Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

What Men Don't Know About Shaving

By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD

Basic shaving can be quick and easy. Just pick up a razor and drag it across your face until the stubble’s gone. A really good shave, on the other hand, requires a little more effort and know-how.

Even if you've been shaving for years, you might learn something, from dermatologists and a barber who’s been shaving men for decades, about what you need to do to get the best shave possible.

Recommended Related to Men

Our Cheatin’ Hearts

Why can't you just be faithful? Any man who has ever been on the receiving end of that question, whether dodging crockery or wiping away his wife's tears, knows that some women would really like an answer. Do men who cheat really outnumber their female counterparts? Does infidelity in marriage come more naturally to men than women? And do some husbands think that "monogamy" is a board game? "There's no question that men cheat more than women," says Steven Nock, PhD, a professor of sociology...

Read the Our Cheatin’ Hearts article > >

Time Is of the Essence

Don’t rush through a shave. That’s a good way to abuse your face. Instead, spend the necessary time prepping your skin for the razor.

Start by washing your face. Facial cleansers work best because they help soften the protein in the hair, says Jeffrey Benabio, MD, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. Harsh soaps, on the other hand, wash away hair-softening oils. Leave the cleanser on your face for one minute before you rinse.

Next, lather up with shaving cream or gel. (Benabio says it doesn’t matter which, but choose one labeled "for sensitive skin" if you need it.) Then let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes. You can comb your hair or brush your teeth to pass the time.

"That’s an important step," Benabio says. "That really softens the hair and makes a one-pass shave possible."

Dermatologist Adam Penstein, MD, agrees.

"The longer you let it sit, the better, although spending the time is not always practical," says Penstein, chief of dermatology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Lake Success, N.Y.

Brush Up

Don't rely on your fingers to lather your shaving cream. Get a brush.

"A good brush really pushes the cream into the hair and makes it much easier to shave," says Penstein.

Benabio recommends using a badger hair brush for its ability to lift the hairs and really coat them with cream.

When it comes to razors, both Benabio and Penstein say there's no need to fool with multiblade razors. A single blade will work fine, though Benabio favors a double-bladed razor for his shaves. The important thing to keep mind, they say, is that the blade you use must be sharp. Discard it if you see a nick in the blade; otherwise, if you shave most days, change blades every week or two.

How often you must change blades is another good reason to stick with inexpensive single blades rather than three- or five-blade razors, which can be quite costly. The more expensive the blade, the less likely you may be to change them as often as you should.

As for straight razors, Penstein advises leaving those to the pros. "They're much harder to handle and to keep even," he says, "and they're not as safe."

Barber Charles Kirkpatrick says straight razors are a lot harder to use and that it's easy to get hurt with one.

"Some people say it's daring to use it, but I love the word safety, myself," says Kirkpatrick, an executive officer with Barbers International and owner of a barber shop in Arkadelphia, Ark.

Today on WebMD

Life Cycle of a Penis
Slideshow
Preacher Curl
Slideshow
 
testosterone molecule
Article
Xray of foot highlighting gout
Slideshow
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video