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3 Things That Make A Difference In My Shave – With Video

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How to get a better shave?  Over the years I have gotten used to getting great shaves.  I also test a wide variety of shave products and some of those products may not work as well.  But I have three things I do to get better shaves on a consistent bases no matter what I’m shaving with.

1. Pre-Shave Cleansing With A Tool

For a long time I shaved in the morning right after showering.  But over the past few years I have found myself shaving in the evening more and more.  When I do that I always take the time to fully cleanse and hydrate my face before I shave.

I have found that using a mild form of physical exfoliation while cleansing results in a noticeably better shave for me: just using my hands to build lather and cleanse my face with does not give the same results.  This goes along with one of the conclusions from a recent Sharpologist article, Exfoliation Before Or After Shaving? Experts Weigh In.

Pre-shave cleansing products are, of course, ones specifically made for the face.  I’ve tried a fair number of washes over the years but still I prefer ACH Brito Glyce Lime Pre-Shaving Soap and Lucky Tiger’s face wash.

But more importantly I’ve discovered (or maybe I should say rediscovered) the benefit of using a powered cleansing tool.  The Art Of Shaving (AoS) “Power Brush” is similar in look to the cosmetic brush tools (on Amazon a men’s version is the Clarisonic Mia Men cleaning brush), with a spinning brush.  The AoS brush’s three-speed motor is good, with solid torque, and the price point is surprisingly competitive (be careful of cheap imitations, especially on Amazon.  They often don’t have sufficient torque and the quality control can be…dubious).  AoS targets its brush as less of a cleaner and more of a razor bump/ingrown solution but it works great as a pre-shave tool for me.

Do you have to use a powered tool?  No, there are the manual, unpowered tools too.  These can be readily found in “megamarts,” department stores, drugstores, etc.  I got this one from Amazon.  The bristles are similar to the powered brushes.  Or you can use a plain old washcloth.

But I have found that a powered tool works best for me.

2. The Double First Pass

Early in my old school wet shaving education I was fortunate enough to live near a modern guru of the movement, Charles Roberts.  Charles often had is own take on shave technique which could be out of the “conventional wisdom.”  One technique he always advocated was making two first passes.  For Charles that meant a straight North-South pass, regardless of the stubble’s “grain” lathering for each pass.

Over the years I’ve learned that a double first pass (whether it’s North-South or with the grain) isn’t really necessary if I have shaved less than 24 hours previously.  But if it has been more than a day my stubble is long enough to benefit from two first passes.  It reduces the stubble comfortably and enough for the successive passes to be more effective.

“Your mileage my vary” depending on how thick and fast your stubble grows.  But if you have not shaved long enough for thicker-than-usual (for you) growth, give it a try.

3. The After Shave Wipe Down

I mentioned earlier that I try/test a lot of products and sometimes those products aren’t quite up to snuff.  A few years ago I seemed to get ingrown hairs every few weeks.  My thinking was maybe I wasn’t getting all the lather residue off my skin and it was clogging pores.  Then I started to do a specific after-the-shave routine.

First I give myself a really thorough rinse with clean, warm water.  Then I soak a cotton pad (usually found in the cosmetics isle of your favorite department store, drugstore/chemist, or grocery store) with a toning product and generously wipe down the shaved area.  My personal favorite is Lucky Tiger’s After Shave & Face Tonic but any good, thin consistency toner (even Witch Hazel) should work.  Lately I’ve been using the Primary Barber Goods 4-N-1 Wipe with great results, too.

Then I rinse again with cool/tap water, leave my face wet, and apply just a drop or two of a good aftershave balm.

Now ingrown hairs are rare with me and if I do see one forming a quick brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush almost always takes care of it quickly.


I have made these three techniques part of my shaving routine and they have made a difference.  The little bit of extra time it takes to do these things are well worth the results.  Give them a try and let me know how it works out for you by leaving a comment.

What little things do you do that make a difference in your shave?  Leave a comment below so all may benefit!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

9 thoughts on “3 Things That Make A Difference In My Shave – With Video”

  1. My routine finally perfected after 20 years:
    1. Shave at night
    2. Shower before shaving
    3. Wash face with mild exfoliate in the shower
    4. Re- wet face after shower with warm water
    5. Apply shaving cream
    6. Two passes at most
    7. Rinse with cool water
    8. Apply witch hazel with a few drops of argan oil
    9. APPLY TEND- SKIN with cotton pad- this will 99% prevent ingrown hairs
    10. Apply thin coat of balm with wet hands.

