Grooming Part 1 - A close shave...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Grooming Part 1 - A close shave...


Gentlemen... This may seem strange coming from a girl but loads of you are butchering your faces in the name of being clean shaven or playing host to barbed wire beards. 

Even if you are member of the Beard Gang, there are key steps to either maintaining your whiskers, designer stubble or beard. I'm as invested in this as you are because I don't want to snuggle up to you if your face or beard could remove the top layer of my skin. 

Preparation is really important. You can't just hack away at your face and expect not to get horrible ingrown hairs or a face that could sand wood. Your facial skin is thinner than that on the rest of your body. Do it right or don't do it at all. 

Here are a few easy steps to get you either a really soft touch-me jawline. Pick the bits that apply to you or use the whole routine. 

1. Wash your hands thoroughly. Non-negotiable.

2. If you prefer to shave in the morning - let your skin settle first. Take a shower or bath to combat morning puffiness and to open your pores. Alternatively soak a clean towel in hot water and steam your pores open.There is a good reason why old-timey barbers used a hot towel and shave. Not only does it soften the skin it also opens the pores thus weakening the hair follicle and preparing it for your shave.

3. Exfoliate. Dead skin and not washing your face before bed leaves you with a sallow and blemished complexion. If you have a skincare routine that incorporates exfoliation; you're doing this right. If not, add soft brown sugar or granulated coffee to your normal cleanser. Cleanse using gentle circular motions, while avoiding your eye area.

4. Use warm not hot water to cleanse your face. If it's too hot, you're probably going to redden your face or make your skin extra sensitive. 

5. If you shave daily; don't. Take one day off per week. Your skin needs to breathe and you'll notice your next shave is much smoother.

6. Invest in a shaving brush. It needn't be lemur fur or some other expensive crap. Price does not necessarily translate to better quality. A reasonably priced (not cheap)brush that feels soft to the touch; is a great way to prepare your hair for shaving. Not only does it raise the finest of hairs, it also removes what your cleanser may have left behind. Plus a brush helps to create a thick, creamy lather for you to spread evenly.

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When applying your shaving cream or gel, use a brush or the tips of your fingers. Beard hair grows in different directions and that massage action will be a great prepper for your skin. Don't rush. Get in there. Trust me, it helps your skin (blood flow) and shorter hair is easier to catch.

7. Whether you use a traditional straight razor, clippers, shaving stick or a shaver - don't press too hard. You may think that pressing harder will get you a finer shave. Nope. You're just inviting irritation and/or nicks. Apply the razor or whatever you're using close enough to touch the skin. If you notice ingrown hairs(pseudofolliculitis), ease up. 

Razors are designed to work with relatively low pressure. If you miss a spot you can always re-do it. Keep your razors clean and dry. A little rubbing alcohol on your clippers will do. Throw out razors the moment you notice it isn't gliding as easily. 

8. For an extra-smooth shave without irritation; apply a little shaving oil to your skin before applying your shaving gel. The oil barrier won't clog your razor, but it will nourish your skin and give you a closer shave each time. You can go the store bought route or raid your kitchen. Extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil work just as well. Do not skip this step if you have sensitive skin. 

The brand of the blade is not as important as the state that it's in. Keep them for no longer than 2 weeks if you shave daily. Make sure they're always clean and dry. Rinse out clogged blades in hot water as you're shaving. Your skin will thank you for it. Never use a blunt blade as it causes redness and irritation and won’t shave skin evenly.

9. Skin is particularly sensitive post-shave. If you notice irritation, ice it quickly or splash your face with clean, cold water. That should minimise the swelling. Witch-hazel and rosewater work too. Lightly dab on with a cotton disk.


  • Skip the aftershave - besides that stinging sensation, aftershaves tend to have a high alcohol content and are thus very drying. Try a cream based, alcohol free aftershave. They deplete the skin’s natural defensive barrier, speeding up the ageing process.

  • Moisturise. I can't stress this enough. By moisturising twice daily, you'll notice your razors glide over your skin better. Aloe vera GEL, protects and moisturises without the oil slick shine. Frequent shaving sensitizes the skin and dries it out. 

  • Try fragrance-free moisturisers. Fragrances in products may have an irritating effect. Argan oil has a slight but not overpowering scent. Rosemary Oil which is naturally antibacterial and has a great woodsy scent. Shea Butter by itself is also an excellent after shave lotion and has a decent scent.

  • Do not pick at your ingrown hairs. You're probably going to worsen the infection and cause scarring. Crush 2 aspirin in a little water, make a paste and apply over the area. It should hurt less and appear smaller by morning. 

  • Slow and short strokes will minimise your chances of razor burn. Rush through it and your face will look like a pizza. Slower, shorter strokes mean you're less likely to miss a spot and have to go over it again.

  • Shave in the direction of the growth of your hair. Change directions carefully. 

Aside from the shaving advice, all those steps also apply to the Bearded Bros. Part 2 will deal with that.

If you have any questions email me on 

Pictures courtesy of The Body Shop, and

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