Do You Exfoliate Before Or After Shaving?

Do You Exfoliate Before Or After Shaving?

Shaving and exfoliating come hand in hand. But not all people know why exfoliation should be part of their grooming routine. Hence, the confusion of whether they should exfoliate before or after shaving.

Exfoliating is more than just getting rid of dead skin. It has more benefits to offer, especially when it comes to shaving. Hence, in this article, we will discuss the following:


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells that do not naturally shed off from the surface of your skin. You can either do this with the help of chemical exfoliators, scrubs, or exfoliating tools, like bath sponges and even your shaving brush and straight razor.

Man exfoliating in front of a mirrorExfoliating has always been an integral part of the skin care routine because it rids of unwanted and damaged layers.

Why Do You Need to Exfoliate?

Your skin goes through changes every day, even if you can hardly notice it. The problem is that when the old skin cells die, they do not fall off the surface of your skin. Hence, the first 18 to 23 layers of your skin contain dead skin cells. Meanwhile, the fresh and new ones form at the bottom of the epidermis.

On that alone, you can see why you need to exfoliate. Moreover, here are the other reasons why you should exfoliate:

    • Make way for healthy skin cells
      When you do not exfoliate your skin, the healthy skins remain on the bottom layer until all of the dead skin cells on top naturally shed off. And when that time comes, the once healthy skin will already be dead or old. Hence, exfoliating is the best way to prevent the build-up of dead skin cells on the epidermis and cause beard dandruff.

    • Better looking skin
      The absence of accumulated dead skin cells lets you have better-looking skin. Have you ever wondered why your skin looks dry, flaky, and dull despite lathering it with too much lotion and other moisturizing products? It is because of the dead skin cells on its surface. New cells make up for better-looking skin—radiant, glowing, and supple.

    • Unclog your pores
      Clogged pores are a big no, whether it is on your face or your body. Clogged pores can be the primary perpetrators of acne, razor bumps, and ingrown hair, all major post-shave nuisances. Among the many ways of unclogging your pores includes exfoliation. Again, exfoliating lets you remove most of the gunk on the surface of your skin, including excess dried-up sebum and ingrown hairs that may have been clogging your pores. Therefore, giving you a more effortless and smoother shaving experience.

Now you know why exfoliating is crucial in your shaving routine. The next thing you should know is how you should exfoliate and where to incorporate it into your routine.

Should You Exfoliate Before or After Shaving?

You may have mastered your shaving technique as well as figured out what kind of exfoliating method you use. But when it comes to knowing when you should exfoliate, we know you have questions.

Before telling you if you should exfoliate before or after shaving, you should first know what these two can do to your skin.

Exfoliating, being the process of removing layers of dead skin cells, exposes healthy skin. Meaning, your skin may be more sensitive after exfoliating, hence the redness and possible itching. Shaving, on the other hand, disrupts the surface of your skin. The sharp edge of your razor creates micro-abrasions or microscopic cuts.

In that regard, experts recommend exfoliating before shaving, and here is why:

  • Creates a smooth base for shaving
    Your razor does not only pick up hair when you shave. It also gets exposed to the dead skin lying beneath your hair. When that happens, the blade picks up the flakes of the skin, which can then get stuck in between your blades, especially when you are using multi-blade razors.

    Not to mention, the loose flakes of the skin can dull even a blade of a straight razor. These flakes get dragged around and get stuck on the blade. Hence, it leaves a barrier between the edge of your razor and the hair you are supposed to cut. As a result, the blade will pull your hair more, giving you a painful and not a close shave, which may lead to razor bumps and ingrown hair.

  • Lifts and loosens up the hair from the skin
    The skin produces natural sebum and oils. That is why sometimes, the hair strands of your beard get stuck on your skin. Exfoliating lifts the hair strands, making them easier for your blade to cut. Doing so is also extremely helpful if you want to get a skin-level kind of close shave and prevent ingrown hair.

  • Prevents irritation
    Shaving first before exfoliating will lead to skin irritation. The micro-abrasions on your skin due to shaving can worsen when you aim to scrub off the dead skin cells through exfoliation. Remember how your blade could have already scraped most of the debris off of your skin. So, what you will be exfoliating is most likely the healthy set of new skin cells, which you do not want to get rid of just yet.

    Exfoliating after shaving can remove prickly hair but worsen razor burns. Your skin is already sensitive from exposure to an extremely sharp blade. Instead of exfoliation, what you need to do after shaving is to use an aftershave that will cleanse and moisturize it to calm down or soothe whatever irritation or possible irritation that may arise.

