From the Romans to modern man legions of men have stood in front of a mirror performing the daily ritual of shaving. For those men who like a squeaky clean jaw then this daily chore becomes one of life’s essential routines.
The Bane of the 5 O’clock Shadow
If you are anything like me then you will have a chin that come three o’clock in the afternoon resembles something that you would find in the wood accessories department of your local hardware store aptly named sandpaper. Yes, it is rough and leaves a grey shadow across the mug. To some of the opposite sex it is sexy and seen as a sign of masculinity to others it conjures up feelings of ticklish torture. Ask any damsel and she will tell you that on the surface a 5′o clock stubble shadow looks great but in reality it becomes a woman’s worse nightmare when it leaves their faces (or other parts depending where you are) feeling sore and red after a romantic snog.
Preparation is King
Like most things there is a right way and a wrong way to doing it, shaving should be counted as one of the things you get wrong most of the time, the fact is most men have their own way of shaving and like me shave in a rush and at the last moment. After much reading, and talking to various barbers (and going under their cut-throat blades) then testing it amongst a few like-minded individuals we all decided the best way to a perfect shave requires a little preparation and a finely honed blade.
What is the Best Razor to Use?
One of the most important areas of shaving is choosing your shaving equipment, for the perfect shave this can mean the difference between a sore face or perfectly smooth one. We all have our preferences for what kind of razor blade we like whether it is a single edged razor or one of the five blade razors that vibrates. However, the 4 or 5 bladed razors are not good for your face according to men’s grooming specialist Carter & Bond who believe that dragging a five bladed razor across your face has detrimental effects on your skin.
My personal favourite is the Merkur Vision double edge (DE) safety razor (Yeah I’m a bit old fashioned) as it gives me an extremely close and comfortable shave and although expensive was a worthwhile investment. Whatever razor you do choose depends on your choice entirely, for some this means budget given the cost of the new power blades that are on the market. Whatever your choice remember the following tips:
- Always keep your blade sharp this means changing it on a regular basis when the blades start to wear. Depending on how tough your beard is a single blade could mean once a day or every couple of days at most. For a twin blade once a week will usually suffice.
- Keep your blade clean and dry when not in use. A dirty blade will wear fast and also give you a rougher shave and start to drag on your skin.
- If using a power razor then keep it to twin blades at the maximum. A power blade safety razor will generally last longer but will need to be cleaned thoroughly after each shave.
How to Get the Best and Closest Shave
There is a good reason why barbers use 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. For many this is impracticable and most men will not have the time or the desire to carry this out on a Monday morning before work. The trick is then to wash your face thoroughly with hot water. Use a good face wash and lather up your chin and jaw and rinse thoroughly with hot water. I like to take a hot shower before I shave and let the running water pour over my face for a full minute after I have washed it.
An ideal shave will involve a good shaving brush and the use of paste. According to Askmen Fashion correspondent B.A. Parfond he states that:
Forget the gel and the mousse, it is not very good”, – only a thick shaving brush and shaving paste will do.
You can go to any good high street chemist and purchase a badger hair shaving brush which is recognised as the best because of the bristles. Also a good shaving cream is tantamount to a decent shave. Currently my favourite cream is Kyoku’s Sake infused shave cream and not only helps in the softening process but leaves the skin with a fresh feel and a slight fragrance.
Once you have washed your face with hot water, apply a pre-shave cream. – After a recent grooming session at Carter and Bond their barber Mustapha introduced me to Proraso pre-shave which I have now become a convert to. – Apply the preshave to your skin and leave for a minute. Apply your shaving cream with your brush, I like to apply mine with short even strokes and dabs and then repeat the process again.
When using the razor blade run it gently over your skin downwards with the grain. Don’t stretch the skin with your hand just gently push your skin to the blade and run the blade over it carefully rather than applying too much pressure. Rinse the blade as often as possible with hot water it actually helps and works well to keep the shaving blade warm and your skin soft.
After shaving rinse your face rinse well with cold water which works to close the pores and leaving your skin feeling fresh.
For the after shave you may want to try a light cream based alcohol free aftershave. Alcohol based aftershaves always tend to dry the skin which can lead to aging and a dry appearance.
Last of all enjoy your shave, I know it can seem a bit of a chore, but if you take the time to enjoy the shave you will get the perfect shaving experience.