I have a confession to make…
… I really don’t like shaving…
…well, if I can be a bit more blunt:
I really FU*$ING HATE IT!
While sure, some may say that hate is a strong word – which to their credit – it is – in this case, I feel it’s completely and utterly justified.
Something about the discomfort, early morning ritual (I’m not a morning person), and the extra work – well, it’s just the pits…
But here’s the deal:
While I once had a huge festering hate for this manly tradition, I don’t mind it nearly as much as I once did.
Now if you are waiting for me to recommend some sort of medical miracle technique or ointment that will make you shoot rainbows out of your ass – you are in the wrong place – hit the back button and leave…
If you want to learn how to manage the shave process and make it marginally much better…
…then I’d stay tuned if I were you.
In this guide I am going over a few pointers (7 in total) that will not only make your shave a bit more manageable – but also see if you can lengthen the time between shaves (spoiler: you can’t).
Let’s get to it:
1. Pre-Shave Prep on Point?
Companies try to make a market for anything and everything.
It’s the classic approach of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks…
…and in the world of mega online retailers and companies starting up in a matter of a few clicks…
…there’s a lot of shit being thrown around.
One of those “suspect” products that I see getting hawked by countless people is pre-shave oil…
…now I am not here to say pre-shave oil is shit, or bad, or any of that – in fact, just the opposite…
…I think it’s actually kinda good.
But what really pisses me off when it comes to men’s grooming companies is that many claim it to be the best thing since sliced bread…
…which it’s not – sliced bread is still better.
This is where marketing messaging has gone off the rails and borders on the line of being a snake oil salesman.
Here’s the deal with pre-shave oil and why you should, at the very least, know about it.
Pre-shave oil is a lubricant – nothing more, nothing less.
When applied to the skin pre shave, it helps to make the surface of the skin slick in order to allow the razor to glide along effortlessly.
It’s important that it helps protect the skin from surface nicks or cuts…
…and that, my friends, is why it’s important to know.
If you get nasty shave irritation or burning after shaving – pre-shave oil might help…
…but by no means is it a magic bullet to be your cure-all.
Now if you hate shaving due to razor bumps (i.e. pseudofolliculitis barbae), pre-shave oil isn’t gonna do much here – as that’s a fundamentally different issue we will cover next.
But if you want some additional comfort – pre-shave oil can give you some extra comfort in your shave routine and just perhaps…make you hate the shave process just a little less.
Now, beyond pre-shave oil, the other thing you need to at least be knowledgeable about is shave cream.
Everyone knows what shave cream is…so I am not going to cover that.
But what hardly anyone knows, is how to spot an actually GOOD shave cream.
Truth be told – most (but not all) shave creams in canned form are complete and utter shit.
I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings if you paid extra for that beloved MEGA-FUSION-JACKMEOFF shave cream that’s sitting in your bathroom right now drinking its own tears…
…but here’s why I make such a bold statement about canned creams:
Canned shave gels and creams infuse a ton of chemicals into their solution with many men out there complaining that it dries out their skin and feels downright uncomfortable after using them…
…and that makes complete sense.
If you look at the number of chemicals used in this canned goo – as so many men call it – you will find that they are pretty rough from a chemical standpoint.
For instance, many shave creams may include suspect ingredients like the following:
- Retinyl Palmitate
- Fragrance (which is a catch-all term for tons of other ingredients that companies aren’t required to disclose)
- Potassium Hydroxide
…and so many other “ols,” “bens,” and “ides” I can’t for the life of me pronounce…
Now I am not going to drone on and say that you need to buy 100% all-natural stuff that costs a ton of cash or anything like that.
Instead, what I am saying here is that one of the reasons I personally hated shaving so much was the shave cream I used (begrudgingly I admit it was from one of those major canned gels), which caused a ton of discomfort post shave.
It made my cheeks feel sticky, dried out, ashy, and even had a slight burn to them…
…it wasn’t fun.
What I discovered through the magic of the internet was that trying out an actual shave cream or shave soap yielded much better results.
After using an actual decent shave cream a few times, I noticed that the shave became a bit more comfortable.
This included less passes with the razor blade and a generally slick and lubricated feeling that I never personally experienced with my old-school canned gel.
