Unless you sport a 5 o'clock shadow like George Clooney or decided to grow a collar-skimming beard like Brad Pitt, your morning routine isn't complete without shaving. But do you really know what you're doing with that razor? If nicks, stubble or razor bumps are usual aftermaths of your facial hair removal experience, then we'd say no.
Getting the perfect shave is indeed possible, so we asked Art of Shaving master barber Thomas Cheung and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jeff Benabio for their top tips on how to master a close shave.
1. Wash your face. Before you even think about shaving, lather up with a gentle cleanser like Dove Men Care Hydrate Face Wash to wash away dirt and debris, replenish lost moisture and fight skin dryness. "Be sure to use warm water, which softens facial hair and opens pores for an easier shave," says Dr. Benabio.
2. Dab on a pre-shaving oil. According to Cheung, pre-shave oil is often overlooked, but it prepares the skin and beard before a shave, helping the razor to glide across the face.
3. Fewer razor blades are better than more. Despite the current trend of four, five or six blades in a razor, Dr. Benabio suggests using a razor with fewer blades. Three blades is enough for a great shave, and razors with two blades are ideal for guys with sensitive skin or those prone to ingrown hairs.
4. Warm up your shaving gel. "I sometimes recommend leaving your shave cream or gel in a sink of warm water so that it heats up a bit," says Dr. Benabio. "Then massage the warm product into your beard and let set for one to two minutes before you start." Apply in a circular motion to lift facial hairs and lessen irritation. Cheung recommends using a badger hair brush to pull up the hairs before shaving and to generate a thick lather for your shave.
5. Shave in the shower. You're already in there, so why not save time and avoid having to clean up a dirty sink? Cheung adds, "The beard will be soft from the hot water and steam. That is the reason for the hot steam towels before a professional straight razor shave. However, this should be one of the last routines during a shower to give the beard time to soften."
6. Shave and swipe. Shave with one stroke and rinse your blade between every swipe. "If you go over a spot, be sure to apply more shave gel or cream for lubrication," says Dr. Benabio. Remember that sharp blades cut without pulling hairs, so be sure to change your blade often to avoid a dull razor. And always shave with the grain of the hair and not against it, as it can lead to skin irritation or ingrown hairs.
7. Keep it nice and steady. "A lot of men are shaving too close to their skin and too aggressively for their own good," says Cheung. "For example, have you seen some men with shaving bumps around their neck area? This is caused by shaving too close to the follicle. The skin on the neck is thinner and more sensitive. Most likely the hair has an upward grain or a cowlick on the portion where the irritation occurs. The key is to go with the grain on those sensitive areas to prevent ingrown hair."
8. Toss that old and raggedy razor. Another major mistake guys make is not changing their razor frequently. A good sign it's time to let go is if the blades tug at your hairs. Cheung explains, "A dull blade can lead to nicks which means the razor isn’t going through the beard. Therefore, your skin is susceptible to being cut and razor burn can often result from forcing the dull razor aggressively across the face. Lastly, ingrown can be caused by a dull razor pushing the hair pushing and agitating the hair follicle."
9. Save face with a good after-shave balm or moisturizer. To relieve any irritation and moisturize skin after shaving, both experts believe it is important to finish your shave with a post-shave balm that will soothe your skin. Stick with alcohol-free products to avoid dryness. Do this and you will see significant changes in the overall condition and health of your skin.
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