A common issue with a lot of men who have a coarse beard is they also have sensitive skin. Hacking away at your beard with the wrong blade will either irritate your skin as you slice through the hairs, or waste time as you make pass after pass while virtually making no progress!
So what do you do, go with a really sharp blade to shave the hair, that almost guarantees skin irritation? For instance a brand new Feather blade will cut through the coarse beard effortlessly, but you are bound to nick or cut yourself. Or do you go with a milder blade that doesn’t shave the hair as well, but is less likely to irritate the skin?
The answer is somewhere in between.
For most men skin irritation begins with the second or third pass, so the answer might be to use two blades for the same shave, or change blades mid-shave. Assuming you don’t want to go with option two, let’s talk about using two razors.
For the first pass, it’s a good idea to use a very sharp blade in an aggressive razor. A Feather blade in a Merkur Progress set up at a higher setting, an Injector Razor with a fresh blade, or an Astra Green blade in a Muhle R41 would do the trick. These setups would cut through the coarse beard easily.
For passes two and three, swap your blade for something a little milder, like a Merkur, USA Personna or a Chinese made blade. This should take care of the remaining hair, while having a gentler impact on your skin.
For the best chances of avoiding any skin irritations when shaving a coarse beard, there are a few steps you can take during the shaving process.
1. Use pre-shave oil and a glycerin based shave cream
Often men with a coarse beard complain about not being able to get their beard moist enough to shave. Using a pre-shave oil helps to trap the moisture in, while a glycerin based shave cream adds additional moisture while protecting sensitive skin underneath.
2. Don’t shave against the grain
Start by shaving either with, or across the grain first. This will save you a lot of money on blades, as going against the grain from the start will almost certainly result in blunt blades after one or two passes. Also, because you’re going to use a second blade, this first pass is to break through the coarse hair, leaving a more manageable growth for the second and third passes.
3. Shave regularly
If you want to keep that coarse beard under strict control, shave more regularly. If you’ve got sensitive skin, then either staying clean-shaven, or having no more than a stubble growth will reduce the chances of nicks and cuts when you do shave.
4. Change your blade
One reason for using two blades is to prolong the life of the blade you use for the first pass. However, unfortunately it’s still probably going to dull quicker than for guys who have finer facial hair. And if you’ve got sensitive skin, then changing your blade the moment you feel it tugging is the first step to stopping skin irritations.
5. Use an exfoliating facial cleanser
Anyone with sensitive skin should be exfoliating regularly to remove any dirt, debris and dead skin cells on your face. This will help prevent those nasty razor burns, rashes and ingrown hairs that may appear from time to time.
6. Post-shave routine
For sensitive skin, make sure you use a shaving gel or aftershave balm. It’s a fact of life you’re going to get a few razor bumps along the way. Applying a gel or balm will help treat them before those ingrown hairs become a problem.
If you follow these tips you’ll give yourself the best chance of shaving that coarse beard while protecting your sensitive skin from burns, rashes, bumps, nicks and cuts. However, the best way to get the perfect shave is to have the right technique, and this takes practice. So experiment with your products and tools and in no time you’ll discover what works best for you.