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Get the Grooming Advantage With A Hot Shave

When it comes to being a man, there are two things that consistently sell the gender: the ability to pee standing up, and the capacity for truly awesome facial hair. Alas, beards come in and out of vogue, and for those times that a clean shaven look is required to show style savvy, we men must shave. But too many dudes roll out of bed and drag an electric shaver across their sleep addled faces. Whatever happened to the art of a hot shave? That most classic of manly rituals has been carelessly tossed aside.

Hey, why all the electric razor hate?

A bowie knife is also known as “The Gentleman’s Razor.” The electric razor is one of those many modern conveniences that might save you some time and money, but really just exposes you as a certain type of fellow. Shaving with an electric razor is like buying your jeans from the defects rack at an outlet mall. Or opting for Axe body spray instead of a moderately priced cologne. No matter how well you cover it up, you always look (or smell) just a little bit half-assed.

It doesn’t matter how nice your electric razor is — and you can get some pretty nice ones — you’re never going to get a shave as close, or as precise, as with a classic hot shave. Besides, a real man lives on the edge. In a world where everything is just a little too safe, personal grooming with a sharp blade is one of the few legal thrills left.

Safety or Straight?

Decision time: safety or straight. The classic shaving implement is a straight razor. These things are B.A., but pretty hard to find now. You can still get them online, or from any decent knife store. In my opinion, the straight blade shave is classy, but a bit unnecesary. We’re going to focus on the safety razor, because it’s more accessible, easier to use and still provides a wicked-close shave.

And don’t give me any taunts or jeers about “safety” razors. Those things can cut you something fierce if you drag them the wrong way.

How many blades do I need?

While number of blades may not be important, if you can find a giant razor, you’re almost assured a better shave. Remember that MadTV skit, with the Spishak Mach20? The truth is, the number of blades doesn’t make a huge difference. If you’re using a cartridge-based safety razor, it has all the blades set an even distance away from the skin. With a three blade razor, you’re not being efficient. If the front-most blade starts dulling, you’re going to nick yourself even though you have a perfectly fine blade second or third in line. Your shave is only as smooth as your weakest blade is sharp.

Rare Schick Safety RazorAnd those vibrating razors, like the Mach 3 M3 Power? Forget about it. They might seem neat, but they’re basically just a way to bump up the cost.

Shave with however many blades you feel comfortable with, from the single disposable blade to the Mach 4. The important part about blades isn’t number, but how often you change them. At the most, you can get away with 10 shaves from a blade. I’d recommend not going more than 7.

Here’s a tip that will help your blades last longer and reduce skin irritation: Always shave with the grain. Shave in the direction that your hair grows, never against it. If you’re having trouble with a few spots, shave across the growth direction… But like I said, never against it.

What’s up with the “hot”?

This is the most important part of a hot shave. You want the foam, the blade and the water to be hot. Or at least on the north side of warm. Don’t burn yourself (duh) but the heat will open your pores and soften your beard, allowing for a closer shave with less irritation.

When your pores are closed, your skin is pretty mountainous terrain. In the extreme, tightly closed pores manifest as goose bumps. When you warm them up, your skin smooths out quite a bit, meaning that your razor isn’t going to nick or irritate as many raised areas.

Try shaving during, or directly after, a hot shower. The steam in the bathroom is going to help even more.

If you’re shaving before a shower, hold a warm towel or washcloth against your face for about 5 minutes.

A few years ago, I got one of these bad boys, The Conair Lather Heating System. Connect a standard can of shave gel or foam, and this will heat it up. It feels great on the face, and just like the steam or hot towel, it’s going to open those pores up and soften the hair.

A few years ago, I got one of these bad boys, The Conair Lather Heating System. Connect a standard can of shave gel or foam, and this will heat it up. It feels great on the face, and just like the steam or hot towel, it’s going to open those pores up and soften the hair.

Cold water does have its place, though. Always rinse with cold water after the shave, and pat your face to dry (don’t rub!). This is going to close those pores back up and leave you feeling refreshed.

Gel? Foam? Soap?

First time with a straightYou’re doing it wrong.There are a lot of shaving products out there. Some of them are pretty good, others are absolute crap. Anything with a lot of fragrance or alcohol is going to irritate your skin. Gels containing glycerine are best. Soap chips and a shaving brush were once the standard, but as cosmetic science has advanced, we’ve been given so many better options. Shaving gels tend to lubricate best, but make sure you pick one for “sensitive skin.” Even if your skin is a tough leather hide, these gels are going to contain less irritants, and they’re simply going to perform better.

Even though soap chips might be out, shaving brushes are still a great tool. Use one to build lather and spread it across your face. You’ll create a richer lather, and the brush will actually exfoliate as you’re applying the gel. This will make sure you don’t get any dead skin gumming up your razor, or getting in the way of the beard hairs you’re trying to remove.

And no matter what you’re using, make sure to rinse your blade with hot water every few strokes.

And if you still get “razor rash”?

Some of us don’t have the resilient facial skin of others. If you’re getting itchy and irritated skin even after doing everything hot, try using aspirin. Really. Aspirin contains acetyl salicylic acid, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. For a home brew remedy, dissolve a few tablets in warm water and apply the resulting paste to your irritated areas. After 30 minutes, wash it off.

I prefer to use this Skin Relief Treatment, though. It has the same active ingredients as aspirin, but it easier to use. Apply to freshly shaved areas, and forget about it. There are plenty of other brands available, just make sure to avoid anything with alcohol, fragrance or colour. These are only going to irritate you further.


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