For most guys, shaving is just something that goes with the territory. It’s not fun, it’s not enjoyable, it’s just another chore that you try to get out of the way as quickly as you can. So, you end up using a cheap disposable plastic razor and a can of aerosol shaving cream, or you buzz all the stubble off your face with an electric razor. You’re done, you towel off, splash some aftershave on your skin and get out the door.
Shaving is part of being a man, though. Why not make a little more of a ritual out of wet shaving? Or, maybe you’re just thinking about your dad or your grandpa and considering ways to emulate them? For guys who are thinking along these lines, making a switch to wet shaving can be an option. There are some things you’ll want to know, however, before you go over to this new routine.
Prep Your Face Properly
So, you just splashed some hot water on your face and gave it a rub. You’re ready to shave, right? Well, no.
You’ll need to wash your face thoroughly with warm (not hot) water and a soap that’s made specifically for the face. Deodorant soaps or a pure soap like Ivory can strip away the natural oils from the skin, which doesn’t do you any favors when it’s time to start shaving. Do it gently – rubbing the face vigorously with a washcloth can irritate the skin and just lead to more problems.
Lather Up Properly
Yes, aerosol shaving creams are convenient and quick, but they’re not really the best kind of lather for shaving. The propellant that’s used in packaging aerosol shaving cream can tend to dry out the skin, and the manufacturers end up adding lubricants to counter that. In addition, aerosol shaving cream is likely to include stabilizers, preservatives, and other chemicals. Why would you want that on your skin?
Shaving soaps are designed specifically for the kind of lather you need when shaving (don’t try to use bath soap) and often have a nice manly scent as well. Invest in a decent, hard shaving soap and a good shaving brush to work up a lather. You’ll be surprised at how long the soap can last and how much better of a shave you can get with it.
Don’t Bear Down
Probably for as long as you’ve been shaving, you’ve thought that bearing down with the razor will get the stubble nice and close and will deliver the closest possible shave. Well, that would seem to make sense, but it’s incorrect. A razor blade is doing the best cutting when it’s cutting on a flat surface. Bearing down with the blade and the head will depress the skin and will cause an inconsistent shave and possibly even irritation.
Newer cartridge designs that include multiple blades or pivoting heads at least attempt to compensate for shaving with too strong of a pressure, which is a habit that so many guys have. If you’re shaving with a safety razor or double-edge, though, too much pressure can lead to nicks and cuts. Shaving with a safety razor requires a level of finesse that you may need to take some time to get used to.
Try this: cock your head to one side and just let the razor rest on your cheek. It might seem counterintuitive, but that’s the amount of pressure you should use with your razor. No more.
Try an Alum Block
This is a pretty old-fashioned trick to try out. Alum blocks were around in the days before aftershave lotions and colognes, and the alum acts as an astringent on your skin. Swiping this block around your face while it’s still wet will close the pores and tighten the skin (and will act as a styptic pencil in case you have any nicks or cuts after shaving).
Switch to a Safety Razor
It might seem old-fashioned, but switching to a safety razor or double-edged razor has some real advantages. The shape of the head can help you get to some spots that are hard to reach otherwise (like right under your nose) and, after some practice, you’ll find you can get a closer shave with a double-edged or safety razor than with a cartridge. They’re also more environmentally friendly, since you won’t be throwing out plastic disposables or cartridges, and can actually save you money in the long run. Plus, there’s a cool factor where you feel a bit like Cary Grant or Clark Gable while shaving, if that’s important to you.
Think about it – shaving may never be “fun,” but wet shaving can at least make it a little more interesting.