To shave or not to shave: For many men, it is simply a matter of aesthetics — some like the bearded look, while others prefer to be clean-shaven.
For still others, shaving is a necessity. Too much facial hair can come between some workers and their jobs.
Unkempt, long and full beards, for example, recently appeared on a list of the top 20 styles considered inappropriate for the workplace in a survey of 2,000 workers, Huffington Post UK reports.
In the U.S., no-beard policies are perfectly legal, with a few exceptions for certain medical or religious reasons, for example, according to Business Management Daily:
Basically, private employers do have the right to set their own dress and grooming codes. That can include setting limits on employees’ facial hair, unless the employees cite [one of those reasons].
Constant shaving routines can irritate the shaver’s skin. While the shaving industry is quick to promise the next great but expensive solution, health and grooming experts say that following a few low-cost guidelines can give you a close shave while keeping red, bumpy and nicked skin at bay.
Here are 10 tips for a clean shave that feels good — and that won’t irritate your wallet either.
1. Exfoliate first
Exfoliating skin before shaving helps prevent the razor from becoming overloaded with dead skin cells, which can make the blade less efficient, says Sondra Powell, manager of the aesthetics program at the nonprofit Cleveland Clinic.
A loofah or body scrub product will work for exfoliating, Powell says. But to trim costs, try a loofah first because many can be machine-washed and reused.
By scrubbing off dead skin cells, exfoliation helps expose hair follicles, which allows the razor to lift them more easily, resulting in a smoother shave, according to Remington.
The shaving product company notes that this process is especially beneficial for men because their skin is naturally thicker and rougher.
2. Shave during or after showering
A warm shower helps open pores and soften hair, making shaving easier, according to Women’s Health. The magazine recommends shaving toward the end of a shower, while other experts state that shaving immediately after showering is also an option for men.
3. Try a brush
Lathering up with a shaving brush like the one Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson holds up in the video below helps place shaving cream up under each facial hair. According to the Art of Manliness blog, this results in a better, smoother shave.
Brushes — often made with badger or boar hair, for example — can be expensive. But they are a one-time investment and cheaper versions, including ones with synthetic hair, can be found online.
4. Say ‘no’ to soap
Products like shaving cream — or for a cheaper alternative, hair conditioner — help moisturize skin, making for a smoother shave, according to Women’s Health. Soap, on the other hand, dries out skin.
Additionally, New York dermatologist Dr. Ellen Gendler tells Good Housekeeping magazine:
“[Soap] doesn’t create enough lubrication for a razor to slide easily against your skin, which can up the odds of cuts,” Gendler says.
5. Avoid irritants
While shaving products like creams and gels have a consistency that is preferable to thin bar-soap lather, they can still upset skin if they contain irritating ingredients such as fragrance, alcohol or menthol. The same is true of products put on the skin after shaving.
To learn more about irritants found in skincare and other personal care products, check out “8 Surprising Ways to Ruin Your Skin.”
6. ‘Close’ pores
After shaving and washing off any traces of shaving products, turn down the water temperature and rinse with cold water to close pores, the Cleveland Clinic’s Powell says.
Moisturizing skin after shaving helps prevent drying and flakiness, Powell says.
For men, a lotion or balm can also serve as a more soothing alternative to using aftershave, helping to reduce redness, according to the Art of Manliness.
8. Try glycolic acid
If you’re prone to razor bumps that stem from ingrown hairs caused by shaving, look for a lotion with glycolic acid, an acidic substance classified as an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
One of the studies that supports the bump-fighting benefits of glycolic acid was conducted by Dr. Nicholas Perricone in the 1990s. The dermatologist, adjunct professor and best-selling author is known for his anti-inflammation philosophy and his skin care line, Perricone MD.
He recaps that study in a blog post on his Perricone MD website:
The men in my test group experienced a 60 percent reduction in the bumps caused by ingrown hairs over the course of four weeks. In addition, I discovered that if they used glycolic acid cream, these men could shave daily without any further problems. … These gentle acids help the skin to eliminate dead surface cells and heal inflammation.
Products containing AHAs like glycolic acid can become expensive in part because AHAs are also known for their wrinkle-reducing capabilities.
The Beautypedia product review database lists 60 AHA products that it gives three or four out of four stars, and they start at $5.
9. Recount your blades
More blades can not only mean more expensive cartridges but also more irritated skin, third-generation barber Roxanne Griego says.
Griego tells WebMD that’s why she prefers single blades:
“If you’ve prepared the skin, all you need is a single.”
Celebrity groomer Diana Schmidtke, who works for the likes of Hollywood actor George Clooney, agrees. She explains to GQ magazine:
“For razor burn-prone skin, the triple and quadruple blades are just too strong. You’d have better luck with a single or double blade.”
10. Change or sharpen blades often
Master barber Miles Elliot tells GQ:
“You want to use a sharp, quality razor that shaves using the fewest strokes possible. Going over your face too much with a dull razor or cheap brand will cause the burn.”
Elliott suggests a double-edge safety razor, which can also be cheaper in the long run. These old-school razors, generally made of stainless steel, are more expensive than disposable razors. The replaceable blades can be bought in bulk for pennies apiece, however.
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