Prepare the face by showering before shaving. This allows moist heat to open pores and soften facial hair. If you are in the habit of shaving ‘pre-shower’, use hot water, or hot, soaked towels for the same effect.
Applying the right pre-shave oil moisturizes the shaving area, helps reduce drag and can act as an antiseptic. For those of you who do not use these products in your shaving regimen, prepare for a “wow, that feels so much better!” moment.
Proper shave cream should be a highly alkaline formula, softening almost on contact with the hair shaft. It should continue the pore-opening process and, if formulated properly, should further moisturize the face and be safe for the body.
Applying Shaving lather with high-end shaving brushes (such as a badger brush), while not essential, can improve the experience immensely. Aside from the ‘cool’ factor, a good brush will lift hair follicles, produce a thicker, more luxurious lather, and exfoliate. Besides which, there’s no substitute for the sensation of a well-made brush lathering your face and neck; this is a gentleman’s way to turn a daily chore into an indulgence. The lather should be applied to your face in a paintbrush motion using one of your shaving brushes. Wipe away any extra with a hot towel.
Pull the skin tight as you apply the straight razor and shave with the grain of growth. If a closer shave is desired, you may go against the grain, but a gentleman who wants to avoid razor burn will reapply pre-shave oil and shaving cream before doing so. Three passes will help ensure maximum smoothness. Many straight razor sets are available that have everything you need to have a good shave.
*Note: use only as much pressure as needed! Find your “sweet spot.” As with some of life’s other pleasures, too much pressure (or too many strokes) can cause irritation...so take it easy on your face. Also, it’s a good idea to change or hone your blades frequently. If you are prone to bumps or ingrown hairs, lighter pressure and following the steps above will help significantly.
Rinse well; warm water feels good, but some people like cold water to close their pores. If you wish to use a face wash, a PH level of 5 to 5.5 is recommended-this is the natural level of the face and will not upset the balance of naturally occurring facial oils, which can cause dry skin or, on the other end, a ‘shiny’ look. You may also apply a natural after-shave balm that absorbs quickly, providing instant protection and soothing the face.
*Note: Do not splash with after-shaves or use any alcohol based products. The “burn” is your skin’s complaint that you’re drying it out and contributing to wrinkles! Alcohol- based products can also irritate the skin into over-secretion of oils, which can lead to ingrown hairs.
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