The Art of Shaving: A Complete Guide to Men’s Shaving

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Shaving is an art form for several reasons: it makes the subject look more visually appealing, requires a particular set of tools and takes time to master. Every guy with facial hair should become masters at shaving so they can look their very best. Here is a comprehensive guide to the art of shaving.

Find Your Style

Before you shave, you have to evaluate your facial hair. Is your beard long and thick enough to style? How long do you want your beard? Do you want something unique, like a chin strap or a goatee? Will you fade the beard into your hairline or make a defined line? Nail down these details before shaving, so you have a clear vision of the completed project and know what products to use.

Choose Your Razor

Like any art, the art of shaving requires a specific tool fitted to your surroundings. Your style, facial structure, hair texture and skin sensitivity will determine which type of razor you use. There are five main types of razors for shaving facial hair:

  • Disposable razor: these inexpensive razors work well in a pinch, but they’re only suitable for one or two uses and don’t have the best blades. People with sensitive skin or who have to shave consistently should use something else.
  • Cartridge razor: this popular option has three quality blades and comes in many different shapes and sizes, so you can find a specific brand that suits your facial structure and hair texture. This is your most cost-effective choice for a close shave.
  • Safety razor: this razor limits cuts and scratches by placing its singular blade between two metal layers, so only the blade’s tip touches the skin. If you’re new to shaving or, on the contrary, are a shaving veteran who needs to maintain his facial hair almost daily, safety razors are great options. Just make sure to clean the blade after each use.
  • Electric razor: this is the best option for those who want to trim and style their beards. Electric razors usually come with different attachments that allow you to make minor changes and shave your entire beard to the same length. They can be a little tougher on the skin than regular razors, so use a light hand.
  • Straight razor: as the name suggests, this tool is simply a single straight razor with no guards or attachments, just a handle. It takes great skill and precision to use a straight razor, so only use this option if you’re 100% confident in your shaving abilities. It will give you the closest possible shave but also poses the most risk.

The fewer blades you use, the less wear and tear your skin will endure. That’s why cartridge and safety razors are usually the top choices for beginners and frequent shavers alike. They give a close shave with less risk than a straight razor. However, for styling purposes, the electric razor is in a league of its own.

If you choose to use a standard non-electric razor, you also need to invest in a quality shaving cream/gel and a smooth aftershave. Make sure the products you purchase have an appealing smell and feel comfortable on your skin. It’s important that you keep your skin cool and moisturized so it doesn’t get too irritated while shaving.

Shave with Proper Technique

With the finished product in your mind and the tools to make it happen, you’re ready to start shaving. The proper technique varies depending on whether you use a standard or an electric razor. 

For standard razors, follow these steps.

  1. Wet your skin and hair with warm water. Your skin needs to be soft and free of excess oil and dead skin so you can get the best shave possible.
  2. Apply a healthy layer of shaving cream/gel to your skin.
  3. Shave with the grain. You want to shave in the direction your hair grows, so the razor doesn’t yank hair follicles away from the skin.
  4. Rinse the razor off after each stroke to clean the blades and ensure a smooth, consistent shave.
  5. Clean the razor, replace the blades if necessary and store it in a dry place.

Since people mainly use electric razors to make styling changes or simple trims, the art of shaving looks slightly different. Follow these steps.

  1. Fully charge your razor. Electric razors give the best shaves when they’re fully charged, while low-battery razors don’t have as much power and can cause cuts. Make sure you charge your device before shaving.
  2. Wet your skin and hair with warm water. Most electric razors are water-resistant, but check your device just in case. 
  3. Start on the edges. You should give your neck and upper cheeks a close shave first, so you can clearly see where your facial hair begins and ends. This simple step will make your beard look much neater.
  4. Add your attachment to the razor. Most men trim their beards to three-eighths or one-quarter of an inch (a two or a three on the hair clipper scale), so your razor’s kit should have both options.
  5. Shave against the grain. Despite what “experts” may say, shaving against the grain with electric razors is the way to go (on your face, at least). Electric razors don’t catch the skin the same way standard razors do. You can easily avoid cuts with proper technique. If you use an attachment, cuts are a non-factor because the blades don’t touch your skin.
  6. Clean the blades and attachment while you’re using the razor. Debris can easily clog in the attachment and block the blades. Along with a low battery, this issue is the main reason why electric razors cut people, so don’t skip this step.
  7. Add the finishing touches once you’ve shaved the main bulk of the beard. If an area is still too long, just go over it again. If your razor has special attachments like nose hair trimmers, take full advantage of them.
  8. Clean the razor of any excess hair and dead skin before you put it away.
  9. Charge the razor now while it’s still fresh in your mind so that it will be ready for your next shave.

Each procedure is reasonably straightforward. Just take care of your tools and practice proper technique. With a light hand and some patience, you’ll get a successful shave no matter which razor you use. If you happen to get any nicks along the way, press a warm wet cloth to the affected area and the bleeding should stop in a few minutes. 

Keep Your Station Clean

An often overlooked but crucial part of shaving is keeping your station clean. Shaving cream can easily clog your drain, and all of your leftover hair can cause a major clogging problem as well. Put paper towels or another covering over the sink. Rather than letting all your hair wash down the drain, you can collect most of it and throw it away in the trash.

You should also clean the sink and surrounding area of all hair once you’re done. It’s inconsiderate and gross to leave your hair lying around for other people to find. You want to leave your shaving station in the same condition as when you began.

Take Care of Your Skin

After you finish shaving, you should wash your face with warm and cold water (in that order) to clean off all leftover debris and close your pores. Apply a moisturizer to your face every day, whether or not you shaved. Lastly, take note of your skin’s sensitivity to shaving. Do you get acne breakouts or ingrown hairs? If so, you’re not using the best razor for your skin and it’s time to make a change.

The art of shaving should be a comfortable routine, not a chore. Get the right tools, follow the step-by-step instructions and take your time so you can look as good as possible!

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