After a few uses, my cheeks also no longer looked all dried out and ashy.
What I am saying here is this:
If there was any one product that made me no longer dread shaving – it was the cream itself.
2. Are You with Them or Against Them?
All great divisions in the history of this world are always an “Us vs. Them” scenario.
- Democrats vs. Republicans
- Pro Choice vs. Pro Life
- Boomers (are entitled) vs. Millennials (got the shaft)
- Socialists vs. Capitalists
- Cat People vs. Dog People
- Yankees vs. Red Sox
…can’t we all just get along?!?
I say this because so many men have a hard time realizing this when shaving their hair – be it on the face, nuts, chest, or anywhere else.
When you shave your hair – don’t create an us vs. them scenario – you need to not fight the way your hair grows in…
To put it simply – go with the flow!
Quite literally, go with the damn flow of the grain of which your hair grows.
Going against the grain is NEVER recommended but for a select few (more on this in a minute).
When you shave opposite of the grain, its just not natural and it puts a TON of stress on your hair and messes up how it will regrow back in…
…what happens when you do this?
Razor bumps – or more formally known as pseudofolliculitis barbae (if I held a gun to my head, I could never pronounce this – try saying it yourself).
These little bastards are painful…
…so painful in fact that companies have actually been formed just fighting these little things…
…but they can so EASILY be avoided by just knowing how to shave.
When you shave, particularly with a cartridge razor, you need to make sure that you always, and I mean ALWAYS, shave with the grain.
Going against the grain cuts the hair too damn low and will create the perfect storm for the hair to grow back into the skin and cause a razor bump (or ingrown hair).
Now, as I mentioned earlier, there might be the case that you can go against the grain – and that can only be done with either a safety or straight razor.
Unlike the cartridge razor, safety and straight razors rely on only a single blade.
Even when cutting against the grain, they won’t cut the hair below the surface of the skin – and it’s because they don’t employ that classic lift-and-cut technique found in cartridge razors.
3. What’s Your Razor of Choice?
Razors have evolved significantly over the latter part of the past century.
While they used to only come in two varieties: straight razor and safety razors (with the former being the older of the two) – we now live in a world where you have a bit more choice.
This includes options like cartridge razors, disposable razors, and electric shavers.
But with great choice comes a whole lot of confusion.
Unfortunately, with this confusion, many men tend to play it safe and stick to one razor for the better part of their life (typically the cartridge razor).
We are here to encourage you to take the leap and try something new.
Not only can this help to mix things up a bit and give you a fresh approach to shaving, but it might…just might…make the shave process a bit more enjoyable.
Some men (not all) really love the old-school shave mentality and really dig all the options and nuances…
…and that’s completely awesome.
Furthermore, some men take it a step further and make an entire hobby out of it.
When heading over to an auction site like eBay, you can regularly see some really old and rare rusty straight razors selling for hundreds of dollars.
Men will go on to restore it and add it to their personal shave den.
Now, I am not saying you need to pay that much for a razor – but what I am saying is that if you don’t like shaving – then perhaps a different outlook on it, by making it a collector’s or vintage game, could switch things up a bit for you.
Hobby and collections aside, what we really want to talk about is performance.
All razors perform very differently from one another.
What may be great for one man, can be quite a horrible experience for another.
Therefore, we recommend trying alternate brands and razors out there if you have the funds.
Now we aren’t saying to go plop down several hundred dollars by getting every single different razor type out there – what we are saying is that you should do a bit of research and experiment a little.
If uncertain where to start, we published this guide on all the different types of razors that highlights a few key differences.
4. No, Your Aftershave Shouldn’t Sting
It’s a classic Americana scene…
…Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone slapping on some aftershave (I believe it may have been BRUT) and screaming into the mirror…AHHHH!
But here’s the deal:
If your aftershave stings, you need to stop using it.
No, it hasn’t gone bad or expired – but rather, it doesn’t do a whole lot for your skin and to be quite honest, feels unpleasant.
Instead of a classic aftershave splash, you should probably be using an aftershave balm (not lotion), as it contains key moisturizers and emollients to help reduce any pronounced dryness or irritation post shave.
