Shaving is rough. It can easily cause irritation in the form of razor burn, folliculitis and ingrown hairs (aka pseudofolliculitus). In fact, shaving related skin issues are by far men’s biggest skincare concern. Facial hair growth is relentless and any irritation left over from yesterday’s shave will be compounded by todays. There are many fortunate men out there with light beards who either don’t have to shave or for whom shaving is a breeze. For the rest of us, here are some tips on how to prevent this vicious cycle and make shaving less of a daily ordeal.
1. Use a shaving brush.
- Soak the brush in hot water
- Add a dollop of shave cream (or shave cleanser) right into the middle of the bristles
- Placing the brush against the skin at a 90 degree angle. Use a circular motion to lather your shaving cream and to distribute the lather all over your face and neck.
This has two benefits:
- The more you lather your shave cream, the better lubrication it provides your razor for a smoother shave.
- The bristles themselves help uncover and bring to the surface hairs that your razor might otherwise pass right over.This will give you a substantially smoother shave. If you have exceptionally thick and/or curly facial hair, as I do, you may need to boost this pre-shave exfoliation even more with a pre-shave facial scrub.
2. Prep your skin with a pre-shave facial scrub.
For the ultimate clean, friction-free shave, wash your face with a scrub loaded with beads (my favorite is Skin Smoothing Polish loaded with exfoliating silica grains) for a potent mechanical exfoliation before lathering up with your badger hair shave brush. Like really good BBQ ribs falling off the bone, your facial hairs will be ready to fall right out of your follicles after going head to head with a powerful scrub.
3. Your shaving products should include good antimicrobial ingredients
Your skin plays host to millions of microorganisms. Many of these are not harmful, and some are actually beneficial to the health of your complexion. Unfortunately, there are several pathogenic (or harmful) organisms, such as staphylococcus aureus (the bacterium responsible for staph infections), living in your skin’s ecosystem as well. Fortunately, skin is has a strong barrier that generally prevents these organisms from penetrating the skin and causing infection. But disruptions in the skin’s barrier, such as from a shaving nick, allow organisms to penetrate the protective surface biofilm and that leads to razor burn, inflammation and folliculitis. For this reason, it is important that your shaving regimen include some good antimicrobial ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil and Ginger Extract. Ingredients like these can be included in any or all of the products in your regimen, including your pre-shave scrub, your post-shave product, and in the shaving cream itself. (Tea Tree Oil is featured in in all of the products in the Murad Man line.
4. Use the right aftershave
The most important function of an aftershave is to soothe irritated skin. That’s why it should contain anti-inflammatories such as Vitamin E and Neem extract. The best type of aftershave will also offer you some antimicrobial benefits and mild exfoliation. I realize this seems like overkill. “I just dragged a razor across my face a dozen times,” you may be thinking, “Why do I need to follow that up with an alpha hydroxy acid?” Think of it like this: you have just given yourself a close shave – all of those hairs are temporarily so short that they don’t even peek out above the surface of your follicles, but your skin cells have not stopped proliferating. Without intervention, growth of skin cells can easily outpace the growth of your facial hairs and that can lead to ingrown hairs. For this reason, I recommend an aftershave with the addition of a bit of glycolic acid (such as Murad Man Razor Burn Rescue) to prevent this and to ensure that your next shave is smooth and steady.
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