Complete Guide To A Perfect Shave - 15 Tips To Perfect Your Shaving Routine

If you're struggling to know how to get a smooth shave that is free of cuts and irritation, you've come to the right place.  This post will guide you on each step of the way, from product selection to the finishing touch of your routine.  We hope it helps you to achieve the smooth, irritation free shave you want!

1. Select a quality shaving cream or soap

Avoid canned foams, which are mostly air and do not lubricate or protect your skin well.  Our general rule is: don’t use any products that lather automatically!  We recommend products that require addition of a little water and elbow grease.  Some key ingredients found in good soaps and creams are stearic acid, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and coconut acid.

Shaving soap puck

2. Use a Shaving brush

Using a brush builds a substantial lather and lifts the beard hair for a clean cut.  There are many options including boar’s hair, badger, synthetic, and even horse hair.  Synthetics are the most humane option, and many offer the same performance as animal hair brushes.

Silhouette of a shaving brush

3. Switch to a safety razor.

A smoother shave is the result of better technique, not multiple blades.  With proper care a quality safety razor can last a lifetime, and razor blades are a fraction of the cost of cartridges.

Safety razor

4. Find the right blade.

This will take a little research and trial and error.  There are many blade brands available with varying degrees of sharpness and durability.  Fortunately they all tend to be very inexpensive, averaging less than $1.00 for a pack of 5.  Your best bet is to buy a sample pack from an online retailer, and try each one to find the one that suits your beard and skin type.

Razor blade

5. Choose an aftershave

Use balm for more soothing relief, or a splash to refresh and tone your skin.  Look for ingredients such as aloe, witch hazel, coconut oil, vitamin E, sunflower oil, and provitamin B5.


6. Note the grain

Closely examine each area of your face and neck, paying close attention to the direction of hair growth.  This will be important to remember during your shave, and is a crucial step in avoiding razor burn, irritation, and nicks.

Man looking in handheld mirror

7. Apply warm water to your skin

Pat your face with a wet washcloth, or simply splash the water directly to your skin.  It’s also helpful to shave immediately after you shower, rather than before.  This step will help soften the hair and make your skin pliable, which reduces the likelihood of nicks.

Man applying towel to face

8. Load your brush

First, run the brush under hot water and shake out the excess.  Swirl the brush around the surface of the soap, or apply a dime-sized portion of cream directly to the brush.   As the lather starts to build in your bowl, scoop it up and work it back into the brush.  Repeat these steps until you’ve got a brush loaded with dense, creamy lather.  It’s likely that you’ll need to experiment with varying amounts of water until you find the right balance.

Lathered Shaving Brush

9. Lather up!

Work the lather into your beard using a circular motion to lift the hairs and continue building lather.  Make sure that you’ve got coverage that is thick enough so that it lasts throughout the entire first pass of your razor.

Silhouette of man using a shaving brush

10. work the angles

First place the head of the razor against your skin at a 90 degree angle, with the handle parallel to the floor.  Then lower the handle until the edge of the blade is in contact with your beard (between 30 and 45 degrees, depending on the design of the razor and your personal preference).

Safety razor at a 45 degree angle

11. First pass - With the grain

Recall the direction of your beard growth, also called the “grain”.  For your first pass with the razor, shave only with the grain.  Don’t apply pressure!  Instead, let your blade do all the work.  Many guides recommend a long strokes in a single direction, but this only applies if the grain of your beard is consistent.  If your beard growth has many growth directions, you will need to use shorter strokes that change direction accordingly.

Man shaving with the grain

12. Second pass - Across the grain

Lather up again, and follow the same guidelines as the first pass.  This time, however, you’ll shave across the grain.  This should help to smooth out some of the rough spots without an increased risk of nicks or razor burn.

Man shaving across the grain

12. Third pass - against the grain

This step does carry some risk, so it is recommended only after you’ve developed a high level of comfort with double edge shaving.  Lather up one last time, then shave against the grain.  This can be tricky, particularly if you have sensitive skin or a very coarse beard.  Alternatively, you may want to shave across the grain a second time, but while holding the razor at a more aggressive angle.

Man shaving against the grain

14. Rinse

Splash cold water on your face again to remove excess soap.  This step also soothes your skin, helping to reduce inflammation and redness.

Silhouette of a man after shaving

15. Repair

Now it’s time to help your face heal and prevent infections like pimples and acne cysts.  When using an aftershave splash, shake about a teaspoon into the palm of your hands then gently pat your face and neck.  If you’re using a balm, pump a dime-sized amount into your palm and apply it to shaved areas in a circular motion. 

A man using aftershave

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