Are you tired of waking up in the morning and wondering if your razor has one more shave left in it? Afraid of the burns and cuts and bumpy scars of a bad shave? It's hard to say, by looking at the razor, whether there's enough of the lubricant strip left to protect your face, or the razors have dulled to the point that you'll have to press extra hard and potentially irritate your face even more. What can a guy do to get a predictably excellent, comfortable shave? What kind of razor are you using?
Many men begin their adult lives shaving with a disposable straight-edge because of the indisputable appeal of shaving with a blade. It's manly! But few men nurture proper shaving habits or invest enough time or money into the shaving process to make shaving anything but a painful and scarring chore.
- Sharpness matters. Men - laziness and impatience have gotten the better of us when it comes to shaving. We buy disposable razors because they're readily available, and then we're in too big a hurry to replace them when they ought to be replaced. With a disposable razor, you really get what you pay for. A cheap twenty-pack of disposable razors might seem like your best bet, but those razors are cheap for a reason. If you just slightly increase your investment, you can buy a razor with replaceable blade cartridges - and with not just a single blade, but multiple blades. The problem with these razors is that people put so much faith in protection of gimmicky lubricating strips (they wear down rapidly) and the quality of the blades (they grow dull quicker than most people replace them). If you use disposable razors like these, use them for less than the prescribed duration of time for best results. The best shave results from a sharp, no-nonsense blade smoothly gracing the surface of your skin... not three dull blades pressed firmly, desperately against it.
- Pressure goes hand-in-hand with sharpness. Keep in mind that as blades grow dull, you'll need to press down harder. That pressure increases your risk of skin irritation. One of the key ingredients to a smooth shave without the red, raw bumpiness is low-pressure shaving. The blade should be pressed ever-so-gently on your skin as you run it smoothly across the hairs. If you're unable to achieve a good shave with this little pressure applied through the blade, then you need a new blade. Go get one!
- Wash your face before shaving. By doing so, you'll remove the dirt and dead skin that can hamper a clean, close shave.
- Always keep your face wet. Don't shave with dry skin beneath your shaving cream! Make sure the skin is as moist as possible throughout your shave in order to protect your skin from irritation. Warm water works best, opening pores and softening whiskers. Your whiskers are surprisingly strong. Water allows the blade to glide along your skin, rather than scrape it. And softening those hairs is important to prevent the blade from having to tug at each one as it cuts. Water significantly reduces irritation. But press gently, or else you might find yourself gliding rapidly through a wet spot and then scraping your way into a dry patch (resulting in blood sometimes).
- Use good shaving cream. If you're trying to figure out what shaving cream to buy from the store, there's no reason not to use shaving cream for sensitive skin; it usually contains more moisture than other types, and more moisture means it will not dry out your face as quickly as other shaving creams. For more advice, please check out How To Choose a Shaving Cream.
- Shave in the same direction your whiskers grow. Many of you feel that you can't achieve a close enough shave unless you shave against the grain. If this is true, then you might need a sharper blade. But if you're stuck with the one you have right now, split your shaving into two phases. For the first phase, shave your face in the direction that the hairs are growing. For the second, lightly move against the remaining stubble. Go gently, as it's terribly easy to irritate your skin by shaving this way. And remember to wet and re-cream your skin between phases to ensure proper protection against scraping.
- If you're ready for the next level of manly grooming...You can significantly upgrade your shaving supplies if you're willing to spend a little extra money and time. For your greater investment, you will greatly improve your ability to shave closely without irritating your skin. It's all about shaving the old-fashioned way - from a time when 4-blade razors were the grotesque, nocturnal visions of some deranged barber.
- A shaving brush. The best ones are made out of bagder's hair and will cost you more than twenty dollars. Applying the cream with these brushes helps not only to keep your skin moist with hot water, but also makes the hairs stand up for easy shaving (something your fingers can't do). We all know how hard it otherwise is to safely complete a shave before the skin begins to dry beneath the shaving cream.
- A fancy shaving cream. Not the foamy stuff or the stuffy that looks like hair gel, but a truly sublime glycerin shaving cream. You can order this kind of cream online; it works well with a brush and will allow your blades to glide even easier across your face.
- Double-edge safety razor...This isn't one of your swivel-neck, cheap blades here, but a longer-lasting, sharper tool - a man's face's best friend. Dull blades will be a thing of the past, and with them, all those scrapes and burns cause by the necessity of pushing hard on your face. Remember the kind of pressure you often apply using a disposable razor? Never apply that kind of pressure with these razors (you'll shave the flesh right off)! You must truly glide over your skin with one of these. Easy does it.
After years of unwittingly abusing our skin with straight-edge razors, the electric shaver feels practically like salvation. You'll never get a closer shave with an electric shaver, despite what all those commercials will tell you. However, if you obey general rules for using one of these devices, you can steer clear of the kinds of skin irritation that are sometimes unavoidable with disposable razors. But you can expect to pay a pretty penny for the nice electric shavers. Some only work if plugged into an electrical outlet, while others can work on battery power.
- Pressure once again. Don't press the shaver hard against your skin. Keep it hovering just barely against the skin.
- Pay attention to whisker length. Electric shavers generally come equipped with a "beard trimmer" attachment. If your whiskers have gotten pretty long, it's best to shorten them with that trimming blade before using the main shaver on them. Snags are unpleasant!
- You're not completely out of the woods...Shaving incorrectly or impatiently with electric razors can cause the same skin irritation you'll see with a straight-edge - especially in those tender areas like the neck.
- Clean your face first. It's definitely best to shave after a shower, or at least after scrubbing your face well; as previously mentioned, a clean face is free from a lot of the dead skin and build-up that can impair your close shave and augment any irritation.
Remember, men - take pride in your appearance! If we shave quickly and carelessly, everyone can see it. But if we make the proper effort, then our smooth, untroubled skin can be a source of pride and distinction.