Friday, July 2, 2010

Male Shaving and You

I'm a hairy guy. For a long time I pretended like I wasn't; in gay culture being hairy is often historically (and by historically, I mean in the past 15 years since we have the attention span of moths) scoffed at. Hairless young boys were seen as preferable, so that's what I pretended to be. However, as gay culture has evolved, being hairy is now not only okay, but awesome! That being said, I've spent a good amount of time and money shaving my lovely little face. Throughout the years, I've discovered a number of secrets, do's, and a LOT of do not's in regards to shaving one's face.

Let me explain a little bit about myself. Not only am I a hairy guy, but the hair I have is thick. Especially around my face. It also grows very fast. It is also very dark. If I go more than two days without shaving, I look like a homeless, or straight, person. So over the years I have learned a lot about shaving and evolved my techniques. I think I'm at about the perfect place right now, but I'm sure I will continue to evolve and, in a few years, look back at my current techniques and shutter. However, this is a snapshot of where I am now.

I am continually amazed at how many of my male friends who do not know how to shave properly. I think there is a misconception that fathers everywhere are showing their sons how to correctly shave. In my experience, this, along with sex education, proper eating habits, and how to be heterosexual, is just something that is being lost in the generation gap and we are left to learn all of these things (sans heterosexuality... gross!) on our own. I hope you find these tips helpful and even if you don't, I hope you find them entertaining!

  • You do NOT need to shave every day!
This, in my opinion, is the biggest and most harmful misconception about shaving. You should
NEVER shave every day. It is not healthy for your skin. Remember: when you are shaving, you are basically removing all of the natural oils along with thin layers of skin from your face. Shaving every day can be very harmful for your health. If you work somewhere that says you need to shave every day, get a note from a dermatologist saying that you do not. Trust me, they will write you a note. I personally only shave three times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and my skin has never been in better health.

Pictured: my two day old beard
  • Always shower prior to shaving
It is very important to shave only after a hot, steamy shower. The heat and steam from the shower softens the facial hair and also makes your facial hair stand on end, which makes it easier for the razor to catch. If you cannot shower before you shave, take a towel and soak it in very warm (but not scalding) water. Wrap your face in the towel and sit for a minute or two. This is not as good as showering before shaving, but it's better than nothing at all.
  • SHARP razors!
Using sharp razors while shaving is incredibly important. Whenever I hear someone complaining of tugging or pulling while they shave, I just want to run up to them, shake them, and scream "CHANGE YOUR RAZOR!" However, the judge said one more restraining order and it's jail time for me, so I refrain. Even so, change your razors often! I know there is a desire to make razors last as long as possible because they are so damned expensive, but it is important to change your razor every week or every week and a half, at the most. Trust me: it makes a big difference to the health of your skin!
  • Number of razors
Just how many Mach's are they going to come out with? At some point, enough is enough. The dirty truth is that, for the healthiest shave, you should use a single razor cartridge. For those of us with curly facial hair, it reduces the risk of ingrown hairs. However, this just doesn't work for me. My facial hair is too thick and grows too fast. To get a close enough shave with a single razor cartridge, I usually have to go over the same area two or three times, which completely negates the purpose of the single-razor cartridge. Let's put it this way: you should only use as many razors as you need. If a single-razor cartridge works for you, stick to it. For me, the magical number is three. As I said, I'm a hairy bastard, so I cannot imagine the wolf-man out there who requires a four or even five razor cartridge.
  • Shaving creams: the big myth
I have a secret to share with you: Shaving creams really don't matter that much. Oh sure, the
big name companies out there would like you to think they do, but they really don't. Basically the shaving cream is there to serve two purposes: 1. provide a lubricant so the razor will glide on your skin, and 2. cause the facial hairs to remain standing on end. I personally gravitate towards the white foamy shaving creams because it helps me to clearly see where I have and have not shaven (which helps with facial hair) and it makes me nostalgic for a time when a barber would have lathered this puffy white foam on my face and I wouldn't be forced to do things for myself! Damn, I'm a lazy bitch! So save your money on the expensive shaving creams and put it towards buying razors more often.

Pictured: Fluffy white shaving cream, drawn around goatee which I am currently sporting
  • Use HOT water!
This is a pretty common sense point that took me far too long to figure out: When you are shaving, heat up the razor using hot water and then wash off your razor using hot water. It makes a huge difference!
  • Shave with the grain
This is something I've always known and always tried to do: ALWAYS shave WITH the grain (meaning, generally, shaving DOWN and never up). Now, I say that I've always tried to do this. The reason I say try is because not all my facial hair has a downward sloping grain. On the bottom, right hand side of my neck, my facial hair sweeps around and the grain faces towards the side instead of at a downward slope. For years I had razor bumps on the lower right hand side of my neck and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Now I shave at a sideways angle on the right hand side of my neck, and I haven't had a razor bump or ingrown hair since! Body hair gets more complicated and the photos are quite x-rated. I think I'll save that one for my special blog.
Pictured: Sideways neck shaving
  • Aftershave lotion
Putting lotion on your face after shaving is incredibly important. Much more important than shaving cream. This is so important because this is what replaces the moisture on your face. As I previously stated, shaving is basically removing all the natural oil from your skin. While no lotion product is going to be as good as your own natural oils, it's better than nothing. I've found the Kiehl's products to be hands-down best in this department, but they are also extremely expensive. I use a Target brand product called Every Man Jack. It isn't as good as Kiehl's, but it's still boutique quality at Target prices. They even have versions with an SPF, which is also vital to skin health. The less tan you let your face get, the fewer wrinkles you will have in the long run.

Also, apply face lotion daily, even if you do not shave, and apply to your entire face. This is another thing that is incredibly common-sense that took me far too long to figure out. Putting after shave lotion on your entire face every day will keep you looking fresh, and reduce under-eye bags and wrinkles everywhere. I still want Botox (even though I'm not even 30!), but the urge isn't as great as it used to be. I'm starting to dig my forehead lines!

I used to absolutely hate shaving. I thought it was painful and I never wanted to do it. However, now it doesn't bother me that much. That's why, I believe, following these tips lead to as perfect a shave as you could possibly have.

So... that's about it! Your guide to the perfect shave! Have a great day, PGB fans!

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