Dad may have been an endless fountain of knowledge when you were growing up, but with the advent of cheap, multi-blade cartridge razors, canned shaving creams, and TV commercials touting how “easy” shaving is, there was probably one area where dad was pointedly silent – how to shave properly!
Don’t blame dad. Back in the day when wet shaving was the norm, shaving was a better experience and dads were more likely to happily pass on this rite of passage to their sons. These days, with plastic razors everywhere you look, shaving is a frustrating, irritating experience for most men, including dads. Who would want to pass that on to their son?
Thankfully, wet shaving is making a comeback and now we can do our part to gain some knowledge about this lost artform and pass it on to our own sons when the time comes. Below is a list of ten shaving tips you never learned growing up.
1. Throw away the multi-blade cartridge razor ASAP
If you want to know the number one tip for upgrading your shave game, this is it. Multi-blade cartridge razors are terrible if you want a quality shave. They’re designed to lift the hair out away from the skin as each blade grabs ahold of and cuts the hair. The result is an annoying recurrence of ugly razor bumps, razor burn, and even razor rash.
Here’s the thing, the big name shaving companies are taking advantage of you. They’re consistently dumping millions of dollars into their big marketing budgets and your face is taking the brunt of the exploitation. The first step in upgrading your shave game is to toss out those cheaply made yet way-to-expensive multi-blade cartridge razors as soon as possible and make the switch to wet shaving with a safety razor.
2. Use a sharp blade
When shaving with a safety razor (or any razor) it’s important to always use a well-sharpened blade. Using a dull blade will result in more nicks, cuts, razor bumps, and razor burn.
To ensure you’re getting the best shave possible you typically want to switch out the blade on your safety razor about once a week. If you have thick, coarse hair or sensitive skin, you’ll want to switch it out more often to ensure you’re always using a sharp blade.
3. Always prepare the skin first
Before you start shaving, the hair on your face should be well hydrated. This allows for the hair to swell up which makes it easier to cut and allows the blade to slide over the skin more easily due to the extra lubrication.
Be sure to prep your face using warm water and a pre-shave cleanser to wash the shaving area before shaving. The warm water will open the pores on your face allowing the hair to be further exposed and the pre-shave wash will provide additional lubrication and disinfection for the skin. Also, to further open the pores and prepare the skin, be sure to rinse with a hot towel and hold it to your face for about ten seconds.
4. Heat up the blade with hot water
Just before you begin shaving, run the blade under hot water to heat it up. This will make the blade slightly more malleable which will reduce friction and lower the chance of nicks, cuts, and razor burn.
Heating up the blade also makes shaving a more comfortable experience. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not press cold steel to my face in the morning. *Shivers*
5. Use a shaving brush
If you really want to upgrade your shaving experience, using a shaving brush is an absolute must. A shaving brush is necessary to create a lather if you’re using shaving soap rather than canned shaving cream.
In addition, a shaving brush will help to lift the hair up and away from the skin exposing more of the hair to the blade while also allowing the shaving soap or cream to penetrate deeper into the nooks and crannies of your skin. In effect, this creates more lubrication and allows for a closer shave with less irritation.
6. Frequency over intensity
“Frequency over intensity” is a principle that will upgrade your shave game just as it will improve other areas of your life. Take working out at the gym for example. You don’t go to the gym for 4 hours every day and blast every single muscle in your body, do you? No, you show up consistently and only push yourself so far outside of your comfort zone, making incremental improvements, compounded and aggregated over time. Shaving is no different.
The key to maintaining an enjoyable shaving routine over the long haul is to be consistent, not intense. Rather than trying to press harder or making too many passes to get a closer shave in the hopes of being able to go an extra day without shaving, shave more frequently, slow down, and don’t go too hard. Frequency over intensity.
7. Shave with and across the grain
Similar to “frequency over intensity”, shaving against the grain will indeed give you a closer shave, but at what cost? You have a choice, go against the grain and risk ingrown hairs, razor burn, and razor rash, or shave with and across the grain and either shave more often or let your beard grow out a little more.
The neck area is typically the most troublesome area of your face since the hairs tend to grow in different directions there. A good strategy for most men when shaving the neck is to shave outward from the Adam’s apple. Depending on your pattern of hair growth this will usually be with and across the grain, reducing the occurrence of shave bumps, cuts, and irritation.
8. Pull the skin tight as you shave
You probably already do this in some fashion. Most men have that “shave face” where you pull your upper lip down tight over your front teeth while shaving your mustache area. This is a good start, but it will take more than that to pull the skin tight enough for a close shave.
Use your free hand to pull the skin tight away from the direction you’re shaving as you take your strokes. This helps to pull the hair upright and away from the skin, allowing the razor to cut the hair closer. Pulling the skin tight also helps to smooth out any imperfections, scars, or bumps on the skin making nicks and cuts less likely.
9. Slow down
I get it, you’re in a hurry. You don’t have time to shave, but you have to. Well, there’s really only one thing you can do. Make time!
Moving the blade too quickly across your face will cause hair and skin to get clogged in the blade. This will make the blade jump and pull on the remaining hair causing razor burn. If you haven’t shaved in a few days, the problem will be worse as the hair will be longer. To avoid nicks and irritation, slow down while shaving and always take shorter strokes. Either that or just skip it for today. Your face will thank you later.
10. Do what works best for you
This is the most important tip dad may never have gotten around to giving when it comes to shaving. Even dad’s best advice on the intricacies of getting a good shave may not be right for you for whatever reasons. Go with it.
Regardless of what you read online, what your friends are doing, what dad says, or what you see in movies, the best shaving advice you’ll ever get is try things out and do what works. You can read and study how to do something for years, but the fact is, what we learn to do we learn by doing. So get out there, experiment, and if it works for you over the long haul, trust yourself and go with it.
How about you?
If you could add just one tip to this list, what would your 11th tip be? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Happy shaving!