Unless you approach grooming with a caveman enthusiasm, there is always going to be the need to shave. With some men that might be almost daily, while others only weekly. Either way, there are going to be some inevitable mishaps along our journey to shaving nirvana.

To get the best shave possible every time we need to go slow. Rushing will lead to cuts and bumps and no man wants to look like a school-age shaver who doesn’t know any better.

Now we know that time is paramount to a close shave, a close second is understanding your face. Knowing the nuances of our face and skin will ensure we pick the right products to lessen any irritation and improve the connection between the blade and skin.

By using the correct products for our skin type before, during and after our shave we will get the best possible result. But, what should you be using? How many blades should your razor have? Do you need a pre-shave oil or a post-shave moisturiser?

Fear no more, our guide to shaving will run through everything you need at each stage to have you looking baby smooth every time.

Firstly some prep.

Hydrate Your Skin

Most men will be shaving in the morning and after all that time asleep, your skin has become dry. Leave some time (around 30 minutes) between waking and picking up your razor.

We suggest jumping in the shower first. The hot water can help to open up your pores to get a closer shaving result. It is also the optimum place to continue your pre-shave preparation.

Cleanse & Scrub

When you are in the shower, take the chance to remove any dirt and grime that has built up on your skin by using a daily cleanser. Anything that is sitting on the skin can become an irritant and lead to a bad shave.

After cleansing reach for an exfoliating scrub. This will go further than the cleanser unclogging blocked pores and trapped hairs that could turn into ingrown hairs after shaving. If you are prone to sensitive skin then pick a less corrosive product that will be kinder to your skin.

Optional: Beard Oil

We have put this as optional as I feel the real benefits come when the hair is slightly longer. If you are shaving regularly then the functionality of beard oil is probably lost on you.

Beard oil softens the hair before shaving helping them to become more receptive to the blade. The additional advantage is it will add a layer of nutrients to the skin to remove friction between blade and skin. But, you can get a similar effect from the shave gel or cream you decide to use.

Now it’s time to tool up.

The Shaver

Now, we believe that a double-edged razor offers a better shave as well as being more economical. The cost of replacing these single-blade razors is far cheaper than the equivalent big brand safety razors. Also, if cared for correctly, the razor will last as long as you need it.

But, we know not all men prefer to use them. If you are new to shaving, you should be using a safety razor and there is a wealth of direct to consumer brands like Harrys that are reducing the cost of replacing your safety razors.

No matter if it is a traditional razor or a safety one, both are useless unless they are sharp. A blunt razor will miss hairs, meaning you have to go back over the same patch irritating the skin. It can also tug the hair out rather than gliding the blade across to cut the follicles. Invest in a blade sharpener, or regularly replace the blades to keep your razor in tip-top condition.

The Badger Brush

Something you probably saw your dad have in his bathroom cupboard, this is an essential piece of the kit for shaving. You use a badger brush to mix the shaving cream into a lather before applying in circular motions onto the face.

The act of lathering and using the brush to apply ensures an even covering of shaving cream across the face. But, the secret is in the circular motion. When we implement in this way, the hair is being encouraged to stand up which will help you cut more beard with every stroke of your razor. This could also be crucial for men that suffer from ingrown hairs.

Note: Before using it is imperative to soften the bristles of the brush to enable them to do their job correctly.

Shave Gel or Shave Cream

Shaving gels inception was to give men greater convenience. It quickly expands into a lather when mixed with water and that doesn’t stop when it is on the skin. This expansion lifts the beard bristles from the skin. The result is an optimum surface for shaving in mere minutes.

Shaving cream on the other hand takes a bit more time. It needs to be worked into a lather using a badger brush, so is not for men that want to rush this chapter of their morning routine.

There are benefits to using both but typically shaving creams offer a more natural ingredient rich product. Gels can have additional chemicals to create foam action once activated. These chemicals can dry out your skin or make it difficult for it to hydrate post-shave because they change the ph level of the skin. If you are time-sensitive and prefer a gel, shop around for labels that have a better list of ingredients than some of the big-name brands.

The Shaving Routine

Step 1 

Fill a cup with warm water and put your badger brush in to soak.

Step 2 

Have a shower making sure you to wash your face with a cleanser and facial scrub.

Step 3 

Decant about a tablespoons worth of shaving cream into a cup and lather with your badger brush adding a bit more water till you get the consistency you desire.

Step 4

Apply the lathered shaving cream to your face with the brush in a circular motion. Make sure your face and neck is evenly covered. 

Step 5

Use your double-edged razor at a 30-degree angle to follow the grain, removing the stubble in short strokes. If using a safety razor, then the angle is not important as the guard will protect your skin from getting nips and cuts.

Step 6

Once you have finished shaving, use cold water to clean the shaved area and remove any leftover cream. Coldwater shocks the pores into closing up and reduces sensitivity and stubble rash.

Step 7

Dab your skin dry with a clean towel. 

Step 8

Apply a traditional aftershave to the cheeks and neck. Yes, it should sting a little, but at least you know it is doing what it should. Aftershave will close up the pores, negating potential stubble rash.

Sam Brady

Sam Brady is a menswear and grooming specialist and the founder of A Gentleman's Row.

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