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Lather, shave, and repeat. The thing is, shaving isn’t always that simple. The Art of Shaving Master Barber Trainer Hugo Hernandez, of San Diego shares the do’s and don’ts of shaving to ensure you get silky smooth results every time you break out the razor.
DO Always prep the skin properly before a shave. “The most common mistake we see is improper preparation,” Hernandez says. “Hair, when dry, has the strength of copper wire that’s similar in diameter. So, it’s important to soften the hair for a clean cut by the razor.” When you use a razor you’re not only removing hair—it also takes off the top layer of skin, along with the oil that the skin naturally secretes to protect itself. Use a pre-shave oil to create a protective layer, like Viktor&Rolf Barbershop Pre-Shave & Nourishing Oil ($38, Nordstrom.com). “Pre-shave oil is an indispensable product because if the skin and facial hair are properly prepared for the shaving process, an individual can drastically reduce the risk of irritation and ingrown hairs,” says Hernandez. “When hair absorbs oil it becomes softer and easier to cut down, plus it provides a protective barrier over the skin, so the razor glides a lot easier.”
DON’T Skip post-shave care. “This step will help alleviate many of the difficulties encountered right after the shave and the following days as the hair grows back,” Hernandez says. “Our after-shave balms ($40, theartofshaving.com) have shea butter and glycerin to help replenish moisture to the skin after shaving and a touch of grape seed extract helps revitalize the skin, while essential oils condition.” When you’re done moisturizing, remember to apply a dual-spectrum SPF 15 or higher for protection.
DO Use proper care to avoid bumps, redness and irritation. The strategy is simple: use a pre-shave oil; make sure the razor is as sharp as possible, because with a sharp blade there’s less of a need to apply pressure and drag the razor heavily across the face; and give yourself a close shave, especially if you’re prone to ingrown hair. “Shave with the grain, or the direction of hair growth, to avoid leaving hair under the surface of the skin,” explains Hernandez. Use short and light strokes when shaving to reduce the chance of razor burn. “For guys suffering from razor bumps, we recommend upgrading the preparation step by replacing the pre-shave oil with The Art of Shaving’s Power Brush system ($40, theartofshaving.com). This new innovative system, when used in preparation for a shave, has clinically been tested to help reduce the amount of new bumps in three months and improve the skin’s appearance.”
DON’T Ignore nicks and cuts. “The best thing to use is something that is quick and efficient to stop the bleeding,” Hernandez says. “Using toilet paper for nicks and cuts does little. It also looks pretty ridiculous if you forget about it. Alum and Styptic pencils are some of the best two items to use to stop the bleeding.” To avoid irritation and nicks in the first place, stretch the skin slightly against the direction that the razor will be passing over the skin.
DO Invest time in finding the right razor. “Like with a lot of things in life, finding the right razor is done by trial and error,” says Hernandez. “Choose a razor and cartridge that best fits your preferences. Features like number of blades and pivot can vary.” He suggests starting with a Gillette Fusion because of its ease of use. “If it doesn’t work, move on to something with less blades like a Mach 3. If you still are not satisfied with the results, then keep moving down until you find your sweet spot.” And make sure you always use a razor with clean, sharp blades. Shave clubs can be a great way to receive your blades and product. “The Art of Shaving now has a complimentary Auto-Replenishment program where you can get your blades and shaving product for a cheaper price than in store and comes with free shipping,” says Hernandez.
DON’T Wait too long to change your blades. The amount of time between changing blades will vary on the user. “Some with thick coarse beard hair may go through blades a little quicker but a great way to know when to change the blade is when you experience more than normal tugging and pulling,” says Hernandez.