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Getting a Close Shave

Experts share tips on how guys can get the smoothest — and least painful — shave possible

Choosing the best shaving cream, the best razors continued...

Griego prefers a single-edged blade and thinks double- and triple-edged razors can irritate the skin. “If you've prepared the skin, all you need is a single,” she says.

Bank agrees, saying he doesn't think multiple blades make much of a difference. In any case, the blade should be sharp.

Griego and Banks point out that there are special shaving creams for African-Americans. “African-American hair is curlier, more coiled,” Bank says. “If it's pulled up with the razor and then slips beneath the skin again, it may not find a straight channel out of the follicle and pierce the side of the channel, re-growing or turning back on itself.” About half of African-Americans, Bank says, use electric razors. Depilatories to remove hair do not solve the irritation problem.

Fine-tuning your shaving technique

Bank recommends shaving in the direction of hair growth for at least the first one or two passes. “It won't be as close because the hairs are at a 45-degree angle instead of 90 degrees, but it is gentle. You can always do one last pass against the grain.”

Remember, hair grows in different directions on different parts of the face. Slide your hand over your face and neck to see which direction it is growing.

After shaving, rinse with cool water and pat, don't rub, with a towel. Since shaving can remove two layers of skin in addition to whiskers, a balm-like moisturizer rather than a perfumed alcohol-toner type aftershave is recommended. The ones made for guys do not leave a greasy film or make skin shiny.

Rinse the blade thoroughly, but do not dry with a towel, which dulls the cutting edge.

Using a dull blade can also result in razor bumps and ingrown hairs.

Incidentally, it is not true that one must use an electric razor or a blade exclusively. “I know many men who use electrics in the car or on workdays,” Griego says, “and then get a blade shave for weekend dates or to go to church. Then back to the electric on Monday.”

And if you’re prone to ingrown hairs, is there anything that can be done? “I would like to give a nod to laser hair removal,” Bank says. And not just because he is a dermatologist. “I have had laser,” he says. “This is a great solution to ingrown hairs. I am not beardless, but my beard is softer and grows slower.”

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Reviewed on June 01, 2007

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