If you’re wondering how to shave, you’re not alone: getting cleaned up with a razor has almost become a lost art in this ultra-casual era. Most guys we know seem to be content with beards or perma-stubble, unless they’re in the Marines or playing for the Yankees. Honestly, this is a positive development: Scruff looks good. And some guys’ hair texture simply won’t let them shave every day comfortably. But on a big day, or when you just feel like getting extra-clean, there’s no substitute for a close shave for a lot of guys. (And no, we don’t mean the kind of shave you can get with an electric razor.)
So of you need a refresher on how to shave, or if it’s your very first time (welcome), we put together a step-by-step guide. It’s the surest way to prevent nicks, cuts, razor burn, as well as bumps and ingrown hairs, and get a super-close, smooth shave, every time. (Even if “every time” is twice a year.)
1. Wash your face with cleanser and warm water
Giving your face a warm wash (with a gentle cleanser) will remove any excess oil and grime, so that you can shave with a clean canvas. The warm water also opens your pores, which essentially allows them to breathe more easily and expunge anything trapped inside and helps prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
2. Use a scrub to smooth the skin
A physical scrub will lift dead skin cells away from the skin, preventing razor drag and clogged pores. You’ll get a smoother, closer shave, plus will enjoy the skin-smoothing effects of exfoliation. Don’t go too rough with the rubbing, though, since you are about to drag a sharp razor over your skin.
3. Use a pre-shave oil to prep skin and hair
A pre-shave oil creates an invisible protective layer over top the skin, helping the razor glide smoothly over the skin. This layer also helps soften whiskers and nurture the skin.
4. Apply shaving cream in an upward motion
When you apply your shave cream, do so in an upward motion, so as to lift the hairs up and away from the face. This results in a smoother, more precise shave overall. The type of shave cream or oil you use is up to you, but we do recommend something that doesn’t lather excessively—in other words, something that doesn’t totally cover up your whiskers.
5. Shavewiththe grain, using a clean and sharp razor
When you shave, be sure to go in the direction that your hair moves. That is to say, shave in the direction that you can run your hand over it smoothly, instead of feeling the friction of resistance. If you shave forward, you reduce your chances of ingrown hairs and red bumps due to trapped hairs furled under the surface of the skin. Rinse the blade with warm water between strokes, to minimize friction and drag.
Don’t press too hard. it’s much better to need to lather back up and go in for a second pass than press so hard you take all the hair—and a bunch of skin–with you.
And take care of your razor. Too many guys neglect proper razor hygiene. You need to replace your cartridge head or safety razor blades every 4 shaves or so (or every few weeks, whichever comes first). You need sharp, clean blades, every time. To keep it sharp as long as possible rinse your blade with hot water and then store it upright in a cool, dry place, until your next shave.
6. Rinse with cold water
After the shave, you want to rinse everything away with cold water. This helps close the pores, making them less receptive to bacteria and the like.
7. Apply aftershave
After you’ve rinsed yourself clean, apply a toning and soothing aftershave—whether it’s a balm, splash, or lotion. (Many moisturizers even work well as aftershaves.) This step helps keep pores clean, while calming the skin and preventing redness. Avoid anything drying—namely, those alcohol-tinged aftershaves of yore. This isn’t Home Alone.