Are You Getting a Cutting-edge Shave?

Your old man can be useful for some things. He probably taught you how to throw a ball, how to change a tire, how to tie a necktie -- all timeless techniques. But do yourself a favor: Forget whatever lessons he gave you on shaving. Razor technology and the understanding of how to treat your skin have improved dramatically since he was your age, when computers took up a whole room and guys thought Cher was hot. To get the best shave possible, read this up-to-date advice on methods and products, gleaned from true shaving experts. Then maybe pass it along to Dad.

  1. The cold-water myth.
    If Dad ever said that a preshave splash of cold water to the face is the key to a brisk and clean-cut razor treatment, he’s all wet -- never mind if that’s what soldiers in World War II movies do. “A hot shower or hot towel to the face before the shave opens up the pores and softens the hair,” says David Petersen, owner of Rudy’s Barbershop in Seattle. This allows for a much smoother, easier and closer cut.
  2. Real men don’t dry-shave.
    A generation ago, guys considered themselves manlier if they treated their skin like a cow’s hide. Today, “moisturizer” and “exfoliation” are no longer dirty words. Using a preshave product is the first step to protecting the skin and preparing it for the razor by reducing friction and improving glide. “With the use of preshave products, you can minimize a lot of the hazards of shaving, like razor burn, cuts and nicks,” says famed Hollywood barber William Gornik.

    Use a natural-bristle shaving brush to apply the shave cream. “I highly recommend it. I really would not shave without using one for preparation,” Gornik says. It generates lather, opens pores, sweeps away dead skin and raises facial hair.

  3. Razors do make a difference.
    In Dad’s younger days, a razor with two blades was a revelation. Now some boast five -- not to mention lubrication strips, pivoting heads, low-resistance blade coatings, and even anti-clogging rinse slots. The overall difference is a “cleaner and more consistent cut,” according to Peterson.

    But just as your facial contours and the thickness and consistency of your facial hair are unique, so are the results you’ll get from different razors. “Since today’s razors can be so sharp and aggressive, I recommend experimenting to find which ones work best for you,” says Gornik.

  4. It ain’t over when you think it’s over.

    Dad probably implied that once the last patch of stubble is shaved, your job is essentially done. He was wrong. “To finish the process, you need to close the pores,” says Peterson. This is the time to splash on cold water. Afterward, apply an aftershave balm to keep the pores closed and to moisturize the skin, allowing it to maintain its strength and health.

by Greg Melville