June 27, 2022 4 min read
If you’re reading this you’re likely about to pick up a razor the first time, or you’ve had some not-so-great shave that you’re looking to improve. I’ve suffered through enough terrible shaves to know how not enjoyable that is, and to figure out what to do, and NOT do. Let’s walk through the essential parts of a good shave, so you can start enjoying it!
My shaving experience is purely from shaving my face, but these fundamentals apply to shaving any part of your body. Some of the subtleties will vary, and you’ll learn those in time, but if you start with these basics you’ll be having a great shave in no time!
Your hair and skin need to be soft & hydrated when you shave. Soft hair will cut more comfortably and smoothly, while soft skin is more pliable and less likely to nick. Have a shower before you shave, and let warm water run over your face or legs before you shave. Alternatively, you can hold a hot, damp towel to the area for a couple of minutes right before shaving.
Today, we're using a great preshave oil from Truefitt and Hill
“Dry-shaving”, where no product is used, is no good. Your razor needs some help gliding smoothly, and your skin needs some protection from the razor. Shaving cream is a great option, but the canned stuff can be quite hard on your skin, so a natural shave cream is the way to go. You can also use an oil or a gel, they’ll work equally well. If you’re up for something fancy, grab yourself a basic shaving brush and soap. They take a little more time to use, but they help you get an incredible shave and save some serious money on products long-term.
Nobody needs more than one blade to get a great shave. Excess blades irritate the skin, and they’re often packed too close together to really shave that closely. A single, sharp blade will give you a close, smooth shave with a little practice. Personally, I prefer a safety razor. They give you a close, smooth shave, and save a ton of money on blades compared to cartridge razors. There’s also a huge number of blade brands to choose from, each offering a slightly different shave. With a little experimenting, you can find the perfect match for your skin.
By the way, ladies, this is how you get stubble. I learned the hard way for you. You're welcome.
When I first taught myself to shave, I ran my razor any which way, all with the goal of removing as much hair as possible. What I didn’t realize was that was what caused much of the discomfort I felt from the shave. Your hair has a natural direction, or ‘grain’, and it’s important to be aware of. Shaving with the grain won’t give you a super smooth shave, but it’s very gentle and removes most of your stubble. Shaving against the grain is far less forgiving, but gives you a way closer cut. Neither is specifically right or wrong, rather think of your hair’s direction as a tool in your shaving kit.
I shave with the grain first, to get rid of most of my beard. Then I lather up again and shave against the grain. By shortening the hair first, I leave a very short layer of stubble for the second pass and when I shave against the grain, there’s a lot less to resist the razor. The end result is a super smooth, yet comfortable shave.
The first thing I ever bought at Kent: a great shaving set!
I hinted at it earlier, but using decent products is vital. Skin can be fussy stuff, and putting a bunch of cheap junk on it will make it unhappy. You don’t need to ball out with the most expensive shave gear, but spend the money on something decent, and natural. Literally any product we sell is a good choice, and we have something for every budget.
Spending a little more up front on good products almost always guarantees long-term savings. A good safety razor will last decades, and with blades so cheap, you can save thousands of dollars on razors alone. Similarly a good shaving brush can range from $30-70, but it allows you to get a lot more out of a little tub of shaving cream by expanding it with air and water, so you can use way less of it.
If you need help putting together your first kit, we’re here for you. We have some great affordable starter-sets, but we can also help you piece one together. If you’d like to learn more about getting started with the right gear, check out this article.