Last updated on August 18th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
Most men need to shave.
Whether you have a full stubble or just whiskers it must be done.
Yes but while shaving can be a simple task, it can sometimes be a painful experience when you don’t follow principles that have been practiced for centuries by generations of men.
Do it the wrong way and your skin will suffer from ingrown hair, razor burns, nicks and cuts.
A man’s face is totally different from a woman – we have thicker skin, more facial hair and have bigger sebaceous glands that make our skin a lot oilier than a woman’s so our needs are far different.
The thing is you don’t need to go to a barber and pay $20 to have a world class shave.
You can have it a the comfort of your own bathroom.
Are you ready?
These actionable shaving tips for men are time tested and have been done for years not just by your dad, but also your grandfather and even great grandfather.
Don’t Forget to Prep
A lot of men frankly skip this step and go straight dragging the razor through their face.
This causes a lot of friction since there is no layer of protection on the face that leads to irritation, razor burns and cuts.
There are a few steps in this stage.
The first step is rinsing your face with a pre-shave soap and warm water, doing this will remove excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog up the blades. Hot water will moisten facial hair, making it softer thus easier to cut.
Having a hot shower before a shave is a great way to prepare. The steam coming from the hot water opens up the pores and softens hair.
If that is not possible try what the barbers do – apply a hot moist towel on the face for a few minutes.
Last step is applying a shaving cream or gel (more on that on the next tip).
Invest in a Good Shaving Cream
First let’s define what is a good shaving cream? According to Men-U a good shaving cream is rich and creamy and not foamy.
This rich creamy texture provides more lubrication and there will be less wastage because you’ll be using less to achieve the desired result.
Not only does the shaving cream lubricate the face, it also moisturizes facial hair so that when you shave there is a layer of lubrication that shields skin from the blade.
If you have sensitive skin, opt for a shaving cream labeled “for sensitive skin”.
There different types of shaving creams. The most common ones found in a lot of stores are aerosol type products that contain chemicals – it will dry out the skin. Avoid these.
Even if you want to save money at least get a product that’s in a tube like Cremo Cream or the Proraso.
These two products aren’t expensive, going between $6 to $10 bucks in Amazon and since you’re using just a little product, it will last a long time.
A Shaving Brush is Your Beard’s Best Friend
A shaving brush would probably be one of the best purchases you’ll ever make in terms of shaving. This is an essential tool in your arsenal if want you to enjoy the benefits of a smooth and close shave. It essentially does three things.
First it helps evenly spread the cream to each and every strand of facial hair, raising them up making it easier to cut giving you the best chance to have the closest shave possible.
Second it helps remove dead skin cells and exfoliating skin which reduces the risk of irritation, razor bumps and blemishes.
Lastly, compared to using your hands, a brush will help create a rich creamy lather that will be close to the skin as possible to help lubricate both beard and skin better.
Learn the Correct Technique When Applying Shaving Cream
You don’t need to use a lot of shaving cream or gel, in some cases a pea sized drop is all you need. Remember to read the instruction manual to know how much is needed.
One technique is using a circular motion around the parts with facial hair only ending with an upward stroke away from the face.
A Sharp Razor is a Must Have
It doesn’t matter if you use a disposable or safety razor. Just make sure that it is sharp. A dull blade can be as traumatic to a skin as it causes itchiness and razor burn.
If you shave every day the rule of thumb is replacing the blade or cartridge (if you’re using disposables) every five to ten shaves. Consider other factors like how tough your beard is and the type of razor you are using.
Take it Easy
Always remember to take it easy when you shave. Make sure that the blade is smoothly gliding on your face. Avoid putting too much pressure, let the blade do the work for you. Take the time to gently glide the razor on your face.
Avoid Shaving Against The Grain (Unless You’re Experienced Enough)
Going against the grain simply means shaving in the opposite direction where the hair is growing.
There are a lot of downsides of shaving against the grain – one of which is you will be more susceptible to razor cuts which would then cause razor bumps (or an ingrown hair). This may cause issues down the road like inflammation and infection.
To give you an idea generally which direction our facial hair grows, look at this chart.
You’ll notice that it goes in different directions but remember in shaving technique always trumps the tool so if you master this, it’ll be a big step towards a smooth shave every time.
Remember that the directions in the above graphic above will not apply to everyone.
To know which direction your beard grows use a credit card or index card then gently drag it against the shaven part of your face. Move it back and forth. If the card slides smoothly that means you’re going with the grain. If there is resistance that means you’re going against the grain.
This is for safety razor users. Start at a ninety degree angle then roll down to a 30 to a 45 degree angle as you shave.
Know the Proper Technique Shaving the Lip Area
The lip is one of the most sensitive parts of the face and even the smallest cut will have excessive bleeding. One way to prevent cuts is to fill your cheeks with air as if you’re blowing something, this technique will expand the skin around the mouth area enough for the blade to glide through safely.
Another technique is to stick the tongue between the gum and lip area to stretch the lip area to prevent any nicks and cuts.
Only Short Strokes
To piggy back on the tip above, use only short strokes of one to two inches at most. Remember to rinse the razor in between strokes so it doesn’t clog up.
Re-Lather If You Want To Re-Shave
Don’t skip on this step. You’ll use a bit more cream and spend a little bit more time but this will ensure that your face lubricated and hair is soft enough to achieve the closest shave possible. This also prevents cuts and skin irritation.
