Sick of razor burn, dry skin and irritation? Science to the rescue! With advice from Dollar Shave Club’s shave expert and all-around product wiz, Fadi Mourad, we’re going to talk you through the ideal pre-shave routine, explaining (with science!) how to make your shave better for your face.
Okay, genius, I’m pretty sure I know how to shave already. What do you think I need to know?
A few things, actually! Every dude has his regular shaving routine—you’ve got the timing down, you’re pretty happy with the results, you’re not ending each shave like Kevin McCallister—but by spending just a few extra seconds before you start shaving, you can make your shave a lot smoother, with less irritation for your skin.
Okay, I’m listening. But I’m listening sceptically.
Fair enough! First thing’s first, hop in a hot shower to open up those pores, and give your face a thorough wash while you’re at it. You have to remove anything that’s going to create friction—which is what causes razor burn—when you slide the razor across your face. That includes dirt and grime that’s stuck in your pores, as well as dead skin cells.
What if I like to shave before I shower?
That works pretty well too. You already wash—or at least wet—your face before you shave, right? So just make sure the water’s hot and you’re giving it a good scrub. Talking of which, wherever you’re washing your face, it’s worth considering an exfoliating cleanser (those ones with the tiny beads). These act like a snow plough for your skin, bashing the dead skin out of the way so the razor can glide more smoothly.
This all sounds like a lot of work.
Not really—you’re already washing your face first either way, this just makes it more effective. And it should only add a few seconds, so it’s not like a whole extra step is being added.
Okay smart guy, what if I don’t already wash my face before I shave?
Then we hope you like razor burn! Seriously though, the hot water is hugely important, as it softens the hairs. If you exfoliate as well, even better, as that lifts the hairs. Think about it—if your hairs are lying flat against your face when you shave, the razor is going to tug on them rather than slicing neatly through them.
And this matters because…
It matters because whenever you pull on those hairs, they wind back into the skin, leaving you with a bunch of sore, ugly ingrown hairs. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Okay, washing properly is good, got it. At least you didn’t start talking about oils and lotions and stuff.
*hides oils and lotions behind back, whistles innocently*
I knew it!
Just hear us out! Did you know shaving cream is basically just lube?
No, it is! You put shaving cream or shaving butter on because it acts as a slippery barrier between the razor and your skin, meaning less friction, and less damage to your face. It also absorbs into the hairs, softening them for a more effortless shave. And don’t be afraid to really lube up: When you don’t apply enough oil or cream, you end up using pressure to get a closer shave, because the blade isn’t gliding across your face like it should. That pressure is one of the biggest causes of irritation and redness.
I already use shaving cream, so what’s the new part here?
Remember how we said a lot of lube is good? For some people, that one layer just isn’t enough. If you have pretty thick, coarse facial hair, or sensitive skin prone to redness and irritation, applying a pre-shave oil before your regular shaving foam can make a world of difference. Double the lube, double the softness, double the facial hair-annihilating quality of your razor.
So there is a whole extra step involved?
Well, technically. But it’s a step that takes probably less than ten seconds to complete.
I guess it sounds pretty doable, if it means my face looks better as a result.
That’s the spirit! Preparation is always the key to success, even when that mean slathering your face with lots and lots of lube. Now go get ’em, lube boy!
Don’t ever call me that.