Clean-shaven men, your time has come. For the last five years, we’ve seen an incredible interest in all things bearded—including (but not limited to) lumberjacks and artisanal beard oil.
Now, however, we’re finally starting to see a shift back toward hairless faces and tapered haircuts. If you’ve never been quite clear about how best to shave your face (one prepubescent lesson from dad doesn’t count), now is the time to learn how to fix your shaving mistakes.
As with any art, the final product is only as good as the tools you use and the skill with which you put them to work. That’s why the razor and your technique are the key to creating a smooth, cut-free finish.
We tapped Erik Taylor, master barber and Baxter of California brand ambassador, to give us the lowdown on the most common—and preventable—shaving mistakes he sees men making. Get ready to take your shave to the next level with these tips.
What kind of razor is best?
Every conversation about shaving begins with the razor, your trusty sidekick in the quest for a smooth face. Many men aren’t sure whether to choose the traditional cartridge razor (if you buy heads at the store that snap on, this is what you’re using) or a safety razor (the bare blade you’ve probably seen barbers using).
According to Taylor, neither is a poor decision. It all depends upon your shaving needs. If you shave every morning, the cartridge razor is probably your best bet for ease, speed, and consistency.
If you’re generally not fussed about shaving but like to take your time when you do, learning to use a safety razor is the way to go.
“Shaving with a safety razor takes time and requires slower process because it is easier to cut your face,” Taylor says. “Safety razors are unprotected blades that provide an extremely close shave. However, there techniques for shaving with this type of blade that you need to educate yourself on before using.”
What are the most common shaving mistakes men make?
Interestingly, Taylor sees two issues repeated time and time again: razor burn and ingrown hairs. Both involve painful—but easily preventable—skin irritation that may be caused by improper technique.
If you’re experiencing ingrown hairs (inflamed red bumps that look a bit like pimples) across your jawline, it might be due to the direction in which you’re dragging your razor while shaving.
“If your facial hair is very curly, don’t shave against the grain of the hair unless you plan on shaving regularly,” Taylor explains. “Shaving regularly may lessen the chance of ingrown hairs.”
Razor burn got you down? Make sure you’re taking the steps to prep your skin for shaving.
“The way to prevent this from happening is to always keep the razor wet and use some type of shave gel or shave cream while shaving,” the barber says, recommending a clear shave gel in lieu of anything foamy. “[Beard Line-Up by Baxter of California] is perfect for this and lets you see where you are shaving.”
What’s the best all-around way to shave?
Without a doubt, cartridge razors win when we’re discussing convenience and dependability on a daily basis. Whether you’re a shaving newbie or a wannabe barber, Taylor recommends thinking of the cartridge blade as a starting point.
“It an easy tool to use—anyone can pick it up and save with it,” he says. “ It is also a great place to start if you are thinking about purchasing a safety razor to shave as it offers more protection than a single blade but has a similar weight and feel.”
From the Baxter of California line of products, Taylor recommends the Three Blade Cartridge Razor. The tool features a lightweight handle made from high-grade resin that mimics the look of high end safety blades.
“It has the weight of an old school safety razor so when you hold it feels like you’re holding a tool—not a plastic disposable razor. This is something that you can be proud to show off in your bathroom,” he says.” Armed with these tips, you can shave with confidence. Be careful out there!