Sure, to the uninitiated, it looks deceptively simple. Just pass a razor blade over your beard, and viola, you’ll have baby smooth skin.
In reality though, that’s far from the truth.
For it to be an art form, it has to be practiced with skill and serious intent. A straight razor is similar to a painter’s brush; one needs to wield it properly in order to create a masterpiece of a beard or recreate the smoothness of baby skin on your mug.
Unfortunately though, the road to becoming a shave artist is a long and winding one. That’s because most men tend to make the same shaving mistakes all over again. It’s these common mistakes that keep them from getting that clean shave or trim that they deserve.
To help fix that, we’ve rounded up all the mistakes that shave experts have posted online, along with their recommendations on how to solve it. Now, there’s no reason for you not to finally get that clean and awesome shave-or beard trim-that your know you deserve.
So, here’s our ultimate guide to the 10 common mistakes in shaving and how to fix them.
1. Dry Shaving your Beard Away
2. Not Prepping the Beard
3. Using Ordinary Bathing Soap for Lather
4. Following the Shaving Guy in that Commercial
5. Using Brute Strength while Shaving
6. Wrong Shaving Angles
7. Sharing Razors
8. Forgetting Aftershaves
9. Getting Impatient With It
10. Using the Wrong Razor
Mistake #1: Dry Shaving Your Beard Away
Whatever you do, never shave without using water or something liquid. Dry shaving became popular in the 1920s when electric razors were introduced to the market by Jacob Shick. Back then, it was pitched as an easier, cheaper and faster way of getting a clean shave. It’s still true to this day. Dry shaving is certainly quicker and faster but it’s not going to get you the best results.
That’s because the skin on our faces is more thinner than the rest of our body. That’s why you never shave on it without using some kind of lubricant to lessen the friction of the blade on the skin. Shaving causes micro-abrasions on the skin which can easily get infected and irritated (a phenomenon also known as a razor burn).
How to Fix It: Always Wet Shave
Wet shaving is a time-honored and time-tested tradition. The earliest evidence of wet shaving was found in the ruins of what used to be known as Mesopotamia. The ancient razor was discovered with traces of animal fat and wood ash, presumably used as a lubricant for shaving.
These days though, we’ve moved on from using ash and animal fat. But the principle still remains. Whether you’re using a water-based or oil-based solution, having wet lather on your face helps make the shaving experience comfortable while also ensuring a close and clean shave.
Mistake #2: Not Prepping the Beard
If you think that splashing water on your beard is sufficient preparation for getting a great shave, think again. Prepping the beard for shaving isn’t a simple matter of getting it wet.
Beard prepping is actually a major part of what makes an awesome shave. This is why one needs to devote much time in making sure that the beard is wet so that the facial hair becomes soft and pliable. It’ll be much easier to shave it off, with minimal irritation on the skin
How to Fix It: Always Take a Hot Shower
The hot moisture not only softens the hairs but it also opens the skin pores and relaxes the facial muscle. It also cleanses the skin which is a good thing when shaving because it minimizes the risks of having acne-causing bacteria infect the micro-abrasions caused by shaving.
As an added tip, we recommend applying some pre-shave beard oil after coming out of the shower. While hot showers relax the skin, too much of it can also dry the skin. Applying some beard oil would ensure that the skin remains moisturized and soft enough for shaving.
Mistake #3: Using Ordinary Bathing Soap for Lather
In wet shaving, lather is important because it serves as a buffer against the sharpness of the blade. A lather protects your skin from excessive blade friction. But just because you can get lather from your bathing soap doesn’t mean that it’s best for your mug.
Commercial bathing soaps contain harsh chemicals that dry out the skin. It will actually make shaving an unpleasant experience. Bathing soap lather isn’t thick and doesn’t have the consistency needed for it to last long on your face while shaving.
How to Fix It: Use High-Quality Shaving Soaps
Shaving soaps, on the other hand, are really made for shaving. Their essential function is to act as lubrication between your skin and the sharp edge of the blade. The high-quality ones are usually cold-pressed with a high amount of glycerin to make the razor glide across your face while shaving your facial hair off.
A shave soap also usually comes with additional natural essential oils which allow the lather to continue moisturizing and nourishing the skin while you’re shaving it. It’s also more cost-efficient to use than a shaving cream; a good shave soap can last for months.
Mistake #4: Following the Shaving Guy in that Commercial
The guys over at Bevel Code said it best: don’t shave like the model on those shaving product ads. Sure, it looks easy and comfortable. After all, how hard is it to make one long pass from your cheekbones to your neck? You think it’s so cool that it will be a walk in the park when it’s your turn to do it.
Until you find out, after a nick or two (if you’re lucky), that it’s not. Unless you’re sharing the same genes with the model, you’ll find out that your facial contour and the grain of your hair is different and so that easy stroke you saw on the commercial results in a disastrous look for you.
How to Fix It:
Find the grain of your hair and shave along its direction. Like fingerprints, the direction of hair growth differs in every person. That’s why you need to make sure where yours is going and work with it.
