Most men — save those who’ve bought into the last decade’s beard trend — shave. So few, however, do it well. There’s no need to buy expensive equipment to get a good shave, or to invest in fancy products. All it takes are a few basics, like these five tools every man needs for a good shave…
A Good Razor
Never mind what the snobs tell you about how you should be “wet” shaving with the safety razor your great-grandfather used to use. If you love shaving and want to make it a pastime, safety razors are nifty, but most of us don’t have the time. Instead, we recommend any standard multi-blade cartridge razor, since they reduce the number of passes you need for a good shave, but caution that you remember the single most important thing for a razor to do is pass over your beard with a minimum of friction from the skin of your face. For that reason, a razor with a “moisture strip” will reduce friction more than one without (though cartridges featuring a non-stick strip across the top can also be useful).
Soap, Not Shaving Cream
Because your goal in shaving is to reduce friction with your face, you need to use the slipperiest substance you can find — and almost always, that isn’t shaving cream. In fact, we’ve found that the vast majority of shaving creams leave us feeling like we’re scraping price-tags off of discount drinking glasses. We’ve given up on shaving creams — and thank God, because it forced us to discover that the best shaving lubricant was sitting right there by the sink: a basic bar of soap. We rely on the bars you can find at the grocery store: Ivory, Lever 2000, Pears (if we’re feeling British), and every one of them provides far better lubrication than any shave cream we’ve tried…
…provided we lather the soap up with a shaving brush. And the good news is, while the snobs will tell you that you’re doing it wrong if you don’t have precisely the right kind of brush, they’re blowing smoke. For under $10, you can buy a shaving brush at Shoppers that’ll change the way you shave forever, simply by lathering soap deep in between your beard bristles and slicking up your face to reduce drag on the razor. It’s a beautiful thing.
We do side with the snobs on this one: if you’re splashing scented alcohol on your face after a shave, you’re not doing yourself any favours (and you’re left smelling like a hot-tub salesman). Shaving is hard on your skin, and you need to treat your face right afterwards by moisturizing and salving any damage that you might have done. Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated: We’re fans of Neutrogena Post-Shave Lotion, which smells nice while fulfilling the far more important role of soothing our skin.
A Styptic Pencil
Like most men, we’ve been shaving a long time and make very few mistakes. But every once in a while, we feel that tell-tale tug-and-release that signifies a divot being removed from some part of our chin. There are a lot of blood vessels in your face, as you remember every time you cut yourself shaving and spend the next three hours trying to mop up the subsequent blood-bath. Do yourself a favour and spend a dollar on a styptic pencil: it hurts like the bejesus for a second, and then the bleeding stops. You don’t need to use it all the time, but for those moments when you’re rushing to a job interview and don’t want to arrive looking like you survived Kill Bill, it’s a must.