At some point in nearly every man’s life, shaving becomes engrained in the bathroom routine. Beards and mustaches go in and out of popularity; however, probably, with very few exceptions, at some point every man shaves it all off. If you have never shaved before, if it’s been years since your last run with a razor, or if you’re just looking for some lifestyle tips, we present our guide for how to shave properly.
Why Shave Properly?
Though many men shave weekly or even daily, it’s easy to get in a routine of shaving incorrectly and improperly. A good shave requires focus, purpose, and thought. It’s easy to get into a habit of shaving poorly, which results in razor burn, damaged skin, cuts and bleeding, damaged equipment, and frustration. It doesn’t take much additional effort to shave well, so why not avoid the burn and read on for how to shave, and do it properly?
How to Shave Properly
There are all sorts of permutations to consider in answering the question of how to shave properly. Shaving a well-developed beard is much different than a routine clean-up; using an electric razor is similarly different from a manual one, and shaving with acne is certainly much harder than shaving with blemish free skin.
How to Shave with Manual Blades
Shaving is tough, for men and women alike. Luckily, we have medical experts at our fingertips who can advise on best practices:
- Wet skin is easier to shave than dry skin as wet skin is softer. Your skin is best prepped after a warm face wash or shower. The warm water not only softens your skin, but will remove it of oil, dirt, and dead skin that can slowly break down your razor.
- Apply your shaving cream, gel, or paste to your face (or area-to-be-shaved). There are various sorts of creams and whatnot, and it’s important to research which works best for your type of skin. Sensitive creams do in fact work better for sensitive faces.
- Hair grows in a particular direction, and you should shave towards that direction. Shaving against the grain creates friction and razor burn.
- After each pass with the razor, rinse off the blade. Further, replace your blade every 1-2 weeks. Older blades start to lose their edge or rust, and clearly scraping jagged, rusty metal against your face is not a good idea.
- After use, keep your razor dry. For example, do not put your wet razor into a plastic bag, and similarly do not just leave it in the shower. If the razor is stored wet, then it is more likely to deteriorate or rust.
- If you have some sort of unique skin situation, such as acne, be extra careful. Do not rush through shaving, as again, you’re scraping a metal blade against your face, and that merits care. In these cases, consider alternative approaches, such as using an electric blade.
How to Shave with Electric Blades
There are pros and cons between manual and electric blades, and part of that comes down to preference. Manual blades get you the closest cut but require more preparation as they work best with a warm, wet canvas.
In contrast, electric blades are quick to use, as they should be used on dry skin thus requiring less prep time; however, dry shaving is more likely to cause razor burn and irritation. Do not even try dry shaving with a manual blade. If you want to dry shave with a manual blade, you might as well get a steak knife and just start slashing away.
The decision to use a manual blade and wet shave versus an electric blade and a dry shave has been around for as long as the electric razor (first patented in 1898!) There’s a certain degree of manliness and hubris that comes with using a manual blade.
It’s the old-fashioned, traditional way of shaving, like a cowboy or James Bond. Despite that, electric razors are still very common, and that’s because they are so convenient. Don’t let stigma hold you from considering an electric razor as the decision is personal and certain skin types are just better for one approach or the other. If a wet shave and manual blade just don’t work for you, there’s no reason to avoid trying an electric variation.
- While electric blades are used on dry skin, it is still helpful to prep by washing your face first. Cleaning your face with warm water is akin to exfoliating. Whether you’re using a manual or electric blade, it’s helpful to remove the oil. dirt, and dead skin from your face if only for sake of maintaining your blade.
- With an electric blade, you don’t need shaving cream, gel, or paste. You simply turn on your electric razor and evenly move the blades against your face at a slow and steady pace. Whereas with a manual blade you shave with the direction of the hair, with an electric razor, you should shave against the grain.
- To minimize irritation post-shave, you can apply moisturizer or an after-shave oil.
- Most electric razors come with recommended cleaning instructions. Follow them. Open up the razor and knock or blow the hairs out on a regular cadence. Use the recommended cleaning solution and application mechanism. If you don’t clean your electric razor, it will become less and less effective and will result in more and more irritation.
How to Shave with Acne
If you have acne, you probably experienced the struggle of getting a close shave on a regular basis. You might be thinking it’s just easier to grow the beard out all the way. Don’t give up hope, as there are still best practices to attempt first.
- Do your best to soften your skin first. Have a warm shower or at a minimum wash your face with warm water. Use a warm washcloth on your face. The softer your skin, the more flexible it will be to work with your razor.
- Before shaving with acne, it’s critical that you clean your skin first. As you’re more prone to little cuts and scrapes, it’s important that you remove as much bacteria from your face as possible to minimize infection (and worse acne).
- Before applying shaving cream, use pre-shave oil on your face to moisturize further. Again, the goal is to make your face warm, soft, flexible and resilient.
- Now, put on the shaving cream, and even better if it’s alcohol-free.
- If you’ve made it this far, you should realize that with acne, we’re suggesting a wet shave and that means a manual blade. Use a razor with just a single blade, and shave with the direction of your hair, carefully. Multi-blade razors are more likely to exacerbate acne with further irritation.
- Following the shave, rinse your face with cold water to clean off the excess shaving cream.
- Last, apply a moisturizer to hydrate your skin. You’ve just put your skin through a workout, and a moisturizer is a way of telling your face how much you love it.
But I Have a Beard…
Listen, that’s ok. You have a beard, and we can deal with that too. Shaving with a beard doesn’t mean you need to break out the chicken shears. It does mean you need to approach the process a bit differently. Here’s how to shave when you have a beard – you should notice at least some similarities:
- First, shower or wash your face with warm water and soap. Beard or no beard, you still want to get the oil, grease, dirt, and dead skin off your face.
- Apply a hot washcloth to your face for a minute or so. The goal is, again, to get your face warm and thus soft and malleable.
- Use a pre-shave oil to soften your skin further and apply this before the shaving cream.
- Then, use a doubloon brush to apply your shaving cream. The brush will help provide an even spread of the cream throughout your face.
- Of course, only use a manual razor for shaving your face with a beard. As always, shave with the grain and direction of the hairs with a manual brush. Shaving in the wrong direction will cause razor burn and irritation.
- Once shaving is complete, clean your face with cold water to rinse off excess cream and lingering hairs.
- Towel dry your now fresh and clean skin, but then use an after-shave moisturizer or shave balm to keep your skin from getting too dried out.
If you follow our tips above, you’ll be treating your face with kindness. You shave often, so you should be careful and methodical about the approach. There really is an objectively correct way to shave, and your only big decisions are whether you want a manual blade or an electric, and which shaving cream you want to apply. Armed with knowing how to shave, you no longer have to rush through a hasty routine. We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on shaving.