You looked different this morning. While brushing your teeth, you gazed into the mirror and there it was — hair sprouting all over your face. It's definitely cool, but you're not quite sure whether you want to grow that big bushy beard and moustache just yet. It's time to start shaving (as if you didn't have enough things to do first thing in the morning).
Actually, shaving's no big deal once you get the hang of it. It's quick, easy, and if you follow the tips outlined below, absolutely painless.
Shaving is simply using a razor to remove the tip of the hair shaft that has grown up through the skin. Razors come in a bunch of different forms. There are standard razors that are either completely disposable or have a disposable blade that needs to be replaced regularly, and there are electric razors.
Using an electric razor can be quick and convenient, but many guys find that it may not give the close and accurate shave that a standard razor can. Although using an electric razor is pretty easy (just turn it on and move it around your face), shaving with a standard razor has a few rules to follow.
When you're using a standard razor, the most important item you need is a clean, sharp blade (the best razors have at least two blades and a movable head). Try to avoid shaving with a dull or blunt blade. At best, a dull blade will give you an uneven shave and leave you with redness, blotches, and patches of unshaven hair on your face and neck. At worst, a dull blade will remove a fair amount of your skin along with the hair! Don't be afraid of changing the blade (or the razor, if you're using the disposable kind) often. You'll be glad you did.
Shaving scrapes natural oils off your face, so the next most important item is some sort of shaving gel to keep your skin from becoming too dry and reduce friction from the razor. Pick a gel you think sounds good and give it a try. If you choose a shaving gel that is mentholated (it will say that on the label), be aware that menthol can sometimes cause a slight reaction with some types of skin and may result in red blotches. If this happens to you, don't worry. Just switch to a non-mentholated shaving cream.
Cuts and nicks are a part of shaving. They won't happen to you every time, but they will happen. When you nick or cut yourself, be sure to grab a clean tissue or cloth and apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. If you've got a zit or a cut right in the middle of the area you're going to shave, it's a good idea to drop the standard razor for a while and use an electric razor or give shaving a break altogether for a few days.
Also, some guys might get ingrown hairs after shaving, in which the hair grows back into the skin. It can pierce the hair follicle, which in turn causes razor bumps. Called folliculitis, this condition can sometimes be handled by using a special safety razor, but this doesn't always work for every guy. If you experience folliculitis, talk to a dermatologist about the best way to remove your beard and moustache.
How to Shave
Before you begin, be sure to remember to rinse your razor after every few strokes. That way, the razor is cleared of any shaving cream or hair that might clog it up. Also, because the hair on different parts of your face grows in different directions, always try to shave in the direction your hair is growing (shaving against the direction your hair is growing can cause razor burn, redness, and rashes).
Now let's shave:
- First, wet your face with hot or warm water. This makes the hair on your face softer and opens your skin's pores, getting you ready for a closer and easier shave. Even better, try to shave right after you get out of the shower.
- Squirt some shaving gel into your hand, then apply it to your face, making sure to cover the sides of your face, chin, mouth area (around your lips), neck, and throat.
- Press the razor to the area you want to shave (it's a good idea to start with the sides of your face as they're easy to handle). Use short, slow strokes and remember to move the razor in the direction your hair is growing. Don't press too hard but don't be too gentle. Find the right touch by making sure the razor is cutting the hair and not your skin. You'll know if you're being too gentle if you only remove the shaving cream and the hair is still there.
- When the sides of your face are finished, move on to the more tricky spots. For areas like your upper lip/moustache area, bottom lip/chin area, and neck/throat area, you'll have to work a little. Try to stretch your skin a bit to make a flat surface, and glide the razor over those tricky areas.
- When you're finished, rinse your clean, smooth face with cold water. If you want to, put on some aftershave. Depending on how fast you grow that beard and moustache, repeat the entire process in 1 to 3 days.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013