Part I: The Skincare
It all starts with a good skincare regimen (but you already knew that). Cleanse twice daily, exfoliate regularly (this step is especially crucial for a good shave!), moisturize always… you know the drill.
Part II: Prepping the Beard
- Exfoliate. Use a gentle scrub, washcloth or brush to massage the skin in circular motions. The purpose is twofold: it sloughs off dead skin cells while raising the hair for a closer shave.
- Soften the beard. When shaving, do as the barbers do: wrap a hot towel around your face and hold for about 30-50 seconds. It’s typically a three-part process where the right side, left side, and neck area are focused on separately to ensure that the whiskers are properly softened. Simply soak a hand towel in hot water, wring out any excess water and press to the skin. (If you have the time, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil – eucalyptus and lavender are barbershop favorites – so you get the full treatment.)
- A hot shower works, too. Shave in the shower (if you’re pressed for time) or right after you’ve stepped out. The steam will have opened your pores and softened your beard.
- Apply your pre-shave conditioner of choice. An oil or gel product further softens the beard and helps protect the skin. You’ll find that the blade glides across the skin without a hitch so that there’s minimal razor bumps and burn later on.
- Use a brush with your shaving cream. Apply in circular motions for thicker lather; just be sure to even it out before you come in with your razor.
Part III: The Stroke
- Slow, even strokes are key. Don’t rush – especially if you’re using a straight razor.
- Angle the razor at about 30 degrees for the best shave. (This is especially crucial for those using a straight razor, but still helpful for shaving with modern razors.)
- Apply minimal pressure. Let the blade do the work for you.
- Pull the skin taut. Once again, doing so creates the closest and smoothest shave. Say you’re shaving the right side of your face first – reach your left hand over your head and position your fingers at the cheekbones and pull the skin upwards gently. Continue shifting the left hand downwards until you finish shaving the right side. Repeat on the left side and on the neck.
- Try shaving in the direction of hair growth. Yes, shaving against the grain offers a closer, cleaner shave, but keep in mind that doing so exacerbates the likelihood of razor irritation. Shaving with the grain helps minimize, if not prevent, ingrown hairs as well as razor bumps and burns.
- That said, try multiple passes. Shave with the grain of the beard, then take the time to wash your face and re-lather with shaving cream. Then, shave across the grain for an even closer shave.
Part IV: Post-Shave Care
- Cleanse well. Be sure to rinse all shaving cream as any residue will dry out and irritate the skin.
- Tone the skin. A gentle toner with Witch Hazel or Seaweed Extracts serves to soothe, disinfect and further cleanse the skin post-shave.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Start with a serum to help maximize moisture retention and then apply your moisturizer and/or aftershave of choice. Restoring the skin’s natural moisture and protective barrier is key in keeping your complexion healthy.
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