No man deserves razor burn. Get the closest shave possible without the irritation in this comprehensive guide to shaving. Everything from recommended products to step-by-step guides.
Learning how to shave is something we all deal with once puberty hits. Along with a voice that cracks, budding chest hair and a sudden interest in that cute classmate of yours, finally getting rid of peach fuzz is a step towards manhood.
And it’s a trap!
It’s something we have to do almost every day and no one agrees on the correct tools, method or direction – with or against the grain?
Maybe it would have been better to leave the fuzz… but we shaved because it’s what you do. And now we’re here discussing how to shave correctly.
The good news – there is a right way to shave. The bad news – if your voice is still cracking or your chest hair never fully came in... we can't help with that.
You have 1 face, and you’re stuck with it forever. Treating it well and shaving it correctly is the easiest way to get the most out of it. With that in mind, we’ve curated this ultimate guide for shaving. Read on for tips, tricks and insider secrets from professionals.
Each morning we are faced with two of the most important decisions of the day – will one cup of coffee be enough and whether to wet or dry shave.
Wet shaving is the process of shaving using water and some type of soap or cream to create lather.
Pros of Wet Shaving
Dry shaving is shaving without water (obviously) and using an electric razor to remove the hair.
Pros of Dry Shaving
While dry shaving is quicker and easier than wet shaving, it is not the method we prefer.
Call us old fashioned, but there’s something about the ritual of a wet shave that’s worth getting up for in the morning… just like that first cup of coffee.
You can learn how to give the closest, cleanest shave in the world and still end up with nicks, cuts and razor burn without the right equipment. Shaving is a game of skill combined with the right tools and the know-how to use them correctly.
When you hear straight razor, do you picture the suave James Bond in ‘Skyfall’ or the insane Sweeney Todd wielding his cut-throat razor on the streets of London?
The old-school style and charm of a straight razor are no match for the closeness of the shave. Yes, there is a learning curve involved, but after that, it’s smooth skin and a razor that’ll look as good on your bathroom counter as your face looks in the mirror.
Benefits of Using a Straight Razor
What to Look for When Buying a Straight Razor
Extra Shaving Equipment Required for Straight Razors
Safety razors are named after the guard protecting your skin from the blade and come in single (SE) and double-edged (DE) forms.
By doing away with the need to hone and strop, and using disposable replacement blades, men have saved thousands of hours each morning.
Benefits of Using a Safety Razor:
What to Look for When Buying a Safety Razor
Open any men’s magazine and you’ll see an ad for a cartridge razor. The hype is usually around having more blades for a smooth shave and a lubricating strip. This type of razor was created to make shaving more convenient – it was not created to make shaving a better experience.
The main benefit of cartridge razors is that they're quick and relatively safe – it’s difficult to do extreme damage with one (unlike a straight razor). They’re embedded in our minds as the go-to method of grooming. Thanks, TV.
The list of reasons not to invest in a cartridge razor is a long one. While the initial product (the handle) may be cheap, the refill cartridges are not. You’ll have to buy a refill after every 6th shave or so... depending on how much dead skin, hair and shaving cream gets clogged between all of those blades.
Using more blades isn’t better. One good blade is all you need, and it’s kinder to your skin.
If you aren’t quite ready to give up the convenience, at least make sure you use a good cartridge razor.
Our verdict in the razor-superiority debate is in – the razor you choose depends on your personal preference. Maybe it’s not the answer you wanted, but it’s the answer we stand by.
If you make taking care of yourself a priority and have time to commit to the daily ritual of shaving – a safety razor is for you.
If you want to shave quickly and spend a lot of money on replacement cartridges – then a cartridge razor is the right choice. Just make sure it’s your choice and you haven’t fallen victim to a great marketing campaign.
Safety razors are designed to get close results with only one pass while cartridge razors take several to achieve the same level of closeness. More passes lead to increased irritation, redness and razor burn.
