For men with sensitive skin, shaving can be an unwelcome chore. Dragging a blade (or worse, five or more with those nasty disposables) can cause redness, dryness, itching and in grown hairs - a painful reminder of how irritated sensitive skin can get.
So to help turn that chore into a satisfying experience, and reduce those frustrating symptoms, we’ve gathered the best tips from our bare-knuckle barbers (who combined have over 35,000 hours shaving experience) to help you out. Simply switching out some of the products you use and improving your technique will help you look good, and more importantly, feel great.
- Shave every few days
If you have sensitive skin, we’d recommend that you don’t shave everyday. Spread your shaves out by leaving a day in between.
- Get steamy
Always shave directly after a hot steamy shower, or if not possible, shave over a sink full of hot steaming water. Use a cloth to wet your face and let your skin steam for as long as possible- we recommend three minutes if you can manage it (style your hair while waiting!). This will soften the skin and whiskers, open your pores for a closer shave and prepare a smooth foundation for shaving.
- Use pre-shave oil
Rub pre-shave oil over your face and let it soak in for 15 seconds. Pre-shave oil provides a protective barrier and softens the skin and will mean you only have to do one pass with the razor.
- Choose a good quality shaving cream
Use a good quality shaving cream that doesn’t contain alcohol or detergent. These will be drying to your skin and irritate it even before the blade hits. Ingredients such as aloe will protect the skin. Be generous with the shaving cream and leave it to soak into the hair. The longer your can leave it, the softer the hair.
- Use a shaving brush
Using a good quality shaving brush will not only help exfoliate your face, creating a smoother surface for the razor, but also soften and lift your whiskers making them easier to cut. Use a circular motion and work the lather, don’t just wipe it on. Badger hair shaving brushes are excellent at holding the heat and forming a thick lather while still being soft on your skin.
- Use a single blade
Steer clear of disposable razors with multiple blades if you have sensitive skin- consider that five blades is the equivalent of shaving a spot five times. A single blade, such as those of traditional double edge safety razors will be kinder to the skin. Choose one with a straight edge over the open comb edge, as these are better suited to sensitive skin.
- Replace the blade weekly
A new blade will be less irritating to the skin than a dull, blunt one. Use good quality blades, trying a few brands until you find one that you like. Shaving can remove fine layers of skin especially over bumps and ridges, and bathrooms create perfect conditions for bacteria and mold to grow on your razor, so change the blade every second time you shave- about once a week is fine.
- Gravity is your friend
Be gentle with the razor - use gravity to help you instead of pressure. Use light gentle strokes, holding the blade at 30 degrees to your skin.
- Go with the grain
Always go with the grain when you have sensitive skin. This generally means a downward stroke, although the lower neck is often upwards. Get to know what direction your whiskers grow.
- Look after the blade
Rinse the blade after each stroke - removing the gunk that collects - for a better glide and less skin irritation. Once done, give your razor a good rinse with clean hot water and leave it to dry in the open air to prevent bacteria and rust.
- Finish Strong
Finish off with a splash of really cold water- this will close the pores and reduce inflammation. Pad your face dry with a clean towel, don’t rub. Follow this up with a soothing aftershave moisturizing lotion to lock in the moisture. Avoid cologne or aftershave on freshly shaved skin- the high level of astringents and alcohol will lead to red, irritated skin. Better to apply the cologne once the aftershave lotion has dried and the skin has calmed from the shave.