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Daily Shaving

Some mornings, you just don't want to shave. You wake up and look at yourself in the mirror and think, "maybe I'll grow a beard." Then, a day or two later, you realize that your beard looks more like Paul Pierce than Baron Davis. So you decide to shave, and that's where the pain begins.

When you do eventually shave, you end up with razor burn. In part this is a sensitive skin issue, but it also has a lot to do with the curliness of your facial hair. Men with curly facial locks - African-American men in particular - are doing themselves a disservice by not shaving every day. Not maintaining a close shave daily allows facial hair enough time to grow and curl, which can result in in-grown hairs, razors bumps and other nasty skin irritations.

But there still may be that feeling that shaving daily only leads to skin irritation of other kinds, not to mention the hassle of actually having to do it. Still, it's better to shave every day and take steps to minimize irritation than to let things go.

There are a series of steps you can take in order to reduce the risk of skin irritation caused by daily shaving. It's easier than you think and, if done regularly, will become ritual before you know it.

Pre-Shave

  • Take a shower or wash your face. Hot water will help soften both skin and facial hair and make shaving a lot easier and smoother. You may also want to consider putting a hot wash cloth on your face for a couple of minutes before you shave. It's not enough to clean your face, you need to soften it. Try a product like the Gillette Fusion® ProSeries™ Sensitive Face Wash, which not only cleans and clears away dirt, but also helps soften facial hair.
  • Use a pre-shave oil. A little oil goes a long way in create a thick, smooth barrier between skin and blade without actually effecting the closeness of the shave. The oil acts as a lubricant, but also serves as a moisturizer that will help protect your skin. Look for a pre-shave oil that is formulated for men.
  • Use a shaving cream that's as full of lipids as possible. Sounds weird, but the fat acts the same way as olive oil on a grilled steak - it helps to maintain moisture. You want to avoid shaving creams with alcohol in them. Alcohol will dry your skin and amplify irritation.
  • If possible, use a badger hair brush. They're not just for old-time shaving. Using a brush to help apply cream will further act to soften the hair and prepare your skin. No brush? You can use your fingers. Dab on shaving cream in short bursts, like a massage; it will help do the same thing. Or you could use a facial scrub to help exfoliate before you shave.

Shaving

  • Sharp blades are crucial. Shaving every day with a broken down razor is like driving a six cylinder car with three broken rods. You can do it, but it's going to get rough. Disposable razors aren't recommended because they are stiff and leave hairs with a jagged end. You want a shaving system razor that will stay sharper and adapt to the contours of your face, such as the Gillette Fusion® ProGlide™.
  • Clean your blades. Here, it's okay to use an alcohol solution. Most rough shaves are the result of bacteria growing on your blades that causes the metal to break down. Clean blades equals smoother shave.
  • Follow the grain. Remember in shop class when you learned about wood grain? Sand with it for a smoother finish. Same goes here. Most men's hair typically grows down, but the grain can change several times even on one face. Feel it out. When you run your hand across the grain, it feels rough. Shaving against the grain will be also. You may think you get a closer shave, but the fact is you are mangling the end of the hairs and just asking for bumps and in-grown hairs. Don't do it.

Post-Shave

  • Follow-up. Use an alcohol-free post-shave moisturizer like the Gillette Fusion® ProSeries™ Instant Hydration UV Moisturizer. This isn't about smelling good, it's about maintaining the moisture of your skin. Dry skin irritates more quickly. Alcohol dries skin. Look for something smooth. Aloe is a good additive.

A man's skin and his whiskers require daily upkeep. According to Stew Taub, associate director of Research and Development at Gillette, a microscopic snapshot of a man's face will reveal 10,000 to 15,000 dense, tough as nails hairs growing in as many directions as can be imagined in as many combinations as there are men. And the skin they are growing from is oily and sensitive. He describes it as being almost like jelly (microscopically, of course). Let those hairs grow too much and cutting them down becomes like trying to cut through a wire pet brush with kiddie scissors. It will leave your skin in worse shape than the future landscapes in the Terminator movies.

Shaving is sometimes a chore, but it doesn't have to be painful. A little bit of preparation and the right mix of lubrication and moisture will significantly reduce the damage to your skin. Doing it daily helps reduce the risk of irritation and will keep you looking fresh and smooth. So the next time you get up and face yourself in the mirror with that shaving-related dread, just remember: You may not want to shave, but you should.

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