A shaving brush (or barber brush) is a small handheld brush used to apply shaving soap or cream to your face before shaving. The design includes a handle, typically of metal, wood, horn or synthetic material, and natural or synthetic bristles.
This is a mammoth topic with more nuances than we’ve written here. Getting a great, rich lather is paramount to a close shave.
The right brush and the perfect razor only get you so far. You need the right lubricant to ensure the blade glides over your face without dragging and tearing away valuable skin. And a quality cream or soap will hydrate the skin leading to a better post-shave feel.
Shaving creams are the easiest to use and take less time creating a warm foamy lather. Soaps come in a hard form – like a standard bath soap – and require more water and brushwork to froth.
The most important factors to consider when shopping for shaving cream or soap is the ‘cushion’ and ‘slickness’ of the final lather. These two properties refer to the protection from the blade (cushion) and the amount of glide (slickness) they provide to the razor.
The basic purpose of a shaving scuttle, mug or bowl is to build a creamy lather and keep it warm. The actual lather depends more on the brush and the cream than on the bowl or scuttle.
Many shaving soaps come in their own bowl. It’s usually the exact size as the soap and you end up with lather foaming all over the place. Investing in a deeper shaving bowl, created exclusively for creating lather, is your best bet.
Using a product to prep your beard and skin before applying shaving cream is a topic of personal preference. If you have thick hair, you may find a pre-shave treatment beneficial. There are many great products available, but we suggest using organic coconut oil.
Coconut oil is easily purchased and softens the hair and skin prepping it for the act of shaving. And it’s much more affordable than pharmacy products.
To use: Take a small amount in your hands and allow it to melt before smearing it on the area to be shaved.
While aftershave does have a nice scent, that is not its sole purpose. It’s a good option if you have acne or are prone to breakouts and irritation after shaving.
Aftershave is used to clear bacteria out your pores left from the razor blade or shaving cream. Most have astringent properties which mean they tighten the face and give you that fresh-and-ready feeling.
Ingredients to look for:
Ingredients to avoid:
Apply aftershave after you’ve rinsed off any remaining shaving cream with cold water.
While not necessary for a close shave, it’s still something to consider. Your shaving kit or toiletry bag needs to be roomy enough to store all of your gear and water-resistant (in case you pack in a hurry and things don’t have time to dry).
To get the best shave, you want thick lather. This cushions the razor and allows it to glide across the skin instead of skipping, dragging or pulling. Resulting in reduced irritation and a cleaner shave.
You can create lather in a bowl, mug, scuttle, your hand or even directly on your face.
We’re advocates a shaving bowl and the methods below:
An ideal lather is one all shavers aspire to and has a creamy, yogurt-like consistency – resulting in a blade that glides across the face.
To reach ideal lather texture, start with a dry lather and slowly add drops of water to it using the shaving brush.
Dry lather is characterized by its thick, sticky texture. It happens when the brush doesn’t have enough water in it to support the lathering process.
This type of lather occurs for most beginners and is easily avoidable with a few more swirling passes of the brush in the bowl.
Tips to Remember for Perfect Shaving Lather
Bubbles in the lather mean there is too much water – add more cream to balance it out. Keep whipping until you get the right consistency. Average whipping time is 1-2 minutes… so don’t give up too early.
If your lather is too thick, add a few drops of water and continue swirling to get the right texture. Peaks are a sign your lather is ready.
Grain is the direction that your beard grows.
Run your hand along your stubble to determine which way your beard grows. If it feels rough, you’re against the grain.
What may look good on a t-shirt or an anti-establishment poster – ‘Go against the grain!’ – may not be the best shaving advice.
Do you shave up or down? Most men shave against the grain at some point in their lives and claim they get a smoother shave… we are 100% with you. The finish is smooth, but it also has an increased risk of irritation and nicks.
Shaving against the grain cuts the hair follicle from underneath and puts the blade in close contact with your skin. Once this hair is cut, the lower part retracts and can become ingrown as it grows again.
