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Your pop taught you everything you know about shaving, right? Boy, are you in a lot of trouble. There is no regimen in a man's daily routine so riddled with myth and misinformation. Your dad may be a great guy, but he probably knows as much about his face as he does about making meringue. The key to a great shave is proper skin care. Your preparation should start in the evening. While you sleep, your face rubs against sheets probably laundered in detergent. In addition, forced air heat and air conditioning robs your skin of whatever moisture hasn't already been absorbed by the pillowcase. The better the condition of your skin, the easier and closer the shave. Starting to see how much trouble you're in? Battle the moisture robbers by sleeping with a humidifier, especially in the winter. Your skin will thank you immediately (unless you enjoy feeling like a 5-year-old with chicken pox.) Apply a moisturizer before bed. Oh come on. Grow up. Do you still think real men don't moisturize? Over 40% of all moisturizers are now sold to men. (No way? Yes way!) An aging male population has realized, rather quickly, that there is no reason to look as old as you're getting. One highly effective way to fight back is with a light, greaseless lotion that gets absorbed into the skin in less than three minutes. You may be surprised to discover how nice it is to wake up with your face not feeling like it's been wrapped in the sports section. Wake up to reality. Shaving, basically, is taking a blade to the skin and ripping a layer of it off. Dermatologists are more polite and call it exfoliation, and consider it the major reason why men, whose skin is nearly twice as tough as women's, age less quickly. However, shaving allows no time for scraped skin to heel. If you skinned your knee, you'd baby it, right? Don't you think you owe your face the same treatment? Avoid all shaving preparations that contain alcohol, waxes and perfumes. Rather than teaching us to invest in quality products, our forebears have brainwashed us with a host of false axioms: Use hotter water. Shave in different directions. Stretch your skin with the opposite hand. All shaving creams are alike so buy whatever's on sale. How many wads of toilet paper does it take to convince you that you've been given really bad advice? Never shave with scalding water. It breaks capillaries, dries skin, and increases the likelihood of cuts. You can steam your face, place a warm, wet washcloth on it, use a moisturizing scrub to soften the skin and set up the beard, or rub in some scalp oil. Even baby oil. Boiling water should only be used in conjunction with your coffee maker. Use a superior shaving cream. You only get one face. Treat it more kindly than you do. Spend a few bucks. Shave creams that include glycerin, chamomile, aloe vera, almond oil, and/or olive oil can change your life as you know it after the very first shave. You will shave closer, faster, easier. And since they require using less cream, when you calculate the cost per shave, using the good stuff is far less of an indulgence than you think. Do not try to get the most for your money with a razor blade. Every beard is different. Some men will get several shaves with one blade. Some will get only one. You have no power here. AS SOON AS THE BLADE TUGS, THROW IT OUT. Or it's back to the toilet paper. Avoid disposable razors. It's like using a pen knife to carve a turkey. No need tug on your skin. It promotes age lines, inhibits elasticity, and encourages skin sag. Be gentle. Go with the grain. You shouldn't have to against your skin's natural grain if you are using a good cream. Plus, you know how you can curl a ribbon by stroking the back of the scissors' blade? It's similar to how this process will promote ingrown hairs. Don't shave in front of a magnifying mirror. Face it: You have a beard. Try to hard to eliminate it and you're going to irritate the skin. Don't torture yourself with toxic aftershaves. It is not cool to slap on aftershave and dance around yelping in pain as you experience that "tingle". It's stupid. This is no time to "feel the burn." Would you buy a shampoo that stung your head? Never put alcohol on your face. Or fragrance. Or styptic pencils. You just attacked your skin with a blade. Now soothe it. Once again, look for products that contain aloe vera, allantoin, camphor, gentian, calendula, clove, even marshmallow. If any bleeding has occurred, try a spot of a tightening clay masque. No tightening clay mask in the medicine cabinet? (We're shocked.) Try cold water and some patience. Use a moisturizer during the day. The biggest myth you've been led to believe is that men don't need skin care protection. Everyone does. Ozone layer depletion, pollution, and melanoma are not gender specific. In fact, many moisturizers come with sunblock already in them. If you still can't help thinking it doesn't sound manly, ask yourself this: How manly is it to look older than you are? Take your time. It's hard for your hot new suit to get the looks it deserves when a speedy shave has left your face looking like an extra from M.A.S.H. You will shave more effortlessly and less hazardously if you concentrate and give your face the few minutes of TLC it deserves each day.
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