Whether clean-shaven or bearded, most men still need to shave their necks. When you are looking for a good groom, a clean neck helps give shape to a well-trimmed beard or signs off on a smooth face.
However, neck shaving can also be the most problematic. Neck skin is often sensitive and difficult to shave with its widely varying hair growth patterns and contours.
So, what’s a shaver to do? Well, forewarned is forearmed as they say. Here are some tips and tricks on the best way to shave your neck.
Tips on the Best Way to Shave your Neck
Tip One: Map hair growth on your neck
Hair on the neck doesn’t always follow a uniform direction. Even more than face, neck hair is prone to go its own way with swirls and contrary patches. Taking a little time to get a handle on your growth can make your shave more effective and less irritating.
To “map” your growth, simply let a little growth build up and then run your fingers or a cotton ball over your skin. (Brushing a cotton ball in a uniform direction will pick up the area where it “catches” and the hair changes direction). Alternatively, you could allow your hair to grow until you can actually see it and the direction that it lays.
Tip Two: Prep your neck
Because the neck area is so sensitive, it is uber important that you practice good pre-shave care. Taking a hot shower or using a hot towel before your shave will help to hydrate the skin and hair and make it easier to shave.
A pre-shave oil might also be helpful in this situation. Although some shavers don’t care for them, others find pre-shave oils a welcome weapon in their arsenal against irritation. Apply the oil before you lather up and apply your shaving cream. It will provide an extra layer of glide and protection from the blade. And it can also help to raise the hairs for an easier shave.
Tip Three: Pick the right shave gear for a neck shave
We suggest a double-edge safety razor or straight razor as the right tool for the job. Because the neck is such a sensitive area, it is best to not irritate it unduly with multiple blades, excess pressure, or a gunky razor. Instead, a classic, wet shaving is the way to go. Use a well-lathered shaving cream, shaving brush, and a single, sharp blade and you may discover why so many are switching to traditional shaving.
The single blade is less likely to cause irritation and the razor can be cleaned to prevent infections in those microscopic cuts. In addition, a good lubricant is important. You can find many nourishing, protective shaving creams and soaps that lather up brilliantly with a shaving brush. Following the shave with a soothing aftershave balm is also a good idea. Picking an alcohol-free option is good for those with particularly sensitive skin.
Tip Four: Cleansing the neck is key
Another way to battle irritation that creeps up during a neck shave is to keep things clean. Make sure you start with clean skin. Washing your face with a facial cleanser and warm water will also hydrate and pump those whiskers so they are easier to mow down.
Also, keep your razor clean. Rinse frequently to prevent gunk from building up. It might not seem like a big deal but when you shave you can create microscopic nicks and cuts that can easily become infected.
Finally, clean the neck after your shave as well. Rinse with warm water to remove any residue or excess lather. You might also consider wiping the area with a cotton pad soaked with witch hazel. It will further remove any debris as well. Apply your aftershave after this step.
Tip Five: Hone your technique for a neck shave
Arguably the first and most important rule of wet shaving is no pressure. Seriously, you don’t need to apply the pressure of a cartridge. Just let the weight of the razor do the work. This is particularly important on the neck. You don’t want to be putting pressure on the blade that will cause irritation on an already sensitive body part.
Next, consider how you hold the skin. Because the neck is full of curves, indentations, and odd bumps, it can be difficult to maneuver. Rather than over stretching the skin (which can cause too much blade exposure to the skin), try jutting your head forward with just a small tilt back to flatten the area. Then use short strokes, going with the grain (remember your map).
Lastly, you might consider some “advanced” shaving tricks for small areas. If you have a rough patch left after completing your shave, you could try j-hooking or blade buffing. However, both of these techniques can result in more irritation – not less – if not done carefully and judiciously. J-hooking is a technique that has you moving the razor in a J shape (which can result in some wicked cuts, if not done carefully.) Blade buffing is moving the razor back-and-forth over a rough patch. Again this can result in irritation or cuts if care is not taken.
Tip Six: Let good enough be good enough
Maybe the most important tip to hear about shaving your neck is to go for good enough. Too often irritation, redness, and bumps occur after “one more pass” or in pursuit of the “baby butt smooth” shave. You might actually look and feel better by backing off a bit and settling for a pretty good shave rather than a BBS one.
What are your best practices for shaving your neck? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.