Now truth be told, this product is 100% optional.
If you hate shaving but your skin looks and feels good once done – then skip this step.
But if you really don’t like shaving due to some post shave discomfort – then it’s definitely worth looking into.
If unsure where to start with this product category – we recommend reading our What is Aftershave guide to get you up to speed.
5. Stopping Shave Irritation (Razor Burn) Forever
Razor burn or surface irritation is primarily caused by a crummy razor.
Not necessarily the shaving tool itself, but rather the blade.
Look, I get it:
Razor blade refills can be expensive.
But instead of trying to stretch a blade well beyond its useful life, look at a few of the alternatives out there – primarily safety razors.
Relying on much cheaper blades (typically costing no more than a few cents apiece), these razor blades are much more friendly on the wallet.
And when they are much friendlier for your back pocket, you will probably have no problem switching out the blade regularly.
Most men can make a single blade last a week or so (typically about 5 shaves) and will only have to pay about $0.50 in fresh blades for the entire compared to a cartridge razor blade, that’s some huge savings.
Now if you aren’t the type of guy looking to switch up their entire shave routine due to some mild irritation – not all is lost.
Perhaps it might just be an update on technique.
Some experts state that razor burn may be a byproduct of a clogged razor blade.
The theory behind this train of thought is that when you go to trim your whiskers, all the gunk and debris piles up in front of the blade and it makes it much tougher for the blade to cut the hair and may result in a bit of tugging.
Another common theory among some men is that the skin itself is dirty – therefore, when you shave, you are simply moving dirt around on the surface and it causes mild irritation when it comes in contact with the freshly shaved skin.
The short here is that you need to take a look at your technique and tool and make sure both are on point.
6. Making It Last Longer Between Shaves
There is something within us men that we just want things to last longer…
…like breakfast at McDonalds, amount of time before you get out of bed in the morning, weekends, and yes, you know what I am about to say…the time between shaves.
I get it – shaving sucks.
In order to try and reduce the trips to the bathroom or shower to shave…
Now there is no beating around the bush here (quite literally in fact) – but there is NOTHING you can do to decrease the rate of growth of your hair.
Other than going malnourished for days (not advised) – the rate at which your hair grows cannot be manipulated.
The cold hard fact is that your hair, on average, grows in at a rate of about 1.25cm (0.5”) per month (source).
So, when some “respected” men’s magazine says that you need to shave after your shower as it can add days between shaves – it’s complete BS.
Instead, what you need to do is manage it as best you can.
This means either shaving on a schedule (particularly if you have to shave for work) or simply look at some alternate options out there.
7. Alternate Style with Seasons or Skip Shaving Altogether
Now if you got this far and feel confident (or at least semi-confident) that all the above options aren’t gonna work for you…
…don’t close the book yet.
If you really hate shaving and are looking for some glimmer of hope to a more pleasurable alternative…all is not lost.
The best (and least painful) options out there for you besides waxing or full on laser hair removal (that one needs to be thought through quite extensively as it’s both expensive and permanent), is either a hair removal cream or simply using a stubble or beard trimmer.
First the hair removal cream:
While sure, some women may use this on their vag to melt the hairs away, more men are starting to use these depilatory creams with great results. Safe to use on your face, chest, balls, and anywhere else imaginable, these creams effectively dissolve the hairs away in only a few minutes.
They are wickedly effective at their job.
Of course, if you go this route, patch test in a small area just so you can make sure you don’t experience some nasty allergic reaction.
Beyond hair removal creams would be trimmers.
Most modern stubble and beard trimmers nowadays can cut to insanely low levels of 0.2mm.
For context, the human hair grows at a rate of about 0.4mm per day.
That means you can get the appearance that you shaved without having to actually break out the razor and shave cream.
Furthermore, this means that the hair is cut a fraction above the surface of the skin – which means you won’t get irritation or any razor bumps.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for some men, is that women actually love this look the most.
It’s a great way to not only attract the ladies, but also gives you some much needed comfort and efficiency in your morning routine.
Wrapping It All Up
I hope that maybe…
…just maybe, you have enough to go off of here in order to turn that dreaded and begrudging shave routine around.