For something we do every morning, shaving is a simple art that every man should master – and hopefully enjoy. Whether you’re breaking out the complete mug and brush set or keeping things straight-forward, here are a few easy tips for smooth execution.
The At-Home Method
1. Take a shower.
First off, shower before shaving. Always. Even better: shave in the shower. You’ll be surprised that you don’t actually need a mirror to shave, especially if you’ve got a few years’ experience under your belt.
Shaving in the shower will open up your pores and soften the hairs on your face. Doing so will go a long way to minimize resistance between the blade and your skin to prevent irritation. Your razor will glide smoothly over your face and you can use your free hand to feel for the spots you missed. Touch up your sideburns – or, heaven forbid, your soul patch – after you get out.
2. Know your face.
Going with the grain is key to avoiding razor bumps. Everyone has a different grain pattern, and it’s not necessarily the same on port and starboard, so take some time to learn your face. The easiest way is to let your beard grow a few days (do this Sunday night with your weekend beard) and rub your hands over your dry face. Your stubble should be pretty coarse at this point, and it will be easy to feel the path of least resistance to follow with your razor.
3. Get the right tools.
Sharp blades always. As soon as your razor starts feeling dull, toss it. How do you know if it’s dull? Check the closeness of your shave; if you see leftover hairs and your skin is irritated there’s a good chance your blade is dull. When in doubt, get a new one. A dull razor will do weeks’ worth of damage to your face in the form of bumps that won’t fade. It’s just not worth it.
Same goes for shaving cream, though we all have our favorites. Don’t skimp, and if you have the time and patience consider a mug and brush kit. The brush massages your face and gets your hairs standing on end for a closer shave. The duo creates a thick lather, which has a big impact on comfort during shaving and protecting your skin afterward. The whole process turns a daily routine into a pleasurable experience. Plus, a brush and mug set gets you to…
4. Slow down.
Shave slowly. No seriously, even slower. Speed is key to avoiding nicking yourself and creating razor bumps. If you’re in a rush and can’t shave in the shower, use warm water to rinse your razor.
If you do nick yourself, use a styptic pencil with some warm water to close the cut. It stings, but it works a hundred times better than that tiny bloody piece of toilet paper still stuck to your face when you show up at work.
5. Rinse. Repeat.
I always splash a liberal amount of warm water on my face after shaving. Again, the warmer the better to open the pores and soften the follicles. Follow up with a washcloth soaked in cold water. This will help to close up your pores, preventing razor burn. Dry off with a clean towel and apply your favorite aftershave. My tastes veer away from the abrasive, alcohol-based astringents out there (though a little witch hazel will work in a pinch) and more to the soothing balms. Your call.
6. Start your morning.
Celebrate your well-earned handsomeness.
The Professional Method
Looking for an even closer shave? See a professional. Visiting a barber for a straight razor shave takes between 40 minutes to an hour, but will make your face as smooth as humanly possible.
The process is similar to an at-home shave, with a few key exceptions, according to Judah Keim, store manager at Harry’s Corner Shop. “We have a special chair that the customer leans all the way back in. And then the barber gives the closest shave you’re going to get.”
Gentlemen, do not try this at home. “I got a straight razor for myself at Christmas and I completely hacked my face up,” says Keim.
Unlike the rest of us, barbers are trained and licensed. “One of the age-old tests is to put shaving cream on a balloon and be able to shave it off without popping the balloon,” says Keim. “That’s the level of mastery needed.”
For more shaving essentials, check out Harry’s curated collection in our shop.
Any tips we should know about? Let us know in the comments below!