Although most men get plenty of practice shaving their face, issues such as irritation, nicks, rashes, and ingrown hairs are still very common. Here are some tips to help you get a smooth shave and reduce some of the annoying side effects.
1. Make sure your beard is thoroughly wet
Thoroughly moistening your facial hair with water weakens it and makes it easier to cut. The ideal situation is to have a shower before you shave. If you can't do that, try the old barbershop technique and hold a bearably hot flannel over your face for a minute or two to steam it. Avoid applying shaving products to dry skin.
2. Use a lubricating shaving gel or cream
The purpose of a shaving gel or cream is to provide slip and glide for the razor. Better glide means fewer nicks and irritation for you and less damage to the razor which makes it last longer. Lots of foam is not usually good.
Foam provides a washing action, but not usually much lubrication. You want something that leaves a light layer in contact with the skin. Ideally, leave the shave gel/cream on for a minute or two before you start shaving. This helps to moisten and soften your beard even more.
Be wary of products that contain silicone ingredients such as Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone. There are three main reasons to avoid these:
a) they coat the skin like a plastic wrap – this does provide good slip action for your razor (which is why they are used), however, the coating remains and prevents the skin from breathing. Sweat can also be trapped under the silicone coating and cause irritation.
b) they are non-biodegradable – they hang around in the environment pretty much forever
c) if silicone enters the body it can disrupt immune function (it's toxic)
3. Apply the shaving gel/cream to prepare the skin and hair
Apply the shaving gel/cream in a circular motion working upwards from the chin to the cheeks. You want to try and lift and raise the hair. The best way to apply shaving gel/cream is with a quality shaving brush. A brush helps to exfoliate the skin making a smoother surface for shaving and it also does a great job of lathering the shaving product and lifting the hair.