Most men learn to shave like they learn about sex. Hanging out with friends, trial and error or hustled through a how-to talk with Dad. Then, razor in hand, you’re on your own. Facing the daily ritual—or should we say ordeal—nick by painful nick.
How to avoid the pitfalls? Shaving can—and should be—a healthy, pleasurable part of everyday grooming. But it can be challenging for beginners as well as experienced blade runners. So forget what daddy and the boys in the locker room may have told you. Here’s the straight skinny on smoothing the way to a perfect shave from professional barbers at the Art of Shaving national chain of specialty men’s grooming stores and home to their new Grooming Bars.
According to the experts, first of all, make sure your beard is thoroughly wet. They say that because facial hair absorbs up to 30% of its volume, hair swollen with water becomes weak and easier to cut. Showering before shaving is the ideal way to ensure your beard is properly moistened.
Never shave cold or apply shaving products to a dry face. Both are leading causes of razor burn and shaving rash.
Use a shaving cream with a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers. The best products create a rich creamy lather and don’t foam up. The primary function of shaving cream is to lubricate so the razor glides smoothly over the surface of your skin. It also locks the moisture into the whiskers so they stay soft and upright, primed for the cut. Try to leave the shaving cream on your face for at least a minute before you begin cutting so the beard is as soft and wet as possible.
And now for the blade. Always use a good quality sharp razor blade. You’re not just cutting off hair, you’re scraping off up to two layers of surface skin. A dull blade is more traumatic, making your face feel scratchy and look blotchy. Depending on the toughness of your beard, change the blade somewhere between every three and every ten shaves, if you shave every day. Two weeks is too long to go without changing blades. Regardless of the number of shaves, if the blade becomes dull, ditch it.
Rinse your blade under hot water before you begin to shave and after every few swipes. This removes the accumulated shaving cream, whiskers, and dead skin gunk. The use of hot water here is to help lubricate and has nothing to do with “killing bacteria.”
Shave in the direction your hair grows. Each person’s facial hair has its own growth pattern. If you are unsure of the direction of your beard, let it grow for a day or two and you’ll see it. You also need to let the razor do the work—don’t press too hard or it will cause razor bumps (ingrown hair) and razor burn.
After shaving, when the skin is most vulnerable, rinse the face with warm water and use a facial wash that has a high concentration of two ingredients; tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic) as well as witch hazel for its soothing, healing and astringent properties.
Finish off with an after-shave balm. Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin. There is no other regular grooming routine that does this, which is why it is so important to use a good quality moisturizer An after-shave balm replaces lost moisture and soothes the skin. Made just for guys, these formulas are non-greasy, absorb quickly and dry with a matte finish so that your face doesn’t look shiny. The best after-shave lotions not only replace lost moisture but also have ingredients that cool and refresh the skin.
Now that you know the basic drill, experience the height of personal care luxury at the Art of Shaving enclaves where just-introduced Grooming Bars are now offering curated selections of prestige men’s products for skin, hair and body. Currently, Grooming Bars are located (with more planned) in Art of Shaving locations at Crabtree Valley Mall – Raleigh, NC, South Park Mall – Charlotte, NC, Scottsdale Fashion Square – Scottsdale, AZ and Chandler Fashion Center – Chandler, AZ.
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