If the prospect of slowing down—taking it easy—seems goddamn frightening, you’re not alone. Between unfinished errands, bosses who need that report yesterday and finding the time to work out, it’s not uncommon for a guy’s daily schedule to fill up before he downs his first coffee. But the one place you’ll never want to cut corners is during your morning shave.
Sure, you could grab yourself a five-blade cartridge and go to town in the time it takes to pull on a pair of trousers, but any time you think you’re saving now will cost you precious moments spent treating nicks and evening out patches. Spare yourself the trouble—invest a few extra moments in a wet shave that compromises nothing. Your patience will be rewarded with an easier shave that leaves your mug smoother for longer.
Start with a clean canvas
A gentle face wash goes miles to help ensure the razor passes over your skin easily and smoothly by removing pore-clogging dirt and grease. More importantly, it softens your beard for the task ahead. Heads up—too much scrubbing with an exfoliating face wash can lead to irritation post-shave. I tend to avoid them.
No pre-shave routine is complete without a hot towel treatment that opens up the pores, raises whiskers and—yeah, this is a recurring theme—softens your beard. Simply dampen a facecloth in hot water, place over your face, and repeat. Now’s also a good opportunity to add a dose of a pre-shave conditioner.
Lather up the right way
After soaking a badger brush in hot water, create a lather with the shaving cream in an apothecary mug (or in your hand, like I do). Brush on a layer and spend the next 30 seconds or so massaging the cream into your beard with a focus on the denser patches. Even coverage means consistent results.
Take a break
Seriously—pour yourself a coffee or read the paper. Waiting one or two minutes after your first application allows the skin to absorb the moisturizing benefits of the shaving cream, keeping it supple and resistant to cuts. When you’re ready to get back to work, revive the lather with a less-generous second application.
You’ve earned it. Hold the razor lightly with two fingers to minimize nick-inducing pressure and let gravity be your guide as you perform each stroke. You should be careful to follow the grain of your beard to avoid tugging. Rinse the blade between passes to remove excess lather and keep on going until your mug’s smooth.
Even with an exhaustive pre-shave routine, razors can be murder on your skin. Apply a toner using a cotton pad to replenish your skin’s moisture and kick start the healing process. This important step helps condition your skin over the long term, preparing it for the day ahead—and tomorrow morning’s shave.