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A Shave a Day! - How to Shave for Men Posted Wednesday, December 29, 1999 by BeautyCare.com
Shaving can be a tedious daily affair for men. That should not be the case. Shaving can be turned into an enjoyable activity with this shaving guide.
First, let’s review the tools of the trade needed for a close, wet shave.
We have nothing against electric razors, however, the majority of men will experience a closer shave with a manual razor. Therefore, we will assume you use one of the following types of manual razor.
Razors and Razor Blades: 1. A Double-bladed or Triple Bladed pivoting head: These razors can help negotiate odd angles, funny bumps, and bony places. If you can stomach the cost, we recommend the Gillette Mach3 razor which uses Mach3 triple blades. It simply gives the closest shave available other than visiting your friendly straight razor wielding barber. If cost is a consideration, then the Gillette Sensor Excel double blades will do fine.
2.A single-bladed razor or disposable razors: forget about using these as they will damage your skin.
Shaving cream, gel or soap: A glycerin base shaving cream or shaving soap will help the razor glide over your skin. Avoid alcohol based shaving products as they will tend to dry the skin. Generally, aerosol based creams found in cans are of lower quality and price. Good-quality shaving cream is sold in plastic or metal tubes.
Optional But Very Useful Tools
1) Shaving brush: The motion of the bristles lifts up the whiskers and softens them. A natural bristle brush is the most commonly sold; the less expensive nylon-bristle brushes also work well. The best natural bristle brushes are made of pure badger hair. The badger hair holds water in the
brush rather than repelling it, making for a better lather. These badger brushes vary in quality based on the brightness of the hairs (the brighter the better).
If you want to go all out, consider also buying a shaving brush holder. The holder keeps your brush out of harm's way and allows it to dry properly.
2) Shaving Mug: Get one with a handle.
3) Exfoliating lotion or scrub: Removes dead, dull, surface layer skin cells. Exfoliation softens and smoothes, keeping pores clear and ingrown hairs at bay. A good choice is Clinique's Exfoliating scrub for Men.
4) Loofah: Loofahs are abrasive, often used to exfoliate body skin. They come from a dried plant that can be used as a sponge
5) Aloe Vera Gel or Spray: Soothes burns and irritations and aids in healing
6) Styptic pencil or Alum Block: Stops minor facial cuts.
Note that the following provides general tips for a closer shave. Certain steps may be eliminated or even augmented depending on the amount of time you wish to devote to grooming.
The first basic decision to make is whether to shave in the shower or in front of the traditional bathroom mirror.
1) Prepare your skin and razor.
Most shaving mishaps are caused by dull, dirty razors and insufficiently prepped beards. Make sure all your equipment (and your face) is clean, warm, and wet. Otherwise, you risk ingrown hairs and razor burn. Exfoliating the skin with a loofah or face scrub once or twice a week can make shaving more comfortable.
Never shave cold! Aerosol creams applied to a dry face do not soften the beard and therefore make shaving much more uncomfortable.
a) Shower first or Wet your face and a wash cloth with very warm water.
2) Soak the skin
After rinsing your face, soak the washcloth again in very warm water and place it on your beard for a minute or two. The moist heat will soften the whiskers and make your skin supple, which will reduce razor burn. Alternatively, you can shave while taking a hot shower. You will need to buy a fog-free shower mirror in order to do this properly.
3) Lather Up
a) Fill the sink with very warm water.
b) Immediately apply your shaving cream (or foam or gel) with your shaving brush or fingertips. Applying Shaving Cream - The best approach to
apply shaving cream is to use a circular motion ending in an upward stroke. The upward stroke will stands your beard up and away from your face
making the shave even closer. Spread it evenly over your face, and make sure that it completely covers your whiskers. Don't neglect the facial areas that don't show up in a full-on mirror view, such as underneath the chin and the backward-facing part of the jaw.
4) Shave with the Grain
The direction you shave in is important. You may seem to get a closer shave going against the grain (against the direction in which your whiskers grow), but this practice damages the hair shaft and the whiskers grow back thicker and tougher. If you're in the habit of shaving this way, it'll take some time to retrain your beard. But after two or three weeks of shaving with the grain, you'll get a closer shave that will also be easier on your skin.
a) Dunk your clean razor into the sinkful of hot water. Make a short sweep down one side of your face with the grain.
b) After every few swipes, dunk the razor in hot water and continue until you've uncovered every centimeter of skin.
c) Shave methodically. Always use long, slow movements in one direction. Patches of unshaved or slightly shaved skin are rather unsightly, and the sign of careless grooming. Stroke Directions - start with the sides, then the mustache area, and last, the chin. The chin hairs are the toughest, so this allows them the most time to soften under the lather.
d) Stop the bloodshed: many shaving cuts are done during the movements between sweeps of the razor, not during the actual shaving motion. To reduce the incidence of shaving cuts, avoid moving the razor horizontally against your skin. Instead, lift the razor an inch or two (2.5-5 cm) off the surface of your skin and place down on the new location to be shaved.
5) Close the Pores: Rinse off your face and equipment
a) Don't wipe—Apply the wash cloth dipped with lukewarm water to your face. This will close your pores.
b) The final touch: Feel around with your fingers to search out any missed patches. Make a pass against the grain to feel for any rough spots. Spots often missed are the rear portions of the jaw both above and below the jawbone.
c) If you are bleeding: Use an Alum Block or Styptic pencils: Moisten the tip, dab it on to the wound and watch it dry up. If you do not have a styptic pencil, then apply a piece of tissue paper.
6) Apply After Shave
Smooth on a moisturizer or aftershave to prevent your skin from drying. Aftershave comes in three forms: lotion, balm and gel. The lotion is the most commonly used, and also the most hazardous. If you are using aftershave to relieve razor burn, it is advisable to choose a balm, as the majority contain almost no oil, alcohol or fragrance. The alcohol content of aftershave lotion can dry most faces and actually aggravate some skin problems, such as shaving bumps (swellings caused by hairs becoming lodged in the skin when growing out), though these can be avoided. If you have very sensitive skin avoid a perfumed aftershave balm - they usually contain some alcohol as a base for the perfume oil. Aftershave gel is very similar to the balm, but has a cooling effect on the skin. So the ideal combination for both looks and smells is balm or gel for the face, and cologne dabbed onto the neck. Test any scented lotions for mildness before slathering them on. A less expensive, but very effective product, is aloe vera gel. It soothes razor burn and moisturizes your skin, and it does this without using any long, difficult-to-pronounce chemicals. It's also available in a non-aerosol spray.
If you want to read more, we suggest the following recently published book ($11.87): A Closer Shave: Man's Daily Search for Perfection by Wallace G. Pinfold