These pre-shave essentials will condition your face and beard for an easy and clean shave:

8 Pre-shave essentials:

1. Wash your face gently

Before shaving, and prior to performing any other pre-shave activities, wash your face with a gentle face cleanser. You want to remove the dirt and grime while preserving your skin’s natural oils, so avoid using body wash and don’t scrub too hard.

2. Run your mirror under hot water

If you don’t have an anti-fog mirror, run your mirror under the water. When your mirror is warmer, it will prevent the contrasting temperatures from creating fog after a hot shower.

3. Wrap your face and neck in steaming towels

This is a trick used by professional barbers. Place a couple of hand towels in a container (or a pot), boil some water in a kettle, and soak the towels in the hot water. Ring the towels out and wrap them around your face and neck for about five minutes to soften your whiskers.

You can take a hot shower instead, but you may find placing hot towels against your skin works slightly better.

4. Use pre-shave oil or butter

It doesn’t matter if you prefer pre-shave oil or butter; butter is basically a solidified version of the oil. If you’re sensitive to textures, you may have a preference but ultimately, the ingredients are the same.

Unless you have massive beard growth, you don’t need much oil or butter. Just put a bit in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, and work it into your skin. Give the oil or butter a minute to soak into your skin before you begin shaving.

5. Work up a good lather

If you use canned shaving cream, this step doesn’t apply. However, if you use shaving soap, now’s the time to work up a good lather.

Run your shaving brush under warm water for a minute, making sure all bristles get soaked. Brush your shaving soap a few times to pick up some soap on the brush, and transfer it to your scuttle. In the scuttle, work the brush around to generate a thick, creamy lather. It takes a minute or two, so be patient. If your lather is too thin, add more soap and use less water.

6. Use a brush to apply your lather

Using your shave brush – yes, even if you’re using shaving cream – to apply the lather to your face. Be sure to apply enough lather so you can’t see your whiskers. Work the lather into your beard or stubble, making sure to get between the hairs.

7. Shave with the right razor

The right razor for you won’t necessarily be the razor you grew up with. Just because it’s familiar, doesn’t mean it’s efficient. 

While some guys love their multi-blade cartridge razors, others prefer a safety razor. The only razor that doesn’t do anyone’s face any favors is the disposable razor. While many guys get by with using disposable razors, if they upgraded, they’d see a significant difference in their shaves.

Shaving with the right razor means using the blade that works for your whiskers. For example, if your beard is relatively straight, you can get a good shave with a 4-blade cartridge razor. However, if your beard is curly, a multi-blade razor will only rip the hair out of your face and leave you with bumps and razor rash.

8. Use the right shaving style

How you shave is equally important to choosing the right razor. If you use a cartridge razor, you’ll need to press the razor into your skin to get a close shave. If you’re using a safety razor or straight razor, you don’t want to apply pressure at all. Instead, pull your skin tight and glide the razor over your skin in short, gentle strokes.

Remember, if you miss some hairs, always re-apply more shaving cream or shaving soap before making additional passes with your blade.

4 Post-shave essentials:

1. Have a styptic Solution on hand

A styptic solution is an antihemorrhagic agent, which means it will constrict blood vessels and stop bleeding rather quickly. The main ingredient is anhydrous aluminum sulfate.

Styptic solution can be found in the form of a balm, a pencil, “matches,” and powder. Which one you choose is up to you. Although relatively new, styptic balm is easier to apply and doesn’t sting like the pencils. With a styptic solution, you can stop looking ridiculous from sticking pieces of toilet paper to your face.

2. Aftershave

Aftershave might smell good, but that’s not its main purpose. Shaving leaves your pores wide open, which invites bacteria into your skin. The result can be anything from mild acne to a skin infection. Aftershave protects your pores by preventing bacteria from entering your body.

Witch hazel makes the best after shave because unlike alcohol, it won’t dry out your skin. When combined with aloe, it won’t burn.

3. Beard oil

If your beard isn’t shiny, you’re doing it wrong. If your beard is dry, flaky, and scraggly, you need a good trim and some beard oil to tame it down. Beard oil will keep your unruly beard in line, while moisturizing your beard hair and your skin. Apply beard oil after you wash your face (or after you’re done shaving), and before you leave the bathroom to start your day.

Beard oil comes in a variety of scents to suit your scent preferences; you don’t need to be a lumberjack to smell like one.

4. Rubbing alcohol (to clean your razor)

No matter what type of razor you use, you should clean it regularly. Fancy electric razors come with automatic cleaning systems, but for wet shaving products you’re on your own.

If you’re using low-grade razors, the blades aren’t made of stainless steel, which means they’ll get rusty fast. If you didn’t intentionally buy stainless steel blades, they’re probably carbon steel. For these blades, you want to soak them in alcohol when you’re done shaving because the alcohol will dilute the water in areas you can’t dry off. This will prevent rust, and remove leftover deposits of soap and/or minerals.

Get a small coffee mug to use for cleaning your razors. Fill the mug with just enough rubbing alcohol to cover the blade of your razor. Before dunking the razor in the alcohol, run a cotton swab along the blades to remove as much hair as possible. Tap the side of your razor lightly against a clean surface to shake more of the hair loose. Then, place the razor in the alcohol solution for about 30 minutes, and you’ve got a clean razor!

If you use stainless steel blades, there’s no real reason to use alcohol, however, you still need to clean your razor between each use.

Make your shaving routine enjoyable

Once you start using the right shaving products in the right order, you’ll find shaving enjoyable rather than a chore. Soon, you’ll look forward to the end result whether you end up with a shiny beard or a perfectly smooth face.

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