A beginner’s guide to shaving

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Along with getting a driver’s license and leaving home to pursue an education, shaving for the first time is a defining moment in every man’s life. We all watched with a tinge of envy and admiration as our dads (or big brothers) soaped up and emerged with a clean-shaven face with just a few measured razor strokes. That’s why we can’t help but feel a little excited when we finally find ourselves in front of the bathroom mirror, shaving cream and razor in hand, ready to get to work on that stubble for the first time.

However, unlike most other rites of passage that signal the transformation of a boy into a man, there is no set of rules or guidelines available to us when it comes to that first shave. All we have to go on is what we saw on TV and the memory of our aforementioned family members in action. And since shaving carries a real risk of nicks and cuts all over your face and neck (not to mention a whole host of other skin complaints), wouldn’t it be great if there was a guide that answered all your shaving FAQs as you first approached them? Well, you’re in luck – that’s exactly what we have prepared for you.

Question 1: What products do you need for a good shave?

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Walk into the supermarket and you’re faced with aisles full of grooming products, all of which claim to be an indispensable part of your shaving routine. It might be a little confusing for the first time, but we’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t succumb to this pressure and fill your bathroom cabinets with all kinds of shaving supplies. At the same time, shaving is more than just a shaving cream and a razor. The best shaving kit comes with just five essentials – a pre-shave oil, a foaming agent, a brush, a razor and an aftershave balm, that’s all you need for a great shave.

Question 2: How to prepare your skin for shaving?

Grooming 101: A Beginner's Guide to Shaving© Shutterstock

One of the most common shaving mistakes that even the most experienced hands make is trimming your facial hair while it’s still stiff and spiky. Even the best razor blade would struggle to cope with the resistance this creates, leaving you open to the risk of cuts and rashes. For most people, preparation before shaving consists only of a quick wash of the face, a grooming practice that leaves a lot to be desired.

A splash of cold water doesn’t loosen your facial hair enough to start shaving, so washing your face with warm water is the way to go. The heat and humidity relaxes your hair follicles and softens your beard hair, making it much easier to pass the blade. Even a pre-shave face wash with a light exfoliant wouldn’t hurt, as it will slough off dead skin and oil trapped in your pores.

Question 3: How to choose the right razor?

Grooming 101: A Beginner's Guide to Shaving© Wikimedia Commons

Every specialized job requires the right tools, shaving being no different. With a variety of options available on the market, it’s important to focus on the best razor to meet your grooming needs and budget. Although disposable razors are the pocket-sized option, they cannot compete with their more technologically advanced counterparts. Multi-blade cartridge razors bring speed and efficiency to the table, but having to buy replacement cartridges at regular intervals makes them more expensive in the long run. Double edge safety razors offer the closest shave of the bunch and require minimal maintenance costs after a heavy initial investment. However, they also present the highest risk of nicks and cuts, especially for the inexperienced user due to the extremely sharp blade. For those who don’t feel ready to handle a sharp blade just yet, there’s even the option of an electric razor that will get the job done.

Question 4: What is the correct way to shave?

Grooming 101: A Beginner's Guide to Shaving© Shutterstock`

Finally, the million dollar question – what is the ideal shaving technique? Following the direction of your facial hair growth yields the best results, a technique commonly referred to as shaving in the direction of hair growth. Just run your hands over your face – if it’s smooth, you’re moving with the grain and that’s the direction your blade should be moving. If you shave against the grain, you pull the hair in an unnatural direction. While it may even result in a closer shave, you’re much more likely to harm your skin. You should only go this route if you’re unhappy with the results of your first grit shave, but be extremely careful when doing so.

Question 5: How often should the blades be changed?

Grooming 101: A Beginner's Guide to Shaving© Wikimedia Commons

Another shaving misconception is that you should change your razor blade every week. In fact, there is no set time period for changing blades. The dullness of a razor blade depends on several factors, such as its quality, how often you shave, the products you use, your preparation before shaving, and the maintenance of your blade. For example, your blade will dull much faster if you don’t use the best shaving foam for the job, or if you don’t clean hair that clogs in the gaps between the blades. A generally reliable indicator that it’s time to change blades is if you have to put extra effort into gliding your razor through your hair, as a quality blade should be able to glide smoothly.

Question 6: How can you make sure your skin stays healthy?

Grooming 101: A Beginner's Guide to Shaving© Shutterstock

Your shave isn’t done as soon as you wash your face and towel – you need to follow proper post-shave procedures. Even though the best shaving creams these days contain aloe vera and other soothing agents, your skin deserves more than that. After rinsing with lukewarm water, a jet of cold water is necessary to close your open pores and firm your skin. After that, a quality aftershave balm is the finishing touch your shaving ritual needs to ensure your skin stays healthy and hydrated.

Read more: The best shaving foams

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