A Man's Guide to a Great Shave

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Nov 19 2009 - 9:49pm

Basic grooming is a task every guy needs to master, not only for looking your best for a date or a job interview, but also for the basic health and care of the skin on your face.

The advice of three experts have been compiled to give men a complete guide to the best shave. Hollywood stylist Diana Schmidtke is the woman who keeps major stars such as George Clooney looking their best. Dr. Karen Burke is a dermatologist in New York City. And Diane Wood is the shaving expert for the grooming guru King of Shaves.

Here are the Steps to a Great Shave:

1. The first step is to open the pores. A warm shower can do this or prepare the skin at the sink by running a washcloth under warm water and applying to the face for at least 60 seconds.

2. Clean the face with an exfoliating scrub which removes dead cells that can block the razor’s blade. Rinse completely with warm water.

3. Use a pre-shave oil to moisten the skin and soften the hairs. The hairs of the beard are similar in texture to thin wire and need to be softened before shaving.

4. Massage shaving cream over the beard and leave it on for a minimum of two to three minutes before starting to shave. Shaving sooner will increase the risk of razor burn. Do not lather too much, because it can prevent the blade from getting close to the skin. NYC dermatologist Karen Burke MD recommends using a brand of shaving cream that contains benzoyl peroxide, which will help eliminate bumps on the skin from irritation.

5. Be sure to choose the appropriate blade for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, use a single blade or an electric razor to prevent irritation.

6. Begin shaving with the grain of the hair growth. Diana Schmidtke advises this technique: Take two short strokes, and then rinse your blade clean to decrease the chance of nicks, razor burn and ingrown hairs; repeat until the entire area is covered. Do not apply too much pressure when shaving, and do not shave too quickly to prevent razor burn. If you notice an area with skin irritation, don’t shave over the spot more than once or it will become sore.

7. Next shave against the grain for a closer shave. To avoid nicks, pull the skin taut, especially around the nose and mouth area. Again, do not apply too much pressure.

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8. Rinse with cool water to close pores. Let the razor air dry in its case. Towel-drying a razor will cause the blade to dull. Ensure water does not pool around the razor, which will cause the blades to rust.

9. Finish your shave by gently patting dry your skin, apply an aftershave or astringent if desired, and then use a moisturizer with SPF of at least 15 to protect the skin from sun damage.

10. Replace the blade regularly. If your beard is not thick, replace the blade every two to three shaves. For thicker beards, the blade may need to be replaced daily.

Treating Ingrown Hairs:

The best treatment for ingrown hairs is to prevent them from occurring in the first place with the above shaving technique. If you do get an ingrown hair, here is what to do:

1. First, exfoliate the skin and rinse. Apply a warm washcloth to the affected area to soften the skin and facial hairs.

2. If you can see the hair, use sterile tweezers to gently pull the hair out. If you cannot easily remove the hair, leave it in its place and apply an ingrown hair remedy product that contains salicylic acid to the affected area once a day until you can easily remove the hair. You can make your own by crushing an aspirin in 2 tablespoons of water. Leave on for at least 10 minutes.

3. For seriously infected ingrown hairs, it is best to visit a dermatologist for removal.

4. Dr. Burke recommends taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily if you are prone to ingrown hairs.

5. For men prone to ingrown hairs, Diane Wood advises to give the skin a break from time to time. Shaving over ingrown hairs will aggravate the problem and cause more skin infections. She also advises men to avoid high-collared shirts which can trap sweat and oil that clog pores. Stiff collars can also cause added irritation to sensitive skin.

6. Men may want to avoid electric razors to prevent ingrown hairs, as the blade moves in several directions, making the hair more likely to grow back into the follicle.

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