The Ultimate Guide to a Butter-Smooth Shave

Man Shaving Himself

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 help with the ultimate shaving routine.

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.

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.

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.

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