Shave the Neck Area Last
The neck area is more sensitive compared to the sides of your face, upper, lower lip and chin area so shave this part last to give more time for the shaving cream/gel to soften up the hair so it’ll be easier to cut.
Others will prefer shaving the lip and chin area last because hair growth is denser in this area. Try both to see what works for your skin type.
Rinse With Cold Water
After shaving always rinse with cold water to close the pores then pat dry with a soft clean towel. Remember don’t rub! Just pat dry.
Some experts recommend rinsing with warm water than applying facial wash that has tea tree oil and witch hazel in it to protect from rashes, this also sooths the skin.
Remember to finish off with a cold rinse.
The process of shaving takes a toll and removes up to 2 layers of skin so applying aftershave lotion will help soothe skin and replenish lost moisture. Make sure to choose an after shave specifically formulated for men as these are less oily than ones for women.
Avoid aftershaves with alcohol as it will dry the skin which could cause more irritation on an already exposed skin.
If you prefer something with an old school barbershop scent then try some bay rum aftershave. These products consist of a bay leaf extract and rum that brings back memories of straight shaving in a barbershop.
Some products like will give you an addictive burn that’ll wake you up in the morning.
Though bay rum aftershaves do offer benefits to the skin, men love these products because of the scent.
Keep Some Alum Block On Hand
Alum block is perhaps shaving’s best kept secret. It’s something that every man should have in their medicine box – wet shaver or not. Alum block is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant that soothes and tighten skin’s pores.
If you want feedback on irritated areas, run this over your skin and it’ll give you instant feedback.
It’ll also close nicks and cuts because it contains alum – the same ingredient found in styptic pens.
Do Not Over Shave
There’s a saying that too much of a good thing is bad, this also applies to shaving. Our skin can take only so much. Shaving too much can lead to skin irritation, rashes and razor burn.
Relax and Pamper Yourself
There are occasions where you need to just pamper yourself and go to a professional and let them do the work for you.
How to Shave Off Your Beard
If you’ve decide to go with the clean look there are a few ways to go about this.
For the experienced and highly skilled, a straight razor is the tool of choice.
Don’t forget to moisten your beard with lots of water before applying shaving cream to help in moisture retention and lessen the chances of razor burns or cuts.
But for a lot of men that is not possible so let’s go to option 2.
The master barbers from “The Art of Shaving” recommend mowing down the beard first before grabbing that razor. Any electric shaver (minus the guard) will do.
After trimming of as much facial hair as you can then go back to the tips I mentioned above.
Tips for Men with Sensitive Skin
Guys if you have sensitive skin you’ll need to add a little bit more TLC to your shaving routine.
Here are some tips that you can use to make sure your skin does not act up or get irritated every time you shave.
The tips here are similar to the previous ones I’ve shared but the difference mainly is in the product selection.
Wash Your Face With a Gentle Soap
Product selection is very important here. When choosing a facial wash, choose something that is specifically labelled “For Sensitive Skin”. Avoid products that contain any alcohol or detergent.
These products do not have harsh chemicals or dyes that could potentially cause irritation. Products like Cetaphil are good products to use because of their low pH level content – it will not strip our skin’s natural moisture.
Invest in a High Quality Blade
This does not mean disposable blades can’t be effective but this has to do more with the accumulative cost of buying new ones over time. A dull blade is a sensitive skin’s worst enemy.
Remember that I mentioned earlier in this article about replacing disposable blades after 5 to 10 uses? If you have sensitive skin, cut that number down to every two uses – if you’re using something high-end like a Gillette that will really hurt your wallet.
What’s the alternative? Dr. Terrence Keaney, director of W for Men at the Washing Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery tells patients who suffer razor burn, bumps and irritation to try a safety razor.
Get a good quality razor
While you’re at it make sure to grab a good quality razor that’s gentle enough to handle sensitive skin. This guide by positivehealthwellness.com is a good resource that you can check out for recommendations. It covers different types of razors such as electric, safety and cartridge.
If you prefer to use a cartridge, I’d avoid a 5-blade and go with the 3-blade because more blades equates to more irritation. But if you don’t mind the learning curve, a safety razor is a good investment.
After a shave make sure to rinse your face well to make sure that there is no shaving cream left then pat dry with a clean soft towel. It does not end there.
Re-hydrate by applying moisturizer specifically formulated for sensitive skin. This will give it a layer of protection and retaining moisture throughout the day.
These tips will help you get a close, smooth and cut free shave every time you use your razor. Not only will you look great, your skin will feel great as well. If you think I’ve missed any tip just hit me up in the comment section below and give me a heads up, I’d love to hear from you.
Passing it on to the next generation
One way to ensure that the legacy of wet shaving lives on is to teach it to our children when the time comes. Not only will they appreciate the bonding time they’ll have with dad. But also as they become men, they’ll also appreciate the practicality of old school shaving versus using a cartridge razor that gets pretty expensive long term.
Our friends from Groom and Style have come up with an in-depth guide on teaching your son the modern ways of manhood. If you’re looking at passing this skill to your children then this is a must read.
Garrick spends his days researching and writing about grooming. When he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him hanging around with his wife and son.