We’re calling it. Grown men who are still dragging dull razors across their faces need to stop. It just doesn’t cut it anymore.
A modern man needs to pay attention to the details when it comes to shaving to ensure the desirable final result.
The first step? Choose the right cut for you: Clean shaven, stubble or beard. If you’re not sure at first, give all three a go over a period of time and stick with the look that gets you the most looks and compliments.
Most men today perceive shaving as an easy and hassle-free task so it’s our job to ensure that this is the case with a little help from Renée Baltov of one of Sydney’s finest men’s barbershops, Barberhood. Here are the five shaving tips you’ll ever need in life to get the job done properly.
Long before you go out looking for the best tools of the trade, you first need to understand the condition of your face’s skin. This part is imperative and it’s also what professional barbers do as part of their regular service. The great thing is that this check can easily be replicated at home yourself. Don’t rush as this can do some real damage to your face if you begin shaving without checking.
Renée Baltov says that men should be looking at a few things in particular:
- Be aware of any blemishes or moles on your face
- Make sure you don’t have in grown hairs,
- Open or healing cuts or scars
“If you go over them the wrong way you’re going to cut yourself,” explains Baltov.
The next part that’s equally important to men is applying pre-shave oil which helps to loosen up strong stubble or beard hair. Apply and leave this on your face for one-minute before rinsing with warm water.
“Men can get different quality pre-shave oils,” adds Baltov. “They range from cheap (AU$18) to expensive ($89) with the pricier ones having the advantage of added ingredients which helps sensitive skin and leaves a distinct scent.
Moving on towards the shave, take a hot towel to the face as this will open up the pores of the skin making for softer hair to shave. Baltov says that the professionals in the shop also follow this tried method.
Tools Of The Trade
There are three types of razors men can choose from these days. The classic straight razor used by traditional barbers, the double-edged safety razor and the new generation razors which have more blades than you can poke a follicle at. The general rule is to choose the one which works best for you and subsequently won’t draw any blood.
Besides the aforementioned pre-shave oil, also pick up a decent badger brush and shaving mug. These two will be used to mix hot water with the shaving cream. Also have on hand liquid Nick Sticks which can be applied over any cuts after shaving is complete.
For more detail, see our wet shave product guide.
The Final Cut
You’re a man now so stop using your fingers to apply shaving cream. Take the badger brush and let it sit in the shaving mug with hot water. As you remove the hot towel, your pores should have opened allowing for a much closer shave. Mix the shaving cream into the hot water mix with the badger brush and give it a gentle stir.
When it’s time to apply the shaving cream, use a light circular motion to lather onto the skin. This will soften it up further and help get deep into the beard crevices where you need it most.
Against Or With The Grain?
The most pondered question by bearded men the world over is against the grain or with it?
“If someone has very sensitive skin, I would suggest going once over with the grain,” says Baltov.
“For those who have less sensitive skin, go against the grain once and then with the grain a second time.”
Given that shaving practices is unique to every man, if you’re short of time go against the grain for a quicker cut.
End With Care
The deed is done and your beard is now flourishing in all its hairy glory. And then…the itch. One of the most complained about issues of a beard or even longer stubble is the oncoming itch which sits between the stubble and beard stage. Scratch it enough and you could be left with a nasty red rash and dry skin.
How does one minimise the irritation during this phase?
“Basic things like keeping the face clean with a good moisturise or cleanser,” says Baltov.
“Use beard conditioners which can also soften the skin. Australian brands are good but read the label to see if you’re allergic to any of the products used in them.”
Baltov also recommends that men should try something called an Alum Block after shaving.It’s a traditional piece of kit which looks like a large block of opaque soap. It does sting a bit but it’s natural and will get rid of any bacteria and infections.
“You have to close your pores first by splashing cold water on your face before putting the Alum Block on,” says Baltov.
For those who don’t like the sting, a good alternative is a skin sooth or typical aftershave. This is crucial as you have opened up your pores after a shave so the last thing you want is an infection or ingrown hair to stem from this. The aforementioned Nick Stick is also good for covering wounds and killing bacteria.
Understand Your Face
Shaping your beard or stubble is as important as cutting hair itself. It can really make a difference to your face if you get the right look. For those who don’t? Well let’s just say you could be missing some chin definition. To counter this, understand your face features and then shape the beard or moustache accordingly.
This goes for checking if your sideburns are even, the neckline and the corners of your lips which can often be missed.
How About Patchy Beards?
The experts say that there is no real way to prevent this since hair grows in different directions and places, but there are tricks to making it less noticeable.
“If it was really patchy, go clean shaven,” says Baltov. “But if you can do stubble, keep it neat and trimmed. This will mask the patchiness and make it less noticeable.”
In other words, any kind of consistent stubble is cool, but if you can only grow three hairs on the chin then you’re better off shaving it.