Razors and shave creams get all the glory, but the secret to a better shave is in the skincare. Here is the best shave routine for men, regardless of your skin type.
We’ve all been there: shaved too hastily and without proper skincare steps and ended up with ingrowns, irritation, nicks, and infections. Whether you're doing a full-face shave or a beard and neckline cleanup, having a healthy pre- and post-shave routine is essential to your skin’s health, and to having a safe, clean shave.
You're dragging a sharp blade across your face several times a week. That's bound to take a toll on your skin.
Think about what happens to your skin when you shave. You're dragging a sharp blade over your face and shearing off the topmost layer of cells along with all that stubble, (and you're likely doing that several times a week). That's bound to take a toll on your skin, making it sensitive, and susceptible to bacteria, clogged pores, and redness. So having the proper pre- and post-shave skincare regimen is just as important as what razor you're using. And to those with dry, sensitive, or even oily skin—these universal tips include you, too.
BEST Pre-Shave Routine foR Men
Follow these tips to properly prepare the skin and the whiskers for a safe, healthy shave. (You’ll wonder why you skipped pre-shave oil all these years, once it gives you that Scottie Pippen-caliber assist.)
- Cleanse with warm water: Before you use any products on your face, be it shaving routines or an advanced skincare regimen, you need to first “clear the canvas” and cleanse the skin. This will flush excess grease, grime, and sebum from the skin. Pick a cleanser that gently but deeply extracts everything from the pores. (This is why Cardon uses clay in its soothing cleanser, because clay notoriously unclogs pores better than anything else.) As this step pertains to shaving, cleansing also opens the pores when you do it with warm water. This will help relax the skin and hairs, and make for a frictionless shave. And, by removing the excess grease and grime, you reduce the razor drag by lowering the amount of gunk that the blades collect and carry with each stroke.
- Apply pre-shave oil: After patting the skin dry with a clean towel, apply a pre-shave oil to the whiskers and the skin. This further nourishes and readies the skin for the sharp blade, and softens the hairs even more for the same reason. More importantly, though, the oil creates an invisible, protective layer over top the skin, that allows the razor to seamlessly glide over the skin without compromising the closeness of the shave, like an invisibility cloak for your face.
Best Shaving Routine for Men
Here are the general steps and things you need to consider with your shaving regimen, regardless of your skin type. Let's start with the age-old fight over Cartridge Razor Vs. Safety Razor:
- Choose between a cartridge and safety razor: A cartridge razor is the more traditional option these days, since they come with 3-6 blades plus built-in cooling pads, and they promise a thorough shave. But men with sensitive skin or especially thick whiskers have difficulty with the thin space between each blade, or the excessive dragging involved with so many blades. So, like those guys, you might consider a safety razor, which is single or double sided and uses a single blade to shave clean and effectively. Both types of razors require constant blade replacement: Cartridge blades should be replaced every 6-8 shaves or 2-3 weeks, whichever comes first. Safety blades are relatively inexpensive and could be replaced with each shave, though they’re typically ok for 2-3 shaves or 1-2 weeks. Replacing them ensures that you only use the sharpest, cleanest blades.
- Choose the shave agent you prefer most: Just personal preferences here. You can choose between shave creams, gels, oils, and soaps; each of them will help reduce micro-cuts and, along with the pre-shave oil, will reduce irritation from the shave. Furthermore, they all soften facial hair and should be applied against the grain to help lift the hairs. If you’re particularly concerned about the ingredients used, then pick a shave agent that touts ingredients like aloe or chamomile, as well as essential oils (like eucalyptus, sandalwood, or lavender) or soothing and hydrating natural oils (like argan or jojoba)—especially if you have sensitive or dry skin.
- Shave with the grain: Technically, shaving against the grain of your whiskers’ growth will give you a closer shave—maybe spare you an extra few hours or a day, depending on how fast the hair grows. But, by shaving against the grain, you risk hairs getting trapped under the skin and getting infected. These are how ingrown hairs are formed, and as you know they’re extremely painful, rather unsightly and take forever to heal. When you shave with the grain, you may require an extra pass or a spot check after you finish the core shave, but it'll save you on pain.
- Go slow: This is supposed to be a soothing, enjoyable experience. So, take your time to minimize burn and any errors. Make confident strokes—but not too forceful—and rinse the blade under warm water throughout the process.
- Store the razor properly: Let the blade dry upright in a cool, dry place before storing it away from dust and moisture until the next shave. This prevents bacteria and dirt from accumulating on the blades, and ensures a hygienic shave next time.
Best Post-Shave Routine for Men
Here’s how to recover the skin from the sharp blades—Hail Mary’s notwithstanding.
- Rinse with cold water: Just as warm water opens the pores and relaxes the skin at the start of the routine, you now need to splash cold water at the conclusion, for the exact opposite reasons. This will flush away any debris while closing the pores and defending them from bacteria. Quickly pat the skin dry with your clean towel.
THAT $#!% MOMENT
The occasional nick seems to be unavoidable. If you got a shaving nick or cut, you can also disinfect it with the witch hazel, or an alum-block or styptic pen to disinfect the spot before applying the defensive moisturizer. Be sure that the cut has stopped bleeding before proceeding. You can also apply a hydrating, dense balm over top it—lip balms work wonders here, or a non-petroleum-based balm (since petroleum dehydrates, too).
- Disinfect the skin: You need an alcohol-free post-shave product to help tone the skin and kill germs—alcohol, while certainly an effective disinfectant, will dry out the skin and could lead to its own irritation or breakouts. So, pick a hydrating and soothing aftershave, like witch hazel, which balances oil production, soothes irritation, and acts as an antiseptic to prevent breakouts and infections without any risk of drying out the skin. Witch hazel is gentle, too, and is perfectly safe on dry or sensitive skin—just as it is perfect on oily, normal, or combination skin.
- Apply a defensive moisturizer: Depending on the time of day, you’ll need to apply a thick overnight moisturizer or an SPF-packed, soothing hydrator—or both.
THE FINAL FRONTIER: MOISTURIZER
Wearing SPF daily is the best thing you can do to keep your face protected and looking fresh. So finish up with an SPF-packed moisturizer that shields from skin-aging and cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Cardon’s SPF 30 Moisturizer also uses cactus extract to help soothe and heal skin while defending against environmental aggression. This singular step is probably sufficient for normal, combination, or oily skin if you shaved in the morning or afternoon. However, more sensitive and dry skin should start with a thicker moisturizer, followed by the SPF. Reapply the SPF every few hours when exposed to the sun, regardless of your skin type—those UV rays don’t take a break, any time of day, or any time of year.
A dense moisturizer lays atop the skin and blocks toxins and bacteria from entering the pores, all while nourishing the skin and reducing redness or irritation. Pick one with soothing, healing ingredients too—like Cardon’s hydro boost gel moisturizer, which uses cactus extract and rosehip oil to calm skin and expedite healing process for overnight recovery.