A GUIDE TO SHAVING
When you think of shaving, you may immediately conjure up images from when you were younger, watching grandpa wield his straight razor and lather up his shaving cream. The art of the shave is an important part of every man’s grooming routine. There aren’t many things in life more satisfying than achieving that perfect, close shave. Of course, beards are also satisfying in their own way and we won’t discourage you from having a full fledged beard if that’s what you wish. Nevertheless, the importance of shaving mostly has to do with proper grooming and maintenance, regardless of your facial hair preferences. At first glance, shaving seems extremely easy. All you have to do is use a razor and run it along every spot that has facial hair, right? Well, that is technically correct, but there’s more to it than that. If you’ve ever been confused at the store by shelves lined up with endless razors and cartridges, you aren’t alone. Read on for your primer on everything you need to know about the art of shaving.
It can seem like there’s an infinite amount of different razors out there. Really, though, they can be summed up into 5 main types: disposable, electric, cartridge, safety, and straight. Each type has its own pros and cons, so there are a few things you need to get educated on before you select your tool of choice.
Usually sold in packs of twenty, these razors are definitely not made to last a lifetime. However, they are inexpensive and are perfectly suited for things like travel, camping, business trips, etc… A disposable razor is usually composed of a plastic handle attached to a single blade. They can last for about a week, or ten shaves, before the blades start to become dull. Shave quality decreases greatly after each use because they are composed of cheaper materials. Be cautious of uneven shaves and ingrown hairs when using this type of razor.
Probably the most popular and versatile razor on our list, the electric razor can be used effortlessly by anybody. Its electronic blades can power through your stubble with ease, regardless of a dry or wet shave. The electric razor is best for guys that are constantly on the move or perpetually in a rush. Unfortunately, the shave is not as clean as some may prefer. And, you have to remember to charge this razor, or you’ll be stuck with that 5 o’clock shadow longer than you’d have hoped.
The cartridge razor is a multi-blade disposable razor that looks old school, but comes with modern convenience and ease of use. When you buy a cartridge razor, you’ll usually get a reusable handle and an assortment of disposable multi-blade cartridges that snap into place at the top. The blades are sharp enough to achieve a good shave and the flexible center allows it to follow the shape of your face. Cartridges will give you the closest shave possible, besides safety and straight razors of course. The problem with cartridge razors is that hair follicles can get stuck in between the blades and wear them down quickly over time. Additionally, replacement cartridges can end up being expensive and wasteful to the environment.
This razor is an old school classic. Your grandfather probably had a safety razor (in fact, he probably still has it). Safety razors consist of a permanent handle with a fixed metal head and (disposable) stainless steel razor blades. You only need a very light touch to effectively shave your face, and most guys find that they do not suffer from any irritation or ingrown hairs. The initial investment can be quite pricey, but over your lifetime, it can be significantly cheaper overall. Some skill and practice is needed before using a safety razor, since it can easily cause nicks and small cuts if not used with precision.
The straight razor is the king of all razors. Capable of achieving the closest shave possible, it boasts an extremely sharp blade that folds into the handle. It might even look like a weapon, but we promise that it’s for shaving (but seriously, be cautious when using). These blades are usually hundreds of dollars, but they are exceptionally well-made and will last forever, give or take the occasional need for sharpening. Of course, since the blade can be potentially dangerous, it requires a high amount of skill and practice. Be sure to exercise caution and precision when shaving with a straight razor, otherwise you’ll end up with some nasty cuts.
Wet Versus Dry
When it comes to shaving, you have two options: wet or dry. Both are practical but you may find one more preferable than the other due to convenience, price, or ease of use. Wet shaving is more traditional and involves warm water and foam, in addition to the actual shave. While it can be more time-consuming, the amount of exfoliation is superior since the razor stays as close to the surface of your skin as possible. There is a much higher danger factor when using the wet shaving method because you are using a blade instead of an electric razor.
Dry shaving is usually achieved with an electric shaver as a hassle-free alternative. Since shaving cream and water are not necessary, a dry shave can be executed easily and quickly. Unfortunately, dry shaves sacrifice the closeness with which you can get to the surface of the skin, meaning that you may notice some leftover stubble. Electric razors will never be able to completely shave off your hair, but in exchange for the imperfection, you’ll get a much easier, quicker process overall. Your shaving method will ultimately come down to your personal preference. There is no right or wrong method, so choose what’s important to you and go from there.
Shaving cream gives you a luxurious white lather all across your face which is the universal symbol to start shaving! Since the cream is extremely thick, it gets right into your whiskers and will help give you a very smooth shave. Furthermore, shaving creams actually come in a variety of scents and fragrances for a truly immersive experience. For those that truly enjoy shaving as a process, shaving cream is definitely the way to go. Those that just like to go through the motions of their daily shave should definitely forego this time-consuming option.
Shaving foam is a good alternative to cream because it comes in a ready-to-use can. Those that still want the full lather experience but lack the time will find this to be a suitable solution. However, you’ll want to avoid foams if you have sensitive skin because they can contain various propellants and chemicals. It is also not an environmentally friendly item because of how many chemicals are released during its usage.
Shaving gel is a great medium between cream and foam because you can actually see where the razor is going, making it easier to style your facial hair. Being convenient to use, you’ll be out of the house in no time after a great shave! The drawback is that the nature of gel means that it isn’t very compatible with safety and straight razors.
Aftershave is a liquid product containing an antiseptic agent that is applied to the skin post-shave. While it is optional, we strongly recommend using one in order to protect from inflammation. Your skin can suffer some serious damage after running a blade several times on it. Not only will they aid in recovery, they leave your skin with a fresh fragrance and a smooth feeling.
The Shave Itself
Okay, now that you’ve got your methods sorted, let’s talk about the shave itself. All of those foams and gels and oils can be quite confusing and intimidating for someone that just wants to clean up their scruff real quick. However, once you get your products and your methods down, the whole shaving process can actually be quite easy and satisfying at the same time. Follow these 13 steps for a foolproof shave:
- Exfoliate with a face wash and take a hot shower to get rid of dead skin cells and keep your facial hair hydrated and soft (a hot towel works too).
- Use pre-shave oil for a smooth shave if you have a few day’s growth.
- Lather up with a shaving cream, foam, or gel (use a lot and make sure to cover up your whole face).
- Make sure you are using extreme caution while shaving since you are wielding a sharp blade across your face.
- The best angle for your razor is between 30 and 45 degrees to maximize safety and effectiveness.
- With your dominant hand holding the razor, make downward swiping motions and use as little pressure as possible.
- Shave with the grain in order to avoid hacking at your face.
- You may want to shave against the grain for that smooth feeling, but we advise against it as it can cause serious injury or ingrown hairs.
- If you feel like it really isn’t sufficient after multiple passes, consider shaving sideways across the grain.
- Don’t expect to remove all of your facial hair in one go, especially if you have a beard like a lumberjack.
- The goal is for gradual beard reduction so you can avoid skin irritation.
- Rinse off the excess lather with cold water in order to close your pores.
- Apply some aftershave of your choice and you’re all done!
As long as you can achieve your perfect shave in the morning, it doesn’t matter how or what you use to shave. Your morning ritual should be invigorating, empowering, and leave you equipped to take on the day’s challenges. Shaving is one of the manliest activities a modern man can perform and will give you something to look forward to every day.