Men's Life Today: Shaving
Don't Fear the Razor: Putting a Stop to Shaving Irritation
By Craig the Barber
Shaving irritation is a very common malady, partially because there are so many causes for it. To name just a few:
- Blade’s too sharp
- Blade’s too dull
- Too many passes/strokes
- Too much pressure
- Shaving too quickly
- Lack of moisture
- Shaving with cold water
Like I said, the list is long, and it could be even longer if we were to consider men with unique circumstances, like curly beards. And of course we all know what it looks and feels like: unsightly ingrown hairs, redness and the don’t-touch-my-face-right-now burning sensation.
Yet there is a solution. (There’s always a solution, right?) Below I’ve listed a few tried-and-true ways to avoid shaving irritation.
1. Start off clean.
One of the first steps to guarantee a close, comfortable and irritation-free shave is to make sure your face is clean. A quick rinse of the face with a face wash and/or exfoliator not only removes dirt and oils, but also aids in softening the beard. This allows for the razor blade to perform at its optimum level, and it frees your skin of extra dirt and oils that could wreak havoc on your open pores.
2. Keep it wet.
I always let my clients know there is absolutely nothing wrong with over-prepping their beards. So lather, re-lather, then lather again if you have to. Simply put, the wetter and softer you can get your beard, the less effort it will be to take it off. And who wouldn’t mind a bit more cushion between the face and the blade? The end result is fewer strokes, which means the blade is on your face for less time. If you want it a bit closer, then re-lather and shave again!
The best way to maximize moisture is to immediately apply the shaving cream after you’ve rinsed off your face wash. This way the cream can trap the moisture already on the skin and infuse more in the process.
3. Know your face.
For many men, shaving against the grain leads to skin sensitivity (i.e., razor burn) and, even worse, ingrown hairs. If you’re one of those men, knowing the direction(s) in which your hair grows can save you from days of frustration -- not to mention feeling like you can’t leave the house. Once you determine where you have multidirectional growth patterns, you can prep them more heavily. Also consider leaving this area for last, so you can really concentrate on the best direction to shave in order to minimize irritation.
4. Heal and moisturize.
A splash of cold water will bring your skin back in balance by closing the pores. Then, grab your favorite aftershave balm -- one that’s designed to heal and also moisturize the skin. Don’t minimize the importance of this step. Healing is key; your skin will be going through this process again very soon!
Craig the Barber is a licensed professional barber and men’s grooming expert, and a frequent contributor to Men’s Life Today. He owns the Los Angeles–based grooming service The Grooming Concierge, serves as a contributor to national magazines and television shows, and is the editor in chief of the daily blog The Men’s Room.