(3 minute read)
I think it’s easy to forget that shaving is an ancient art form, practiced across the globe for thousands of years. You would be amazed at how many men have questions about it. Whether it’s about how to avoid rashes, redness, ingrown hairs and spots - or sometimes we’re asked if shaving will make your beard grow thicker and less patchy (sorry, it won’t). So we wanted share with you some simple steps on how to get the perfect shave at home.
Step 1 - Preparation
Preparation is key to a great shave, don’t be tempted to rush things. I strongly recommend shaving after you’ve taken a shower. The hot water will soften the facial hair and open up the pores, creating a much smoother shave. If you insist on shaving before you shower then use hot water and a flannel to dampen the face. Next, grab your facial scrub and start to apply it to all the areas your about to shave. It’s important that you cleanse your skin properly prior to shaving as this will stop any bacteria or dirt from entering the pores and causing breakouts or infection. A scrub is preferred to a simple cleanser as the scrub will exfoliate, removing dead skin cells as well as dirt, oil and bacteria, leaving a much smoother surface for the razor to glide over.
Rinse away your cleanser or scrub and begin to lather your beard using either a cream, foam or gel. Of course, avoiding any areas of facial hair you plan to keep. A good quality shave cream applied with a synthetic badger hair brush in circular motions causing the hair to stand on end will always be your best option. The cream will be the kindest to the skin as it’s more moisturising. Shave foams are less ideal for sensitive skin as the alcohol can dry the skin out and cause irritation. So if you are looking for convenience, i’d go for a shave gel.
Step 2 - The Shave
Now it’s time to start your shave. I’ll assume you aren't using a traditional straight razor but if you are - well done, i’m impressed. If you’re a man of convenience, which in today's fast paced modern society, i’m sure you are, go for a multi blade razor with an Aloe Vera strip to treat the skin as you shave. These razors will also tilt with the contours of the face meaning less chance of cuts. It’s also important to invest in your razor and change the blade regularly. You only get one face, so let’s take care of it.
The first pass of the razor is always going to be with the direction of the growth. If you’re unsure which way your hair grows - rub your hand across your face in different directions until you feel resistance. The direction you feel the resistance is the opposite direction to which it grows. Using slow smooth strokes and applying minimal pressure will ensure less irritation and redness. Short, rapid strokes with too much pressure will begin to make the skin inflamed, so avoid rushing your strokes. Be sure to regularly rinse the blade to unclog the hair and ensure a balanced shave. Once you’ve shaved all the areas you wish to remove the hair, you can re-lather for a second pass (this is optional and typically for those with very thick, dense hair). Once you’ve re-applied your cream, feel free to shave against the direction of the hair this time. This will ensure you’ve got the closest shave possible and haven't missed any areas. Be careful once again with pressure, shaving the hair too close can cause ingrown hairs so don’t press down on the skin and let the razor do the work. If you have curly texture hair or sensitive skin I would recommend skipping the second pass.
Step 3 - After Care
Once the hair is removed it’s time to rinse your face using cold water. Cold water is essential as it will begin to close the pores again and prevent any infections. Make sure you remove all of the excess cream using a clean towel, and start to apply an aftershave balm or moisturiser. It’s important to restore the skin’s moisture balance after shaving as we remove a lot of the skins protective top layer during a shave. An after shave balm will have cooling properties so i’d recommend this over a moisturiser. For those with sensitive skin avoid going straight in with an aftershave or fragrance as this will dry the skin even more and possibly irritate it.
Shaving really is an art form. Meaning, it’s going to be slightly different for every person. Hair growth varies, skin types vary and facial hair designs vary. However, the principles we’ve shared here about preparation, technique and after care remain consistent with performing a perfect shave, regardless of the individual. Good luck with your next shave at home armed with this new knowledge and as always, feel free to keep those questions coming.
Words by Josh O'Callaghan