The Proper Way To Shave: Men's Grooming Basics

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

Shaving unwanted facial hair has been a vital part of the male, morning experience for ages. However, going through the toils of taming unsightly facial hair on an everyday basis has caused many men to virtually abuse their faces. Whether they are shaving against the grain, not using shaving cream or gel, or scraping at their dry face with a dull blade, many men out there haven't got a clue to the proper way to shave. Here is a simple guide to help guys avoid the tiny cuts, razor-burn and ingrown hairs.

Getting Started

One of the worst mistakes a guy can make when he begins to shave is not properly preparing the shaving area. There is more to shaving preparations than a handful of shaving cream or gel. Many experts will tell you that the best way to prepare for a morning shave is to use a technique called "wetshaving," which requires you properly wash your face with plenty of warm water.

  • After a good wash, keep your face wet before applying the shaving lather.
  • Shave after your morning shower and remember to keep your face wet when toweling off.
  • If you're not showering, just wash your face with soap and leave the warm water on your face.
  • Make sure to reapply a bit of warm water to your face after you've gone through the first few strokes to keep your face wet.
  • The warm water will help soften facial hair for an easier shave.
  • When lathering your face, some experts might recommend using a badger-hair brush. The brush should mix the lather with warm water, and is then applied to your face. However, it is alright to use your bare hands. Just make sure you massage the lather into your skin well.

Cream, Gel or Soap?

The next step for a proper way to shave is to apply the lather on your wet skin. You now are faced with the options of a shaving cream, gel or some type of soap. These items are used to smoothen and moisturize the area you are shaving. Shaving without lathering can leave your skin dry and irritated, and can also result in nicks and cuts. Try different cream, gel and soap products until you've found one that you're comfortable with for shaving.

With or Against the Grain?

Now it's time for the age-old question, "Shave with or against the grain?" Experts recommend shaving with the grain to avoid razor-burns and ingrown hairs. If you're looking for an extremely close shave, some barbers recommend shaving with the grain at first, then finishing the job with one stroke against the grain. In other words, you can use a combination of shaving with and against the grain, but it's widely recommended to just shave with the grain.

  • If you aren't sure how to shave with the grain, try feeling the hair around your face.
  • When you rub your face in the direction of the grain (or hair growth) it should feel smooth.
  • When going against the grain, it should feel fuzzy, like your hairs are almost pulling at your skin.
  • Remember, facial hair grows in different directions or angles depending on where it is located on your face. Don't make the mistake of shaving in the same direction for your entire face, especially when going from your face to your neck.

Shaving Stroke

Your shaving stroke should be slow, fluid and gentle. Remember, that's a sharp object you're scraping at your face with, so be a little careful. Make sure your strokes are going down the bladed edge, not off to the sides. Any sideways stroke across the blade will result in a cut. For certain parts of your face, like around your jawline, you may need to turn or angle the blade to ensure you are scraping down the bladed edge, but in a horizontal stroke. Again, do not attempt a straight, sideways stroke across the blade.


If you find yourself pushing down hard to achieve the perfect shave, you either have a dull blade or are poorly made one. A good razor should allow a gentle stroke without the need of pressing the blade into your face. Whether it is a single or triple layered blade, the only thing that matters is preference. Do you like how the razor feels and how close the shave is?

Choosing between an electric or manual razor is entirely up to you. Electric razors do not require shaving cream or a wet surface, but don't always give an accurate or close shave. There are pros and cons to using certain razors, whether electric or manual. Fortunately, you need not restrict yourself to one type of razor. You can interchange using a manual or electric razor if necessary.

Finishing Up

Now that you've removed all that unwanted facial hair, it's time to finish up your shave with a quick rinse and the application of alcohol-free lotion or aftershave. If you suffered from any nicks or cuts during your shave, apply clean tissue or toilet paper immediately to stop the bleeding. Make sure you pat yourself dry, do not rub your face in your towel to avoid irritation. The last thing you should do is properly rinse your razor. Avoid drying your razor with a towel to prevent the blade's edge from becoming dull.


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