by Marcus Leach
Unless you are one of a growing number of men who are starting to sport beards chances are that your morning routine isn't complete without the customary shave.
Not everyone will agree but for some shaving is an artform, and our friends at Gentlemen's Tonic have provided a step-by-step guide to the perfect shave.
Preparation: Shaving - it is a daily ritual for most men yet it may damage and remove up to two layers of skin in the process. It is therefore imperative to prepare in order to protect the skin and experience a better shave.
The Basic Steps: Always shave after or during a hot shower but never before. The hot water helps to loosen up pores, cleanses the skin and softens hairs for a closer shave.
Before shaving, lightly rub a pre-shave oil to protect the skin and to soften the beard, allowing the razor to glide easily.
Once or twice a week, especially before commencing a shave, an exfoliator scrub should be used to help eliminate dead cells, excess sebum and residues from the skin surface. It will also assure a closer, safer and longer lasting shave.
Lather: It is important to use a good quality shaving cream or soap for a close and comfortable shave. Gentlemen's Tonic Classic Shave Cream contains soothing aloe vera to prevent razor burn and redness.
Lather up a dab of your shave cream or soap with a shave brush or your fingers to soften and raise the hair away from the skin. If you are uninitiated with the use of shaving brushes, it may be worth trying as they help generate a rich and warm lather, soften and lift the beard, open pores, bring sufficient water to the skin and help to gently exfoliate the skin.
Shaving: The most important rule of shaving is to always shave with the grain first - in the direction of hair growth. Shaving against the grain first can cause ingrown hairs and razor burns.
Though there are many razors on the market, Gillette spent a record amount on research and development with the Mach 3 and it is considered among the best retail blades available. Ultimately, the brand name of the blade is far less important than the state it is in. Never use a blunt blade as it is distressing to the skin, causes redness and irritation and fails to evenly shave skin. The moment you feel your blade is not performing properly, replace it.
However, the blade is just one part of the equation. Finding a good razor to provide proper weight, balance and comfort for better control is also extremely important. For a range of hand crafted razors, please visit Gentlemen's Tonic
Putting great amounts of pressure will not change the outcome of the shave so long as the blade is clean and not overly used. Always glide the razor across the skin with a gentle pressure and if you are aiming for an even closer shave, re-lather and shave lightly across or against the grain, using small strokes to prevent irritation or razor burns. Around the neck area, where hair grows in different directions, run your finger along the skin to feel and adjust accordingly to shave with the grain. Use hot water to rinse off the blade when shaving. After you have finished, rinse the face thoroughly and pat dry.
If you have cut or nicked yourself whilst shaving, try using an alum block to stop the bleeding. Some might find need to use a post-shave serum that relieves razor bumps and ingrown hairs and calms irritated skin directly.
Moisturise: The last. but often ignored step which is no less important than the shave itself, is to moisturise using an alcohol-free moisturiser balm or gel to soothe, refresh and regenerate the skin and to help close the pores. Gentlemen's Tonic Aftershave Balm, is a soothing facial moisturiser that hydrates the skin, calms razor burn and helps to heal nicks. You can also easily replace any need for a cologne as this contains a naturally derived Babassu and Bergamot fragrance.
For more information about Gentlemen's Tonic and their products click here.