Hipsters have a lot to answer for when it comes to style and grooming. That lazy hipster beard is a common sight on many men’s faces nowadays and it’s not always the best look for a guy. Sure, there can be something refreshing about not bothering with your facial hair, but come on…shaving really isn’t that difficult.
And it’s not as though having a beard or being totally clean-shaven (smooth as a baby’s butt) are your only two options. And technically speaking, you don’t always have to use products designed specifically for shaving. I’ve experimented with many different shaving products and methods, and have found some surprising results.
So let’s take a look at some essential, healthy shaving tips for the modern gentleman.
1. The Shower Question
You probably shave before you take a shower. Most guys do, and there’s a certain logic to this. The shower removes all the shaving cream and other mess from your face, and it’s pretty effective in doing this. It’s not the best option for your skin though. Allow the heat from the water (and the resulting steam) to soften your facial hair and open up your pores, and then shave after your shower. The hair comes off far more easily, and you are less likely to irritate your skin. You can then wash the shaving cream off and splash your face with cold water, which closes your pores once again.
2. Cooking and Shaving
There’s an awesome product that I like to keep on hand, both for cooking and shaving. Coconut oil makes a surprisingly good shaving cream. The natural fats in the oil offer the perfect amount of lubrication for shaving and it results in nice, soft skin afterwards. You’re also left with a great coconut scent. Get the extra virgin stuff, which you can find in health food stores and some supermarkets. This is coconut oil at its most pure and is the best option for your skin. It’s also sensational for cooking. Seriously, lightly salted chicken breasts pan-fried in coconut oil is a treat for your taste buds.
3. Old School Shaving
Ever shaved with a straight razor? It’s quite the old school shaving experience. Also known as a cut-throat razor (which is not exactly a comforting name), it’s the type of razor where the blade folds back into the handle and kind of looks like a weapon. You can learn to use one of these razors yourself, occasionally sharpening the blade, which means you’ll never have to buy disposable razors again. You need to train yourself to hold the blade at a 30-degree angle, which can take a bit of practice. There are also many barber shops that offer a straight razor shave, and this can be a cool, self-indulgent treat. You just sit back and relax while a professional does his thing.
4. Going Against the Grain
You were probably taught that shaving against the grain is a bad idea unless you think a cut-up face is a stylish look. There’s a trick to shaving against the grain, but full disclosure, it can irritate the skin if you do it every day. So it’s best to keep it for a situation where you need a really close shave. The trick is a simple one, although many guys maybe skip it because it can take twice as long. You just shave with the grain (the direction of hair growth) as per usual. Don’t forget to shower first! Once you’re clean shaved, you rinse off and then reapply the shaving cream (or coconut oil, or whatever). You then shave against the grain, slowly and carefully. You have already removed most of the hair, and so having less hair to “fight” against the razor (which is the case when shaving against the grain) results in far less irritation.
5. Irritation Can Be Avoided
There are obviously a huge number of aftershave balms on the market, but you get what you pay for. The cheaper ones tend to be unpleasantly greasy and can give your skin a weird shine. Cheaper aftershave splashes have a high alcohol content, and while this is great for cleaning your skin, it can also hurt. It will dry your skin out with regular usage, and this can lead to even more skin irritation. A mid-range balm in terms of price is a good bet. There are also a lot of home remedies that can soothe your skin after shaving.
- Heat: Simply soak a washcloth in hot water (not so hot that it will burn your skin), wring out the excess water and hold it against your skin. It’s like the hot towel treatment that barbers often provide after a shave.
- Aloe Vera: You don’t need the aloe vera moisturizing cream, but the actual plant itself. Just cut off one of the outer leaves, spit it in half, and gently squeeze. The gel that comes out can be rubbed directly onto your skin for effective relief. The plants are really easy to care for.
- Witch Hazel: This can be bought from health food stores. Apply it to your skin with a cotton ball. It will tingle a little. The witch hazel cleans your skin while reducing inflammation. It’s a fantastic choice if you’re prone to acne.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Like the witch hazel, you just soak a cotton ball in the liquid and then dab it onto your skin. It’s not as harsh as witch hazel so it’s great if you have sensitive skin. It also makes a nice salad dressing!
6. Shaving Without Shaving Cream
Shaving cream or gel from a can is usually the most convenient choice, but it’s not the only option. Your new friend coconut oil is a safe bet, but you can also use almost any kind of cooking oil, such as olive oil, canola oil, or rapeseed oil. Avoid oils that have added spices, lemon, or garlic. This can irritate your skin and leave it with a smell that you probably don’t want. You only need a tiny amount of oil for this. Baby oil also works. Try shea butter if you have thick, coarse hair as it’s great for softening even the thickest of hair. If you happen to run out of shaving cream and really need to shave, try some hair conditioner. It makes your facial hair silky smooth (as it’s supposed to) which makes it easy to remove with your razor.
7. Shaving Minus Any Lubrication
I really don’t recommend using a razor unless you have some kind of lubricant. It’s super easy to cut yourself. Maybe if you missed a tiny spot while shaving you can just run a razor over the spot in question, using the usually-standard lubrication strips on the razor head (so run it under warm water first). This is only something that should be done if you need to remove a couple of hairs that you might have missed. The only other way to shave without lubrication is to use an electric razor. You get what you pay for, and electric razors with a higher level of RPM (revolutions per minute) offer the best shave, and are usually the priciest. You can also use electric hair clippers if you happen to have some at home. It won’t offer a close shave, but it will remove most of the hairs without any lubrication, and you can do it surprisingly quickly.
8. The Blood!
No matter how carefully you shave, at some point in life you’re going to have to deal with shaving cuts. Avoid aftershave splashes if there are any obvious cuts because it will hurt like hell. You can use alcohol-free mouthwash, and you just splash a small amount onto your face. It might sting a little, but it won’t be so bad and the antiseptic agents in the mouthwash will stop the cuts from becoming infected. Chapstick is also remarkably effective, and the design of the stick allows you to very carefully dab it onto the affected area. The chapstick applies a loose seal to the cut, keeping it clean while the blood clots.
The chapstick will slowly be absorbed into your skin, and it’s basically just a moisturizer so this is fine. For a deeper cut, you might just want to use the old trick of holding a wad of toilet paper against your skin. Apply pressure to allow the blood to clot, and then take a lukewarm shower. The shower will remove any blood from the surface of your skin without breaking the clot.
Author: Dávid Kovács
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Nina Jean/Flickr