If you've ever had the pleasure of a proper shave from a classic barbershop, you know that shaving should leave your face smooth and refreshed—not red and irritated. We asked J.P. Mastey, president of the grooming brand Baxter of California and owner of LA's Baxter Finley Barber & Shop for some tips of the trade. The key to a barbershop-worthy wet shave, he says, is good preparation.
Start with water & heat
"A barber uses a hot towel, but shaving after your shower softens stubble as well, making it easier to shave. In fact, the force required to cut your facial hair is reduced by 2/3 when the hair is wet."
"Start with clean skin. And if it's been a few days since your last shave, use a scrub to help remove dead skin—especially in the summer. The smoother the surface, the more the razor remains in contact with the skin. This improves the comfort of your shave, but cannot be done on a daily basis due to the aggressive nature of scrubs."
"A badger hair brush will disperse the cream evenly. Lather the cream onto your face, swirling the brush in a circular motion, which lifts facial hair better than your hands alone. Allow the shave cream to rest on the skin for 30 seconds. Shave difficult areas last, allowing the cream to soften the whiskers longer."
"Pull skin taut, use short strokes and a sharp blade (no more than five shaves per cartridge). Rinse often, under hot water, to keep the blade clean and sharp. Fewer blades mean less irritation. The use of a safety razor is ideal for those who get ingrown hairs. If your skin is tough, you can plunge into the multi-blade market of modern razors."
Use caution when shaving those stray hairs on the top of your cheek. The sensitive skin and curve of your face create a hot zone for tiny cuts and irritation.