The art of shaving

Anti-ageing tip: ditch self-foaming spray-on shaving cream - it can irritate.

Guys often shave for years and still get it wrong. According to cosmetics giant, Procter & Gamble for Men, these are the three most common mistakes:

Not washing before shaving. Warm water softens, penetrates and expands the stubble, making it easier to shave. Use a face wash with an exfoliator to remove any obstacles and lift the hair away from the face.

A perfect shave

Steve Salecich of Grand Royal Barbers explains how to achieve the perfect shave.

Shaving in the wrong direction. Facial hair doesn't grow uniformly, especially on the neck. Get to know your growth pattern then shave in the same direction as your hair grows to avoid razor bumps.

Using too many strokes. Instead lots of short, quick strokes, try long gliding strokes to reduce the chance of irritation.

Here are more tips to avoid common problems:

Razor rash
Blades tend to scrape off skin as well as hair, which can cause irritation. The more blades, the more potential for scraping.

You don't necessarily need to ditch your multi-blade — just use fewer strokes, Fennell says.

"A five-blade razor is going to cut through the facial hair easier, meaning you shouldn't have to go over an area again and again – if you have the right technique . . ."


Also, always shave hair in the direction that it grows. Don't apply too much pressure. Use sharp blades that glide over your skin. And rinse your blade after every stroke.

Use warm water to soften the hair and in turn reduce the force required. Gillette says soaking in warm water softens hair and causes it to expand, making it 70 per cent easier to cut.

Face products can also help ease the burn. For a pre-shave clean, skip the soap and instead go for a stubble-softening face wash or exfoliating scrub.

Switch from a cheap shaving foam to a good quality cream or gel – or use both – Fennell says.

"Both shaving oil and shaving creams will work well on their own but to get the closest shave without any irritation you should use the two of them together. Put the gel on first to protect the skin and help with the glide of the razor and then lather on the shaving cream, which will help to soften the hair."

Lastly apply an aftershave balm or moisturiser – but not an old-fashioned, alcohol-based aftershave – to keep your skin moist and soften the hair to make your next shave even easier.

Ingrown hairs
Those irritating little razor bumps are caused by ingrown hairs, which occur when the hair grows through the follicle wall and into the surrounding skin or when curly hair grows back in on itself.

Shaving too close and going against the grain – which gives your hair follicle a sharp tip – are among the worst culprits.

The most vulnerable areas are those with hairs that grow at an angle – like the neck.

Daily shaving can help the problem but if you really suffer, it may be worth growing some designer stubble. You can use an electric razor to keep hair a millimetre or two in length.

Skip skin products like old-fashioned aftershave that contain fragrance or alcohol as these dry the skin. Dry pores can seal your skin and trap hairs.

Products that exfoliate and moisturise can help, says Dr Natasha Cook, a Sydney dermatologist.

"I recommend active-ingredient exfoliators, not beads and scrubs, which again damage and irritate. The type of ingredients I am talking about are the alpha and beta hydroxy acids. These can be found in many skin products such as serums and moisturisers," Cook says.

Nicks and cuts
Don't apply too much pressure when shaving as this creates a hill of skin in front of the razor that is easily cut. Go lightly, especially when using a sharp new blade.

Cuts can also result from a blunt razor as you tend to apply more pressure. If it doesn't glide easily, change it.

You may find five-bladed razors don't handle as well around corners as those with fewer blades.

To compensate, razor makers like Gillette have added skin guards to help flatten the skin. They also have special trimming blades to help with tricky areas.

However, Fennell finds he can get a better line from most three-bladed razors than he can from single trimming blades like Gillette's.

Gillette suggests leaving tricky areas like the upper lip until last and applying plenty of shave gel or cream.

Shaving cream
Those classic self-foaming cans usually have skin-drying alcohol on their ingredients list. Instead look for a good quality foam, gel, oil or cream to give your skin the best buffer against the blade.

Want to save space in your bathroom cabinet? Dr Natasha Cook, specialist dermatologist, at Macquarie Street Dermatology Sydney, notes that gentle creamy-type cleanser can also double as shaving cream.

When you apply your cream, use a shaving brush, as this will lift the hair off the face. Splash your face with hot water, apply the shaving cream and with the help of a brush, work-up a lather and you're ready to go.

The most common shaving-related skin problems is irritation—probably because regular shaving roughens and dehydrates.

That's where a good aftershave or moisturising lotion comes in. It can help your skin retain moisture and balance out your oil natural production. Bonus: It can also reduce the appearance of sun damage and ageing.

But which of the two do you choose? As its name suggests, moisturiser is better for dryer skin while aftershave suits oilier skin types, according to, Paul Anderson, owner of Sydney male grooming salons, MANKiND.

Love your aftershave? Make sure it has some added moisturiser. If your skin is sensitive, dodge products with fragrances as these can increase cause irritation and redness, especially around the neck.

Lots of moisturisers include a sunscreen, a skincare must when it comes to looking good for your age. Sun is one of the major causes of premature wrinkles, and most of the damage occurs during incidental sun exposure, not those long days at the beach.

There are lots of different types of moisturisers to suit different skin types. Here's a quick guide:

Oily skin: look for a lighter lotion with salicylic acid and tea tree oil.

Sun damaged: use a cream with added antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E and coffee berry

Anti-ageing: seek out a moisturiser with peptides that stimulate collagen and elastin.