Is that the most common shaving mistake?
Sam: A lot of guys are not using high-quality shaving products to prepare the skin. Lots of them also don’t change their blade regularly enough. I change the blade on my safety razor after each shave to ensure sharpness and a better result.
Andrew: Shaving against the grain is definitely one of them. Another common mistake I hear of is guys not rinsing their faces properly afterwards, which leads to blocked pores and ingrown hairs.
So, how do you stop cutting yourself when shaving?
Andrew: Take your time. If you’re in a rush, don’t shave. A little stubble looks much better than bits of toilet roll stuck to your face or blood spots on your collar. A decent home shave should take around 15 minutes. Gillette has produced some great shave heads which have tiny protection guards over the actual cutting blades that make it safer. If you do nick yourself, cold water helps a lot as it slows the flow of blood. Or there is a shaving accessory called Alum Block – literally a block of salt which helps stop the flow when rubbed over bleeding areas. The saying ‘rubbing salt in the wound’ comes from it aiding the healing of wounds. It hurts, but it works.
Sam: Ensure the blade is wet enough and the skin is stretched taut. To reduce redness generally, a cold flannel post-shave will cool the skin down and a post-shave balm will also soothe and reduce any rouge.
What advice would you give to someone who needs to shave but has bad skin?
Sam: I’d introduce a face scrub to your shaving regime. The use of a face scrub once or twice a week on the areas which are spotting will help to work away any layers of skin, which should in turn help reduce the amount of spots.
Andrew: Don’t shave too frequently. When you do, make sure you are getting the face really clean with an anti-bacterial wash. Using a shave product that contains either tea tree or aloe vera will help soothe the skin during the shave. Wash again after the shave with the anti-bacterial wash. Allow the skin to dry completely and then apply a light sebum-balancing moisturiser.
Are there any products you should use if you have sensitive skin?
Sam: Use paraben and sulphate-free products always. These will cause less harm to the skin than regular products. Also use a shaving cream rather than a gel or a foam, as it won’t dry the skin out as much. There’s not a huge difference between a shaving cream and a gel; both contain a lot of chemicals so I wouldn't recommend either. A foam can be more cushioning for a shave than a gel; however, a gel allows you to more easily see any missed hairs.
Andrew: Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and instead look for sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) among the key ingredients – it will be gentler. SLS is much stronger and can be very dehydrating, which can cause aggravation to the skin.
What actually causes razor bumps?
Andrew: When you shave against the grain, you pull on the pore and stretch it. It will quickly bounce back into shape, but usually that stretched area has filled with either your own blood or potentially the product you’re using to shave with. As the skin closes over, it traps that fluid, which can get infected and swell. Washing the face and exfoliating before the shave; shaving with the grain; using a clean blade; and moisturising well afterwards will all help you avoid in-grown hairs.
Sam: Razor bumps can sometimes be confused with ingrown hairs, which are caused when a thick hair gets stuck under the skin (or it grows over a freshly shaved hair) and turns into a bump. These can be extremely sore and red. Shaving with the grain only is a great way to avoid them. Also, use a pre-shave oil to soften the stubble before a shave.
And what tools do you need for the job?
Sam: You need a good, sturdy razor of choice alongside a shaving brush with a healthy amount of bristles. I’d also use a shaving bowl to mix up my lather in. Product-wise, I would recommend Murdock Pre-Shave Oil, Shaving Cream and Post-Shave Balm alongside a face moisturiser. If you’ve not used a shaving balm before, it is normally applied to the skin to help soothe and rehydrate the skin post-shave. When shopping for a post-shave balm, look out for ones with ingredients such as chamomile that soothe the skin and reduce redness.