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!