SKINCARE TIPS FOR MEN WHO SHAVE
By Matthew Burke
For those of us who care about our looks, tending to our skin is usually a proactive process: we cleanse, we exfoliate, we moisturize—and we avoid things that would cause us damage, like the excess exposure to the sun, poor diet, or smoking. Or—we try to avoid those things, anyway!
But there are some activities that are bad for our skin that are difficult to avoid, and if you’ve resisted growing a beard all these years—or recently shaved one off!—shaving is at the top of that list. Shaving—especially daily shaving—can be a routine that damages our skin, instead of invigorating it and making it stronger and more supple.
So, to help guide your daily skincare routine, here are a few simple, quick, and easy tips to make sure you’re fortifying your skin with your daily shave, instead of harming it.
SHAVE WITH THE GRAIN OF YOUR FACIAL HAIR—AT FIRST
There’s a rumour we’ve all heard—and it’s not clear where it started—that if you want a really close shave, you should shave against the grain of your facial hair.
Sadly, that’s terrible advice, and shaving against the grain can really do a number on your skin. When you scrape a razor against facial hair, you’re pushing it back into your skin, and then hacking away at it when it’s pushed back into your epidermis. Ouch!
Not only can it lead to nicks, cuts, and razor burn—it’s simply a lousy way to shave. It’s ineffective (meaning it doesn’t fully remove your whiskers—it just cuts them off above their roots), and it dulls the blade of your razor quicker than it should.
So go with the grain, and you’ll avoid much of that irritation. Your razor will glide over your whiskers, attacking them at the root—instead of pushing them into your skin and irritating them.
For most men, that single pass will be enough, and you can be on your way and start your day. If, however, you find that your whiskers are still a bit prickly, you can adopt a classic wet-shaving technique and utilize three passes: the first pass with the grain, the second pass across the grain, and the third pass against the grain.
That might sound like a bit much, but with a good razor (and we’ll talk about tools in a moment), it can be surprisingly gentle—and incredibly effective.
Here’s a great look at a three-pass shave, and how smooth and baby-soft it can make your skin.
USE A DEDICATED SHAVING TOOL
There are dozens of types of disposable razor blades out there, and some of them are… okay… but none of them can compete with a higher-end tool designed specifically for removing facial hair.
There are two that work fantastically: classic safety razors and electric foil shavers.
The first is a go-to tool for classic wet shaving, which we mentioned above. It’s a handsome device that looks like this:
…and it can provide an incredibly close shave. Many men fear it’ll cut them to ribbons, but it’s actually quite easy to use, and they’re very durable—a well-build safety razor can last a lifetime (and in fact, many men pass them along as gifts or heirlooms to family members!).
The second is one that many men find intimidating: the foil shaver. They look like this:
…and they’re capable of delivering a very close shave—while also going very gently on the skin. Foil shavers get their name from the thin metal on the top of the device—the “foil”—and that foil is designed to gently glide over the contours of your face, pushing forward or leaning back where appropriate, to give a close shave without cuts or nicks or razor burn.
There are plenty of good foil shaver out there, and many of them are “wet/dry” models—meaning you can use them in front of the mirror after your shower, or in the shower itself, while the water is running over you.
Time and time again, it seems like most of the men who hate shaving use disposable razors, and once they make the switch to a proper shaving tool, the act of ridding yourself of facial hair turns from a chore to an enjoyable, luxurious event.
USE A GREAT BB CREAM
Alas, no shaver is perfect, and eventually you may run into some nicks, cuts, and eventually even some scars. There are a few products out there that can tackle those issues, but perhaps the most effective and best is a BB Cream.
There are men out there who don’t know the power of a BB cream, and that’s a shame—a BB cream is, in essence, a super-serum, that moisturizes dry, brittle skin, provides healing benefits and nutrients, and covers/colour-corrects all manner of baddies, from blemishes, scars, shaving rash, acne spots, fine lines and wrinkles, to a dozen other things.
Which BB Cream should you use? Why, the Renew Nourishing BB Cream for Men! The cream itself smooths out redness and blemishes—including any scars you may accrue from shaving—and it’s made in three shades (light, mid, and dark). Many guys are new to wearing a product with tint in it, but after seeing what it can do as blemish and scar concealer, make it part of the daily shaving routine—but also part of their daily skincare routine, as the Tony & Munro formulation has Kakuda Plum extract, which is chock full of Vitamin C and antioxidants—compounds your skin uses to remain supple and youthful.
BB cream is an essential tool and while the majority of men use it as a stand-alone, it’s actually a fantastic post-shave routine option.
RINSE YOUR FACE WITH COLD WATER POST-SHAVE
For many, shaving is a calming, satisfying routine, and the idea of ruining that blissful, relaxed feeling with a bracing shock of cold water may seem cruel.
But—alas, it’s a good idea! During a shave, the warm water and shaving cream open your pores, allowing the blade to glide over your skin and cut your whiskers. That relaxed, open-pore atmosphere is great for a shave in front of the mirror, but terrible for any other environment, and you’ll want to tighten them after you’re done, so that they’re not open to any bacteria or other nasties in your environment. The cold water will also constrict your skin, so that any small cuts or nicks will pull tight and heal quicker.
It may ruin that blissfully relaxed moment, but it’s a great way to end your shave and get ready for your day.
CONSIDER SKIPPING A SHAVE HERE AND THERE
Our last tip is one that daily shavers might balk at—especially those who love the routine: skip a shaving day every once in a while, to preserve the integrity of your skin.
When you think about it, shaving is not a natural process, and the skin on your face isn’t designed to have a dangerously-sharp knife dragged over it. Daily shaving—over the years and years you’ll do it—is damaging to the skin, even with proper tools and fantastic BB creams.
So, skipping a day can make a lot of sense, and it may help to plan the days where you’ll forego shaving. Perhaps you’re expecting a quiet weekend with a significant other, or you’re one of the many who has transitioned to a work-from-home lifestyle. Whatever the reason, find out when you won’t need to be clean-shaven (or simply lean into the 5-o’clock shadow look, and shave only when it suits you!).
GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN
It’s fair to say that many of us see shaving a chore, but with the right techniques—and the right products—it can the source of daily pleasure that strengthens the skin and enhances our looks. Enjoy!