How to Exfoliate Before Shaving

Believe it or not, but some people may be a bit terrified of skin exfoliation. You cannot blame them, though. Exfoliating is not always a comforting experience, especially for those with sensitive skin. That is why it would be best to know how to exfoliate before shaving to ensure that you will not overdo it and hurt yourself in the process.

If you are wet shaving, here is a hack you should try:

  1. Warm your face
    Warmth opens up your pores and softens your skin. Hence, it makes sense why you need first to warm your face with a warm towel or take a warm shower before proceeding with exfoliation. Scrubbing off dead skin cells is simply more manageable when they are not dry and hard.

  2. Apply a pre-shave oil
    Another essential step that many shaving aficionados tend to forget is applying pre-shave oil. Doing so further moisturizes and conditions your skin before you do anything to it. Plus, there are pre-shave oils that have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which will kill off any disease or infection-causing bacteria that may seep into your open pores and the micro-abrasions you will get both from shaving and exfoliating.

  3. Create a shaving lather
    The most important part of wet shaving is to create a lather. Doing this will create a barrier between your blade and your skin and keeps your skin hydrated while shaving. That said, it also makes it easier for you to scrape off the dead skin cells.

    To create a lather, you can either use a gel or a ready-made foam from a can. However, we recommend going traditional or using organic shaving soap and creating the foam using a shaving brush and a shaving scuttle mug. You can check our How To Lather Shaving Soap guide to help you out. When you use this shaving trifecta, you can guarantee that you will have enough lather until your last pass or even more.

  4. Use your shaving brush to exfoliate before shaving
    Now, onto the secret hack: using the shaving brush for exfoliating. Shaving brushes are one of the best investments you can ever get when shopping for shaving paraphernalia. Most of the ones in the market are from badger hair, which has robust strands that can create the perfect lather and withstand its thickness and weight.

    But there is no need to sacrifice our furry friends’ lives so that you can have a multi-purpose brush. Here at Naked Armor, we have a badger-friendly shaving brush made of synthetic fiber that has stiffer bristles to lather soap in a mug or scuttle with more tension, and thus, consistency results in a thicker foam and, therefore, better shave. But most importantly, when you use it to apply your lather in a circular motion, the stiff bristles also make up an excellent micro-exfoliator, which removes just enough dead skin without compromising sensitivity.

  5. Wield your razor carefully
    You would not want to disrupt your skin too much after using your shaving brush to rummage through your beard and dead skin cells. That is why it is essential to use gentle strokes while using your clean straight razor.

    For example, Naked Armor straight razors have an extremely sharp cutting edge with a steel hardness of about 61-65 HRC, making it lethal if partnered with extreme pressure from your hand. Besides, using more pressure while shaving does not always guarantee a closer shave, but it increases your risk of getting cuts and nicks.

Not many people know this but knowing how to exfoliate properly before shaving significantly improves your shaving experience. Aside from finding the right angle to use your blade while shaving and the blade’s sharpness, exfoliating lets you have a close shave since there are not many factors preventing you from cutting hair strands off skin level.

Taking Care of Your Skin After Shaving

Again, exfoliating and shaving shed off the top layer of your skin. The new layers that emerge are more sensitive and need proper tender loving care. Plus, both of these methods create microscopic cuts on your skin that may lead to razor burn, bumps, and ingrown—that is, if you leave your skin on its own.

It would be wise to care for your skin to avoid razor burns and razor bumps after shaving. Most men do not bother about post-shave care because they do not deem it necessary. These same men are the ones who are complaining about shaving-related irritations.

So, if you want to finish off your shaving routine in the most comforting way, we recommend you use an aftershave. Add to your shaving essentials our Aftershave All-Purpose Organic Balm With Hemp with 100% pure hemp extracts and oil along with other natural essential oils and vitamins. Our organic balm will nourish the skin and protect it from inflammation and oxidation, promoting healthy skin cells.

You can find a whole array of aftershave essentials to soothe your skin post-shave or after exfoliating here at Naked Armor. Check out our shop for more.


More Naked Armor Reads:

How to Lather Shaving Soap: A Step-By-Step Guide
DIY Homemade Pre-Shave Oil Recipe
Top 10 Essential Oils For Shaving

1 comment

  • Elbert W. Davis

    Thank you for the info, I find it a great help in my shaving, I shave 3to5 times a week or as needed depending on what I’m doing at the time. This will help with some of the burn I have some days after shaving. Thank you for the information once again. Bert

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