One way to find out is by running your fingers over your facial hair and finding the direction where the hair offers the least resistance. That’s the direction of your grain. The general rule is always shave along the grain. Over the years, as you gain further skill in wet shaving, you’re allowed to break this rule. Doing so will result in an even closer shave. But for safety and aesthetic purposes, shaving with the grain gives you nice close shave enough to work with.
Mistake #5: Using Brute Strength While Shaving
Don’t hold the razor like it were a machete and you’re trying to swathe a path through the jungle. As small as a razor is, it also requires a delicate touch. Too much and you’ll end up cutting yourself. Too light and you’ll have to repeat that stroke all over again, increasing the chances of irritating the skin.
How to Fix It:
Hold the razor firm but not heavy. If you’re using a straight razor, allow the weight of the handle to guide the cutting stroke on your facial hair. Remember that facial skin is thin so you need to be extra helpful in applying the stroke. The blade should also be very sharp so that you only need minimal pressure in shaving.
If you want some pointers on how to hold a straight razor effectively while shaving, you can check out this post.
Mistake #6: Wrong Shaving Angles
Most shaving accidents occur because guys don’t know how to use their razors in the correct angles to achieve a close shave. Too high and you’ll definitely cut yourself, too low and you won’t be able to cut anything.
Most shaving experts agree that the best angle to position your blade is at 30 degrees. At this angle, you can easily reach any spot and still get to shave it cleanly without any problem.
How to Fix It:
Hold the razor with an index finger. Rest the head of the razor against the skin and then gently shave the area down to 30 degrees until the hair is evenly cut. Again, always remember shaving the hair with the grain.
Mistake #7: Sharing Razors
Never share razors. Period. It’s not hygienic to share them even if the razor is regularly cleaned. Your razor is an intimate extension of yourself. When you share razors, you increase the risk of getting infected by all sorts of bacteria. You can get warts from skin viruses, folliculitis from staph bacteria, and even jock itch from fungal infection.
How to Fix It:
Just say no when someone asks you to share your razor. Or store your razor safely somewhere, away from anyone who might want to use it without your permission. Or pack an extra disposable if you feel the need to be charitable and give someone a shave.
Mistake #8: Forgetting Aftershaves
Next to prepping up, neglecting to put on an aftershave is another common mistake. For some reason, most guys think that this is just a superfluous piece of routine. It’s not really. After shaving, you need to have something to protect your bare skin from irritation. That’s what an aftershave does.
An aftershave closes skin pores so that they don’t get exposed to skin bacteria while also acting as an astringent to get rid of the remaining skin bacteria. It also disinfects and closes the micro-abrasions and invisible nicks that result from shaving. It’s actually a hygienic way of finishing up the shave.
How to Fix It:
Look for aftershaves that have natural essential oils which help moisturize the skin. Some commercial ones may have too much alcohol that can dry out skin. If you can’t go to the store and buy one, you can whip one using this recipe.
Mistake #9: Getting Impatient with It
Shaving isn’t a marathon so you don’t have to rush doing it. When one is impatient, it can give rise to a lot of mistakes: accidental cuts, thin lather because your water was too cold, or even too short a shower session. All these contribute to an awful and painful experience in shaving.
How to Fix it:
Shaving is a commitment, not just a routine. One needs to set aside the right time to shave to actually do it properly so that one can get the desired result. Most men tend to do it at the start of the day, during early morning so that they give their utmost attention to it. Others can only find the time at night before bedtime. Whatever time you choose, do it with patience. It helps if you approach it as a time for yourself. Studies show that using this time for inward reflection can reap enormous benefits on your mental health.
Mistake #10: Using the Wrong Razor
Don’t use multi-blades. They’re overrated. They get dull easily, so you need to get new ones constantly. It’s not cost-efficient in the long run. They also increase the risk of transmitting germs since bacteria like to live in the gaps between the blades.
The blades are also the reason why you get razor bumps. When the blades cut the facial hair, they tug on the skin, causing the cut follicles to grow inward. They also irritate the skin easily because there’s more than one blade shaving through the skin.
And if you’re using a plastic cartridge, that’s even more of a mistake. Plastic cartridge razors are a menace to the environment. They add to the plastic pollution and increase carbon footprints. And they don’t even give a close shave. Not at all.
How to Fix it:
Use a straight razor. Traditional as they are, straight razors are the only ones that can give you a close shave. It’s the reason why barbers still use them.
A straight razor is capable of giving you a close shave in less time. That’s because its single blade is sharp enough to do the job more efficiently. So there’s no need for more blades.
It’s also eco-friendly. High-quality straight razors are made from world-class stainless steel and valuable wood. It’s actually more sustainable to use them because they’re durable and can become heirloom pieces that have great value over the years. A fine piece of straight razor is more than a shaving tool: it’s an investment.
Go for Luxurious Shaving
Here at Naked Armor, our straight razors are synonymous with luxury. That’s because they’re artisanally-made and rooted in an ancient tradition that gave rise to the Samurai. When it comes to getting a close shave, they get the job done. And give you a luxurious shaving experience that will have coming back for more.
To check out our line-up. Click here.