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The Ultimate List Of Shaving Tips?

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You may have seen a list of shaving tips (yes, even on Sharpologist 🙂 ).  Sometimes you’ll see a “top five” or even a “top ten” list.  I’ve gone back over old posts, and browsed other sources too, to come up with 36 solid, actionable shaving tips.

  1. Wash your face with a facial soap and warm water to remove oils from the hair and skin, and to allow whisker to soften. Or better yet, shave after a shower when hair is fully saturated with water.
  2. Apply a relatively thick layer of shaving lather and allow it to sit on skin for 30 seconds to three minutes (experiment with duration for best results).
  3. Use a quality shaving product.  Use a shaving cream that has a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers. The best shaving creams create a rich creamy lather and do not “foam up” like the cheaper drug store brands. While the primary function of the shaving cream is to lubricate your face so that the razor will glide smoothly and effortlessly across the surface, it also serves to lock the moisture into the whiskers, keeping them soft and upright, primed for the cut.
  4. Use a shaving brush.   Using a shaving brush is one of the best tools you can use to achieve the optimum shave. A shaving brush does a few things. First, it helps raise the hair so that a closer cut is possible. Second, it helps create a rich creamy lather with the shaving cream that stays close to the skin. And, finally, it helps remove tiny bits of debris and dead skin cells which reduces the chance of blemishes, razor bumps and also helps the skin look and feel smooth and healthy.
  5. Use a quality razor and change the blades.  Always use a good quality, sharp razor blade.  A dull razor blade is one of the contributing factors to razor burn and shaving rash. Depending on the toughness of your beard, change the blade somewhere between every three and every ten shaves, if you shave every day. Two weeks is too long to go without changing blades. Regardless of the number of shaves, if the blade becomes dull, ditch it.
  6. I’m not a big fan of pre-shave oils, but some have found that applying some (especially on the neck) helps reduce irritation. Wet your face, apply the oil, and then apply your shaving cream.
  7. Skin tends to be puffy first thing in the morning so if you want fewer nicks and cuts give it about 20 minutes after you rise from bed–but before breakfast–before you start shaving.   You’ll have a better surface to work with.
  8. If you don’t have the time to shave in the morning, or suffer from itchy, red skin after shaving, try shaving before you go to bed  Your face will have 8-10 hours of rest.  Sure, you may have a bit of growth by the following afternoon, but the odds are you’ll look just fine to the public and not unshaven.  This is especially good for guys who wear stiff collared shirts to work as they can often irritate freshly-shaven skin.”
  9. Reduce your number of shaves by shaving every other day. Giving the skin time to heal will allow hairs to grow straight through the skin’s surface, without forcing too-short hairs back into the skin. Frequent shaving too close to the skin may trap hairs inside the follicles.
  10. Remember to shave in the direction of hair growth. Take your time and shave carefully over sensitive areas. For a closer shave, relather and carefully shave across the grain of hair growth.  Closer still?  Relather again and try shaving against the grain.
  11. Hold the razor like a dart or like a spoon, depending on where you are shaving.
  12. Don’t press down on the razor! A good razor does all the work. It’s normal not to feel the hairs being cut when you’re using a premium quality razor.
  13. Rinse your blade under hot water before you begin to shave and after every few swipes. This removes the accumulated shaving cream, whiskers, and skin gunk. The use of hot water here is to help lubricate, has nothing to do with “killing bacteria.”
  14. But, don’t over-shave. Too much shaving will cause skin irritation and the dreaded razor burn and shaving rash.
  15. Don’t rush through a shave. Spend the necessary time to do things right.
  16. This is for safety razor users. Start at a ninety degree angle (razor handle parallel to the floor) then roll down to a 30 to a 45 degree angle as you shave.
  17. The lip is a sensitive part of the face and even the smallest cut can have excessive bleeding. One way to prevent cuts is to partially fill your cheeks with air, as if you’re blowing something.  This technique will flatten the skin around the mouth area enough for the blade to glide through safely.
  18. Another technique is to stick the tongue between the gum and lip area to stretch the lip area to prevent any nicks and cuts.
  19. Use only short strokes of one to two inches at most. Remember to rinse the razor in between strokes so it doesn’t clog up.
  20. Try using oblique strokes with the razor’s edge.  You’ll sometimes see this referred to as a “Gillette Slide.”  The idea is that the blade edge does not meet the hair straight on but at a slight angle.  “Slant bar” razors do this by engineering vs. technique.
  21. The neck area is more sensitive compared to the sides of your face, upper, lower lip and chin area so shave this part last to give more time for the shaving cream/gel to soften up the hair so it’ll be easier to cut.  Others will prefer shaving the lip and chin area last because hair growth is denser in this area. Try both to see what works for your skin type.
  22. When shaving areas like the neck area try to tilt your head back slightly and pull the lower part of your neck down just a bit to stretch the skin so the blade glides smoothly.
  23. Use a “gentle” razor with a high-performance blade.  What is a “gentle” razor? In the world of DE shaving, some razors have a reputation for being “gentle” because they’re engineered to expose less of the blade edge when shaving. While you won’t get as close of a shave with a gentle DE razor, it’s definitely much more comfortable and causes less irritation. Some popular gentle razors include the Merkur Classic, Weishi, and Feather safety razors. With adjustable DE razors you can adjust the razor for a gentler or more aggressive shave: dial down for a milder shave on the neck, then dial up for other parts of your face.
  24. Adjusting a cartridge razor (like a Gillette Fusion) in this fashion is pretty much impossible but if you’re using a cartridge razor, your best bet to reduce irritation is to go with a cartridge with fewer blades.  However that is not “etched in stone,” so some experimentation may be necessary.
  25. Don’t tug on the skin to stretch it dramatically.  The key is to flattening the skin–not over-stretch it.  This is not for everyone, but if you have small areas of stubble or rough patches, you can try some techniques like “J-Hooking” or “Blade Buffing” to cover those areas without re-shaving–and possibly getting irritation–over a wider area.  However, over-doing these advanced techniques can be a prescription for trouble if not done carefully and judiciously.
  26. Try taking at least one day off a week from shaving – it may help the skin if you give it a rest and some find that the next shave is closer and smoother.
  27. When applying shaving gel or cream–with either a shaving brush or your fingertips use a circular motion. Beard hair may grow in several different directions and by spreading the lather in circles there’s less risk of missing an area. This encourages an even, full coverage.
  28. To clean up small rough patches of stubble after the main shave try a curving “hooking” motion with the razor (this works particularly well for me near the jawline.
  29. Similarly, an extremely short, light, quick “buffing” motion can also deal with rough patches of stubble after the main shave.
  30. After shaving, rinse the blade thoroughly before you put it away. (The water temperature isn’t going to have any impact on bacteria; you’re rinsing the blade to get rid of hairs, shaving cream, oils, and gunk, not to kill bacteria. You’d need to boil the razor for that or rinse it in alcohol, which is not necessary.) After rinsing, shake the razor, but do not wipe the blade with a towel or tissue – that will just make it dull faster.
  31. After shaving, when the skin is most vulnerable, rinse the face with warm water.  Some use a facial wash that has a high concentration of tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic that is ideal to help cleanse and protect from spots and shaving rash) and/or witch hazel (for its soothing, healing and astringent properties).
  32. Rinse with the coolest water that is comfortable and pat dry with a clean towel. (Don’t rub! Just pat)
  33. Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin. There is no other regular activity that does this, which is why it is so important to use a good quality moisturizer after shaving. An after shave lotion, designed as an after shave balm and moisturizer in one, is the ideal way to replace lost moisture and soothe the skin. Be sure to use one made just for guys – these formulas are designed so that they are not greasy, absorb quickly and dry with a matte finish so that your face doesn’t look shiny. Typically mositurizers made for women are too greasy as men tend to have not only thicker skin but also oiler skin than women due to men’s larger sebaceous glands. The best after shave lotions not only replace lost moisture and soothe, but also have ingredients that will cool and refresh the skin.
  34. Avoid aftershaves with alcohol as it will dry the skin which could cause more irritation on an already exposed skin.
  35. Try an alum block.  Wet that alum block and gently run it across your freshly shaved face and prepare to feel every spot that you nicked just moments earlier. Alum is a mild antiseptic that will help to instantly seal any minor cuts while cooling and refreshing your skin.
  36. Soak a cotton round with witch hazel or any other high quality toner onto your skin and then rinse, to remove any excess oil or shaving lather residue from your skin.

