1. Start with a cleanser and warm water
Before you can do anything else to your face, you need to wash it. This rids the skin and hair of excess oil, gunk, and debris—all stuff that might otherwise get trapped in your razor or irritate the face. And you need to do this with warm water whenever you precede a shave: Warm water relaxes the skin and opens the pores, making it more receptive to a razor blade and less prone to ingrown hairs or razor bumps.
2. Use a scrub to smooth the skin
In addition to removing grime with a cleanser, it’s also important to use an exfoliator before a shave. This scrub rids of excess dead skin cells that could otherwise cause razor drag or clog the widely opened pores. Don’t go too rough with it: A gentle scrub will suffice, and your skin needs to withstand a sharp-razor shave in a few minutes.
3. Use a pre-shave oil to prep the skin and hair
A pre-shave oil conditions the skin and softens the hair, making them both more receptive to a razor blade shave. The oil also creates a nutrient-dense layer over top the skin, so that the blade glides smoothly and with little resistance (also because the hairs are softened).
4. Apply shave cream in upward motion
When you apply your shave cream, do so in an upward motion, so as to lift the hairs up and away from the face. This results in a smoother, more precise shave overall. The type of shave cream or oil you use is up to you, but we do recommend something that doesn’t lather excessively—in other words, something that doesn’t totally obscure your face and the hairs needing a trim, and ideally something cooling and calming.
5. Use a clean, sharp razor—and shave with the grain
When you do shave, be sure to go in the direction that your hair moves. That is to say, shave in the direction that you can run your hand over it smoothly, instead of feeling the friction of resistance. If you shave forward with it, you lower your chances of ingrown hairs and red bumps due to trapped hairs furled under the surface of the skin.
6. Rinse with cold water and apply an after shave
Just as the hot water opened your pores, you need a cold splash at the end of the shave to flush away debris and to tighten the pores so that they shrink to their normal size and help defend from trapped debris and bacteria.
Ditto for applying a post-shave oil, lotion, or balm, to soothe the skin, disinfect it, and create a defensive layer over it all, while you recover from the razor blade.