Shaving: A Lost Art?

by Michael on July 21, 2009 · 0 comments

While I’m not sure that putting a razor to the man-bits is such a smart idea, there’s a lot to be said for good facial grooming. And some of us are lucky: in a pinch I can grab one of the free disposable face-rippers at the gym, quickly slap some Barbisol on my mug and come away with a serviceable shave and just a little bit of blood.

Shaving Tips for All Faces

This technique approved by the Dairy Board.

It was either this picture or something from Reservoir Dogs. You're welcome.

Many of us aren’t so blessed: our faces are either like leather studded with blade-dulling porcupine quills, or so sensitive that we break out if the water’s too hard. Razor burn, ingrown hairs, acne…there can be some pretty awful consequences for mistreating your face. Fortunately there are some techniques that can help you out:

  • Take the extra couple of minutes to really soften your beard by washing the area well with hot water. Ever see a barber give a shave in the movies? That steamy moist towel on the face isn’t just an anachronism – it works.
  • Ditto with the lather: working it into your beard helps prep your face, whiskers and follicles. Although you can do this with your fingertips and a circular motion, an old-school brush and shaving soap can take it to another level.
  • Keep the blade clean, take fewer strokes, don’t press down (let the blade do the work) and go with the grain.
  • Try a safety razor. More on this below.
  • Pay attention to your post-shave routine: a cold-water rinse to close the pores, then apply an after-shave balm (not traditional, alcohol-based “after-shave,” which dries out skin) or anti-bump cream.

The excellent Art of Manliness expands on these tips and more in their article “How To Prevent Razor Burn.”

Ditch the Cartridge

A companion article, “How To Shave Like Your Grandpa,” expands on the joys of the safety razor. If you’re tired of being soaked $10-20 or more per month for cartridge blades (my father gets literally three shaves from a Mach 3 cartridge), seeing safety razor blades for as little as 10 cents apiece is sure to seem like a financial no-brainer. The article “Shave Like Your Grandpa Did” (sounds like a trend) covers the cost savings and links to one of a series of YouTube how-to videos from a “wet shave” enthusiast.

Of course, it takes a little time and practice to get the best shave using the traditional tools, but if you’ve got the desire to learn you can end up with both a smoother, softer face and closer shave.

Personally, between my easy-to-shave skin and already jam-packed regimen, I’ll probably be sticking with cartridges for the time being, especially now that I know this trick to make razor blades last longer. However, I take care to baby my face both before and after. By the time I’ve applied my post-shave SPF moisturizer, my face is invigorated and my constitution is ready for the day (or the afternoon – hey, I work at home).

Then, every so often, when I don’t have any events scheduled that require full grooming, I give my face a few days’ break from shaving. This not only helps the skin to relax and fully heal, it lets the natural oils in my beard do their work, making my face even smoother and softer down the road.

Shaving is one task that a lot of us would rather do without – but if you’ve got to do it, it makes sense to do it right.

[The Art of Manliness]

[Painless Frugality]

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