Unless you’re a Hells Angel or a member of ZZ Top, there will come a time when you must manicure your unruly facial scruff.
A well-shaved face marks you as a clean and competent man, one who takes pride in his appearance and is ready to rock it – in the boardroom, in the bedroom, and everywhere in between.
Unfortunately, legions of chumps are trudging through their days right now with faces that are anything but fresh. They’re victims of one of shaving’s nastiest side effects: razor burn.
Razor burn not only wastes a good shave, it irritates the skin, feels terrible, and is a total buzzkill for anyone trying to admire your distinguished jawline. It’s time you learned how to achieve a burn-free shave.
Prep The Skin
The first step isn’t investing in the right blade (although that’s coming). Prevention begins with skincare. Your face should be clean before you shave. Moisturise regularly to reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs, and exfoliate to remove dead skin and oil that clog the blade.
Choose The Right Tools
Finding the perfect razor isn’t easy, but it’s essential. Different razors suit different hair types, so you’ll need to experiment to find the blade that gives you the best results. Whichever one you choose, keeping it clean and replacing it regularly are non-negotiable. Dirty blades are clogged with icky buildup from previous shaves, which can be the culprit if you suffer from razor burn. A dull blade creates a lot of drag and tears at your delicate face and neck skin, which in turn increases your chances of ingrown hairs and skin irritation.
Go With The Grain
Shaving direction is a divisive subject amongst regular groomers and conflicting opinions are easy to find. The safest rule to follow is this: if you have sensitive skin and know you’re prone to razor burn, you should only shave with the grain. If your skin is on the heartier side, shave with the grain first and perform a second pass across the grain (make sure you re-lather in between). You’ll get a closer shave without serious irritation.
Don’t Shave Dry
Do not shave dry. Do not shave with plain water. Do not shave with a bar of soap. There are dedicated shaving products for a reason. A moisturising shaving gel or cream softens the hair and helps the blade glide smoothly across your skin. It prevents razor burn and frankly, it just feels better.
Don’t Overdo It
Ideally, your blade should be sharp enough that only one pass is required. Re-shaving the same area significantly ups the odds for irritation. But it’s not just the number of strokes that matters – it’s also how hard you do it. Pressing too hard (which you’re more prone to do with a dull blade) is also bad news for the burn-prone. Use short, light strokes to prevent yourself from applying too much pressure.
Use The Temperature Trick
For the smoothest shave, start hot and end cold. The warm water and steam in a shower softens the hair, relaxes the skin, and opens the pores so they stay clean. This is why a barber applies a hot towel to your face before shaving. The towel route is always an option at home if a shower is not in the cards. After you’ve shaved, rinse your face with cold water. The cold closes your pores and seals the follicle to reduce the probability of ingrown hairs.
Choose The Right Aftercare
This one’s a no-brainer: don’t apply irritating products if your skin is prone to irritation. Aftershaves and antiseptic formulas are sometimes recommended because shaving can cause tiny nicks in the skin, but the burning sensation they can cause makes angry skin even angrier. Instead, opt for products that are hydrating and soothing. Aloe vera and coconut oil can moisturise and reduce inflammation without causing further distress to your skin.