Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The art of shaving - 5 tips to improve and enjoy shaving!

The art of shaving – Most of us men spend about 80% of our life shaving everyday...a single act that differentiate us from women (for good and bad...) more than any other act, Yet, most of my friends and probably most men in general HATE doing it. Whether it’s the act itself that seems to be tasking (especially first thing in the morning) or the reaction of their skin to it. I personally LOVE shaving! Off course not always I’m in the mood for it or have the required time to shave properly but generally this morning ritual is quite fun and serves me as the official start to the day. Physically it  wakes me up and dispense all my sleeping leftovers and by the time i touch the smooth shaved skin or look at my reflected shiny face in the mirror i get this happy smile of  “mission accomplished”! On a nostalgic note the shaving ritual and the scents also bring me back happy childhood memories of my grandfather and father (both R.I.P)......
Since most of what I know about shaving is from what my father thought me (come to think about it he enjoyed shaving as well….so I guess I inherited that from him….), i decided that its time for an 21st century update, so these last few months I looked into ways to better the experience for myself and naturally i want  to share my conclusions with you. so below you can find 5 main points to follow and i promise you that if you will it will make the process enjoyable instead of a dread…
First of all the most important question is
what shaving method to use????? wet shave (using water, razor blade, and some sort of shaving cream, oil, soap) or electric razor? It seems like a lot of men end up using what’s the quickest and less annoying for them….but is it the one that yields the best results or serves their skin in the best way??? Well for me its almost as asking what tastes better a microwave meal or a meal that was cooked in the oven... there is NO question here - WET SHAVE it is! …. First of all it provides a closer shave, second and more importantly is that moisturizing your face skin on a daily basis and the exfoliating nature of the wet shave improves your skin quality. Yes, shaving every single day can cause reactions in the skin like razor rashes, small cuts and burns to your dry and sensitive skin,  but that's why you will need to find the right pre shave, blades and after shave treatments that will work for you the below info will help you with that.
So, now that we all agreed on wet shave lets see how we can make it fun.....
1. Preparation -  This is by far the main key to a proper shave! Just like foreplay, preparing your skin will lead to a great satisfaction and an enjoyable shaving experience. To start use WARM or even HOT water (I usually just pours it on my face few times), the warm water softens and moisturizes your skin and your facial hair, preparing it for the shave (some people also use a pre shave oils to deepen the experience). A well-moisturized and soft skin does not cut or get irritated as easily as a dry, cold and rough skin. The outermost layer of the hair which is the most resistant part of the hair, and the one that meant to protect the inner parts of the hair gets rougher and stronger when its cold and dry therefore warm water will weaken it and will open the pores causing the underlying layers of the hair to get exposed, leading to a softer and closer shave. Btw If you usually shave after a shower than you can skip this step cause your skin should be warm and ready from the shower (unless off course you like showering in cold water….). If you have extra couple of seconds, try a bit of facial stretching, that will help the skin gets more elastic which will also contribute to a smoother shave. And last, use a brush to apply the shaving cream or soap on your face, the brush will help creating the lather that should lubricate and protect your face during the shave, it also lifts the ingrown hair away from the skin, not to mention that the bristles in the brush have a mild exfoliating and soothing effect on the skin.
2. Shaving cream/soap or oil?  - Well, in all honesty that mostly depends on your preferences. A good product will create lather easily (A lot of foam is not necessarily needed), and should lubricate and protect your face during the shave. A vitamin E and Aloe Vera based shave products will provide a close soothing shave and protect against razor rashes and burns, if possible stay away from products containing alcohol that dries and irritates most skin types. Something else to consider, from an environmental prospective aerosols used to dispense the cream/gel from the can are not so environment friendly….
3. Shave with the grain - While shaving, follow the direction of how your facial hair grows in,  because shaving against the grain although does get a smoother shave, can cause redness, rashes, razor burn and ingrown hairs, which are all as you might have experienced before are neither fun nor cool looking and at times even painful. If you must at list pick and choose the spots where you shave against the grain, usually the neck area is the hardest part and the least suited for it.
4. Blades – although it can get expensive, do your self a favor and change the blades more often than you think, in average its good to change your blade about once a week, but again that depends on how often you shave and how many passes you make with a blade for each shave, if you feel the blade skipping or nicking than its definitely time for a new one. Also remember that shaving does not only remove your hair but also two layers of your facial skin, therefore using a dull blade will make your skin feel scratched, especially if you than need to rapidity pass parts of the skin again and again because your razor is not sharp anymore, which doesn’t feel pleasant and can only cause more irritation to the skin. The Argument of which razor is the best to use will go on for ever,  whether it’s an old school straight or double edge razor or the modern, mufti-blade razor…in truth I think its very individual, try out the different options for yourself and decide based on your skin reaction, your patience and shaving skills.
5. When done shaving rinse your face with cold water. The cold water helps closing the pores which will also prevent any dirt from getting in. When using after-shave (btw is not cologne) try to avoid the ones that contain alcohol which usually other than stinging your skin it will dry it out and irritate it. (I will admit that I did not know that and for years I followed my father’s shaving education which encouraged an alcohol based aftershaves....i even learned to like the stinging....i guess that is the power of habit, ha?). Always and especially if your skin feels inflamed after, use moisturizer to seal the deal, at this stage when you are done shaving your skin is at its most vulnerable stage so why not help it with some oily soothing cream……

Yes, shaving can be a bit of an effort and requires patience and close attention (especially first thing in the morning when you can barely keep your eyes open never the less standing for few minutes in front of a mirror trying not to cut yourself…..) but once you find your shaving routine it CAN be an enjoyable experience, (almost like a daily meditation) and you can make it your own personal craft, that down the road you will pass to the younger generation…. just like your father did to you…..turning shaving into a family tradition!

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