Yes, you know how to shave.
Other people do it better.
There aren’t many things that make you feel better than a good shave with a straight razor. You walk out of the barber feeling confident, smelling nice and looking sharp.
While we don’t recommend you cut your own hair, it’s possible to get that perfect, close shave at home, sans the razor burn and dry skin.
No tricks. Just four simple steps and a few preferred products.
1. Prep Yourself
A quality pre-shave oil can soften your beard, as well as make your skin soft and pliant. A common misconception is that a pre-shave oil is about lubrication. It’s about making your skin supple. When your skin is pliant, it is easier to maintain contact between your face and the razor. That means fewer nicks and less burn.
Apply the oil in a warm space, like a steamy bathroom, to open up your pores.
Tip: Try Imperial Pre-Shave Oil. It has a Squalene Oil, a moisturizing antioxidant that helps your skin stay soft. It’s also formulated so that you can skip shaving cream if you're in a hurry. It happens.
Your dad used Barbasol and that was fine. But for the perfect shave get a high-quality shaving cream, and work it into a warm lather with a badger hair brush. Applying with a brush helps to get an even distribution and to use less product while getting plenty of shaving cream.
Spots like New York Shaving Company offer a variety of brushes as well as hand-mixed creams that come in a variety of masculine scents (we’re partial to their Elizabeth Street line, which features notes of basil, rosemary and verbena and finishes with an “oakmoss accented with fir”).
Tip: Some men prefer a shaving gel. If your facial hair requires some precision work, then a clear gel can help you to see your work space. Try one that moisturizes and truly applies clear, like Timothy’s Shave Gel.
3. The Shave
No matter what kind of blade you use, you want to rinse it in hot water and run it gently across your beard, with the grain. Note that your facial hair may grow in different directions in different places.
After you’ve shaved completely, lather up again and go against the grain once (yes, that’s ok).
Tip: There are a number of different razors you can use. A multi-bladed razor with a trimming edge like the ones offered by Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club will do the trick. You can also save a lot of money and keep that close, old-timey feeling by using a safety razor (here’s a good starter blade). It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll save a lot and won’t sacrifice quality.
Rinse away whiskers and excess shaving cream with cold water and pat your facedry. Then apply an after-shave balm.
— Dustin Nelson