The ability to grow luscious facial hair is a source of great pride for some men. A rich beard is glorious, and sculpting that beard will make you look even sharper.
On the other hand, clean-shaven, smooth skin can be just as marvellous as a full beard. Achieving smooth skin takes care and attention, however, and it is important to prepare your face for the rigours of shaving in order to prevent skin irritation or a rash.
Fortunately, this quick five-point guide to getting a great shave includes advice on how to prepare your face for shaving, how to protect your skin post-shave, as well as tips on how to improve your shaving technique overall.
1. The Best Shaving Conditions
The best time to shave is during, or immediately after, a bath or shower. This is because the steam will open your pores and soften your bristles.
Wet stubble will ensure a more comfortable shave. Dry stubble is harder to cut, which increases the cutting forces (at the blade tip) and leads to a lot more tug and pull. This is highly uncomfortable and can cause micro tears at the hair root, shaving rash, and soreness.
2. Using a Pre-shave Product
Massage your face with a pre-shave product in several different directions and with a circular motion. The most useful aspect of the shave prep is the thin, transparent film between the blade and your skin.
In contrast, a lofty foam makes it harder to see your skin and, subsequently, what’s going on at the sharp end of the razor. It also makes it more difficult to cut in around any facial hair.
A low-foam shave gel, such as this one from King of Shaves, will allow you to see exactly where you are shaving, helping you take care around any problem areas, or where precision is required.
3. Shaving Technique
Clearly, a clean, sharp blade is a prerequisite. The length of each stroke will depend on beard density and stubble length, but as a rule of thumb, short strokes and regular rinsing will keep the razor head clear.
This will ensure the blades aren’t backed off the skin during the stroke due to stubble build-up, something which would lead you to repeat strokes over the same patch of skin.
Always shave with the grain, as this reduces the tug and pull on the hair root and so eliminates, or at least minimizes any razor rash.
With multi-blade razors, this should not mean any compromise on closeness. Check out this useful guide from The Close Shave on how to find the grain of your beard, as the direction in which the hairs grows varies in different parts of your face.
Applying more pressure won’t necessarily allow you a closer shave, though it may increase the risk of razor burn. Use the fingertips of your free hand to pull the skin slightly taut in front of the blade.
This helps expose the most bristle length and gets them to stand up straight from the skin. It also creates a flatter surface for the razor head, so you run less risk of nicks, cuts, or skin abrasions.
4. Protect your face
After shaving, rinse your face with cool water. This removes any residue of the shave prep from the skin and helps close the pores back up again, ensuring that the skin’s surface is less exposed and better protected. It is best to pat your face dry with a towel, rather than rub it.
5. Replenish your skin
Post-shave, your skin will have been stripped of much of its natural protection, but it will recover in just a couple of hours. In the meantime, however, it’s best to avoid any heavily alcohol-based products, as these will sting the skin and not help it restore its natural water balance.
Consider applying a good-quality post-shave moisturizer to help trap in the skin moisture and speed up the natural recovery process.
As you may have gathered, there is a science to shaving. If you don’t take steps to look after your skin, both pre-shave and post-shave, you could end up with irritation or a nasty rash. Implement these tips to ensure a smooth and healthy clean shave that will leave your skin feeling clean, supple, and fresh.