How to Survive the dreaded Shave
I have already posted fairly prolifically on this subject but thought I would condense everything I have observed in myself and discovered elsewhere in a single post for general convenience. Let me begin by saying that, for the first time since I was on the dread Accutane a few years ago, my skin is entirely clear and my complexion as healthy as it has ever been, something I attribute entirely to shaving technique. I should qualify this by saying that I was suffering not from acne proper, but, as I recently learned, from an exasperatingly persistent case of folliculitis, a condition virtually indistinguishable from acne. Nevertheless, I believe the following suggestions will be of use to anyone who suffers from either of the above, particularly if you find that your acne tends to flare after shaving:
1) In the first place, go out and spring for a Gilette Mach 3 Turbo if you haven't done so already - I can affirm, after experimenting widely, that this truly provides the best shave a man can get (or at least, as far as I am concerned - you may prefer a blade or two less, but this will mean more strokes and, possibly, greater irritation).
2) It is absolutely essential that you soften your facial hair before venturing to shave it off. This was for me the discovery that has changed everything for the better, however elementary it may seem. Depending on the individual, as well as the density and distribution, facial hair can be extremely coarse, particularly in the moustache area. Taking a shower BEFORE you shave is key, as the warm water and steam will function to slacken, soften, and even raise the hair. I am still experimentally washing my beard delicately with different soaps, shampoos, and conditioners in the hope of achieving further softness, but Head and Shoulders has been working very well so far. Make sure you wash and rinse your neck.
3) Do not dry your face after shaving; rather apply a shaving gel designed for sensitive skin straightaway on quitting the shower - I recommend the Edge variety with aloe (in the orange cylinder). It is important that you not overdo it with the gel: apply a relatively thin layer and massage it softly into the fibres; if you over-apply, the razor can clog and drag. Allow the lather to sit on your face for a minute or so while the hair fibres absorb it.
4) Begin by shaving your cheek and neck areas - ALWAYS with the grain - allowing your moustache and chin areas to absorb the lather for as long as possible. Try to avoid using more than two strokes on any area and draw the razor deftly and delicately across the skin, particularly around the mouth.
5) Finish by rinsing the residual lather from your face and then, if possible, washing with a gentle soapless cleanser like Spectro Jel or Cetaphil - this removes any dead skin cells that the shave might have failed to, and, crucially, will not leave the skin overdry. Once the cleanser has been rinsed completely off, dash your face with cold water.
6) Dry your face with a clean towel (I use paper towels) and, after waiting 10 minutes or so, apply a thin covering of refridgerated pure Aloe Vera gel (I use Lily of the Desert - 99.5% pure and with no fragrance). This will go to great lengths in relieving any of the superficial redness which follows virtually any shave while providing an excellent and non-comedogenic source of moisture. Because of all the washing and water involved in this approach, it is very important that this step, or some other moisturizing alternative, be followed.
If your skin is like mine, you should notice immediate improvement, even as you shave; I find that the hair is so much softer, I need not apply any serious pressure to the razor. I shave late at night, just before I go to bed, which allows the Aloe Vera to absorb fully - I wash off the vestigial gel in the morning with the Specto. I cannot believe the results I have been having with this approach, and I can only hope it works as effectively for others. Let me know if you have any comments or concerns, and please report back if you decide to try it (or any variation thereupon), whether your feedback be positive or otherwise.
Last edited by Tiefer479; 07-01-2004 at 06:01 PM.