Shaving Basics

Whether your goal is a manicured, a practical or a “don’t mess with me” message, let’s get grooming. We’ll focus on creating your look from that beard you just spent four to six weeks growing.

  • Shave around your beard and mustache before you begin trimming.
  • For every pass of the razor, you’re shooting for gradual beard reduction, not beard removal. If you’re too aggressive you’re going to irritate your skin, and probably require toilet paper afterwards to staunch the nick and cut bleeding. Avoid subjecting your face to such abuse. Use plenty of lather and make several passes with your razor.
  • Define your neck-line, cheek-line, and mustache or goatee lines with a razor or an electric beard trimmer on its lowest setting.
  • If you’re doing any wet beard trimming, your beard hair is longer when wet. Leave room for shrinkage.
  • Do your trimming in layers. You can always cut a little more off, but you can’t add it back on.
  • For fuller beard and mustache styles, use a sharp pair of scissors for trimming the hair. If you need a closer shave around edges (like under your nose), use a trimmer or wet shaver.
  • Comb your beard/mustache before, during and after trimming. You always need to know where you’re at length-wise and directionally.

If you’re not trimming a newly-grown beard, do the opposite of the wet then dry steps. Trim your beard and mustache dry then shave the outlines afterwards.

Tips for the Safety Razor Shave

Cartridge razors might be easy to use, but you won’t get that baby’s butt feel like you will from shaving with a safety razor. Here are a few keys to a successful shave with a Safety Razor

  • If you’re shunning the use of the chemicals in the can, get your shaving cream prepped. Put a dollop of shaving cream in a cup and swirl it around with a wet brush until you have a stiff lather. That adds more air which will help with lubrication.
  • Use shaving lather liberally. It’s conditioning your skin as well as coating your beard.
  • Use as little pressure on the razor as possible. The weight of the safety razor is there to do the work.
  • Hold the razor towards the end of the handle. Too much pressure applied closer to the head can result in hacking up your face.
  • Angle the blade as far away from your face as possible – somewhere around a 30- to 45-degree angle.
  • When you’re first starting out, shave with the grain of your beard. You can always pass the razor more than once over your face. Go for beard reduction, not beard removal.

Although protected inside the razor’s case, the blades are really sharp. It’s going to take some getting used to if all you’ve ever used are cartridge razors.

The Comb and Scissors Method

There’s no better instrument to trim your beard and mustache than a good pair of barber’s scissors. You’re going to have stray hairs even after the best clipping job and there will always be some hairs that grow faster than others. Take care of these jobs with nice and sharp scissors.

  • Be methodical. Don’t jump from place to place while scissoring.
  • Comb through your facial hair with a beard or mustache comb to get it going in the same direction. When you trim, snip the hair on the outside of the comb.
  • Trim in small increments. You can always make another pass.
  • Start at one ear and trim down to your chin. Repeat this process on the other side of your beard. Trim beneath your chin after the sides are done.
  • Move from one side of your face and then back to the other. This can help to keep the two sides even.
  • Look straight ahead into the mirror as you trim to maintain balance between the two sides of your face.

If you’re thinking of using that same pair of scissors to trim your facial hair that you just used to cut open that package of new grooming tools, don’t.

Trimmers and Mustache Shavers

A trimmer is particularly useful if you’re new to face hair. You can dial up settings for trimming different beard lengths if the shaver has multiple settings. Some have attachments for specific areas. There are also shavers made just for mustaches and sideburns.

  • Tame beard density and bushiness with the trimmer’s guard system starting with a higher numbered guard.
  • Particularly if you are new to trimmer use, be conservative when choosing a setting. The trimmer’s instructions should give some recommendations.
  • Don’t push too hard with the trimmer. You can always come back with another pass.
  • If you are using an electric trimmer, choose the length-guide that is most appropriate for the area of the beard or mustache you are trimming. Again, look at those directions.
  • Start from your chin, and work towards your ear on one side. On the other side, start at your ear, and work back to your chin. Don’t jump around.
  • Treat your mustache the same way you do your beard. Comb it in the direction that hair is growing then trim from the middle outward. On the other side, start at the outer edge and work back to the middle.
  • Balance your shaving by alternating sides of your face as you complete each task.
  • Always look straight ahead into the mirror when trimming. Check your work from all angles when you don’t have a trimmer or scissors pressed against your face.
  • Use the trimmer to shave your neck and shape the beard or stubble.
  • Use scissors as a final step for catching stray hairs.

Keep in mind that shorter whiskers say you’re stylish. A longer beard might indicate you don’t have a job (or work in Silicon Valley), hang out too much with other guys or just don’t care about your appearance. How do you want women to view you?

Keep it neat. Stay Within the Lines