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How To Get A More Consistent Shave

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man shaving

Do you have trouble getting a consistent shave? I don’t necessarily mean consistently close, I mean a shave that may have rough stubble patches in places at different times, or maybe getting a good shave one day and a lousy shave the next. Here are some tips to getting a more consistent shave.

Key Points

  • Thorough preparation can lay the foundation to a consistent shave.
  • Good equipment (razors, blades, lubricants, etc.) can reduce inconsistencies.
  • Using individual products from the same artisan or manufacturer can also reduce inconsistencies.
  • Time and focus during the actual act of shaving can increase shave consistency.
  • Recognize that there may be factors that you do not have control over, such as weather/climate/location.


A consistent shave starts with preparation.

Map The Area

Understanding the direction of how the hair grows is the first step in overcoming shaving problems. To accomplish this, create a map of your beard with a mapping aid like this one (assuming you’re shaving your face. You get the idea):

face sketch for shaving

Let your beard grow out for a day or so then gently stroke your fingertips over your beard in different directions to determine the grain of the beard. Some directions will feel rough, other directions will feel smoother. The direction that is the smoothest is the direction of your beard grain. If you want a confirmation, try using a plastic card or a thick piece of paper to stroke your beard with. 

Using a mirror determine the direction(s) your beard is growing in and sketch that onto the face map: writing arrows in the direction of growth in each box will help you understand how to best shave those areas.

Wash Your Hands Before You Begin Your Shave

Keeping your hands clean is one of the ways to avoid cross-contamination–because those same hands will be touching the area about to be shaved. Reducing cross-contamination means less of a chance of making skin problems like acne or even shave bumps from getting worse. Many infectious diseases can be spread because of dirty hands or not washing hands with clean, running water and soap.

Click/tap to read Wash Your Hands (Properly) For A Better Shave

Sharing shaving implements is another opportunity for cross-contamination. And again, cross-contamination can make shaving worse by increasing the possibility of skin infections. So don’t share shaving tools.

Wash The Shave Area

man washing and toweling face

So what is the benefit of water as it relates to shaving? 

In a 1937 paper for the American Medical Association by Lester Hollander (MD) and Elbridge Casselman (MD), “Factors Involved In Satisfactory Shaving” (unfortunately you have to pay a fee to read it) the effect of water was one of the factors examined.  The most relevant section to this article:

“The tensile strength and consequently the hardness of hair are lessened by water absorption.

“Hair also takes up sebacceus secretion, which retards water absorption–an important factor in shaving, because in hair covered in sebacceus secretion there is a delay in water absorption during lathering.”

Donald Deem (MS) and Martin Eiger (PhD) published a paper for the Society Of Cosmetic Chemists (available at in 1976 studying the use and temperature of water for shaving:

“Synopsis: Device is described which permits measurement of the force required to CUT a BEARD HAIR FIBER under a variety of conditions. Studies with this device show ​that the force required to cut wet beard fibers with commercial razor blades is about 65 per cent less than that of dry fibers. Beard hair is almost completely hydrated by exposure to water for about 2 minutes at room temperature, and this hydration is accelerated by an increase in temperature.”

Cleansing the neck is a particular concern for those shaving the face area. Many men splash water on their face but neglect the neck.

And wash with a cleansing product specifically meant for the face (even if you are shaving somewhere else). “Body bars” or “deodorant soaps” can strip away too much of the natural oils on the skin that are important for a good shave.

Razor/Blade Manufacturing Quality

a variety of razors

The build quality of the razor and blade/cartridge plays a crucial role in achieving a consistent shave. A razor built with attention to detail maintains blade alignment and symmetry, ensuring uniform cutting action, crucial for a close shave without discomfort.

The materials used and the craftsmanship invested in its production can directly impact its durability and effectiveness. A sturdy handle with proper grip provides control, while a balanced weight distribution enhances maneuverability, allowing for smooth, even strokes across the skin.

In other words, don’t use a poorly manufactured razor.

Razors with a pivoting head can really help with shave consistency. While most pivoting-head razors use blade cartridges, there are a few single blade razors that use pivots too!

If you use multiple razors it is probably a good idea to just use one for a more consistent shave. That way you have learned the razor’s subtleties and you will not have to re-adjust your technique with a different razor.

Shave Lubricant Choices

A quality shaving cream or soap can be important for achieving a consistent shave. A high-quality product lubricates the skin, allowing the razor to glide smoothly and effortlessly, reducing friction and minimizing the risk of irritation, razor burn, or cuts. Ingredients such as natural oils, moisturizers, and emollients hydrate and soften the hair and skin, making it easier for the razor to cut through the hair without tugging or pulling. Additionally, a good shaving cream or soap creates a rich lather that lifts and suspends the hairs, ensuring a closer and more comfortable shave.

Like using a single razor, it might be beneficial to stick to one brand or artisan for shave lubricant too. That way you may be able to rule out differences in ingredient formulations between products for a more consistent experience.

The Shave Process

man shaving with double edge razor

Most shavers know the concepts of beard reduction and stubble grain.  But rather than take long, sweeping strokes with the razor, take shorter strokes that follow the flattest parts of the “shaving terrain,” like shaving the facets of a diamond. 

When you use a non-pivoting shaving razor you must maintain the angle of the blade against the skin. Locking the wrist allows the razor to move over the surface with much greater consistency. Front-facing pivoted razors are less susceptible to the pendulum effect of a “limp wrist,” but only up to the travel of the razor’s pivot.

Taking your time and maintaining focus on shave technique can help shave consistency.

Other Factors

There may be other factors that you simply cannot control and may cause problems with the consistency of your shave.

Much of this can be contributed to the local environment. Changes in temperature, humidity, climate, and location from what you normally experience may result in an inconsistent shave. This would be particularly problematic for those who travel.

Summing Up

Getting a consistently great shave is certainly possible under many circumstances but the more you can use time and good products the more likely a consistent shave becomes.

Do you have any tips for a more consistent shave? Leave a comment below!


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

2 thoughts on “How To Get A More Consistent Shave”

  1. Interesting article but I would add two other factors. While the choice of a quality razor is certainly important shouldn’t one also consider the choice of blade or cartridge? As a cartridge devotee I know there is a difference among cartridge manufacturers. I’m sure the same is true of DE blades. Also, I have found a world of difference among facial soaps. I’ve found using a moisturizing soap with added facial cream as part of the pre-shave prep can make a noticeable difference in the glide. The third of my two other factors would have to be the post shave moisturizer or balm.

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