Shaving is a part of the daily routine for most individuals especially men. If done correctly, shaving with a razor yields the best possible shave with zero skin irritation. But it is also true that a sharp blade moving against the skin is a recipe for cuts, nicks and other shaving related issues. While most men just accept these issues as a part of the shaving ritual, it is possible to minimize and even get rid of these shaving problems completely. So how do you troubleshoot cuts, nicks, poor lather, and other shaving related problems?
You can troubleshoot common shaving related issues using the following tips:
- For cuts: Make sure the blade is not old or dull and you are not applying too much pressure with the blade when shaving to avoid cuts.
- Poor lather: Make sure you aren’t using hard water or low quality soap/cream to avoid poor lather.
- Improper technique: Make sure to adjust the direction of shave according to the grain of your hair and spend adequate time in prepping and shaving.
The above-mentioned solutions for common shaving issues are going to help you get a better shave. Not only is it going to make shaving safer for you, but you will also enjoy the process of shaving instead of doing it as a chore. With that being said, the solutions explained above have to be implemented properly in order to get rid of the shaving issues. And in this article, we are going to explain in detail how you can troubleshoot your shaving related problems along with some additional tips for getting a better shave, so keep reading.
Troubleshooting cuts and nicks while shaving
Cutting yourself while shaving is never pleasant, in fact, people are giving up on shaving because they end up cutting and bleeding every time they shave. Below are some common reasons why you might be getting cuts while shaving, along with the solutions.
• Dull blades:
Every time you shave your hairs, the blades of your razor get a little duller. And there comes a point when your razor’s blade can’t cut hair at all. But if you continue to use a dull razor even after it is showing signs of dullness and not cutting hair, then you are bound to cut your skin. You will end up applying more pressure while shaving with a dull blade which is a recipe for cuts and nicks.
Solution Dull blades:
If you are using a disposable razor you will be lucky if your razor is still sharp after one shave. But a good quality cartridge razor should stay sharp for up to 10 shaves even if you have very tough hair. While a double-edged safety razor blade is going to go dull after 5 or 6 shaves. Keep in mind that these are not exact durations, and how often you should change the blades depends on how often you shave and how tough your hairs are. The type of prepping you do before shaving also affects the useful life of your razor’s blades. Therefore it is best to replace your razor’s blades when you notice that your razor is taking too much pressure to cut hair or not cutting hair at all, to avoid cuts and nicks.
• Hair stuck in the shaving head:
As you shave, your razor collects hairs in the space between blades and inside the shaving head if you use a safety razor. This is especially an issue for multi-blade razors because they have very little space in between blades, making it easier for hairs to collect in between them. When hairs and dead skin cells build up between the blades of your razor, you tug and pull on the skin a lot more which causes cuts and razor burns. This problem is mostly faced by men who have very tough and thick facial hair.
Solution Hair stuck in the shaving head:
There are two ways to remove hairs from the razor during shaving. You can either rinse away the stuck hair by placing the razor head under running tap water or you can submerge the shaving head inside a mug filled with water and shake the razor to remove the hairs. While it is easy to rinse your razor under running tap water it wastes a lot of water in the process. Therefore it is a good idea to keep a mug filled with water with you while you are shaving and submerge the shaving head inside the mug after every few strokes to avoid hair build-up in between the blades which can lead to cuts. When you remove hairs from your razor regularly you will be able to shave without applying too much pressure and avoid getting cuts.
• Using the wrong kind of razor:
Believe it or not, each type of razor requires a certain level of skin and experience to use. For example, if you use a multi-blade cartridge razor with pivoting shaving head it will adjust the angle of the blade according to the shape of your face and you don’t have to manually adjust the angle while shaving. But when you use a single blade safety razor or a straight razor you have to adjust the angle and the pressure manually in order to remove hair, which requires a certain level of experience and practice to master.
Solution Using the wrong kind of razor:
If you have never shaved before and you are a newbie in the craft of shaving then it is best to use multi-blade razors with pivoting shaving heads and flexible blades that automatically adjust the angle and the pressure while you shave to prevent accidental cuts. And as you learn the craft of shaving with a razor, you can then graduate to a single blade safety razor or a straight razor if you want, when you have a better understanding of how much pressure is needed to shave without cutting the skin and at which angle you need to shave.
Troubleshooting poor lather while shaving
The quality and amount of lather you apply to your skin before shaving determines how comfortable and easy your shave is going to be. Applying shaving cream or soap is not only going to lubricate your skin and allow the blade to glide easily but it is also going to make the hair softer. Lathering up is especially important for men before shaving facial hair because beards of some men can be as tough as copper wire. If you can’t make good lather then it could be due to the following reasons:
• Using hard water to make lather:
Yes the type of water you use when making lather is going to affect the quality of lather you get. Shaving creams and soaps just don’t go with hard water because hard water contains higher amounts of magnesium and calcium. The presence of these minerals in high amounts makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to make lather with hard water using shaving creams and soaps. To make up for poor lather when using hard water you will end up using more soap than needed which is going to waste a lot of soap.
Solution Using hard water to make lather:
If you are serious about making proper lather when shaving you will need distilled water. But if using distilled water is not an option and you live in an area where soft tap water is not available you can install a water softener to convert hard water into soft water.
