Besides getting a driver's license and moving out of the house for further studies, shaving for the first time is a seminal moment in every man's life. We've all looked on with a tinge of envy and admiration as our fathers (or big brothers) lathered up and emerged with a clean shaven face with just a few measured strokes of a razor. That's why we can't help but feel a little excited when we're finally standing in front of the bathroom mirror, shaving cream and razor in hand, ready to get to work on that stubble for the first time.
However, unlike most other rites of passage that signal a boy's transformation into a man, there's no set of rules or guidelines available to us when it comes to that first shave. All we have to go on is what we've seen on TV and the memory of our aforementioned family members in action. And since shaving comes with a real risk of nicks and cuts all over your face and neck (not to mention a whole host of other skin-related complaints,) wouldn't it be great if there was a guide that addressed all your shaving FAQs as you tackled them for the first time? Well, you're in luck - that's exactly what we've put together for you.Question 1: Which Products Do You Need For A Great Shave?
Enter the supermarket and you're confronted with aisles full of grooming products, all of which claim to be an indispensable part of your shaving routine. It can be a little bewildering for the first time shaver, but we're here to tell you that you shouldn't succumb to this pressure and fill your bathroom cabinets with all manner of shaving supplies. At the same time, there's more to shaving than just a shaving cream and a razor. The best shaving kit comprises just five essential elements - a pre-shave oil, lathering agent, brush, razor, and aftershave balm, which is all you need for a great shave.Question 2: How Should You Prepare Your Skin For Shaving?
One of the most common shaving mistakes that even the most experienced hands make is hacking away at your facial hair while it's still stiff and bristly. Even the best razor blade would struggle to deal with the resistance this creates, leaving you open to the risk of cuts and rashes. For most people, pre-shave preparation only comprises washing their face quickly, a grooming practice that leaves a lot to be desired.
A splash of cold water doesn't relax your facial hair enough for you to start shaving, which is why washing your face with warm water is the way to go. The heat and moisture relaxes your hair follicles and softens your beard hair, making it much easier for the blade to slice through. Even a pre-shave face wash with a light exfoliator wouldn't go amiss, as it would get rid of dead skin and oil trapped in your pores.Question 3: How can you choose the right razor?
© Wikimedia Commons
Every specialised job requires the right tools, with shaving being no different. With a variety of options available in the market, it's important to zero in on the best razor to suit your needs in terms of grooming and budget. While disposable razors are the pocket-friendly option, they can't match up to their more technologically-advanced counterparts. Multi-blade cartridge razors bring speed and efficiency to the table, but having to buy replacement cartridges at regular intervals makes them pricier in the long run. Double edge safety razors offer the closest shave out of the bunch, and require minimal maintenance costs after a heavy initial investment. However, they also carry the highest risk of nicks and cuts, especially for the inexperienced user because of the extremely sharp blade. For those who don't feel ready to handle a sharp blade just yet, there's even the option of an electric razor that will do the job.Question 4: What is the right way to shave?
Finally, the million dollar question - what is the ideal shaving technique? Following the direction of growth of your facial hair gets the best results, a technique which is commonly known as shaving with the grain. Just run your hands over your face - if it feels smooth, you're moving with the grain and that's the direction your blade needs to move in. If you shave against the grain, you're tugging the hair in an unnatural direction. Although this might even result in a closer shave, you're much more likely to harm your skin. You should only go down that route if you're not satisfied with the results of your first shave with the grain, but be extremely careful when you're doing so.Question 5: How often should you change blades?
© Wikimedia Commons
Another misconception when it comes to shaving is that you should change your razor blade every week. In fact, there's no set time period for you to change blades. The dullness of a razor blade depends on several factors, such as its quality, how often you shave, the products you're using, your pre-shave prep and your blade maintenance. For example, your blade will become dull much faster if you're not using the best shaving foam for the job, or if you don't clear out the hair that gets clogged up in the gaps between the blades. A usually reliable indicator that it's time to change blades is if you find yourself having to use extra effort to drag your razor through your hair, because a quality blade should be able to glide through smoothly.Question 6: How can you make sure your skin stays healthy?
Your shave isn't over as soon as you wash your face and towel off - you need to follow proper post-shave procedures. Even though the best shaving creams these days contain aloe vera and other soothing agents, your skin deserves more than that. Having rinsed off with warm water, a splash of cold water is needed to close your open pores and firm up your skin. After that, a quality post-shave balm is the final flourish that your shaving ritual needs to make sure that your skin remains healthy and hydrated.