Did I miss your favorite tip or trick?  Leave it as a comment below so others may benefit!  Like this post?  Be sure to share it!


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 “The Ultimate List Of Shaving Tips?”

  1. Great list!
    Once completed shaving I like to do a thorough rinse – I start with somewhat cool water and gradually adjust until it’s quite cold but comfortable.
    Then I apply wet alum stick over shaved areas and let it sit for a few seconds.
    Finally I rinse with cold water again and pat dry – I find this pat dry very important vs. dragging the towel across the skin.
    Finally I apply moisturizing aftershave balm.

  2. A few additions that work for me:
    – With an aggressive razor, you need to go over the same area fewer times (e.g. two passes V three) to get the same result, net effect is gentler on the skin
    – l use a new blade for every shave. A less than perfect blade is a recipe for trouble, and saving on the small cost of blades is simply not worth the risk.
    – final touch ups after a thorough rinse with ice cold water, just with a cold and wet razor, no lather. It is highly efficient and so (as with a more aggressive razor) gentler on the skin, in the sum total picture

  3. #33 – can you recommend a post-shave lotion that dries with a matte finish as mentioned? I find many balms tend to leave a shiny appearance even though the maker touts “non greasy”.

  4. I heartily endorse your enthusiasm for gentle razors. In my experience a mild razor provides a shave that is almost as close as more aggressive razors, but significantly more comfortable. I have found that more aggressive razors offer a very marginally closer shave, at a sacrifice in comfort. I have a dense, wirey beard and find that two passes with a Feather AS D2 gives me a close, irritation-free, bump-free, nick-free, weeper-free shave. I have very good technique, but we all have occessional lapses, so a forgiving razor is more important to me than the closest possible shave.

    1. Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

      Actually, the blade does the cutting. But even the best razor/blade combo can cut the skin, if the person has poor technique, isn’t paying enough attention and/or has a condition where they have shaky hands or tics. Also, I’ve seen people with extremely thin (almost translucent) skin. I assume this kind of skin probably cuts fairly easily. But I’m just guessing.

  5. Great List!
    One recommended addition:
    Proper Shaving Requires intact skin – You must resolve/treat any existing shaving bumps or razor burn prior to shaving. Shaving over existing bumps will only make the condition worse

  6. 27. Applying lather. I would start out doing circular motion but don’t mash the brush. Use the tips. Then go for a painting stroke to spread it out evenly

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