How to Shave Your Face

Three Parts:Preparing Your FaceShavingEnding the Shave

A good shave is art. Whether you're ready to have your first shave, or you've been shaving for years but have never been sure if you're doing it correctly, knowing how to prepare your face, shave properly, and take care of your skin will help you get a great, clean, and close shave.

Part 1
Preparing Your Face

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    Choose an appropriate razor. You should take into account the coarseness of your beard hairs, the texture of your skin, your preferred shaving method, and other details when picking a razor. Generally speaking, for heavy bearded men with more sensitive skin, it is generally good to use a traditional multiple-blade razor.
    • Electric razors are convenient and quick, requiring less of the preparation of traditional razors, and are somewhat gentler on sensitive skin. For some types of hair, however, they tend to leave an uneven or patchy shave on the face. More traditional razors work well on all types of skin and for all types of hair.
    • Individuals who get shaving bumps can use specially designed razors, typically marketed to men with coarse hair. The key is for the razor not to cut too closely, so that the hair does not fail to emerge from the skin as it grows. Use of a pre-shave, liquid or talc, and a post-shave treatment for shaving bumps also can help.
    • If you have acne and need to shave an area, try both an electric and a safety razor to see which is more comfortable. Soften the hair with warm soap and water and then shave as lightly as possible.
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    Keep your shave kit ready and clean and sharp. Shaving with a dull razor is how cuts happen and it makes the skin very irritated. Only shave with sharp, clean razor blades.
    • Before you shave, it's common to fill the wash basin with cold, clean water to use for rinsing the blade. Hot water will only make the blade expand and dull up, so it's common to use cold water on your razor.[1]
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    Trim your beard down first. If you've got a full-on beard, it's important to use clippers or scissors to get the hair as short as possible before going to the razor. Electric clippers are best for this purpose. Take the guard off and trim your beard away completely.
    • Never lather up a significant beard and attempt to use a razor on it. This will be extremely painful and ineffective at removing the hair.
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    Wash your face with an exfoliant facial wash. To prepare the skin for shaving, it's a good idea to start with as clean a skin as possible to avoid infections and irritation while you're shaving. Use a good, natural exfoliant face wash and wash your face with warm soapy water. Blot dry.
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    Apply shaving oil. Shaving oil is used to nourish the skin and lubricate the razor as it glides across your face. It's a different product than shaving cream. Put a few drops of shaving oil in the palm of your hand and rub it into your beard before applying a hot towel and shaving cream, allowing the razor to glide across your skin evenly and comfortably. This will help to reduce razor burn.
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    Heat your pores. Traditionally, barbers would head mens' faces with hot towels to open the pores and soften the hairs on the beard for a closer and more comfortable shave. Today, some people like to use a hot washcloth to achieve the same effect. The heat and moisture will help to soften your beard (if you have one) and lift up the hairs, as well as open your pores.
    • Be careful that the water isn't too hot. Hot water slackens skin and pulls moisture away. The towel you use should be comfortable warm, but not steaming hot.
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    Use a brush to apply shaving cream, if possible. While it may seem old-fashioned, applying shaving cream with a brush will further help to soften your beard and exfoliate your skin. It also helps to float the whiskers out away from the blades while you are shaving.
    • If you're short on shaving cream, gel or foam, use conditioner or speciality shaving oil. Letting the lubricant sit on your face for up to a minute can amplify its effects. Avoid using a bar of soap, as this can leave a residue on the blade, dulling the edge and eventually causing rusting even on stainless blades. At a push, you can use a liquid soap as these are formulated differently.
    • Natural shaving creams are preferable to glycerine-based creams or gels, which can tend to dry out the skin and leave it irritated. Go for shaving creams made of all-natural oils and other products for the best and most comfortable shave.

Part 2

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    Start shaving while your pores are still open and warm. When you finish washing your face, you should start right away before your pores have a chance to tighten up and your skin is still damp. This is the best way to get the closest and most comfortable shave possible. Don't wait around while you do other morning rituals. Shave immediately.[2]
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    Use your free hand to pull your skin tight. Hold your razor in your dominant hand and use your other hand to pull your skin tight and create as smooth a surface as possible for you to work. This is especially helpful when you're working around hard-to-shave areas like the nasolabial folds between your mouth and nose, as well as your jawline.
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    Shave with the grain. Run your hand across your facial hair. One direction will make it stand up, the other will make it lie flat. You want to shave in the latter direction. Keep the flat of the blade almost parallel with the face to remove the bulk of the hair.
    • Use short, light, downward strokes while you're shaving to keep the blade sliding across the oil and taking the hairs of cleanly.
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    Shave small sections completely before moving on. Your shave should be a slow, comfortable, and thorough process. It's not something to rush through while you're driving to work. Start with one side of your face and work steadily towards the other side, doing small sections at a time and completely shearing the hair off of each section before you move on. It saves you time and aggravation to do it right the first time.
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    Rinse the blade often. Swirl it around in the filled sink and tap the razor against the side of the sink to free up beard trimmings. It's especially important to keep multi-blade razors from clogging with shaving cream and little hairs, or it'll become much less effective at shaving your face.
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    Rinse your face with warm water. Run your fingers over your face to find any rough areas that you may have missed. Look for missed patches near sideburns, around your mouth and close to your nostrils.
    • Apply shaving cream and gently pass the blade over the area across the grain, but not directly against the grain. Pay special attention to hairs on your neck and jawline, which generally do not grow straight up or down, but in many different directions that simple up and down motions can miss.