  2. Thank you for the great article. I’ve never tried the double first pass. I’m looking forward to trying that. All the best.

  3. I have the Art of Shaving power brush and a manual face brush from Menscience. They’ve helped me in not having ingrown hairs that really troubled me for years. This was a good read as usual. Thanks Mantic.

  4. Get the cryogenic effect going.

    Mix one well-ground pinch of menthol crystals to 12 ounces of witch hazel.
    Add in a teaspoon of lanolin. Shake to mix well.

    You just made yourself a non-drying cryogenic tonic/after-shave that will wake you in the morning like you wouldn’t believe.

  5. Thank you all for the tips. I am cheap, but do find value in exfoliating before shaving. I use the Target Brand (Up) Apricot Face Scrub when I am in the shower. It sells for about $2 a tube.

  6. As the late and very much missed Charles Roberts used to say, the unrecognized key to an excellent shave is hydration and then more hydration….the lather from various soaps and creams of course supplies some lubrication…but the major purpose of the creams and soaps is to keep the whiskers hydrated. Charles suggested washing the face first with French Marseille soap which is a venerable soap made from vegetable oils. The hard bars are available in many scents from various sources. The soaps will last for months and supply tremendous lubrication that might obviate the need for preshave oils. Use lots of hot water ( must I add the warning NOT to burn yourself? ) and wash the face with the soap until one feels the beard becoming soft. The soap is completely non- irritating. After shaving Charles also suggested splashing with liberal amounts of warm or hot water to rehydrate the skin. The purpose of superior after shave preparations is to “seal” the hydration back into the top layer of the skin and as such reconstitute the normal barrier function of the top layer. As a retired Dermatologist, unless you have compelling reasons to do otherwise, I suggest NOT using alcohol or strong astringents on the wounded skin…and shaving IS wounding the skin. Your skin should appear mildly red…but not inflammed. The color reflects increased blood supply which will help reconstitute the epidermis. Of course, the red color will fade in short order leaving you with a very healthy glow. There is a difference between red skin that is irritated and mildly ruby colored skin that is hydrated and healthy.

    It can be difficult to find after shave agents that provide healing and which will seal in the moisture supplied by completing the shave with warm/hot water. Many will be very rich creams or lotions. Creams can be softened by rubbing the agents into slightly damp warm hands…and then apply the cream to the damp skin…remember, damp means that water is still in the top layer of the skin! I am hesitant to suggest any particular products, but the now discontinued Sampson’s Natural After Shave Balm is a perfect exemplar of what to use. If shaving at night, perhaps a very thin film of vaseline might suffice. If shaving during the day one will have to search for a product that serves the need.

    Of course, the above is my personal suggestions and is not meant to supply medical advice or to suggest the purchase of any particular product or material.

  7. I almost always shower before I shave–can’t think of the last time I didn’t shower first.

    I like Lucky Tiger face wash a lot, although it’s suddenly gotten so expensive I’ve started reaching out to other less expensive brands with some success, like L’Oreal Men Expert. But instead of a power tool or a wash cloth, I use a face sponge like Konjac or Dr Sponge and wash my face in the shower. These are very gentle scrubbers, especially compared to a generic wash cloth, which is way too harsh to use on your face imho. Just put the soap on the sponge and you’ll get a good thick lather as you scrub.

    Then for me it’s a high quality pre-shave oil. The Village Barber’s my favorite followed closely by Crown Shaving Co. Not so sure it really helps with the shave but it certainly leaves my skin feeling softer and more supple after my shave.

    I’m not really a fan of balms. I do use face cream on days I don’t shave, but for immediate post-shaves I like a good old fashioned alcohol-based aftershave. Lots of great ones out there. My favorite is probably Crown Shaving Co, but I rotate aftershaves frequently.

  8. I usually don’t shower before shaving. I use copious amounts of hot water. Followed by using a layer of whatever soap/cream I’m going to shave with. Then I apply a wash cloth that’s been soaking in hot water. Post, I go with hot water, alum block and finish with cold water and a cold wash cloth. Then Every Man Jack Post Shave(unscented).
    The el ultimo is whatever after shave matches the soap/cream.

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