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
Bank prefers a gel to a shaving cream. Cheaper soaps lather up and it's the
layer of soap next to the skin that counts, not how mounded-up it is. “Gels are
more toning,” Bank says.
Some people use a badger-hair brush to moisten the cream and spread it
around. “I say if you like it and it doesn't hurt you, fine,” Bank says of
expensive (often British) shaving products. “Remember,” he says, “price does
not necessarily translate to better quality.”
Griego notes also that barbers cannot use badger-hair brushes because they
can hold bacteria that can infect subsequent customers. If you use one with an
accompanying solid soap, replace the brush when the soap is gone.
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
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