For many men, it's a daily essential, for others, a necessary chore. But whatever your grooming habits, if you're the type of chap that prefers to do away with facial hair, the chances are you're searching for the kit that will give you the closest shave.
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There's no need to splash out on the priciest lotions and potions or even the most expensive razor. Here are our top tips for getting the perfect shave.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
It's essential to prepare your skin before attacking it with a blade - start right and you'll cut down on those unfortunate nicks. The ideal way to get going is to wash your face in the shower before soaking your visage with a hot, damp flannel for a couple of minutes. This keeps the stubble soft and ready for the foam, so step away from the towel for the time being.
With hot water on hand, it's time to lather up. Whatever cream, gel, foam or simple soap you use, the more lather on your stubble, the easier the shave will be. So if you invest in one expensive piece of shaving kit, make it a good brush. Not only will it exfoliate your skin, but it'll help lift the stubble, allowing you to get a closer shave. In an ideal world, a badger's hair brush is the way to go, but since decent shaving brushes can cost a pretty penny, choose a cheaper alternative that is at least made from bristle.
And with a brush, just a small amount of shaving cream will do - simply apply a little to the palm of your hand, wet the brush and gently move in circular motions to get a really good lather.
Nice and easy
With a good lather applied, there should be no need to use force to get rid of the stubble. If you feel friction between blade and face, the chances are you're lacking lather or need to change your product. Even cheaper razors can do the job if given the right preparation, so avoid hacking away and use short, gentle strokes, wetting the blade in hot water in between and letting the razor do the hard work.
Save trouble spots until last as these will benefit from the longer soaking and softening time. And remember - don't use the same blade time and time again. They might seem expensive but changing blades regularly will save you a whole lot of time, frustration and pain.
Undoubtedly there will be times when a rushed shave leaves you with a nick or two. Ditch the homemade toilet paper remedy and opt instead for the traditional alum matchstick. If you can find them, these inexpensive additions to your shaving kit will stop the bleeding and help to heal the cut quickly, thanks to the antibacterial alum nestling within the tip of each stick.
With any mishaps dealt with, an aftershave balm should be applied to keep your skin smooth, soft and hydrated. If you are prone to skin irritation, stay clear of alcohol-heavy aftershaves, which will only intensify the burn, and choose a skin-soothing alternative.