Part 3
Ending the Shave

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    Rinse your face in cool water and pat dry with a clean towel. Applying cold water as soon as possible after your face has been shaved is the best possible way of closing your pores and finishing the shave. Cold water also helps to close up the cuts and stop bleeding.
    • If you've cut yourself, you can then apply witch hazel to soothe the cuts and prevent razor burn. Then add small pieces of moistened kitchen paper or toilet roll to the cuts that still bleed.
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    Apply a non-alcohol shaving balm. Shaving balms based in aloe and tea tree oil can help prevent dry skin and razor burn. Use all-natural products to keep your skin moisturized and healthy, applying a small amount and working it thoroughly around your beard area.
    • Remember the scene in Home Alone where he slaps aftershave on his face and screams? Yeah. It burns. But only if the aftershave is alcohol-based. It's important to avoid alochol-based aftershaves, which dry out your skin considerably and really irritate the face.
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    Clean your shaving supplies. Rinse and dry your equipment thoroughly, and store in a dry place. Clean equipment is less likely to introduce bacteria and infection to your open, freshly shaved pores. Change the blades as needed. A dull blade will leave your face feeling raw and sore, and is much more likely to cause razor burn.
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    Shave often for good skin. Shaving once every couple days can help keep your hairs from thickening and making your next shave more irritating. The more consistently you shave, the better the quality of your shaves will be, and the better your complexion. Shaving removes dead skin and keeps pores from clogging, especially if you practice good hygiene after shaving.[3]
    • Use a styptic pencil if you are susceptible to nicks and cuts. When using a styptic pencil, simply wet and gently spread across the area where the nick occurred. The material on the pencil will constrict the blood vessels near the cut and block anymore blood from coming out.


  • If using a mirror to shave in the shower put a little bit of shampoo on the mirror to prevent fogging up from the steam.
  • For an extra thick beard you can use a warm face cloth compress to soften it in addition to a warm shower prior to shaving. Change blades as necessary, as they will dull much quicker than with a thin beard.
  • With a towel over your head, place your face above a sink or a large bowl full of hot water, thus creating a face sauna. Do this for 10 minutes and then begin to shave. You will be surprised how good this helps to reduce razor burns and cuts.
  • Some men prefer washing their faces and even shaving while in the shower. The steam from the shower helps prepare the face and beard, and the force of the shower rinsing your face after shaving soothes any minor nicks that might happen. Experiment with this to see if it results in a closer shave, although not having a mirror available may be a handicap.
  • The path of the blade should be straight, with the the edge of the blade kept perpendicular to its path. Because the blade is sharp, moving the blade with the edge parallel to the skin [even slightly] will allow the edge to get under the skin and slice or nick it.
  • After shaving full beard or mustache off, shave every 3-4 days for a while. If heading out, a lined stubble beard is perfect.
  • Make sure that the blade of the razor meets your skin at ~45 degrees or less. Nicks and cuts happen when the blade is held at too large of an angle against your skin. It should glide over your skin and you shouldn't be able to feel it.
  • Some individuals will find that a sharp straight razor (standard issue) and just hot water running over the face, i.e. in a shower, can get a significantly better shave using no soap, oil or shaving creams.
  • You should probably avoid a boar bristle shaving brush if your skin is sensitive or oily. There are many shave creams on the market; choose one that you like that's right for your skin type. Badger bristle is the preferred shaving brush bristle. You can also use a soft cosmetic blush brush if your skin is extremely sensitive, although if your skin is that sensitive, you're probably going to use an electric razor.


  • Use caution around any natural bumps in your skin, like around moles and your Adam's apple.
  • Avoid shaving against the grain if you can, as this causes beveling of the whiskers, which can lead to ingrown hairs, and other complications. If you must shave against the grain (for any reason) shave with the grain to start, then reapply shaving cream and shave along the grain.

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Categories: Shaving