It’s the last day of my #malebloglove series and really hope you guys have enjoyed it! Today’s post comes from my better half himself, Dean. Not a beauty blogger per say but a techie blogger. He has mastered the perfect beard with the best shaving method and products to go along with it. Wether your a man looking for some tips of the perfect shave, or even one of my lady readers that shaves more than waxing, then make sure you read on! You can follow Deans blog here and on Twitter too!
The Components of a Perfect Shave
Whether it’s your face or armpits, chest or legs, or even your girly bits or manly bits, understanding how to shave correctly can have a massive impact on the final result. Below I have put together a comprehensive guide on what is needed for the perfect shave as well as the steps you need to follow.
Hotter than Hot
If there is one thing you should take from this post it’s that the success or failure of a shave rests solely on the temperature of the water used during the shave. For me, the litmus test is simple; if you can dunk a facecloth into the water and hold it for any longer than a couple of seconds the water is not hot enough.
Really hot water is vitally important for two reasons.
- It clears the gunk from around the follicles of the hair.
- The hair will expand and take on more water allowing the blade to cut it easier.
Which Razor Works Best
The expectation here may be for me to say that you should be using a Straight or Safety razor. As someone who has used both for years at a time I can confirm that the best shave you will ever get is with a Straight razor, followed closely by a Safety razor…
However, both of the above suffer three massive problems when it comes to everyday use:
- There is a learning curve required for use. Until you are comfortable with either you will look like you have shaved using a broken bottle.
- Both types of razor require proper regular maintenance, which, if not done, will degrade the quality of the shave to the point that disposables start to look appealing.
- The speed at which one can shave with either a Straight or Safety razor will never be as quick as with a Cartridge based one.
Because of the above it’s simply not practical to recommend either for everyday shaving. This leaves us with Disposables and Cartridges… and NOBODY should ever use a disposable…. EVER.
Choosing The Right Brand
Personally, I like to use a Gillette Fusion handle with either Mach3 or ProGlide blades. The most important thing to look for in a razor is it’s weight. Buzzing razor’s or ‘3 in 1’ specialty razors may look cool but they tend to feel floaty and clumsy when using. Do not underestimate how important this is.
A top tip of mine is to purchase a battery powered buzzing Mach3 or Fusion handle, place the battery in it… and never turn it on. The extra weight really improves the movement of the razor and they usually cost no more than a plain handle.
To understand how important weight is to a razor you only need look up “Luxury Mach3 Handles” after your stomach has settled seeing some of the prices you may begin to realise they have all one thing in common, big, weighty, bases.
Oh and a note for women, please buy a man’s razor. Razor’s aimed at women are terrible for shaving with. You do not need to pay ridiculous money for soap infused specialty razors. A good man’s razor and fresh blades will vastly improve your shave, and save you money too.
Less Is More
I wanted to talk quickly about cartridges themselves. Where possible, purchase cartridges that have a SMALLER amount of blades in the head. The reality is, you really only need one blade, all the others are there to speed up shaving, but at a cost of causing irritation. When possible I use Mach3 (3 blades) cartridges and only use Fusion / ProGlide (5 blades) when I can’t find the others.
Lather Me Up
Shaving Foams, Gels, Soaps, and Creams have two primary purposes:
- Create a barrier for the blade to run on so as to reduce the irritation of dragging a piece of metal across your skin.
- Lift the hair and stop it from falling so that when the razor passes over the hair it cuts it with minimal force.
How this is achieved is via lather, the process of whipping product up into a frothy, aerated mixture. Taking a shaving product and applying it directly to your face without first lathering will actually cause you more issues than not using product at all.
If you shave by applying shaving foam, gel, or soap to your skin you are heading for a one way ticket to a bad shave. As discussed above, the purpose of shaving product is to get under the hair and stop it falling down; the exact opposite of what applying product via your fingers do.
