If shaving is an art form then I am an amateur artist at best. Like most men I grew up attending the dad’s school of shaving and graduated with three valuable tips: shave after the shower, keep a fresh razor, and go with the grain not against. And like most men I never seemed to get the perfect shave no matter my finesse with the basic grooming formula. So I had to ask: is a clean-cut shave ever so simple as a sharp razor and going with the grain?
According to Lainey Roberts from The Art of Shaving in Cherry Creek, the perfect shave has as much to do with the actual shaving as it does with the preparation. “The four steps to the perfect shave are: preparation, lather, shave, and moisturize,” says Roberts. The Art of Shaving’s four step credo sheds light to the process of shaving, an idea that to my personal experience is always hit or miss. Factors such as time, energy, cost and convenience have at one point or the other rendered an imperfect if not ragged shave coupled with the unsightly backlash of ingrown hairs and red bumps. So what’s a guy to do?
Men of yesteryear may have used warm towels to prep the beard but many products today cut out the time-consuming hassle with warming oils which deliver the same follicle opening results while providing a protective layer to avoid razor burn. A good lather with a brush kills two birds with one stone by evenly distributing the lather and exfoliating the skin, minimizing acne and ingrown hairs.
Prepping the beard is crucial to avoiding irritation, which according to Roberts is one of the biggest concerns men have going into The Art of Shaving, Roberts continued, “… that, and not using the right blade.”
Know your blade; you want your razor to be an extension of your hand.
The right blade, whether it be a straight razor or an electric razor, is key. Roberts instructed, “Know your blade; you want your razor to be an extension of your hand” Knowing what blade works for you comes down to the amount of pressure you need on your face and the level of shave you are looking for. Coarser beards may require a four blade razor while lighter beards with sensitive skin may go for a two-blade or a straight edge. Choosing a weighted or “balanced” blade affects the amount of pressure you put on your face, which in turn affects the closeness of the shave as well the irritation level.
Moisturizing seals the deal after a shave, replenishing the skin with much-needed nutrients and hydration. A good moisturizer, like anything else good, is very personable. Those with oily skin should stick with serums and oil concentrates while those with sensitive skin might want to go for a light cream or a gel made with hyaluronic acid, which holds 1000% of its weight in water. Keeping the skin moisturized is crucial to overall tone and texture as well as keeping the skin ready for the next shave.
While you might not become Monet with that Gillette Fusion, having a consistent regimen will be beneficial in the long run. Keep it simple with the products that work best and follow the PSM: prep, shave, and moisturize.