A smooth close shave, whether your whole face (or if your like me just the neck while leaving your beard) makes you look and feel good. Unfortunately, if proper execution is not taken, then the ever dreadful "razor burn" may become a side effect from improper shaving. Not only is razor burn itchy, but it isn't the most aesthetically pleasing either. So how does one avoid this conundrum in the first place? Here are some tips to help!
1) Proper Pre-Shave Prep is Crucial.
2) Use a High Quality Shaving Cream
When on the lookout for the perfect shaving cream, find one with sufficient lubricants and moisturizers. A good shaving cream will lather up vs foam up like the cheap grocery store shaving gels. With shaving gels you get lots of foam, and with lots of foam comes lots of air bubbles. This means that less product is actually staying against your skin. You want as much lubrication as possible between your skin and the razor. In essence this creates a great surface for the blade to slide across your skin with little effort or pressure. You want as least resistance as possible as this will result in less irrational and fewer bumps and nicks.
3) Always use a Sharp and clean blade
Never shave with a dull razor blade. I've sometimes been in a rush and used the same blade, knowing it should be changed, and this never ends well. A dull razor blade will do a poor job of cutting the hairs, and you will likely try and compensate this by going over the same area multiple times. This will certainly irritate the skin more, and the dull blade will likely pull and tear the hairs instead of giving them a clean cut. When i have my beard and just shave my neck, I tend to change out my blade every 7-10 days i'd say. It depends on how often you're shaving, and how thick your beard is come shave time. Generally i'd just say that if the first stroke doesn't give you a clean cut, and pulls on the hairs , then it's time to swap that sucker out!
I used to shave with a cartridge razor, but since investing in a Double Edge Safety Razor I won't ever go back. And if you suffer from razor bumps and burns, you may want to consider making the switch as well. Many people find that with 4-5 blade cartridge razors their skin is more irritated as you are going over your skin 4-5 times as each blade passes across the skin. As opposed to a DE Safety Razor where there is simply 1 blade passing its way across your skin.
4 ) While going against the grain might serve you well in some areas of life, it won't end in good results with your face!
When shaving, go with the grain! Shaving against the grain cuts the hair beneath the surface of the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs that may swell up into unsightly red razor bumps. Instead make short (1 inch) strokes, going with the grain! Some people will do a second stroke going sideways, but don't start this way.
Remember to let the razor do the work. I find that with my DE Safety Razor there is decent weight, and I can let the razor simply glide down my face and it does a great job! Don't press too hard down; if you're needing to do this than it may be a sign that your dull is blade and needs to be swapped out.
Since you can use both sides of the blade with a Double Edged Safety Razor, I'd suggest you make a short stroke with one side then flip the blade and repeat with the other side. Then rinse it under hot water and repeat this process. This will ensure you are using as clean of a surface as possible each time you make a pass across your skin!
5) Rinse off and apply aftershave
After you've finished shaving, rinse off the skin with warm water to rid of any extra soap, then chase it with cold water to close up the pores. Dry with a clean towel.
The last thing to do is apply an aftershave moisturizer. This is a good way to replace lost moisture and soothe the skin. Use one designed for men. Since mens skin is typically more oily than women skin, using a women's aftershave will likely leave your skin looking shiny and greasy. I personally enjoy using an aftershave lotion (or balm such as the Beehive collection of my website). I find these leave your skin feeling cool and refreshed!