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A Simple Upgraded Post-Shave Skin Care Routine For The Middle-Aged Wet Shaver

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My wife tells me that the complexion of my skin improved significantly after I started wet shaving using traditional products.  But now that I’m on the far-side of “middle age” I’ve discovered that my facial skin could use a little extra help.  I don’t want to go overboard though, spending huge amounts of time (and money) for diminishing returns.  Here’s a simple upgraded skin-care routine I’ve settled on.

My Typical Routine

For a long time I think my shave/skin care routine was fairly typical: wash my face with generous amounts of warm water and a gentle facial cleanser (or, alternatively, shave immediately after showering), use a good shave cream or shave soap applied with a brush, shave in passes using a razor with as few blades as necessary to get the job done (in my case I settled on an adjustable razor), rinse with clean water after the shave, and finish with a good aftershave balm.

After I started working on Sharpologist in earnest in 2011 and began testing a lot of different products I started to get ingrown hairs and other irritations more often.  After researching the issue I added an additional step to my shave–rinsing with warm water then wiping down my face with a cotton cosmetic round soaked with a low-or-no alcohol toner to clean the area before a final cool water rinse and aftershave balm application.

[Note: Amazon, OneBlade, Smallflower, Tiege Hanley, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]

The First Minor Change

Toners have more benefits than just cleaning the skin and helping avoid ingrown hairs.  They can also do things like add a layer of protection to the skin, temporarily tighten up skin pores, restore pH balance to the skin, and help reduce skin irritation.

So early this year instead of rinsing again after the wipe-down I started to just let the toner dry on my face before adding aftershave balm.

I noticed a modest improvement in the post-shave feel of my skin (and the feeling lasted longer).

The Second Minor Change

Then over the Summer I got an email from Sharpologist reader Dave C. extolling the virtues of Hyaluronic Acid (“HA”).  Also known as Sodium Hyaluronate or hyaluronan, HA is a moisturizing substance in skin tissue that is naturally produced by the body.  As we age, the amount of HA that the skin cells produce on their own begins to drop. As moisture levels in the skin start to drop more significantly the skin starts to lose elasticity and show the signs of aging. This is when fine lines, wrinkles, and rougher skin texture start to show.  Luckily, HA can be purchased at cosmetic outlets.

Dave has been adding a drop of HA to his lather as he builds it:

“For those of us with dry skin this does provide a little extra moisturizing to the lather we make.

And believe it or not the single drop does make a difference for some of us with dry sensitive skin.

Or in my case Dry Wrinkly Old Skin.”

I picked up a small bottle off of Amazon.

I started adding a drop of HA to my lather as well.  But the results for me were mixed: some lathers from creams and soaps that I have trouble with (such as Saponificio Varesino Aromatic Fern Shaving Soap) felt noticeably better on my skin; other products didn’t seem to make much difference.

But the process was encouraging enough to pique my interest in easy-to-integrate skin care products!

(By the way, HA is an ingredient already found in some aftershave products, such as Barrister And Mann’s new shave balms.)

Going A Bit Further

My experience with HA got me to start researching a bit more into skin care products.  And I discovered there are a lot of products out there.  Some brands like Tiege Hanley try to make the process more approachable to men who may not be used to (or comfortable with) using a skin care regimen.  And some “traditional” brands such as George Trumper now carry upgraded skin care products.

An Upgraded “Serum”

Coincidentally, while I was researching skin care products like HA, my friends at OneBlade sent me a sample of their new “Restore Serum” they launched recently.   Generally-speaking, a “serum” is a highly-concentrated combination of active ingredients formulated to provide moisturizing and anti-wrinkle benefits to the skin–I think of it as HA on steroids.  Here’s how OneBlade describes it:

“Packed with multi-peptides along with sodium hyaluronate, OneBlade’s nightly restorative serum was specifically designed to nourish your skin. Not only does it work to restore firmness, enhance skin elasticity, and stimulate collagen production – we’ve used ingredients that comfortably balance all skin types, including those on the sensitive side.”

OneBlade is not the only brand selling serums of course.

And when I say serums are highly concentrated, I mean it.  Many of these products are dispensed with an eyedropper: a tiny bit goes a long way.

An Upgraded Balm/Moisturizer?

Then I started looking at aftershaves.  In some ways aftershaves are compromises or combinations of other products.  Convenient, but not necessarily ideal.

So if I’ve added a separate serum product to prepare the skin for another treatment, maybe I could substitute a “better” product to take the place of aftershave balm?

Actually, for most circumstances, I found that a good shave balm should be fine.  Use a dedicated moisturizer if your skin needs a little extra “oomph.”

But there is a special case.  At the same time OneBlade sent me their Restore Serum they also sent me a pre-launch sample of their “Protect Daily Moisturizer With SPF 30.”  Products with high SPF are very difficult to get certified, so if you’re in (or in-and-out of) the sun all day this product could be something really beneficial to you.  I’ll edit this article with a link when it is available.

Applying Products The Right Way

There is a “correct” way to apply multiple products.  Start with the “thinnest” product first then apply “thicker” products over it.  So in this case I apply toner first, then serum, then balm or moisturizer.

Some products suggest using them once per day, others twice per day.  For simplicity’s sake I’m only using them as part of my shave routine, so once per day for me.

