Sick of the daily shave? Hate redness, bumps, and irritation? Ready to ditch civilization and go full-on gorilla status. You aren’t alone! Scraping a blade over your skin everyday can certainly take its toll. If your skin is sensitive, things can be even worse.
However, there is hope. Wet shavers are quite vocal and unanimous in their support of classic wet shaving as a way to battle back from the misery of modern-day shaving. So, why is it better for sensitive skin and how can you benefit? Here are a few tips and tricks for shaving sensitive skin.
Guide to Shaving When You Have Sensitive Skin
Hone your shaving technique
The first tip/reminder for sensitive skin shavers is let the weight of the razor do the work. Unlike plastic disposable or cartridge head razors, a double-edged safety razor has some heft to it. That is by design. The weight and balance of the razor will work to cut the hair without additional pressure. You simply glide the razor over your skin.
Speaking of glide. . . Creating a rich, frothy, protective lather is an important skill for a wet shaver. That lubrication goes a long way to an irritation-free shave. Unlike canned foams (which are mostly air), a properly whipped shaving soap or cream provides protection and glide that leaves your skin happier and healthier.
- Stroke in the direction of hair growth
Another huge trick for those with sensitive skin is to watch the direction of your razor strokes and proceed with the grain of hair growth. Shaving WITH the grain means that you stroke in the same direction the hair grows. This might result in a shave that is a bit less close, but it will save you a ton of irritation. If you start in the direction of hair growth, then you can see how much hair is gone before attempting (or not attempting) passes that are across or against the grain. These tend to result in more redness, bumps, and angry skin.
Choose the right shaving equipment
- Razor head geometry & design
While not a hard and fast rule, closed comb heads tend to offer a milder shave. The full safety bar contacts the skin before the blade does to help minimize the blade exposure and provide a close, but protected, shave. This is a big benefit for those with sensitive skin. Another aspect of the head is the blade angle/geometry, which also plays a role in how much of the blade is exposed to your sensitive skin. Differently designed heads can shave very differently.
Another (perhaps surprising) variable is the blade you use. While DE blades are pretty standard in size, they are not all created equal. Some blades are noticeable sharp while others are smoother shavers. The sharpest blade out there might not be the best bet for sensitive skin. The unforgiving nature of an uber sharp blade sometimes results in microscopic nicks, weepers, and irritation. A milder blade will be more liable to glide over the skin without undue trauma. Those with sensitive skin will benefit from an efficient, but milder, blade.
Select the right shaving soaps & aftershaves
- Pick an appropriate shaving soap/cream
The world of classic shaving is home to so many amazing artisan soap makers who are using natural, organic, thoughtful ingredients to produce exceptional lather; however, there are still issues of allergies and sensitivities to be aware of. Likely you already know that you should avoid parabens and harsh chemicals in your soaps/creams, but did you know that other common ingredients might be contributing to your redness or irritation. Check your “software” for things like menthol, cinnamon, clove oil, mint, eucalyptus, lanolin, and even tallow. As you narrow down what might be causing your issues, you are able to find the right soap for your needs.
As much as we hate to admit, another culprit for those with sensitive skin is fragrance. If you find yourself with redness and irritation when you shave, try using an unscented shaving soap or cream and see if that makes a difference. Even if your product is using essential oils instead of fragrance oil, you might still have a reaction. As hard as it is to admit, sometimes we need to forgo the fragrance for healthier skin.
Finally, don’t neglect your skin after a shave. Even if you’ve done all the above, your skin has still been through it and you can help to replenish moisture and nutrients by applying an appropriate aftershave. For those with sensitive skin, choose a balm or other non-alcohol based product. Alcohol can have a drying effect especially on those prone to redness and irritation. Or simply use an alum block after the shave to cleanse and nurture the skin and reduce minor bleeding from nicks or cuts.
Shaving with sensitive skin can be a hassle, but a few intentional changes can make a big difference. How do you shave your sensitive skin? Any tips we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments below.