A shaving brush works by infusing product with water and catching the lather within its bristles. As you apply this lather to the applicable area the bristles move the hairs around and allow the product to get underneath them.
Both men and women should apply shaving product with a proper brush, regardless of the area of the body they are shaving. A good quality brush will set you back about €35/40. The best sort of brush to use is badger hair based. Synthetic or non badger hair will not take on water effectively thus negating the original point of the brush; to infuse product with water.
A Shave Illustrated
Now that you have all the information needed, lets look at how a shave should go. Note that I do not specifically reference the face. Shaving any part of the body needs the same attention and some more so.
Women especially, who have been playing second fiddle to men in terms of products marketed at them tend to shave much larger areas than men, and as such should really consider dumping disposables or whatever soap strip Venus “wunderblade” is flavour of the month for a more traditional shaving routine.
Step 1: Pre Shave
Preparation is everything in a shave. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, as they say. The very first thing you should do before shaving is thoroughly clean so it’s free from grease and dirt. Not pre-cleaning means your razor will get gunked up; ruining any semblance of a decent shave.
Once clean, bin the water you used and half fill the sink with extremely hot, clean, water. Now is a good time to dump your shaving brush into the water. After this, take a face or muslin cloth, soak and wring it out. The cloth should be hot enough that you can just barely hold it comfortably. Rest the cloth on the area for a couple of seconds, until it cools down; repeat 4 more times, for a total of 5.
Finally, apply a pea sized amount of your favourite shaving product to your hand or a wide cup. Take your brush, shake any excess water from it and swirl the product gently in your hand until it creates a nice lather. The brush is now ‘primed’ and ready to use, any excess product in your hand or cup can be washed off in the sink. The brush will have more than enough product infused in its bristles for multiple passes.
Step 2: The Pass
Shaving correctly is a multi stage process with each stage known as a pass. How many passes you need to do depend on the area and hair thickness. The key point to remember is to always lather between each pass.
To start, lather the area you wish to shave, to do this take your primed brush and swirl it in small circles over the area, you are looking for good, non excessive, coverage.
Some people say you should never shave against the grain, personally I don’t think this makes much of a difference. The real key here is to never pass the razor over the same area in the same pass. This takes a lot of getting used to but is VITALLY important. Because we are doing multiple passes there is no need to worry about missed sections of hair.
Using your razor apply reasonable but not excessive pressure and shave up or down, depending on your preference, in one stroke. When you complete a stroke, clean the blade in the water, shake the excess, and move to the next area, regardless of whether there is hair left or not in the place you just shaved. It is really important to shake the excess water from the blade per stroke, if you don’t the water acts as a barrier to the blade, essentially dulling its ability, meaning more strokes and passes.
When you have shaved all areas in this pass, clean the excess product from your face, apply product and go again. On average I require 3 passes but you should do as many as necessary.
Step 3: Post Shave
Your skin after a shave tends to be raw. Remember, you just ran a blade over it multiple times. Now is not the best time to apply anything with alcohol in it. For now the best thing for your skin is a non alcoholic moisturiser or shaving balm (which is essentially a liquid moisturiser). If possible, leave as much time as you can between shaving and applying any harsh products like aftershave or perfume.
If you managed to nick yourself a great product to stem the blood flow is an Alum stone or block which is a well known astringent and anti coagulant.
Finally, regardless of the area, dry it thoroughly, more so if it is not your face. Leaving skin that has been just shave to stay wet will increase irritation. Baby powder is still the best product I have used for this purpose. The range of products that I like to use are very affordable and easily available. Nivea and BullDog are available in most pharmacies and Tesco, Liz Earle is available in larger Boots and online, Waxperts pads here and Proraso through selected barber shops and Shaving.ie.
It’s a bit sad, in my opinion, that shaving products have been split into men’s and women’s. Shaving is shaving, it doesn’t matter where on the body or what your gender is, a good shave always follows the above steps. So what do you think? Any questions? Find me on Twitter or comment below.