Our friends over at Harum-Scarum give us the inside tips and tricks of how to wet shave properly. We reviewed their products last year and still use them, so when it came to writing about proper wet shave etiquette, there was only one group of guys to call!
Even the most basic wet shaving experience can be a quick and yet luxurious affair. However its not just a case of picking up a razor and dragging it across your face until the stubble’s gone. A really good shave requires little effort but a little bit of know-how. Even if you've been shaving for years, you might learn something, So what you need to do to get the best shave possible?
Time Is of the Essence
Don’t rush through a shave. That’s the biggest sin possible, we understand that most work mornings you're in a rush, work, kids, a bathroom queue are all issues we have, but you'll only regret it. Spend the necessary time prepping your skin for the razor.
Start by washing your face. Facial cleansers work best because they help soften the protein in the hair, Harsh, hand soaps, on the other hand, wash away hair-softening oils. Leave the cleanser on your face for one minute before you rinse. If you often suffer from razor burn then we recommend pre-treating the skin with a pre-shave oil. These oils act as a lubricant between the cold razor steel and your dry or soft skin, allowing the razor to glide without damaging the skin.
Next, lather up your shaving cream or solution. A shave cream will require a soft badger brush, shave solution will only need a drop of water on your palm to later up. Then let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes on your face. You can comb your hair or brush your teeth to make efficient use of the time. This important step really softens the hair and makes a one-pass shave possible. The longer you let it sit, the better. At this stage if you feel a sting, tingle or tightening of your skin, it's a warning sign that you have to caustic a shaving soap or cream. If so use a pre-shave oil next time or a different brand.
Don't rely on your fingers to lather your shaving cream. Get a brush. If you don't enjoy the feel of a brush on your face then use a Shave Solution. A good quality brush pushes the cream into the hair and makes it much easier to shave. The traditional "badger hair brush" is favoured for its ability to lift the hairs and really coat them with cream. Avoid synthetic haired brushes, these do not soften in water or with heat, meaning a course scratchy feel on the skin.
When it comes to razors don't fool around with celeb endorsed multi-blade razors. These are expensive to replace the blades and we firmly believe they cause more "tugging" of the hair between all the nooks and crannies of the head design. A classic, single blade will work fine, We personally favour a double-bladed Wilkinson sword blade in a butterfly enclosure safety razor. The important thing to keep in mind is that the blade you use must be sharp. Discard it if you see a nick in the blade; otherwise, if you shave most days, change blades every week or two at the most.
As for straight razors or "shavettes" leave those to the pros. They're much harder to handle and to keep even on the skin, they can be good fun to learn but be ready to make mistakes. Have a treatment ready to stop any bleeding or nicks, it happens even to the best of us! Some people say it's daring to use one, but when you have to be out the door by 8am, bleeding time isn't really something you want to have to schedule for.
Hot and Cold
Another key to a good shave is keeping the skin hot and moist. A great way to do this is to shave after you get out of the shower. At your local barbershop, they pile on hot, moisturised towels to prep the skin and then again during the shave to keep the hairs soft. If you fancy doing this at home, pop a wet flannel in the microwave with a few drops of your favourite aftershave on it, 1 minute on high and it's ready.
One big advantage the pros have over home shavers is the ability to warm their shaving lather. You can buy kits to do this, but they tend to clog when not used often. Follow any shave with a cold water rinse. Cold water reduces inflammation, causing the blood vessels to retreat away from the surface of the skin.
Go With the Grain
Yep that old woodworking maxim rings true here too! Shave with the grain -- that is, in the direction your hair is growing. Though you may get a closer shave if you go against it, you make razor burn or ingrown hairs far more likely. Softening the hair first, as described above, should allow you a close, comfortable shave in one with-the-grain pass. That's ideal! Also the more time you go over an area, the more irritation you'll get, If you have thick hair, it's particularly important to go with the grain. If you have "problem areas" that just won't be baby smooth with one pass, then you can apply pre-shave oil and go over the area again at 90 degrees to the direction of growth. This should maximise the closeness of the shave without overly risking inflammation.
Finally, Use Quality
After you've rinsed off in cold water you need to seal and soothe! Many men rush to use a moisturiser to soothe their skin. Moisturisers are great but not in this case, the dense formula tends to clog pores and cause pimples. Instead opt for a Post Shave Balm, is a combination of soothing balms and cut sealing alcohols, while hydrating the skin.
So they you go, our Guide to a luxurious daily shave.