Pick Up That Razor And Give Yourself A Barbershop Shave

With the right tools and technique, it is possible to get a barbershop-smooth shave at home.

So you'd like a really close, smooth shave, but you just can't seem to find the time to get to a barbershop. Is there any way you can approximate such a shave doing it yourself at home? Of course you can! You may equate home shaves with itchy skin, redness, and burning, but this doesn't have to be the case. With the right equipment, and the right steps taken, you too can have that "perfect shave!"

First of all, you will need to toss out those disposable razors and invest in a really good cartridge razor. Later on, when you've mastered the art of shaving, you might even want to upgrade to that classic shaving tool, the double-edge safety razor - the kind that takes a single, disposable razor blade. Yes, you stand more risk of nicks and cuts with such a razor, but with a little practice you'll find it gives the smoothest shave imaginable, with none of the redness and irritation you may experience with a cartridge razor.

You will also need a shaving brush to apply your (glycerin-based) shaving cream. A good brush not only applies the cream, it also exfoliates your skin and prepares both skin and whiskers for the coming shave. The best brushes are made of badger hair and can be pretty expensive - over $20 for a lower-priced model, all the way up to $500 and above for the very top end ones made from the hairs from a badger's neck (supposed to be the best-quality hairs). You can get cheaper brushes made of boar hair, but these tend to be stiffer and more uncomfortable on the face. Boar's hair, after all, is what they make hairbrushes out of.

The best time to shave is right after you step out of the shower - your face will be sufficiently hydrated for what is known as a "wet" shave - one in which the area to be shaved is kept hydrated before and during the shave with plenty of hot water. A wet shave is much smoother than a dry (or less wet) one, as the layer of water formed between your skin and the shaving cream will allow the razor to skim lightly over your skin, rather than dragging it. It is this friction, caused by having insufficiently hydrated skin, which can lead to the redness and irritation many men experience with each shave. If you must shave without first showering, you can try to hydrate your face by splashing it with warm water for a few minutes. Or, if you really want to play barber, you could use steaming towels (soaked, then warmed in the microwave).

Once you have your high-quality razor, glycerin-based cream, badger-hair brush, and well-hydrated face all ready to go, you will need to run a sink full of hot (but not scalding hot) water. Splash some water on your face as the sink fills, and let your brush soak in the sink as well. Keep the brush wet; keep the face wet. Both are key to getting that close, comfortable shave.

When the sink is full, remove the brush, hold it upside down until it stops pouring water, then swirl it in your shaving cream (you can have this ready in a small tub just for this purpose). You don't want to load the brush up with cream - just swirl it lightly on the top until you get a little bit of foamy lather on the bristles. Then paint your face, using upward and downward strokes all over the area you intend to shave. Keep brushing on the cream (apply more cream to brush as necessary) until you've got a thick layer on your face - this should take you a minute or so.

Now take your razor and shave very lightly downward on your face and neck, in the direction the hairs grow. If you want a really close shave, you may re-wet, re-lather, and shave a second time (again, very gently) in the opposite direction, but if your skin is sensitive and prone to redness and irritation, you may need to forego this step. Your face should be smooth enough from the first shave.

After you have done shaving, rinse your face with cold water to close up your pores. Pat your skin dry (don't rub it!) with a clean towel. Then finish up with a good moisturizer. If you prefer an aftershave, be sure to choose a non-alcohol-based one, as alcohol will only sting and cause skin to dry out unpleasantly.

You will also need to rinse out that badger-hair brush pretty carefully, and shake it dry. Store it standing on its handle (bristles pointing up) instead of lying on its side. This will allow the bristles to air-dry, and enable it to last a good long time (in case you did pop for the $500 model).

There you go! All shaved and soft and smooth, without having to leave the house. Although, of course, now that your face looks so good, you'll probably want to go out and show it off somewhere!

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