Few things compare to the confidence and comfort a clean shave provide. Everyone from Connery’s Bond to the famous Orbit girl commercial vouch for “that nice clean feeling.” While the famous clean shave is coveted, it can seem elusive—especially because most men aren’t taught how to get the cleanest shave. But if you want invigorated skin that’s as soft as a baby’s cheeks, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ve formed an expert guide that walks you step-by-step what a man needs to do to get the closest shave. Forward, lads!
How to Get a Perfectly Clean Shave
The average guy has more than 25,000 wiry hairs sprouting out of his face. That’s a lot to cut down—and a lot of pores to worry about afterwards! And though men have been shaving for thousands of years, most are still really bad at it. So how do you get the smoothest and least painful shave without cutting yourself? The first step is prepping your face. Think about it: a barber wouldn’t take scissors to dry hair, and a butcher wouldn’t take a knife to unwashed meat. Before you shave, you have to prepare the surface of your skin. First: take a hot shower or wash your face with hot water. This opens your pores and softens your hair follicles.
Then, you’ll want to get fancy with a few drops of pre-shave oil. This will lubricate (yes, we went there) your skin. After that, apply a cream-based shaving cream (not the stuff in the can!) or a gentle soap. Massage the cream in using a shaving brush and circular motions. Work the cream in until it builds up a thick lather. This will stimulate the muscle that pushes your hairs up and will also release your body’s natural skin-softening oils from beneath your skin. Now those little wires are ready to be wicked away.
Wet Shaving Techniques and the Closest Shave
Now that your pre-shave face pampering is done, you can tackle the task itself: actually taking your razor to your delicate portrait. Ready to shave like a boss? Below, we outline how to get a smooth shave in easy steps:
Vital: Pull your skin taut. This is key. You need to get your skin nice and tight, so that your razor has a smooth surface to comb over. This also helps pull your hairs out and exposes more of your hair, making shaving easier. From here, you’ve got a few options when it comes to shaving techniques. Each wet shaving technique, or “stroke,” is helpful for different shaving goals.
The J-hook. No, this isn’t a crazy basketball move—it’s a stroke helpful for taking care of those little hairs that get left behind. Draw your razor down and swing it upwards very slightly at the end in a j shaped motion. Use this to take care of remaining stubble or to target areas of irregular hair growth—for example, where your hair changes directions or grows in swirls or other unusual shapes. You can also reverse this stroke for an upside-down J-hook, which works just a well.
Blade buffing. What Van Helsing does before he mows down some vampires. It’s a bit less messy when used for shaving, we promise. Take your razor in hand lightly, and then shave over a spot quickly and repeatedly. Lift the razor slightly between each stroke. This is an excellent technique for taking care of any leftover rough spots
The Gillette slide. This is a technique for the experts. It’s a long stroke that gets its name from the printed instructions Gillette used to include with their razors in the 1950s and earlier. For the Gillette slide, you’ll need to pull down and across at the same time. The key here is to think of this as a single, fluid motion that curbs the course of a 45 degree angle. The movement should be enacted not with the razor but with your arm. This creates an effect of slicing and cutting at the same time, making it an ideal method for targeting hard-to-take-care-of hairs. It’s especially effective for the neck and Adam ’s apple area.
Now that you know how to get the closest shave, we’ll conclude with a final tip. If you’re new to pro shaving, shave with the grain your first couple runs. Then once your face is accustomed to the irritation, re-lather nice and good and shave again, but going against the grain. It will take time to master doing this efficiently. Don’t be surprised if you suffer a few minor cuts along the way—it’s all part of the learning experience! Once you’re done shaving, be sure to apply aftershave or moisturizer which will cleanse and soothe skin after shaving face.
Cuts? Pick up a Styptic Pencil
A styptic pencil is like the Tide-to-Go pen for shaving nicks—but way more luxurious. Styptic pencils like Glyder serve as an antihemmorhagic treatment which will stop bleeding quickly. Its active ingredient, aluminum sulfate, encourages blood clotting so that your cuts and scratches close up quickly, allowing for faster healing. Forget the little dabs of blood-spotted paper—smart guys use Glyder.