Millions of men shave every day, either to comply with the requirements of their employer or to look cleaner and more professional. Whatever the case, getting a closer shave can be highly advantageous; you’ll achieve that smooth-skinned look more consistently, and will have to shave less regularly as well.
Of course, getting a precise, close shave can be difficult—or else everybody would look perfectly smooth all the time. If you want a closer shave, you’ll need to follow these important strategies.
Balancing Closeness and Comfort
First, it’s important to find strategies that balance closeness with comfort. While it’s possible to achieve a super-close shave by getting under the skin and removing hairs as fully and consistently as possible, the wrong technique can leave you with skin irritation, razor bumps, ingrain hairs, and other problems. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to find an approach that gets your skin smoother while still preserving as much comfort as possible.
Use a Straight Razor (or a Single-Bladed Razor)
Not all blades are equally capable of giving you a close shave. While straight razors may seem harder to learn, they aren’t prohibitively challenging, and they’re much more capable of allowing for a closer shave. Multi-bladed razors are often marketed as giving you a closer shave, but there’s an important caveat; all those extra blades result in extra skin irritation, which can increase the likelihood of razor bumps and ingrown hairs, completely compromising the benefits of close shaving in the first place. Electric razors, while fast and unlikely to cut you, don’t get close enough to the skin to achieve that smooth look.
Accordingly, companies like Shave.net are shifting their attention more toward straight razors and single-bladed razors, rather than multi-bladed razors or electric razors. Consumers looking for a closer shave should follow suit.
Follow a Good Pre-Shave Ritual
You need to prepare your face before you shave if you want to cut your hair as closely as possible. This starts with a thorough cleaning, preferably in a shower. Use hot or warm water to open your pores. If you’d like, you can add a few drops of pre-shave oil to help lubricate and protect your skin. Then, make sure to lather your shaving cream into your face; don’t just apply it lightly on the surface.
Shave With the Grain (and Pull Your Skin Taut)
When you start shaving, try to pull your skin taut with your non-razor hand. This will allow you to shave more consistently, and pull the root of each hair closer to the surface of the skin. It will also reduce the possibility of pulling hairs, which is both uncomfortable and unfavorable for a close shave. Try to shave with the grain to reduce irritation, then follow up with a strike against the grain for the closest possible shave.
Focus on Angles, Not Pressure
Some men mistakenly try to apply extra pressure while shaving to get closer to the skin, but this is counterproductive. Applying pressure toward your face won’t get your blade much closer to your skin, but will warp your skin and make your shave less comfortable and less consistent. Instead, focus on making sure you have the perfect angle. This is especially important for straight razor shaving; the blade should be as parallel to your skin as possible.
Use Short, Controlled Strokes
If you rush through the shaving process to “get it over with” in the morning, you likely end up using hurried strokes along the entire length of your face. Instead, it’s better to use short, consistent, controlled strokes. Shorter strokes will give you much more control over the angle of your blade and proximity to your skin and will give you better real-time feedback on your process. It also allows you to rinse your blade more frequently, keeping it free from obstructions.
Invest in Your Razors
Whatever type of razor you use to shave, don’t be afraid to invest in it—both with money and with time. Always buy the best razors and best cartridges you can afford; they tend to be much sharper, much higher quality, and much more durable. If you have a straight razor, spend time keeping it in good condition by keeping it clean, honing the blade, and sharpening it at least occasionally. Sharper, well-honed blades will give you a closer shave and reduce the possibility of skin or hair irritation as well.
The more you practice trying to get a close shave, the easier it’s going to come to you, especially if you’re relying on an advanced technique, like straight razor shaving. Follow up your shave each time with aftershave and/or moisturizer to increase your comfort and keep your skin healthy.