Even if you don’t really mind the bumps and nicks, there comes a time when every guy should fling his disposable razor straight into the garbage and learn how to shave properly. After all, you’re not a kid hacking away at a pre-pubescent crustache anymore. This is your goddamn grownup face we’re talking about here. You only get the one, and you’re going to start treating it right, like an adult for god’s sake. Here’s how.
You know you need to wash your face with more than just bar soap, right? If you’ve learned anything in your years of being alive, it’s that there’s more to hygiene than meets the eye. If not, we need to have a longer talk. Anyway, assuming you know that not all face washes are created alike, it’s always a good idea to start fresh to open those pores and prime your face canvas for shaving. Whip out a deep-cleansing scrub and give your face a solid one-minute rubdown. This will exfoliate and get rid of all that dead skin and oil and dirt that conspire to give you a brutal case of razor burn.
Even the best razor will rough you up if you don’t put something between it and your skin. That’s why shaving gels and creams and oils were invented. You could try something simple and effective, like Beard Lube®, which is both fun to say and use. All you do is work a little bit into your moist facial hair and away we go, no extra steps needed. Bonus: It goes on clear, which makes it ideal for making sure you shave your beard and not, you know, your bare skin.
Or maybe you want max frothiness? Grab a more traditional shave lather (which is about the most fun you can have with macadamia nut oil in the bathroom without it getting weird) and a shave brush and get to work.
Whichever option you choose, apply it to your face in a circular motion, which feels great and also stands hairs up in preparation for what’s about to happen. And that’s it! You’re ready for the action.
Your razor can make or break your shave. You could opt for a single-blade razor, which evokes visions of red-and-white poles, waxed mustaches, and doo-wop music. They can lead to a gentler shave; they don’t pull on the hair to cut beneath the skin, which can cause ingrown hairs. But if you don’t want to deal with manual razor-maintenance (and who could blame you), a multi-blade razor is more than adequate. The number of blades isn’t just a competition to see who can fit the most into a compact space (“Eight blades?!? Well, we’ve got NINE blades with an expansion slot for a tenth!”). They work together to ensure a super smooth shave, with the first blade pulling the hair away from the skin while the rest work clean-up duty.
The closest thing to a hard and fast rule regarding razors would be this: For men prone to razor bumps and ingrown hairs (especially men of color), or for men with sensitive skin, the fewer the blades the better. The Jack Black five-blade razor should do the trick nicely.
Here are a few tips about the actual shave that you maybe didn’t learn during puberty. Make sure you take shorter, lighter strokes, which gradually reduces the amount of whiskers versus knocking them all out in one fell swoop. Shave with the grain (which is the direction the hair is growing); otherwise you’ll just push the hairs back into your head, defeating the whole purpose.
Rinse your blade after each and every pass. The buildup that occurs on your razor blade is barely even noticeable to the naked eye, and yet it’s one of the primary causes of razor burn and irritation.
And remember, you don’t need to press down too hard. The weight of the razor should be plenty: You’re removing a few millimeter-thick hairs, so save your elbow grease for opening a really stuck jar or something. If it FEELS like you need to tug to get your razor through your scruff, it’s past time to get a new blade. Blade cartridges should be replaced after every five shaves. You know what they say: When in doubt, throw it out.
You’ve made it this far — don’t ruin it all with a sloppy finish. Rinse your face with some cold water (refreshing!). Then, you’re going to want to use a soothing aftershave gel to relieve any redness. And here’s where we tell you the one true moral of the story: There is actually nothing more adult than a good daily face moisturizer, especially one with broad-spectrum SPF protection. This shows that you care about preventing early signs of aging, the most adult thing of all. And honestly, it’s more like the older, more successful brother of those cheap-smelling aftershaves you may have used when you were younger, because it smells great, AND it actually does something.
Follow everything so far and still get razor bumps or irritation? Hey, it happens. Try a treatment like Bump Fix®, which works wonders for fixing razor bumps and also knocks out pimples and blemishes to boot. Just give your skin a few minutes or so to heal after shaving before you use it.
And that’s all there is to a great goddamn shave. Bask in the ritual of it all. There are so few things in life that you can do perfectly every time, and this is one of the best. Enjoy!
Steve Jacobs is a brand strategist by day, a freelance writer by evening, and a very sound sleeper by night.