Razor's Edge: Shaving Basics

Today we continue our Man Week celebration in anticipation of Father’s Day.  We hope you will find this useful for yourself or pass it along to someone who might.  At the very least, you might be inspired for your gift purchase (new shaving equipment).


Shaving is something of rite of passage for a man.  At some point, every man shaves for the first time… and then forever more.  There was a time when the ritual of shaving was passed from father to son ceremoniously.  That appears to have changed over the years along with the tools we use.  Now, most men race through shaving each morning, dragging a blade over their face in a hurry to beat traffic.

Here we have outlined a few of the tools you need and a basic guide to follow for a good, clean shave.

savour… morning rituals

Get the rest after the jump…

Shaving Basics

If you are a man and so inclined, try getting a shave from a professional.  This is an experience you won’t soon forget.  If you are looking for a gift for Dad, you might consider a gift certificate to a place that offers this service.

If you are a dad, consider sharing this practice with your sons.  It’s your chance to pass on a lesson they will remember forever.

The best time to shave is right after a hot shower when the hair is soft.

Avoid cheap disposable razor blades.  This is one case where you really do "get what you pay for".

Start shaving with the cheeks first.  The hair is usually less coarse here and that gives the tougher hair more time to soften with the soap.

Shave with the grain of the hair with the blade at an angle.  Dragging the blade flat across the face chops the hair and not cuts it as desired.

If you still have slight stubble, shave very lightly against the grain.

Unless you just can’t have it any other way, don’t worry too much about slight stubble on your neck.  The risk of cutting this tender area outweighs the aesthetics.


Some things you may need:

  • Shaving soap – preferred for a good shave. 
  • Shave cream – use this instead of soap if you prefer.
  • Shaving brush with badger hair - badger hair is used because it is fine and elastic.  The bristles will produce a lather that your fingers cannot.  Applying the lather with the brush will soften the stubble and make it stand up to be cut.
  • Straight razor and strop – old school, if you choose.  Be careful.
  • Good razor handle with disposable heads - provides close shave with reduced risk of cuts, but the blades are almost too sharp when new increasing potential for cuts.  The blades will wear out quickly so be sure to have plenty.  One blade head per week is typical.
  • Styptic pencil - made of aluminum potassium sulfate.  It has a mild cauterizing effect and will stop bleeding.  One of these will last a really long time.
  • A shaving mirror – choose a double-sided one which allows for regular reflection on one side and magnified reflection on the other.
  • Aftershave – originally meant for disinfecting shaved skin.  In barber shops this was especially important as the blade would have come in contact with other's skin.  These days it is more often used for fragrance.
  • Moisturizer – keeps your skin healthy and if chosen properly helps the skin recuperate. Consider one with shea butter.
  • Electric shaver – good in a pinch or to fight five o’clock shadow before an evening out.

For a good wet shave:

  1. Either use hot, but not scalding towels to prep the skin and beard or apply hot water with cupped hands to areas to be shaved.
  2. Using a good shaving soap, lather up your badger hair shaving brush.
  3. Apply lather to the face with a badger hair brush to soften the stubble for an easier shave.
  4. Shave your face – cheeks, chin, neck.  
  5. Rub the remaining soap off and pat skin dry.
  6. Apply after shave and/or moisturizer.