There may be more to shaving than you know. Done incorrectly, shaving can stress the skin, leading to dehydration, razor burn and bumps, and ingrown hairs. There are heaps of variables to consider — rough beards, sensitive skin, tools and the frequency of shaving all have a part to play.
But there are tested ways to improve your shave. Starting from before you pick up your razor, here are a few tested ways to achieve the perfect shave.
The perfect shave via Shutterstock
The very first step in a perfect shave is to wash your face. Consider having a shower or putting a hot towel on your face before you shave. This achieves a few things — it removes dirt and oil from your skin and hydrates hair, softening and swelling it, making it easier to cut.
Taking a shower fits in with Dermatologist Dr Andrew Wright's recommendation to stand up for a while before shaving — it reduces swelling in your face. "When we are lying down, the fluids in our body tend to redistribute and it causes our faces to swell slightly. For a closer shave, it is better to let this swelling go down first." says Dr Wright.
During shaving the layer of lipids on your skin, which keeps in the moisture, can be compromised, leading to inflammation and dehydrated skin. So after you've washed your skin moisturise and apply liberal amounts of shaving cream or gel. The goal is to moisturise, open the pores, soften the beard, and to provide lubrication for the razor.
2. Good gear
Having good gear is important to achieving the perfect shave. Not all razors were created equal, and an old razor can wreak havoc with your skin. A blunt or worn out blade can scrape across the skin, pulling at hairs. You may need to make multiple passes, increasing the likelihood of razor burn.
Braun makes electric razors that can be used for wet shaving or in the shower, allowing you to get the best of both worlds. Using heat and water to open up pours and soften the skin, while benefiting from technology designed to get hair in the first pass, and prevent in grown hairs.
3. During the shave
Take your time shaving. Identify the grain of the beard. First go with the grain, and then go against the grain for a closer shave. The fewer strokes made, the less stress you will put on the skin and the lower likelihood of razor burn and other inflammation. If you do need to go over anything more than once, apply more cream and moisturiser.
Strategically tackle areas of your face — concentrate on flat and less sensitive surfaces first, like your cheeks. The longer you leave more sensitive areas, such as above and below your lips, the longer the moisturiser and shaving cream will have to work their magic.
Some ingrown hairs — where hairs turn into the skin and keep growing, are inevitable, but there are strategies to tackle this. Refrain from pulling the skin taught and tweezing ingrown hairs, recommends Andrew Alexis, director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. Instead, Alexis says lathering shaving cream in a circular motion can dislodge and prevent some ingrown hairs.
4. After the shave
A good post-shave routine is vital for repair and healing. Wash your face to remove lingering shaving cream and hair, and to clean any nicks. Apply lotion to replace lost moisture and to sooth inflammation, preparing the skin for future shaves. A decent aftershave not only smells good, but can help to sterilise any nicks and prevent infection.
Ensure your razor is up to scratch for the next shave. After each shave clear out debris with a brush or hot soapy water. If you are using an electric razor, put a drop of oil on the blades regularly and be careful with the foils and cutting heads, both are delicate and can be easily dinged. Braun recommends you take an electric razor in for service every 18 months, to get a full clean and check on the delicate high-performance parts.
Braun has partnered with Shaver Shop to offer free pit stops for its customers. If you have a Braun razor, you can book your shaver in for a free service and only pay for any replacement parts.
Visit Braun to learn more about achieving the perfect shave.