The first step to a good shave is proper pre-shave preparation. If you don’t prepare your face properly, it’s going to be a lot harder to get a close shave and you’ll be a lot more likely to nick yourself. The last thing you want to do is walk out of the house with scratches all over your face and neck.
And incidentally, this is just as important if you’re using a multi-bladed cartridge razor as it is when you’re using a safety razor with a double-edged blade. Spending a bit of time preparing your face for a shave is going to make a big difference.
The Key Elements
There are two key elements to preparing your face for a good shave:
- Softening the hair
If you’ve ever had an old-fashioned hot shave at a barber or a specialty shop like The Art of Shaving, they probably started by wrapping a hot towel around your face for a few minutes. This isn’t just to get you relaxed (although it certainly does help with that too), it also helps to soften the hair on your face.
It can take a few minutes to properly soften the hair. Don’t expect to splash some water on your face and be ready to go. You can wash your face with warm water (not too hot) and some type of soap that’s made for your face. Or you can take a page from the barber and soak a towel in warm water and wrap it around your face for a few minutes.
Personally, I usually shave after showering. I find that’s the easiest way to do it and since I’m going to be in the shower anyway, it doesn’t really add any time to my morning.
I have to admit though, I really enjoy the ritual of using a hot towel and taking the time to prep my face and get a really good shave. That’s usually my routine on the weekend when I have a bit of time to spare.
The second thing that’s necessary for a good shave is lubrication. This can be shaving cream, gel, shaving oil or whatever you use to shave (we’ll get into the different options available shortly) but you need some kind of lubricant to help the razor glide across your skin rather than dragging at it.
And it’s important to keep your skin lubricated as you shave. If you’ve made one pass and miss a couple of spots, make sure you lubricate again before you go back to touch things up.
Re-lather, re-oil or even just add some water. But if you try to touch up those spots without taking that extra step, you’re a lot more likely to nick your face.
Keep in mind that the point of shaving is to reduce the hair, not eliminate it all at once. It might take a couple of passes to get rid of it all, especially in spots that are harder to target. There’s nothing wrong with making a couple of passes with lighter pressure – you’re less likely to nick your skin and lighter pressure also helps to avoid razor burn. Just make sure you lubricate your face between each pass.
Even if you’re still using a cartridge razor, prepping your face correctly will make a big difference in the quality of your shave. Tomorrow morning, spend a few extra minutes softening your beard and re-lathering between passes. If you haven’t been doing that up to now, you’ll probably find that it makes for a much closer shave without really changing anything about what gear you’re using.