For the modern man, shaving is so common that more than a few aspects are taken for granted or completely unknown. There is an actual art of shaving that separates those who host a good, clean shave and those, despite lots of practice, have a lot to learn about the hygienic pastime.
Realize It Takes Time
Shaving is a marathon and not a race. Actually, rushing through the experience is a great way to abuse your face and attract cuts. However, it’s not the act of shaving alone that warrants time well spent, it’s prepping the face and treating it afterwards that distinguishes a great shave from a shoddy one.
Start by washing with a facial cleanser to soften the protein in the hair. Search for a cleanser that is gentle rather than harsh on the skin. You don’t want to strip the hair of essential oils that facilitate a great shave. Next, lather your face with a cream or gel and let it sit for a few minutes. The longer the gel sits on the face, the better the shave, though it’s not expected you stand and wait over five minutes or more.
Use the Right Utensils
Your grandfather is likely to use a brush rather than his fingers to apply the shaving cream or gel. Perhaps you thought he does this to pay tribute to traditional barber techniques, yet it actually makes for a better outcome. A well-made brush pushes the cream into the hair, which makes it much easier to shave, allowing the razor to glide more easily along the skin’s surface. A great brush raises the hair and gets the cream close to the skin, between the hairs.
One Blade Is Enough
Contrary to the evolution of razors, one blade is more than enough to produce a great shave. It’s the blade’s sharpness that makes for a close cut. Actually, multiple blades may irritate the skin or make getting a cut more likely. Keep your razor sharp or switch it out for a new one every couple of weeks.
Also, if you shave each day with a multi-blade razor, the cost of keeping your face free of hair gets mighty costly. Actually, quality single blades will need to be sharpened less often and should last a long time. So if you’ve grown accustomed to cutting your hair with disposable, multi-head blades, consider investing in a high-quality single blade razor instead. However, there’s a learning curve involved with a traditional straight razor that’s harder to master and easier to misuse. Of course, you can also check out men’s electric shavers for occasions where you are strapped for time and need to shave quickly.
Use Hot and Cold Water
A great shave involves hot and cold water. Shaving right after a hot shower is recommended, even heating the cream with a home kit. The hot water opens pores and makes the hair soft and easier to cut at the root. Afterwards, use cold water to calm the skin’s irritation and to allow your skin to regain its elasticity.
Go In One Direction
You may think it’s better to use a multi-directional method or go against the grain for a closer shave, but there’s only one way when it comes to shaving: going with the grain and direction the hair grows. Otherwise, you’re likely to inspire ingrown hairs and mass skin irritation.
Get Help From a Pro
If all this sounds like too much to remember all at once, or taking more time to produce a great shave is not your thing, consider going to the barber to get it done. Barbers have rich experience in providing expert shaves; all you’ll need to do is reserve fifteen to twenty minutes, sit back, and let the professionals do the rest. Moreover, most barbers will supplement the shave with a facial massage.
Understand This Is Nothing New
Brands and the number of blades proliferate through the years, yet shaving is nothing novel. Actually, prehistoric cave pictures depict ancient men shaving with shark’s teeth, clam shells, and flint knives to rid their faces of unwanted hair. Even the act of ‘manscaping,’ shaving arms, legs, underarms, and other parts were performed by Native Americans as discovered by early American settlers.
BYU Makes a Close Shave a Mandatory Practice
Brigham Young University makes it mandatory that young men keep a close shave, making it a part of the honor code that also swears off sex and drugs. In rare exceptions, such as those who have a skin rash or infection, one can be granted a “beard card” that gives them a free pass as far as keeping a close shave to attend classes.
Ian Parker is a hair salon owner. He likes to write about men’s lifestyle topics on a number of lifestyle blogs.