There’s really four key elements that are required for any good shave…
No.1: you need to make some time for a good shave. If you can’t make time for a good shave that day, don’t have a shave that day!
No.2: you need plenty of a warm / hot water.
No.3: you need a decent shave prep.
No.4: a decent, sharp razor.
Oh yeah, and no.5: you need some bristles.
Take the time to give your stubble a good wash and soak. This’ll really soften the bristles, so when you come to apply the razor to your face it’ll feel more like a hot knife through butter. Whatever shave prep you choose to apply, take some time – and I mean 35-40 seconds – to massage it properly into your beard. The act of massaging will really help lift the pile of your beard off the skin, which will just mean that you’re more likely to catch more bristles with each pass of the razor. You’re just going to get a closer and more comfortable shave.
Now the easy bit – it’s time to use the actual razor itself… For most of us, shaving with the grain is the way to go forward. The grain for most guys tends to grow down on the cheeks, on the lip and on the chin, and grows up from the base of the neck. You can imagine it’s very similar to stroking your dog or your cat – stroke it in one direction, there’s barely any resistance; going against the grain, you’re going to have trouble. Unless you have the skin of a rhino.
With each pass rinse the blade regularly. Stubble and shave prep builds up in the face of the razor and that tends to lift the blades off the skin, which means you won’t get the closeness from each stroke. After you’ve done your fist pass check your face with your fingers for any missed spots. Your fingers will feel things that you can’t see. Then you can have a quick clean up of those.
If closeness is still a problem for you, shave across the grain. Unlike shaving against the grain it’s not going to tug the hair follicle, not going to cause irritation to the root and give you a nasty razor rash. Pushing the razor hard is not going to get you closeness, but is going to get you discomfort. You’re going to push the blades into the surface of the skin and get soreness. This is particularly important on the nape of the neck and also just on the sides of your ‘tache.
And don’t be tempted to stroke repeatedly again and again, because you are going to clip a top of the skin. It’s just going to feel uncomfortable and look unsightly.
Check you’ve got your sideburns in the right position. Choose the height on one side, put your finger on it and then you can line up against your finger with the blade. Otherwise you’ll end up chasing your sideburns up the side of your head trying to get them to balance.
Is that what happened to you?
Yes! All the way to the top.
Rinse any residual shave prep from your skin with slightly cooler water. Cooler water will help to close those pores up naturally on your skin, pull the stubble back into your skin a little bit as well, so you get that really nice post-shave, smooth skin feel. It will take your skin a couple of hours to recover from the stripping effect of taking a razor blade across it, and in that couple of hours it’s vulnerable. So just the application of a balm or moisturiser is going to make sure it’s protected while it regains its natural protection.
If you want to smell nice take your expensive eau de cologne and put it around the nape of your neck – away from the shaved area. On this part of the skin it’s just going to sting. Just because it looks old school from 1950s movies, you don’t need to do it. Why suffer to smell nice?