• Low-quality shaving products:
You might have seen canned shaving products and brushless gels that you apply using your fingers to produce lather. Canned shaving foams and gels contain pressurized foam that you apply directly to your face without whipping it in a bowl first. Sure these products save you a few minutes during shaving but the quality of lather they produce is not ideal for a smooth shave. Not to mention the propellants used in these canned products actually dry the skin, making it easier to cut yourself while shaving.
Solution Low-quality shaving products:
If you want to have thick lather every time you shave, then using a shaving soap or cream is the perfect option for you. These soaps and creams are always applied using a brush, and the lather is made inside a bowl. Making lather with a shaving soap or cream does take a little longer but the lather you will get in return is spot on. Not only are these products easy on your skin but they also moisturize the skin making it easier to shave without getting razor burns.
• Using the wrong method to make lather:
If you have the best quality shaving soap/cream and still can’t make good lather then the reason can be that you are not using the correct method to make a lather. Even if you have a bowl and brush, making foamy lather requires patience and a little technique.
Solution Using the wrong method to make lather:
Although there is no fixed formula for making lather you can follow the steps below to get decent lather before a shave:
Step 1. Before you start lathering, wash your face with warm water to open up pores in your skin and make the hair as soft as possible. It is best to shave while taking a warm shower to get the best results.
Step 2. While you are soaking your face with warm water, soak the hairs of the shaving brush in warm water as well. Make sure the hairs of the brush have soaked an ample amount of water which allows the brush to make lather easily.
Step 3. If you are using shaving soap, then rub the hairs of the shaving brush on the bar of soap until you are sure that the brush has collected the soap onto the hairs. Or if you are using a shaving cream simply take some cream on your finger and apply the cream directly on the shaving brush.
Step 4. Finally, all you have to do is either lather up directly onto your face by moving the soap or cream collected on the shaving brush in a circular motion on your face or you can lather up inside a bowl or mug instead and then apply the lather on your face. If you are making lather in a bowl or mug you might have to add a few drops of water to activate the soap/cream and start making lather.
Troubleshooting improper shaving technique
This is the part that most people get wrong about shaving. While it is true that shaving isn’t an exact science and you have to be a little versatile when shaving but there is a technique to it. And if your shaving technique is flawed, you will not be able to get the results you want to achieve from your shave. The reason why people who wet shave complain about inconsistent results from shaving is because they are not following the correct shaving routine.
Better shaving techniques
You can apply the following techniques to get the best results from each shave:
• Shave with the grain:
Grain of your hairs is the direction in which your hairs grow in. Facial hairs rarely grow straight and they are always tilted at an angle. The grain of hair is different for everyone and it also varies from body part to body part. You can find out the grain of your hair by moving your hand across your face and the direction in which your facial hairs don’t cause any resistance is going to be the grain of your hair. And the direction in which you feel the most resistance from your hairs is against the grain direction. Once you have found out the grain of your hair, always make sure to shave with the grain to avoid razor burns and cuts. When you move the razor blades along the grain, the blades are going to face little to no resistance resulting in a comfortable shave.
• Don’t apply too much pressure with the razor:
Shaving with a sharp blade requires very little pressure. In fact, all you have to do is allow the razor blade to glide across your skin instead of pressing it down. The reason you don’t want to press down too much while shaving is the same reason you wouldn’t want to press a sharp knife against your finger. The blades especially double edges safety razor blades have very sharp edges and too much pressure can cause cuts and burns which can be painful. Only apply as much pressure as needed to cut hair and keep the razor moving. Don’t press down on the same spot with your razor as this can lead to cuts and nicks as well.
• Avoid making long strokes when shaving:
Make sure you don’t drag the razor across your whole face in one stroke. It is difficult to adjust the angle of your shave if you are making long strokes and you will end up accidentally going against the grain since the grain of your hair can be different at different points of your face. Not to mention your razor will get clogged easily because it is going to collect too many hairs if you move the blade across a longer distance while shaving. Experts recommend keeping the length of your strokes between 1 and 2 inches to have the utmost control over your shave and avoid clogging your razor by collecting too much hair and skin cells.
• Don’t make too many passes over the same patch of skin:
You might be tempted to shave the same patch of your skin multiple times to remove the most hair possible. But keep in mind that each pass of the blade removes a thin layer of skin and if you make multiple passes over the same patch of skin you can end up irritating the skin and develop skin redness. If necessary, you can make up to 2 passes of the blade over a patch of skin. Any more than that can do more harm than good.
Bonus tips for getting the best shave possible
• Don’t try to cut very long hair:
If you have let your hair grow longer than usual then it is best to use a trimmer to reduce the length of hair before shaving them using a bladed razor. Trying to shave long hair is going to cause the blade of your razor to get dull faster than usual. Not to mention it is going to be very difficult to shave long hair without trimming them down first.
• Keep your skin moisturized after shaving:
This is the most important post-shaving ritual of all, always apply a post-shave moisturizing lotion to your skin when you are finished with shaving because shaving can leave your skin dry since the upper layer of your skin gets removed. But using a moisturizing lotion is going to keep the skin from getting dry and maintains the healthy moisture level of your skin.
Shaving with a razor is not as scary as it might seem at first. And using the troubleshooting tips explained in this article, you should be able to make your shaving experience safer and comfortable.