2 August, 2015 by Simon Descoteau
The Importance of Preperation
There are many ways in which one can shave, with various pro’s and con’s to each method, but the one thing that is consistent between all forms of shaving is proper and correct preparation of one’s beard and face. Without proper preparation, the shaving experience can be quite unpleasant, causing much irritation. Some would say that the preparation is far more important in hair removal than the actual act itself.
So what constitutes proper preparation you ask? Well this varies entirely between the individual, their skin and beard coarseness, availability of time, and desire for luxury. The preparation, as well as being the most important, is also the most enjoyable part of shaving and thus should be fully enjoyed. The purpose of preparation is to ensure that the skin and hair are suitably softened, cleaned and lubricated so that the blade does not damage the skin.
Below I shall describe my most leisurely of shaving preparation methods, that I employ when I have the time available to me. I have put an * after steps which can be skipped due to preference or time constraints an aren’t strictly necessary but, in my opinion at least, greatly help the overall shaving experience.
1) Small bowl
2) Brush (Badger, Boar or Synthetic)
3) Hot water
4) Shaving cream, soap or stick
1) Face towel
2) Exfoliating face wash
Preparing the brush & bowl
The first thing that must be done is the brush and bowl must be prepared for creating a good lather to lubricate the skin and hair. This is done by allowing the brush to soak in the bowl filled with water that’s slightly on the hotter side of warm. If you can put your hand in the water without feeling discomfort then the temperature is about right. This step pretty much takes care of itself once you fill the bowl with water and put the brush in the water, so you can carry on doing the next few steps in the 10-15 minutes this step will now take.
Fairly self explanatory step really, go take a very hot shower. The heat and moisture involved in said hot shower, which do by their very nature tend to be both hot and moist, will do great things for softening up your facial hair, opening those pores up and generally making your face agreeable to the upcoming shave. Further, it’s a good way to spend the 10-15 minutes you’re going to have to wait till the brush is ready.
Wash your face
Another fairly self explanatory step here, with a slight element of choice involved. If one has not the time to shower during the 15 minutes the brush is getting ready, one can take this time to wash their face instead. This serves the purpose of getting the face nice and wet, dampening those whiskers to further soften them, and gets rid of any dirt that could clog up your razor. During this stage, exfoliating is highly recommended though thoroughly optional as this will remove dead skin, leaving a better surface for your razor to do it’s work on and leaving less to clog it up. It is strongly suggested not to use a drying soap, but instead a mild face wash or cleanser if one is not exfoliating.
Apply hot towel to face*
Another of those nice easy to follow steps that can get really complicated really fast. I will write an article on the various variations which do variate upon this topic at a later stage, but at the very moment let’s summarise it to put hot towel on face. It’s really a rather enjoyable experience by all rights, and further aids the cause of softening those whiskers. It further ensures your skin is nice and clear, getting rid of any residue from the washing of the face. As an added bonus, it’s nice and warm when it’s cold out.
The final step in preparing one’s face for the blade. This step indeed carries forward into the actual shaving as it is done between each pass of the blade, of which there is usually 3. This is another vast topic which warrants it’s own article which shall indeed follow in due course, but to briefly summarise, the prepared brush is used to create a lather using 1 of 3 methods as per preference which is then painted on to one’s face in a smooth thin layer, being worked into the hair as deeply as possible, to allow for the best lubrication when time comes for the razor to meet hair and skin. It is best to leave the lather on the face for a few minutes to let it sink in before you begin, using the time to prepare whatever form of razor you prefer. Please, whatever you do, do not use that horrid foaming stuff that comes in those cans. It does a lot more harm than good to your skin and shaving in general.
And that gentlemen, is that. Hope the above was useful, informative, or at the very least interesting to read and leads to more pleasant shaves going forward.