Shaving seems easy, but men often skips crucial steps or make mistakes that can lead to painful and/or unattractive results. Using these simple steps can make a big difference.
Dove Men+Care and Face Range expert, Dr. Allan Peterkin, a pognologist (aka beard scholar) and author of One Thousand Mustaches: A Cultural History of the Mo as well as One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair and The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face, says the ideal shaving technique includes three steps. Step one begins with the pre-shave products that prepare your face for a shave, which can include an exfoliator and a pre-shave oil. For step two, the actual shave, it’s important to use a shave gel that softens hair on contact and provides a smooth razor glide. And the final step includes a soothing, nourishing after-shave product.
Prep work. “The best thing a man can do to maximize his at-home regimen is to make sure he properly prepares his beard for the shave,” says Patti Davenport, American Crew International All-Star and Director of Shaving and Skincare at Groom for Men in Milwaukee, WI. “During the summer months, I recommend my clients shave right out of the shower when their skin is warm and the hair has softened.”
Start by washing your face with a gentle exfoliating cleanser, which will slough off dead skin cells and allow for smooth razor glide, says Dr. Vermén Verallo-Rowell, dermatologist and founder of VMV Hypoallergenics. Try a cleanser like Amala’s Purifying Gel Cleanser ($60, AmalaBeauty.com).
Verallo-Rowell explains that facial cleansers work best because they help soften the protein in the hair and lubricate the hair and skin. Hard soaps have higher pH levels, which denatures (dries) the skin and washes away hair-softening oils.
Cleanse using warm water. Two of the most important factors to a close, smooth, ouchless shave: heat + water. A warm cleansing begins the process of heat and lubrication (trapping moisture).
Invest in a shaving brush. A high-quality shaving brush is the single most important component in getting the absolute smoothest shave possible. The bristles gently exfoliate the skin, which removes anything coming between the man’s whiskers and the razor. As you sweep the brush in a circular motion over your face, the bristles lift the hair up and away from the skin allowing for the closest shave possible without common shaving issues such as razor burns and bumps. Also, when using a shaving brush, less shaving cream is needed because the brush creates a luscious lather as it primes the skin in preparation for the shave. Try eShave Travel Fine Badger Shaving Brush ($75, eShave.com)
Don’t be in a rush. When lathering up with shaving cream or gel, let it sit for two or three minutes to really soften skin and make a one-pass shave easier. When shaving, follow the direction of your hair growth, suggests Verallo-Rowell. Try VMV Shave Cream No. 03 ($22, vmvhypoallergenics.com).
Shave the right way. Remember that shaving not only removes hair, it also removes a fine layer of skin. Shaving in the direction of the hair growth is a little easier on skin because the razor travels a smoother path — has less friction or resistance (prevents razor burn). This technique reduces the chances of getting nicks, cuts, ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
To know the direction of your hair growth: Rub your hand on your beard. In one direction it will feel rougher than the other and will resist the push of your hand. The rough direction is against the hair growth. The smooth direction is with the hair growth: the correct direction for shaving says Verallo-Rowell.
Mimic the barbershop techniques by making sure skin is hot and moist to open up the pores. You can use hot towels or a shaving oil to create this effect.
Follow your shave with a moisturizing product that provides soothing, hydrating, reparative and antioxidant benefits so skin feels nourished, not stripped. Try Dove Men+Care Hydrate + Post Shave Balm ($7.29, Walgreens.com) or American Crew Post Shave Cooling Lotion ($10, Birchbox.com).
Consider where you live. Living in cities like London or New York, it’s likely that dirt and grime will build up on a man’s face, which is why it’s essential for a man to cleanse his face regularly in the morning, after workouts, and before bed to remove everything that may collect on his skin, explains Dr. Peterkin. If you are showering more often, use products that won’t dry out your skin or strip it of its natural oils. “I’d also recommend wearing sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF. Even if you are just walking from your apartment to the office, it’s still important to protect your skin whenever you are outdoors,” says Peterkin.