Once a day for the past 16 years, I’ve taken a razor blade or five and run it all over my face (the most important skin I’ve got), all to avoid scratchy beard feelings. Every once and a while, I’ll go past the four day mark, push through that itchy-ness, and become a millennial man stereotype complete with my organic Switchel and full beard. But on your average day, my day starts with a close shave. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it's a bit much for my skin—though it's not as much responsibility as two legs and two armpits (plus anything else you feel inclined to depil). Kudos to anyone keeping that up without missing spots and catching major razor burn! And not to mansplain—hello, I work at a company full of women—but I do think there’s equal opportunity to learn a bit on shaving best practices from both sexes. A knick of your leg sucks, but a knick on your face? Might as well stay home.
Usually the only step in my shaving routine is, "Don't mess up." But when I want as close a shave as possible, these are the rules I abide by:
1. Prep Your Skin
Pay attention to how your skin feels before you shave and proceed accordingly. In the winter, when my skin’s a little more reactive, I try to use a pre-shave oil like Origins' Dr. Weil one, which is amazing. For legs and underarms I’m sure something like Christophe Robin's Regenerating Plant Oil would do the trick, too—just something to add an extra barrier on top of your skin before shaving it off. No going to work with tiny bloody pieces of toilet paper on my face. (Why do you only see that happen to dads in '80s movies?)
2. Find Your Razor Soulmate
Search for the right razor for you and stick with it until the end of time. The easiest for me is whatever the current Gillette manly-man model they’re pushing is—I’ve tried others, but I always go back. If you’ve got coarser hair, try looking into something like Bevel. For finer hair, Harry’s makes a good one. If you don't skew either way, I hear Dollar Shave Club is worth it's weight in a billion dollar bills.
3. Play With Shaving Cream Formula
I’m all about small elevation opportunities when possible, especially with a generally inexpensive product like shaving cream. Unlike my razor, I’m not married to any particular one. We’ve talked about a few good formulas here before: Aveeno Positively Smooth Shave Gel, Barbasol Soothing Aloe Gel and Kiehl's Brushless Shave Cream are amazing and ITG-approved. Add to that list Proraso’s Sensitive Skin Shaving Cream, which changed many things for me. It’s a pearly cream that applies evenly and creates a sudsy, soft layer in-between the razor and skin. I never get razor burn or feel raw after using it. Super smooth application, subtle scent and generally soothing. On the other end of the budget spectrum is the very moisturizing Trader Joe’s Mango and Honey, which smells amazing—not something shaving cream is known for.
Not the gross pine-scented astringent they have at country clubs—get creative here. Instead I'll do a 10-minute face massage with Skinceutical’s Phyto Corrective Gel, which is thick in texture and very soothing. But because they haven't made full-body Phyto Corrective yet, a gentle body toner like Kiehl's Razor Bump Relief does the trick for legs and other fresh-shaved body parts. Only the best for your stubble-free skin.
Photographed by the author.
You've got the products; here's the technique.