It’s easy to feel like a good shaving and skin care routine is out of reach when you walk into the personal care section at the drugstore and see shelves lined with hundreds of products.

What do half of them even do?

What an overwhelming sight for any guy!

In reality, the only skin care and shaving routine you need consists of just three products. You can add toners or other products as necessary; however, if you opt to only use three products, you are still giving your skin what it needs.

Here’s what your basic daily skin care and shaving routine should look like:

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleanse your face at least twice per day. You should use your cleanser product in the morning when you apply your full three-step routine. Depending on your skin type and how dirty you get over the course of a day, you can cleanse with your product a second time in the evening, or wash with water at night.

If you have oily skin, or you spend a lot of time doing physical activity or working outside, then you should consider using the cleanser product a second time.

On the other hand, if your skin is sensitive or dry, over-cleansing can cause irritation and damage. Consider washing your skin with water only at night if that describes your skin.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Next, exfoliate your skin to encourage faster skin cell turnover. This means that your skin regenerates faster and looks healthier and younger.

There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical.

  • Physical exfoliation actually scrubs the dead skin cells and debris away from your skin. As you can imagine, this can be somewhat irritating. This type of exfoliating can be scrubbing with a loofah or a microfiber cloth, using an exfoliating device, or washing with jojoba beads or almond shells. Therefore, consider limiting this step to avoid severe skin irritation.
  • Chemical exfoliation also removes dead skin cells, but in a way that’s gentler on the skin. You can irritate the skin by over-exfoliating with chemicals, so start slow at three times weekly and work your way up to once or twice daily. Common chemical exfoliants include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Step 3: Moisturize

Finally, moisturize your skin with a product that is formulated for your skin type: generally normal, sensitive, oily, or dry.

  • Normal skin can tolerate a wider range of product types than most. Choose products that say “for all skin types.” Alternatively, use this freedom to try out different products and find the type that works best for your unique skin.
  • Sensitive skin requires moisturizers that exclude drying irritants, such as denatured alcohol or sulfates. Look for products with limited ingredients or natural ingredients, which your skin can tolerate more easily.
  • Oily skin can easily look extra oily if you use the wrong moisturizer, but don’t let this turn you off from using moisturizers altogether; rather, look for moisturizers that contain fatty alcohols. These are non-drying but add moisture with a matte finish, so you don’t see that oily, greasy, shiny look on your skin.
  • Dry skin needs an extra boost to seal in moisture, so look for ingredients that protect the epidermal barrier. Some ingredients to look for include glycerin, dimethicone, and lanolin.

If you use other products besides cleansers and exfoliants, then make sure that moisturizing is always your last step, especially if you use a thick or creamy moisturizer. Thinner products do not layer well on top of moisturizers. In addition, moisturizers work better without another product layered  on top to dilute it.

Skin Care and Shaving Action Items

Once you have your daily skin care routine down, be sure to stick to it. It can take a month or longer of consistent application to see results. Once you know how your skin responds to your current routine, you can then re-evaluate your need to add extra products (such as masks and toners) to your routine as necessary.

All in all, it’s important to remember that shaving and exfoliation go hand in hand. Not only is it important to exfoliate on a daily basis, it’s especially important to exfoliate before shaving. This helps remove dead skin cells, excess product from the day before, and oil and dirt buildup.  Exfoliating thoroughly also helps prevent acne breakouts, which is a common aftereffect from shaving.

Building exfoliation into your daily skin care and shaving routine can help result in a smoother, quality shave.

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