Shaving Q&A

It happens pretty much every day: We get up, face the mirror, reach for our shaving tools, and commence with a major requirement of our daily routine. By now, we all know shaving as that robotic, mundane task thrust upon us by a civilized world. We men have been doing it since we were teens, and yet, empirical observations aside, we’ve been doing it using only the rudimentary tutorial we received on day one. That’s why many of us feel that we’re not equipped with the knowledge required to get the best shave possible. However, enlightenment awaits: To bring clarity to those shaving questions and conundrums that exist for many men, we at would like to offer you this illuminating shaving Q&A.

Is shaving every day bad for my skin?

No, not exactly. Shaving is a daily mandate for many of us, especially those of us living without beards. As a daily task, it has minimal visible impact on our skin. However, shaving does remove the top-most layer of skin cells, so it doesn’t hurt to give your face a break every so often. Given the toll that daily shaving takes, you would be wise to incorporate a post-shave moisturizer into your arsenal of skincare products.

How do I get the closest shave possible?

While many variables make this a loaded question, the universal response is to shave after taking a hot shower. The hot water and steam will soften your beard and open your pores, allowing for a smoother shave. For guys with particularly heavy stubble or for days when you want a super-close shave, use a pre-shave exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and lift your stubble, which will dramatically improve the outcome of your shave. Also, should you use an exfoliant, only use it two or three days a week or be sure to find one designed for daily use. The hot water, steam and exfoliant combined will provide a primo shave.

Should I shave with the grain or against it?

In this regard, always be a conformist: Go with the grain. When you shave against the grain, the blade rakes across the skin and pulls the hairs more harshly up and away from the face -- this leads to the likelihood of nicks, razor burn and ingrown hairs. Now, since some argue that against the grain gives a closer shave, here’s a compromise: First, shave with the grain, then re-lather and gently shave against it in light-pressure, short strokes. Doing so will appease your rebellious spirit and reduce your chances of irritation.

How can I prevent razor burn?

The key strategy here is to not shave against the grain (see question above for details). You also want to remember to employ a clean, sharp razor as often as possible. Using a new blade will ensure the razor glides smoothly across the face, lessening missed spots that cause for repeated strokes, which can cause skin irritations. Likewise, rinse the razor after each stroke to remove hair built up between the blades. If you use an electric razor, clean the blades before or after each use. Also, mechanics and razor condition aside, try a splash of cold water immediately after the shave to close your pores and reduce the chances of irritation.

What should I look for in an aftershave?

The needs of your skin should determine the nature of your aftershave: If you have oily skin, look for an aftershave that’s formulated to keep skin dry, and if you have dry skin, find one that moisturizes. It all depends on your skin type, but that’s not to say there aren’t some ingredients to avoid. Aftershaves made from or containing alcohol are going to be your enemy -- they’ll leave your skin tight and dry, which is not a comfortable feel. Instead, look for aftershave products that are oil-based and formulated with moisturizes like aloe. A good rule of thumb: If it stings going on, then it shouldn’t be going on at all.

Are multi-blade razors better than single blade ones?

It all depends on your skill and competency with a razor. Multi-blade razors, now the industry standard, do provide a close shave and give you ample control. However, their single-blade predecessor gives you the optimal close shave; you just have to be very steady and skilled when you wield it. The key difference is that multi-blade razors can be limiting in their ability to conform to the features of your face, while a single-blade can easily trace the angles of your jaw line. At the end of the day, it all comes down to skill, ability and personal preference.

Do different skin types have different shaving needs?

In terms of process, no, in terms of products, yes. The steps required to get a clean, close shave are typical: exfoliant, lather, shave, and moisturize. Plus, these steps should be taken during a steamy shower or at the sink with very warm water. However, it’s the products you use that you’ll want to customize to your skin type. Guys with oily skin will want products that can help keep pores dry; and guys with dry skin will want products with moisturizing abilities -- the packaging will have it right on the front, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t experiment with several brands until you find the one that works best for you.

Do you have to shave with shaving cream?

The simple answer is, no. While the market is flooded with countless shaving creams for all skin types, it is also inundated with gels, oils and even shaving soaps. You should feel empowered to try out a variety of these products to see which suits your shaving needs. Outside the world of manufactured products, though, you should definitely proceed with caution: If you find yourself in a bind, absent of any sort of shaving cream, forgo the regular bar of soap and head to the kitchen. Olive oil has been tested and proven to be an adequate alternative to manufactured shaving creams.

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