Before shaving there are a few things you need to do in preparation – remember that the quality of your shave largely depends on how well you prepare your beard.
The best time to shave is ideally after a hot shower. The steam from the shower helps to soften the beard and opens the pores ready for shaving.
There are a number of different products that can be used before you apply a lather. Pre-shave products add a further layer of protection and while this step is optional – we recommended it for people new to traditional shaving.
For best results you will have to experiment with applying just before the first pass or before each pass, to see what works best for you.
Pre-shave oils are very popular and also help to moisturise the skin. It’s best to use oils with a thinner viscosity as they won’t clog up the razor like some thicker oils can. Alternatively jojoba oil or olive oil can be used.
Just apply a few drops to the palm of your hand, rub your palms together before massaging gently and evenly to the face. Leave to sink in for 5 minutes before you lather.
Although not as popular as pre-shave oils, pre-shave creams do exist such as the Proraso Pre/Post Shaving Cream (pictured above). When using pre-shave creams we recommend that you leave them applied for a good five minutes or alternatively apply before you shower and leave applied for the duration.
The Hot Towel
If you were to go to any barber shop for a traditional wet shave, you will find they use a hot towel. Although this is an optional step at home you can achieve similar effects by placing a damp towel or flannel in the microwave for 60 seconds.
Apply some lather before wrapping the hot towel over the face. When applied, simply tilt your head back and relax for a few minutes. The hot towel combined with the lather does an incredible job at softening the beard. After removing the towel, rinse the beard to remove any remaining lather.
This step is highly recommended for those who suffer from razor bumps / ingrown hairs – it drastically improves the quality of the shave.
The main purpose of lather is to enable the razor to glide over the hair easily.
Shaving Cream or Shaving Soap can both be used to make the lather. Creams are generally easier to work, although both make a great lather providing you use a good technique using a lathering bowl.
The characteristics of a good lather are that it is dense and heavy sporting lots of minute bubbles.
Larger bubbles in the lather means that you’ve either added too much water or simply added the water too quickly, meaning it hasn’t been able to be worked into the lather.
It’s important to remember that the lather is actually stored in the brush – the bowl is used as somewhere to work the lather, as well as see the quality of the lather before applying.
To get started run your shaving brush through hot water. Squeeze any excess water from the brush and begin to swirl the brush on top of the soap / cream used until a paste like substance starts to form on the tip of the brush.
Gradually add water to the lathering bowl and continue to work using a swirling motion as well as “pumping” the brush occasionally, using an up and down motion. Take care not to damage the bristles of the brush.
When the lather is applied, if you can see the skin beneath the lather it is too thin. If this is the case work some more before applying.
You may not have time in your day to day schedule to perform all of these shaving preparation steps, but when you do please treat yourself to the whole procedure – your skin will thank you!
You should take the time every day to make a lather from a quality soap or cream. It is much better for your skin that some foam from an aerosol.
For information on how to actually shave with a Safety Razor, please see our Beginners Guide.