You might have started shaving in your mid-teens but you still might be making some rookie mistakes. Even if you are flawless when it comes to shaving, there is always a lesson to be learned form the mistakes of others.
Here are seven mistakes to avoid when shaving with a safety razor. Not all errors here pertain to shaving with a safety razor but some are specific to using a safety razor. If this is not you, skip over those and read the rest.
1. Skipping the Hot Shower
All bad shaves have one thing in common: bad skin prep. Since you are about to scrape your face with a razor, it's a good idea to give your skin as much moisture and suppleness as you can.
The best way to get your skin ready for the blade is to take a hot shower. The hot water and steam will open up your pores, which will make it easier for the pre-shave oil and cream to penetrate your skin.
If you don't have time for a hot shower, wash your face with hot water and rub your beard area vigorously with your fingers. This will help for your pores to open up and will make your skin more supple due to the increased blood circulation.
2. Not Lubing Up
I had a friend who taught that dry shaving makes him more of a man. He thought that pre-shave oils and creams were for pretty boys like me. Needless to say, he looked 40 in his early 20s.
The number one reason for skin irritation and signs of aging is lack of moisture. Forget about toughing it up and lube up. Pre-shave oils help your skin retains moisture in your pores, which makes it more supple. Pliable skin gives way to the razor and, as a result, you get less cuts and nicks.
3. Using Shaving Foam
If it were up to me, pre-made shaving foams would be banned with a law. Yes, I know it is easier to squirt out a dollop instead of working up a foam with your shaving soap and brush. Putting in a little effort, however, pays off in spades in this case.
You don't have to go all out and use a shaving soap and brush to get a good shave. The key part is to massage the latter or cream into your skin. You can do this with your fingers or your brush. Massaging the lather into your face helps the moisturizing ingredients penetrate into your skin. The razor will glide smoothly without causing any irritation.
4. Picking the Wrong Razor Blade
Not all blades are made equal. Picking the best razor blade for your face may be tricky. Using a blade that is too sharp can give you cuts and nicks. Going too dull will cause irritation.
If you have a thick, coarse beard, pick a sharp blade like Feather or Personna Blue. If your beard is softer, go with a smoother blade like Astra Platinum.
5. Starting with the Wrong Pass
How you start off your shave will determine how you finish it. Always start by shaving with the grain. Your second pass should be across the grain and your final pass should be against the grain.
If you have sensitive skin, go only with one pass, with the grain. This would ensure minimum irritation and no bleeding.
Here's a quick summary of the 3-Pass Technique:
6. Putting too Much Pressure
If you use razor blades that are too dull for your beard, you may naturally put more pressure in an attempt to cut more. The result is never good. Putting too much pressure gives you cuts instead of a smooth shave.
Your safety razor already has some weight, which puts some pressure when you lay the blade on your face. Your job is just to slide down without putting any extra weight on it.
7. Skipping the Aftershave
Now that you got a baby bum smooth shave, you have to finish it off the right way. There are many guys out there who just rinse and go. I know you're not one of them. You actually put on an aftershave balm because you know that shaving dries out your skin and that even if you're not bleeding, it leaves microcuts and scrapes on your face. To help you heal these cuts, you put on aftershave.
Traditionally, guys splash an alcohol-based aftershave/cologne, which contains antiseptic and closes the pores. The downside of the alcohol- based aftershaves is that they dry out the skin. Guys with sensitive skin may also experience burning and irritation.
The best way to go is to use an aftershave balm. It has antiseptic properties and also moisturizers your skin.
I know some guys who skip the aftershave altogether but put on a face moisturizer after. That's better than letting your face go commando but still not the best solution. Aftershave balms are especially formulated to calm irritation and help your skin heal after shaving. Most face moisturizers are made to moisturize, not heal.
What tricks do you use for a great shave? Share in the comments below. I always love hearing what you think.