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Any gentleman who has ever attempted to wet shave knows very well that certain steps must be taken to mitigate the potentially painful and often unsightly results of shaving errors.

The traditional ritual of wet shaving has become a contemplative and relaxing interlude evoking feelings of old-world luxury. Nevertheless, it can all too easily turn into an onslaught, where shaving errors are writ large upon the face of the inexperienced and project an air of carelessness - the very opposite of the suave and urbane aura that one seeks from a good shave.

So what are the most common shaving errors that one should avoid?

Using an Electric Razor

Some consider that an electric shaver promotes speed and convenience over the more painstaking deliberations of a regular razor and that it is a great shortcut, ideal for traveling, or a quick spruce-up before an important meeting. However, electric razors do not provide a close shave, and when used long term, often cause irritation, razor burn, and allow for cell build-up, which may lead to ingrown hairs. If you are trying to maintain a classic stubble look, you can consider using an electric shaver or beard trimmer, but for a clean share, opt for a straight razor. Used for centuries, these razors are designed for a comfortable, close shave. If ease of use is important to you, safety razors and multi-blade razors are also good choices.

Going At It Alone

Blundering into the world of wet shaving without necessary knowledge and preparation will inevitably lead to costly mistakes and poor choices. Shaving is undoubtedly the most important part of a man’s grooming routine and deserves to be treated with respect. Instead of relying on trial and error, why not talk to the experts, such as the Master Barbers at Truefitt & Hill, whose expertise and knowledge are shored up by over two centuries of grooming experience?

If you invest in a professional wet shave, you will be initiated into a world of expertise and arcane shaving knowledge that will equip you for a lifetime of efficient shaving. Expert advice about your own particular skin type, the pattern of your hair growth, and shaving techniques will enable you to specifically tailor your kit. Choosing the right razor, shaving cream, balm, moisturizer, and pre-shave products is key to achieving the best results possible.  

Wading In

Shaving without adequate preparation is a typical novice error resulting in razor bumps and skin irritation. Splashing warm water on your skin before applying your shaving cream or soap is simply not enough, as you need to make sure that your skin is well prepared, your pores are opened, and your whiskers are softened before you can begin with the shaving process. The fast-track way of doing this is to shave after a bath or hot shower, but if you have some time to spare, we recommend a more effective and luxurious technique, often referred to as a traditional hot towel method.

To start, fold the hand towel in two or four, depending on its size, and run piping hot water over it, leaving the ends dry. Now, use the dry ends to twist the towel and squeeze out the excess water. Apply the towel to your face for a minimum of 30 seconds, which is just enough time to prepare your skin for the perfect shave. This technique is invaluable for those who shave every day or have very sensitive skin, as it relaxes the skin and the underlying muscles, enhances the shaving process, and significantly ameliorates discomfort.

Missing the Proper Products

It is of crucial importance to invest in good quality shaving products, including pre-shave items, shaving cream or soap, and aftershave. To start, a natural cleanser and exfoliant used regularly will keep one’s facial hair and skin ready for a shave any day. Cleansing dead skin cells will prevent razor burn and result in less irritation after your shave, as will implementing a pre-shave oil.

Creating a rich lather is essential for a comfortable shave. If you’re looking for speedy results, you will achieve a more copious lather with shaving cream, as generating lather from a block of shaving soap with a brush is a more drawn-out affair, one that requires patience and persistence. Make sure that every inch of your skin is well lathered - shaving skin that has not been well prepared is a guaranteed way of nicking or cutting it.

Following your shave, apply an aftershave lotion. Post-shave skin care is important, but many dermatologists recommend avoiding alcohol-based lotions, as these can irritate your sensitive, newly-shaven skin. Instead, opt for lotions and balms with ingredients like aloe vera, lanolin, and natural oils.

Poor Technique

It is important to shave with the grain, which means making minute adjustments to the angle of the blade to follow the way your facial hair grows, rather than shaving in a single direction. This can appear, in the short term, to provide a closer shave, but ultimately it will create ingrown hairs and thicken the skin over damaged pores. Do not put pressure on the blade, but stretch the skin to create a flat surface your razor glides over with ease. Avoid repeating razor strokes going over the same spot again and again, as this will certainly cause razor burn, and be sure to wash your face post-shave to remove the remaining shave gel or cream. When you have completed your shave, round the ritual off with some cold water to close the pores and apply a soothing shaving balm or aftershave to protect and hydrate your freshly shaven skin.

If It Goes Wrong

Shaving mistakes are inevitable, even if you shave with the utmost care and precision, so make sure you are prepared for those less-than-perfect days. Equip yourself with an alum block and styptic pencil, both of which contain potassium sulfate. When you have finished shaving and rinsed off your face, you can then run the wet block over your skin and allow its residue to sit on your skin for 15-20 seconds before washing it off. Over time, the block will lose quality, so it is important to scrape the surface to roughen it. Alum will soothe the skin, reduce bleeding from minor nicks, and alleviate the effects of razor burn.

Styptic pencils are for targeted emergency repair work. Simply apply the pencil to cuts, and it will aid in clotting and quickly seal up the wound. This magical procedure comes at the short-term price of a little stinging, however, it certainly is preferable to sticking tissue paper to your face!

Equip Yourself for the Perfect Shave

For bewhiskered bachelors, first-time trimmers, and everyone in between, imposing a few shaving tips can prevent rashes, discomfort, and the unflattering aftermath of a poor shaving job. Prepare for your shave not just with the appropriate shaving strategy, but with a collection of tried and true tools. Find the instruments you need to sculpt your sideburns, suppress your stubble, and fashion the facial hair of your dreams at Truefitt & Hill.