This is part I of a two-part series. You can find part II here.
There is nothing like the feel of a freshly shaven face, unless that face just happens to be covered in rashes, infections, nicks and scrapes caused by poor shaving practices. Fortunately, it is easy to break the bad habits that result in skin irritations. Avoid these common shaving mistakes for a smoother, more comfortable shave and better results. More after the jump.
Skipping Shaving Preparation
There is no substitute for proper shaving preparation. Men should take the time to slow down, enjoy the process and do things the right way. The perfect shave requires a thoroughly washed face and carefully applied lather. Cheap shaving cream in a can is no substitute for a superior shaving soap or quality shaving cream applied with a shaving brush. A dirty, oily face can prevent the blade from efficiently doing its job, and unevenly applied lather can cause unintended scraping. Some men also like to exfoliate and soak their beard prior to shaving. When it comes to shaving, preparation is time well spent.
Using Cold Water
It typically does not take long to draw warm water from the bathroom sink. Any man who is too rushed to wait for warm water should delay shaving until he has more time. Shaving is not a race. Using cold water causes the skin’s pores to contract and pucker, and it causes a man’s beard to remain hard and stiff. Warm water opens the pores and softens tough beards. It bears mentioning that there are proponents of cold water shaving who claim that the cold water allows the hairs to stand at attention for a cleaner shave. Unfortunately, cold water shaving also tends to cause razor bumps, and it is inconvenient and uncomfortable in cold weather. That leaves warm water as the clear winner.
Make sure to keep your razor blades sharp, clean, and allow them to dry between shaves.
When people talk about reducing, reusing and recycling, they are not referring to razor blades. Although everyone appreciates a thrifty man, reusing the same razors ad infinitum is not good practice. Dull, used blades can cause pulling, tugging, cuts, ingrown hairs and other skin conditions that men should avoid. While no one is advocating spending a fortune on blades, men should get a feeling for when a razor is past its prime.
Going Against the Grain
When it comes to shaving, as in life, going against the grain can cause serious trouble. Men shave against the grain because they feel it gives them a closer, smoother shave. That may be true, but this practice can also result in ingrown hairs, redness, rashes, razor bumps and all the other little skin irritations that can cause discomfort. Men should shave with the grain or across the grain of the hair, not against it. If a man has prepared his face correctly, shaving with the grain should provide adequate closeness without unwanted side effects.
Razor blade photo by Scott Feldstein.