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The Ultimate Guide to a Butter-Smooth Shave

Try as we might, many of us struggle with the simplest requirements of adulthood. Decades after we should’ve learned better, we still inadvertently bite our lips while eating, accidentally trim our nails painfully short, and cut ourselves while shaving.

If you’re prone to the last of these, we’re here to provide some tips for achieving the ultimate shaving routine—as well as share a few products that will make shaving easier and enjoyable.

How to Prepare Your Skin for Shaving

Military service can teach a man many things. The old army adage of “proper preparation prevents poor performance” is solid advice for every aspect of life, from relationships to car maintenance to shaving. A good shave relies on taking things slow. That includes allowing time to prep your skin to receive the razor, to minimize drag and maximize glide.

  1. The first step to the ultimate shaving routine is to clean your face thoroughly but gently. Start with a gentle face scrub to tackle any rough, dry patches. This gives your razor a nice, smooth surface to glide across, nick-free.
  2. Follow that with a warm — not hot — water cleanse. Piping hot water strips the skin of natural oils, drying it out before the shaving even begins.
  3. Use a gentle cleanser specially formulated for facial skin. If it’s been a while between shaves, trim your whiskers first, so your razor doesn’t have to work so hard. This simple step can dramatically reduce nicks and cuts.

Best Face Scrubs & Gentle Cleansers

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Jack Black Face Scrub
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Jack Black’s pre-shave cleanser uses eco-friendly scrubbing particles to remove dirt, dead skin, and oil. It uses Vitamin C and peppermint to energize and refresh your face for a clean, shave-ready surface.

Harry’s Men’s Face Wash

Harry's Face Wash
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A gentle peppermint exfoliate that works well with both dry and acne-prone skin. It’s incredibly affordable, and it even can be used daily if you so choose.

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser

Cerave Face Wash
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Former Grooming Awards champion, Cerave’s face wash cleans even the most sensitive skin without drying it out. It’s no wonder the formula is approved by the National Eczema Association.

Geologie Everyday Face Wash

Geologie Face Wash
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Perfect for those with acne-prone skin. This face wash from Geologie uses just the right amount of salicylic acid for reducing inflammation and redness without causing any irritation.

How to Shave Properly

If you haven’t already, consider upgrading to a safety razor. Although they’re decidedly old-school, many dermatologists tout their superiority over fancy, overpriced disposable razors with 16 blades and a vibrating handle. Most agree that they do a better job of reducing ingrown hairs and skin irritation. Properly wielding a safety razor requires a bit of practice and patience, but the payoff is worth it. 

  1. Above all else, take your time. Short, hurried movements are a recipe for hacking your skin to bits.
  2. Use slow, intentional strokes. Apply light pressure, letting the weight of the razor dictate how hard to press.
  3. Gently pull the blade in the direction of your hair growth.
  4. Follow up each stroke with a counterstroke against the grain for a baby-smooth shave. Rinse the razor under running water often to ensure a clean, hair-free blade throughout your shave.

Best Safety Razors

Bevel Safety Razor

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Simply put, the Bevel Safety Razor gets the job done. It’s an easy, single-blade design that utilizes a perfectly weighted handle to negate razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Note: Bevel is a former grooming awards champion.

Baxter of California Safety Razor

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Baxter’s safety razor takes into account style as much as functionality. It’s got elegant chrome plating and comes in a matte black box with five blades and step-by-step instruction cards to walk you through using a safety razor if it’s your first time.

Rockwell Razors 6S Adjustable Stainless Steel Safety Razor

Rockwell Razors 6S
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Featuring six levels of adjustability, Rockwell’s Swedish stainless steel safety razor offers a top-tier shave through its customization and high-grade materials. Here is a safety razor that will fill its purpose for years to come.

How to Treat Your Skin After Shaving

  1. Immediately afterward, splash your face with cool water to rehydrate the skin and wash away loose hairs or blood.
  2. Dry by dabbing gently with a warm towel, but be sure not to rub to avoid red skin and irritation. Round out your shaving routine with a proper aftershave to soothe your skin and stave off bacterial infection.
  3. Which aftershave to use depends partly on personal preference, but also on your skin type. In general, aftershave balms are ideal for guys prone to nicks and scrapes, gels are good for oily skin, and lotions for regular skin. Tonics should also be used in conjunction with these if shaving seems to turn you into a bloody mess.
  4. Last, proper storage and replacement of your razor are just as important as your shaving technique. No matter how much you prepare or how slowly you take things, a dull blade is almost guaranteed to draw blood. Ideally, consider replacing disposable razors every three weeks or every eight shaves — whichever comes first. If you’re already seeing dollar signs, check out our picks for the best shaving subscriptions for men to keep your shaving routine as affordable as possible.

Best Aftershave Essentials

Pacific Shaving Co. Caffeinated Aftershave Balm

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An aftershave that soothes and energizes your skin. Pacific Shaving Co. provides an easy go-to for a solid price.

Lumin Cooling Aftershave

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If you dislike having a greasy feel on your face, Lumin makes a lightweight shea butter aftershave that reduces ingrown hairs and redness. It’s also alcohol-free.

Kiehls Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner for Men

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Kiehls makes a toner that is excellent in tightening the skin while also deep cleaning away post-shave residues.

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