A Cut Above: Ten Tips for the Perfect Shave
5. Shave in the Shower
A shower or bath serves as an ideal environment to shave because the pervading steam and heat will soften the bristles on your face and also help open up your facial pores, ensuring they are "warmed up" before the blade hits them. It takes approximately 4 minutes for the bristles on your face to sufficiently soften and the facials muscles to relax in readiness for your shave. Alternatively, you could employ a more retro barber shop approach and simply open those pores via a hot towel resting on the face for a couple of minutes.
6. Live by the Sword: Replace your blades
You should use a sharp, steady blade and to replace it after four or five uses. Always ensure you wash your blade thoroughly with hot water after use. The sharpness is likely to begin to wane significantly after a few uses and a blunt blade means a poor shave. If you are hanging on to blades for too long, you also increase the risk of infection as any lingering bacteria or impurities on the blade may infect your skin. Also, try to use gentle strokes rather than applying excessive pressure on the blade. You may feel like you will achieve a closer shave this way, but ease and grace is liable to be a much more successful strategy.
7. Reap what you sow: The Rule of the Grain
Ensure your blade has been warmed in hot water before beginning your shave and move your blade with the natural grain of your face rather than against it. Opposing the natural direction of the hair follicles on your face increases the risk of cuts and general irritation. You should also aim to use short, non-aggressive strokes rather than dragging it in one continuous motion along the whole perimeter of your face. You should also make sure you keep the blade as horizontal as possible. Changing the angle of the blade is likely to be more invasive to the face and it may rupture or become irritated as a result, so don't give it any nasty surprises and try to keep the angle consistent.
8. Post-Traumatic Stress: Aftershaves and Lotions
As a general rule, trust the reaction of your skin to any applied lotion. As with the act of shaving itself, any product that causes numbness, irritation, pain or visible redness, is probably not the right product for you. Lotions containing alcohol are liable to be the main culprits for skin irritation but heavily concentrated plant extracts such as menthol or citrus can be just as harmful. Alcohol-based lotions should thus not be applied directly to the face after shaving. If, however, you have just shaved and are dead set on having a splash of your favored aftershave before heading out to meet a special lady, try to apply it behind the earlobes and around the neck, thus avoiding those vulnerable pores of freshly shaved skin. The skin is in a highly sensitive state at this time, so applying such a balm directly to the face is liable to inflame it and cause irritation.
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