Shaving with the grain puts the blade in contact with the hair first. The result is less time spent with a sharp blade against your flesh. That’s always a good thing.
The same level of smoothness you get from going against the grain can be achieved by using multiple passes along the grain. Without multiple passes, you may be left with stubble.
It’s not dangerous to shave against the grain. And with the right pre- and post-shave routine, you may not ever experience the irritation felt by others. Be sure you use a shaving brush to exfoliate and lift the hairs while applying lather... and use a safety razor instead of a cartridge razor.
Don’t let the intimidating look of a safety razor put you off. Mastering this skill earns serious bro-points and give the closest shave ever.
Holding your razor close to the head (the part that does the cutting) can put too much pressure on the blade and result in cuts or razor burn. Using the right angle allows the weight of the razor to do the work and glide gently over your face.
As a general rule, hold razors with short handles with 3 fingers and use 4 for longer-handled safety razors. Short-handled razors should be held lower on the handle.
The goal is to use as little pressure as you can while shaving. This is in stark contrast to anything shaved with a cartridge razor. Remember to let the blade do the cutting… not your brute strength.
According to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, there are a few steps to combat ingrown hairs and keep from getting them.
If you already have an ingrown hair, you may find relief by using an exfoliating face wash.
Other remedies include placing a warm towel on your face for 5-7 minutes to open pores and encourage the hair to come out.
You can prevent razor burn by properly preparing your skin before shaving and using clean, sharp blades and rich, moisturizing lather while shaving.
If you find yourself with an irritated face, and the annoying bumps that come with razor burn, apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your skin. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is often used to soothe irritated skin and even burns.
Shaving every day doesn’t have to be damaging to the skin or painful. If you shave properly and moisturize your skin regularly, your daily shaving routine can even become something you look forward to.
Remember the importance of pre-shave oil, a quality shaving brush, a sharp blade, and post-shave moisturizer.
Gone are the first days of shaving when every other week was enough. Now that you’re a big man, you should shave as often as you need. Does your job require a clean-shaven look? Does your hair grow at wolfman speed?
If you don’t want to shave daily, find the balance between a little stubble and the point where torch-wielding villagers start raiding your apartment.
We probably all heard this at some point in our life. Some kid in class said shaving would make your beard grow faster… and then we all ran home begging our dads to show us how to shave.
The truth is – shaving won’t make your hair grow faster or thicker. It may feel coarse as it grows in and may even appear darker, but it’s not thicker nor will shaving lead to a full beard in less-than-natural time.
We suggest shaving at the sink after taking a warm shower. Why? The mirror. Plus, it’s easier to have the tools on the bathroom counter versus oddly balanced in the shower.
Shaving at the Sink
Shaving in the Shower
Welcome! Switching from dry to wet shaving is a big deal and isn’t one made lightly.
It takes your skin about a month to adjust to a new shaving method. If you’re making a switch, give your skin a little time to get used to the new way before tossing in the towel and going back.
You’ve cut yourself shaving. Congratulations, you’re human! Assuming it’s only a nick and not a sliced jugular, the following techniques may come in handy.
Toilet paper. We've all seen it – tiny pieces of toilet paper stuck to some poor guy’s face as he struggles onboard the train. He’s had a bad morning, but we can learn from him.
Dab the cut with the toilet paper to dry the area and stop most of the bleeding. After finishing the shave, rinse your face, apply moisturizer and then stick a small piece of toilet paper to the cut.
Once dry (around 5 minutes), you can remove the paper and dab with water to clean up any dried blood. The lesson we can learn from that other guy is this – don’t wait to shave until you’re already late for work! Give yourself time to get ready.
Ice cubes. Hold an ice cube on the cut to shrink the blood vessels and enable a clot to form faster.
Lip balm. Being sure that it’s a clean tube of balm, smear a bit on the cut to seal it off and let it heal.
Alum Stick. An easy-to-use aluminium sulphate stick helps coagulate and retract your skin’s pores. Antibacterial properties ensure the cut remains clean and infection-free.