the amount you apply until you’re happy you’re not doing any damage.
Stroke by Stroke
When it comes to the actual act, ensure you shave with slow but purposeful strokes, following the grain and maintaining an even pressure. If you’re set on using a cut-throat razor, this is where you need to pay extra attention (if you’re not entirely confident we suggest you keep it on show and hide the disposable in the bathroom cupboard). Use a razor with multiple blades to ensure an even, close shave; keep the area of skin you’re shaving taunt for the most effective shave; keep the trickiest spots, such as upper lip and sideburns, for last; and be sure to rinse the blade in hot water after each stroke. If you’re looking to upgrade your choice of razor, here are some of the most beautiful pieces that could grace your bathroom shelf.
Rinse & Repeat
Don’t be afraid to reapply your foam or gel to trouble areas like the chin, and to go over areas again to ensure the closest, most-even shave possible. This is also another benefit of a traditional horsehair brush and lather – it’s ready for reapplication in a moment. If you’re going for a super close shave you can stroke against the grain but be careful not to over shave, which will only leave skin irritated and tender.
Clean Up Your Act
Once you’ve finished shaving, take the opportunity to deep cleanse your face while it’s at its most vulnerable. Use warm water when cleaning and exfoliating with a dedicated facial solution and then rinse with cool water to close pores.
It Rubs the Lotion on its Skin
This is where the boys step away from the sink, covered in toilet paper bandages, and the men remain. Applying the right aftershave products is crucial to maintaining healthy skin that’s free of irritation and rashes. Forget the face-slapping colognes of Home Alone, the alcohol of traditional aftershaves might kill germs but will also leave your skin irritated, red, and dry. Today there are a host of natural, soothing lotions and potions that offer the perfect post-shave treatment while ensuring cooled, hydrated, silky smooth and refreshed skin.