Shaving is something that most men do every day but seldom give much thought to. That said, putting a little effort into your hair removal routine can yield dividends in added comfort and improved skin. Turn your morning chore into a spa-like indulgence with these simple tips:

Pre-Shave

While most men are accustomed to just slopping on some drug store shaving foam and hacking away at their morning stubble, a good pre-shave routine can improve both the quality of your shave and dramatically reduce any irritation to your precious face.

1. Take a HOT shower

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While many of us rely on a hot shower in the morning to shock us into consciousness, steaming up the bathroom can also be a great first step in your shaving routine. Steam causes the pores in your face to relax and the skin to soften, allowing your razor to slide smoothly across your morning mug.

2. Soften your beard

While in the shower, apply a generous coating of hair conditioner into your beard and work it in with your fingertips. Let the conditioner stay on your beard for a couple of minutes, allowing it to soften the hair on your face.

3. Use a Pre-Shave Oil

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Once you get out of the shower, your beard and the skin underneath it will be soft and supple, and by applying a layer of pre-shave oil, you can help to keep it that way by locking in the moisture. In addition, oil helps to lubricate the blade as it moves across the contours of your face, reducing nicks and irritation. While you can buy specialty shaving oils, you can also use plain old olive, coconut, canola or just about any other oil that you can think of… save for that which goes in your car.

Shave Time

Finally, the main event! Now that your face is good and ready, we can get out the razor and begin the precision process of shaving.

4. Use a sharp blade

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Whether you rock a straight edge blade, DE safety razor or a plain old Mach 3 disposal, the important thing is that whatever you use is sharp. With razor cartridge prices being as insanely high as they are, you can see why some dudes opt to reuse the same blade for three months straight, until it is basically just tearing the hair from their face… don’t be that guy, it is not worth the money you are saving. Change blades as soon as they start to drag across your beard as opposed to gliding smoothly. Most disposable blades are only good for a week’s worth of shaving, sometimes less. If you find that changing your razor cartridges that often is bleeding you dry, consider switching to a double edge safety razor, the blades are ultra sharp and dirt cheap.

5. Apply a high quality shaving cream

Ditch that old can of Barbasol and pick up a high quality shaving cream made with all natural ingredients that will not only improve your shave but nourish your skin. Avoid any product that contains parabens or silicone. If you want a real treat, try using a high quality badger or boar hair shaving brush to get a really good lather going, you will thank me.

6. Use short strokes

There is a common shaving misconception that it is better to make long, continuous strokes, from upper cheek to the bottom of your neck. In actuality, you are better off with short precise strokes which allow you to better control the amount of downward pressure you are placing on your razor, which helps limit irritation.

7. First, shave with the grain

On your first run, shave in the direction of your hair growth. This will help you to remove the bulk of the hair and cause minimal irritation.

8. Then shave across and against the grain

After your initial shave, reapply shaving cream and completely clean your razor before shaving across the grain and then finally against the grain for a super close shave that might just keep your five o’clock shadow at bay for a few extra hours.

Post-Shave

Now that the hard part is over, there are just a few more steps to make sure that your money-maker looks great after losing its hairy top coat.

9. Rinse your face with cold water

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Remove any remaining shaving cream or pre-shave oil by splashing your face with cold water, which will close your pores and tighten the skin of your face.

10. Use an Alum Block

Go buy an alum block… it’s okay, we’ll wait. Alright, now wet that alum block and gently run it across your freshly shaved face and prepare to feel every spot that you nicked just moments earlier. Alum is a mild antiseptic that will help to instantly seal any minor cuts while cooling and refreshing your skin.

11. Apply a toner

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Splash a little witch hazel or any other high quality toner onto your skin and wipe it off with a cotton pad to remove any excess oils form your skin.

12. Moisturize

If your skin feels dry after your shaving routine, be sure to apply a moisturizer, preferably one with SPF protection to the dry areas and work it in gently with your fingertips.

Congratulations! You look awesome and there are no little bits of toilet paper currently stuck to your face… Welcome to paradise.

What do you think? Share your shaving secrets in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Matt Thompson / Classic safety razor via flic.kr

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