A close shave: With a few tips, your daily grooming routine can be taken to the next level.

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.

Kaufmann Mercantile shaving brush and mug

Our handcrafted pewter shave mug, cherry wood handle brush and Muehle safety razor.

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.

Harry's Corner Shop

Take a seat: Harry’s Corner Shop is your go-to for the ultimate barber shave. (Photo courtesy Harry’s via Brian Ferry)

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!

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  1. Brian
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    Great tips, thanks!

  2. Steven Marchman
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    Always shave hair off your face with grain (direction) the hair grows, usually from the ears down,
    (2) Wipe face with a warm toil after shaving to remove left over hair.
    (3) When possible heat up a damp wash cloth in the microwave or a steamer, then apply “Hot towel” to face until it cools. Hot towel treatment is effective for preventing bumps and healing already irritated skin.

    Do this when your girl-friend is over, she’ll love the baby soft feel the hot towel provides and beg you to do it for you next time.

  3. Michael Kaufman
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    Use preshave oil prior to lathering. I use safety razor. Much closer shave than expensive 4-5 blade razors.

  4. aubreyguard
    Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:37 AM | Permalink

    I sport a Spanish goatee, first made famous by Robert Taylor in Ivanhoe. Let me tell you guys it takes a lot of skill and a steady hand for this morning ritual. However,I do not use any shaving cream, only hot water, which I constantly splash across my face, else I would not be able to see the contours of my beard. Your comments ?

  5. Aaron
    Posted August 16, 2014 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

    If you want to be able to see your face as you shave, use Billy Jealousy's "Hydroplane" shave cream- it goes on clear and gives a great glide. I use it when I'm traveling because you don't need to lather it up, so no brush needed.

  6. Will
    Posted August 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

    "Don't try a straight razor shave at home!" BS.
    BTW, if you manage to pop a balloon with a straight razor, you're probably not even safe with a Norelco electric shaver.
    A skilled barber will certainly give you a close shave with a straight, but that doesn't mean it is ridiculously dangerous to shave your self.

  7. Andy
    Posted October 19, 2014 at 2:57 AM | Permalink

    As said, taking your time is key. I usually take two passes at shaving i.e. lather up again with the brush and repeat to catch the bits you missed on the first pass. Invest in a good quality brush, it will pay for itself by outlasting the cheap ones several times over.

  8. jerry
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    Where do I find the mug for the shaving soap, the one in the picture looked perfect.

  9. alexredgrave
    Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

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