November 7, 2016
Everything you need to know for a better shave- closer, smoother and with less irritation.
For a luxuriously smooth shave choose a shaving cream, they tend to be the richest of all the shaving preparations and, like shaving soaps, are the traditional product to use. As well as ensuring enhanced razor-glide (and hence a superior shave) many are glycerin-based to reduce the chances of the cream drying out your skin. This makes them perfect for anyone with dry, sensitive or easily irritated skin. They’re best used with a traditional shaving brush but you can whip up a lather without one by placing a little in the palm of your hand, along with some warm water, and massaging into your beard. Wetting stubble first with hot water and allowing it to soften and expand for a minute of so before applying your shaving cream can reduce the force needed to slice it by up to 70%.
For a quality shave you need a quality razor- you can tell a lot about a man from the type of razor he owns. And given that a razor is probably the most important piece of grooming kit you’re likely to own it pays to invest in the finest quality one you can afford (remember too that it’ll probably be sitting on your bathroom shelf for all to see).
The key to a great shave is a perfectly balanced razor with a good weight because, as with cars, good handling is the key to proper control. Chances are, if it feels good in the hand it’ll deliver a great shave.
Always rinse your razor thoroughly with warm water after shaving as blades often appear blunt because of a build up of grease, stubble and shaving cream. Never wipe them with a towel or attempt to clean with a toothbrush or you’ll damage the delicate shaving edge.
Create a rich lather with the ultimate grooming tool- there was a time when no self-respecting gentleman would have been without a decent quality shaving brush. And whilst they may have fallen out of vogue, they’re still one of the most useful tools to have in your grooming armoury. Not only do they whip up an unbeatable lather (meaning you can use less shaving cream and save money), the bristles lift hairs in preparation for shaving and also act as an exfoliator, unblocking pores and ridding skin of blade-blocking dead cells.
For the best results, gently brush back and forth in circular motions over your face. Avoid rough motions as these can damage the bristles.
To protect your brush always hang it up side down on a brush stand to allow excess water to drain away from the bristles - this will prevent the core of the brush from rotting.
The perfect accompaniment to a shaving brush- not to be confused with face or body soaps, shaving soaps are essentially shaving creams in solid form and are designed to be used in conjunction with shaving brushes. Usually housed in a bowl and often containing skin-friendly glycerin, they’re formulated to create rich, hydrating lathers. If you’re a fan of shaving soaps remember to add a shaving brush to your basket, it will be the perfect accompaniment.
Always shake your shaving brush to remove any excess water before dipping it onto the surface of the shaving soap – that way it will pick up more soap and create a better lather. The trick is to create the lather on your face, not in the bowl.
For shaving convenience few things beat a foam- shaving foams, like gels, are a convenient way to create the perfect cushion between your skin and the razor and are especially useful when you’re pushed for time and need to minimise the time it takes to shave, without cutting corners. Foams with aloe are especially good as this helps protect against irritation during shaving.
Foams are great for normal or oily skin but if yours is dry or sensitive try a shaving foam designed specifically for dry or sensitive skin. Alternatively, use a shaving cream instead as they tend to be more hydrating.
Where control meets convenience- like shaving creams, gels offer excellent lubrication, helping improve razor glide and minimising irritation, but since many are virtually transparent they also allow you greater precision with the razor. This makes them idea for anyone with sideburns to navigate. If you want total transparency though, opt for a pre-shave oil.
Don’t worry if your gel doesn’t produce a hefty foam. Many modern gels are designed to be low-foaming, which is good news for your skin since generally speaking the more foam a shave prep creates the more drying it will be on the skin.
The modern mans shaving routine can be a complicated affair; from pre-shave oils to aftershave balms, choosing the right products is essential to achieve the desired results and leave the skin at its best.
Back in the days of barber shops on every street corner, aftershave was used to disinfect the skin between customers as it is an alcohol based product which can help prevent the spread of infection. It has a drying effect on the skin and can help to close and tighten pores. This is often accompanied by a stinging/burning sensation that subsides after a few minutes.
Many men today continue to use aftershave immediately after shaving but although its name may suggest this is the right method, is it still the best practice?
Over recent years, we have seen a dramatic rise in the use of a post-shave balm- but why choose a balm over the traditional after shave?
Well, an aftershave balm is much gentler on the skin as it comes in lotion form and if applied immediately after shaving instantly soothes and calms the skin. Many balms contain menthol which has the same effect as the original alcohol but doesn’t hold the same burning feeling as traditional aftershaves.
Those containing Aloe Vera also help with inflammation and if kept in the fridge, these balms will also help with redness and swelling- a easy trick if shaving shortly before going out. As aftershave balms aren’t usually scented and those that are have a very subtle scent it is much easier to use cologne after without the worry of a unpleasant hybrid scent.
So is it time to give the traditional method a modern twist?