Our mornings are filled with big decisions. To snooze or not to snooze? (Always snooze). Decaf or regular? (Never decaf). Oxfords or brogues? (You can check that here). But one of the most important decisions comes in front of the bathroom mirror: should you shave dry or wet?
Of course, a dry shave can be convenient — a swift whizz across your face with an electric razor can seem like a godsend if you’re running late. But, with this buzz of electric blades comes the ever-present threat of razor rash or patches missed altogether. Here at Gentleman’s Journal, we’ll always be found smoothly on the side of the wet shave. With its tradition, routine and ceremony, it may take a little more time and focus — but all the best things do.
So, to educate those who are already wet shave converts, and to sway those who aren’t, we’ve turned to some of our most trusted grooming experts, including the director of perfumery at Floris, the good men of Murdock and the innovators at Czech & Speake for their top tips. As with any discerning gent, their morning shaves are a ritual — and just as important as that morning mug of rich-roast coffee. So reach for your razor, open your ears and learn why nothing beats a wet shave…
Begin by washing and exfoliating your face with warm water
Begin by setting down your razor. You’ve got a couple of steps before you start shaving. First of which involves warm water and a good exfoliator. Don’t believe us? Just as James Uden of Murdock London.
“Before shaving,” explains Uden, “you should wash your face to cleanse pores of excess oil, dirt and dead skin. After washing your face, follow with a face scrub. Ours employs a combination of Pumice and Lactic Acid to clear away any congestion, dead skin and lift the facial hair — which is great prep for shaving.
“Be sure to apply to any sensitive areas,” he adds, “such as spots or ingrown hairs. And, for the best results, apply a scrub a few times a week and scrub in a circular motion to small areas of the face at a time.”
Try using a shaving soap bowl or shaving oil to prepare your skin
Again, step away from the razor — your skin may be clean and exfoliated, but it still isn’t ready. Next up, you should be applying either shaving soap or shaving oil to your face to prepare it for the blade.
Edward Bodenham, Floris‘ fragrance chief, tells us that he preferred to use the traditional badger brush and soap bowl in his youth, but has recently helped Floris introduce a shaving oil that will help the razor glide over your skin and cut as close to the root of each hair as possible.
With a silky texture, it is created using a premium blend of British blackcurrant, borage and rapeseed oils to soften your facial hair whilst sea starwort oil and vitamin E help to soothe and protect the skin. Simply dampen your beard area, pump two or three drops into hand, and massage into your skin.
Let the razor glide your over skin, and never apply too much pressure
This goes hand-in-hand with having a weighted razor with a sharp blade. And few are better than those produced by Czech & Speake. Founder Frank Sawkins tells us that the brand’s instruments have been “designed, in-house, to highest quality with each item’s function in mind,” and that a weighted shaft is integral to a balanced shave.
“I remove stubble with my Czech & Speake Razor,” Sawkins continues. “And I also put my razor in hot water so that the Gillette blade’s ‘glides’ soften. This makes for a more effective shave — but also clean cleans the blade.
“Also,” he adds, “I do not agree with shaving in one direction. With a softened beard and high-quality soap and sharp razor, you should be able to shave in any direction and still get the smoothest results.”
Rinse your face with cold water and then moisturise
After all this hot water and pore opening, it’s time to close your face back up and then keep your skin looking fresh with a cooling moisturiser. Harry Aaronson, Cofounder of Heath, recommends rinsing your face with some cold water — if anything, this should wake you up — and then applying a healthy amount of moisturiser, as your skin will dry out very quickly otherwise.
“After shaving,” Aaronson explains, “it is important to restore both the balance of moisturise in your skin and the PH level. Using a post shave balm will prevent skin irritation, excess sebum production and razor burn. Try the Heath Post Shave Repair with Aloe Vera for extra care, Tea Tree Oil to act as an anti-septic and Pollustop to protect from urban aggressors!”
Make sure you’ve not missed any spots, return your moisturiser to the bathroom cabinet and you’re good to go. A smooth operation — in every sense of the word…
Looking for some more grooming pointers? Here’s how to find the right hairstyle for your face shape…
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