Steve of The Shave Shack Of Texas has always advocated to me the process of applying product using circular, upward motions with the tips of the fingers.  He says it’s a way of “fighting gravity.”  I’m a little skeptical but, hey, it couldn’t hurt.


I’ve been using my upgraded routine for a couple months now.  And it is a “minor” upgrade in the grand scheme of things.  Here’s my previous routine:

  1. Wash face
  2. Lather with brush
  3. Shave (in passes with a single blade)
  4. Rinse with warm water
  5. Toner wipe-down
  6. Rinse with cool water
  7. Apply aftershave balm

My new routine is:

  1. Wash face
  2. Lather with brush
  3. Shave (in passes with a single blade)
  4. Rinse with warm water
  5. Toner wipe-down (allow to dry)
  6. Apply serum
  7. Apply moisturizer or aftershave balm

It has added a couple minutes to my shave time but I’m cool with that.

Has it made a difference for me?  Yes, I believe it has.  My skin feels softer, for a longer time, and fine wrinkles are filling in.  I’m not going to look like a 30 year old again but at least I’m staving off looking older than I am.

Do you have a skin care routine (especially a SIMPLE routine)?  What do you do?  Leave a comment below!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

11 thoughts on “A Simple Upgraded Post-Shave Skin Care Routine For The Middle-Aged Wet Shaver”

  1. Hi is the BLACKWOOD FOR MEN is really the top brand in the US to get the right men’s hair and skin products heard a lot about it

  2. 1 Shower
    2 Lather with brush
    3 Shave with DE or artist club razor
    4 Warm water rinse
    5 Alum block or Crystal alum stick
    6 Cold water rinse
    7 Thayers toner no alcohol
    8 Aftershave balm or Nivea men sensitive creme

  3. I started using Clinique for Men (soap, toner, & moisturizer daily) in my 20s, changing to Neutrogena at 40 (1/3 the price!). Now early 60s, switched mostly to the Jack Black line. I wash with JB daily cleanser, apply JB beard lube, lather up Cremo shave cream in a bowl with brush, shave (several passes with One-Blade), rinse, wash with JB daily cleanser again, hot, cold & hot rinses, witch hazel toner, Neutrogena post shave balm (shaved area), finishing with JB 20 SPF moisturizer full face & neck. (I’ll stop using the Neutrogena when I run out; been discontinued.) Sure sounds involved when I write it out, but doesn’t seem so when I’m doing it.

  4. I’m age 84, and I’m a charter member of the Keep It Simple Club.

    I keep some fresh grape seed oil in a small bottle with a 3/4 inch wide opening and screw cap. I add several drops of any favorite essential oil.

    After shaving, I shake the bottle twice or thrice, remove cap, and invert the bottle tightly onto the palm of each hand for a brief moment. Rub hands together. Pat (don’t rub) the thin film of product onto face and neck. Any residue is rubbed onto my forehead and hair.

    Perfection! Simple! Inexpensive! Truly, less can be more.

  5. I’ve found during my recent “aging” ( 49!) that I have actually switched to using less and lighter products than when I was younger… Current favourite for a while now is Trumper’s Skin Food which is glycerin based and works as an effective pre-shave / lather boost, and a post-shave balm and moisturiser. Fortunately my skin doesn’t get terribly dry (which is a vast improvement from how it was before I wet shaved properly…) but can be sensitive. Hopefully that bodes well for the coming years!

  6. I am 80 years old. I have been a traditional shaver since I was 14. For the past year, this had been my post-shave routine. Use a washcloth with cool water to remove any lather. Apply Thayers WH Toner either Rose Petal or Lavender. Wait until my face is damp and I apply two to three drops of HA to my hands and massage it onto my face. When the HA is absorbed I then use an ASB.

    My wife was using a cream that contains HA for years. However, she has switched over to the hell form and has saved a lot of money!

  7. I’ve started doing the Kevy Shaves method of taking the last of the shave soap and applying it to my face while I clean up my gear than I wash that off with cold water. Since there are amazing ingredients in the soap I use (PAA Scentsless CK-6) it makes my face feel so good! I apply it to my whole face including my forehead. After patting dry my face, I apply a nice aftershave / cologne and finally some nice skin food in the form of a gel or balm.

  8. Very interesting and useful article, as usual. You want a simple routine? I’ve got a simple routine. After washing and drying my face after a shave I liberally apply Thayer’s Facial Toner (Rose), NOT the witch hazel, and in the winter maybe a balm around my nose and eyebrows. I’m probably less young than you but people say I have a face like a baby’s butt. I think that’s a complement. I’ve found that balms in the Spring, Summer and Fall make my face look like a greasy baby’s butt.

  9. I too am in my late middle age (60) and have noticed the difference in skin. After a post-shave water rinse (sometimes cold, sometimes warm; depending on the season), a quick pat dry with a towel, I apply a thin layer of post-shave oil. I use BetaNaturals pre/post shave product, but really, one can just acquire argan oil, or any product that contains argan and a mix of other oils (grapeseed, jojoba, etc). In a pinch, I’ve used EVOO, though I prefer the lighter argan oil based products. I then apply a thin layer of aftershave balm (Village Barber is my go to brand) about 15-30 minutes later.

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