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There are so many reasons I love being a woman! I get to change my mind a lot, or if I find myself lost, I have no problem (ego) asking someone for directions. I’ll also, most likely, never have to worry about growing a pelt of hair on my back as I age. Another reason that pops into mind…I don’t have to shave my face. I know from having a father, boyfriends, and a husband…that for the most part, you guys do not enjoy shaving! Unfortunately, for most of you, it’s just something you have to do!

Shaving is a rite of passage into manhood and a fundamental part of it as well. Unfortunately, many of you commit shaving mistakes you’ve been doing for years. You may of learned to shave a certain way, but this routine could be leaving you with irritated, dry, and unhealthy looking skin. Believe it or not, shaving can be incredibly beneficial to the overall look and health of your skin, if done properly. The act of shaving actually exfoliates your skin. With every pass of the blade, you scrape off a layer of dead skin cells. Getting rid of these cells keeps your skin looking fresher.

To start, you absolutely must invest in quality blades. Both Gillette Fusion and Mach3 Turbo top the review charts. The price point is around $11. A very affordable new company delivers a box of 4/5 cartridges to to your door every month for $1, $6, or $9. If you want an old fashioned feel to your razor try C.O. Bigelow $79. This UK made faux ivory razor looks distinctively old school but uses Gillette blades. For the eco friendly consumer, you have This handle is 100% recycled and can be recycled after use as well. $51 for pack of 6.

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Your blades, pre shave oils, shave cream and post shave treatments will make a huge difference in the way your skin looks and feels after your shave . Now onto the 6 steps to a perfect shave…

1. Wash your face/open up your pores…

Needless to say,  you want your skin to be clean before you shave. If you shave in the shower,  the moist heat will sufficiently open up your pores. If you don’t shave in the shower, after washing your face, run a washcloth under warm water. Apply this warm cloth to your face and neck for at least 60 seconds.

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2. Apply your pre-shave oil…

DO NOT towel dry your face! Keep your beard wet until you apply your pre-shave oil. Pre-shave oils work by increasing the skins suppleness and pliability. It does this by penetrating the skin and holding the water in the skin making it more supple. The more supple the skin, the harder it is to cut or irritate it.   The Art of Shaving $25, Jack Black $11, and Kiehl’s for men $18 all have very good pre shave oils.

3. Apply shave cream…

Without removing your pre-shave oil, massage your quality shave cream over your beard. Be sure to leave the shave cream on for a least two minutes before beginning your shave. This allows for further opening of pores and softening of your beard stubble. My top pick for shave cream is Proraso $10. This shave cream is considered the best in the world! Taylor of Old Bond Street is a great cream as well at $15. A great bang for your buck is Gillette Foamy Barber Shop Shave Cream $3.75. This cream gets rave reviews!

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4. The shave…

Take your time. Begin shaving on either side of your face. These are the ‘easy’ areas of the face. First, shave with the grain. You should always pull the skin taut to decrease the chance of nicking the skin. Take two short strokes, then rinse your blade. This will help to reduce the chance of getting nicks, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. By saving the more ‘difficult’ areas (upper lip and chin) for last, you allow the shaving cream to further soften them. Always make sure your shave cream is moist. Do not let it dry out during your shave. Once you’ve finished shaving with the grain, you can do a water shave against the grain for a even closer shave. Never apply to much pressure while shaving! Let the razor do the work for you.

5. Rinse with cool, refreshing water.

6.  Apply post shave gel…

Towel dry your face and apply your post shave gel. What does this product do you ask? These products are used to immediately sooth irritated skin. They alleviate redness while also providing moisturization to the skin. It does this without the burning or stinging found in old age aftershaves. Many post shave gels have natural botanicals to help fight bacteria, sooth, and moisturize the skin. Both Kyoku Razor Repair Balm $12.50 and Urth Post Shave Elixir $40 are award winners. Jack Black $20, The Art of Shaving $29.50, and Kiehl’s $18 are very good post shave treatments as well.

After shaving, make sure to air dry your razor, so as not to allow it to rust. You will want to change your blades regularly as well. If your beard is super course, you may have to change your blade after every shave.

When all is said and done…apply your SPF moisturizer. You should be doing this EVERY DAY, shave or no shave.