Shaving cream isn’t complicated. Sure, big brands might try to impress you with a long list of long-winded ingredients, but the best creams focus on just three simple goals: to desensitize the skin, swell the surface of your skin, and lubricate the follicles of your hair for easy cutting.
Granted, that’s a little more complicated than it used to be. A long read by Andrew Tarantola published on Gizmodo explains how the earliest humans began trimming their facial hair almost 100,000 years ago – using flakes of sharp rock and shards of sea shell.
A few centuries of brutal razor burn later, ancient Egyptians created a mixture of wood alkali and animal fat, which they then applied directly to beards to make the shaving process not just easier but a whole lot more bearable.
It’s a lesson millions of men are still learning today, as the grooming gurus at Sharpologist know well: many guys discover that shaving with nothing but a simple soap will leave the skin dry, itchy and prone to rashes, only after they’ve been doing it for a few too many years already.
A good quality cream, however, will not only create a more comfortable shaving experience but help keep the skin on your face soft, supple, and protected.
How to Apply Shaving Cream for a Great Shave Every Time
When it comes to shaving, men live by myths. Maybe it’s the fact we watched our dads do it twenty years ago and haven’t given it a second thought since, but shaving creams have come a long way – and there’s just no need to keep making the same mistakes.
The art of shaving is in the application. To avoid dry and inflamed skin that nicks easily, you have to know how to apply shaving cream properly. Let’s take a look at the art of building the perfect lather:
- In a Bowl
Combine a small dollop of cream with a few drops of water in a bowl, then use either a shaving brush or your own fingers to swirl the mixture in circles, creating a thick and healthy paste. Your face won’t love a cream that’s too foamy or too watery, so keep mixing until it looks like something that belongs on top of a slice of cake. Or the head on a glass of Guinness. Make sure your skin is wet and warm before you start applying.
- On Your Face
Your skin is parched – so give it some water. Keep an eye on temperature: lukewarm is too cold, scalding will burn before you get going. Warm, wet facial hair will help your lather retain its integrity, while softening the follicles and raising them off your skin, getting them ready for shearing.
Brushing cream onto your face isn’t rocket science, but be wary of overdoing it: too much cream may drown your facial hair and flatten it down against your skin. It may also clog the back of your razor if you use a cartridge razor. With either a brush or your own fingers, go for a dime-sized dollop on each cheek, then swirl it into a larger circle so it encompasses the shaving area while still allowing you to see what you’re cutting.
- With Your Own Two Hands
Face wet and warm? Good. Place a blob of cream on each hand, then begin to rub them together in small, tight circles right away. Add a few drops of water, then get back to rubbing. And when you lift your hands to your whiskers, take care to distribute the cream evenly across the shaving area without allowing it to clump up.
A well-formulated shaving cream should encompass the entirety of your grooming regime – from helping to remove facial hair to giving your skin a healthy, protected glow. When you go shopping for your new skin-saver, remember this: high-quality shaving creams don’t come in cans.
Most spray-on creams contain not just alcohol but propylene glycol, also used in brake fluid and antifreeze, and these harsh chemicals have a tendency to strip your skin of its natural protective oils – leaving your face on fire.
For best results and an overall enjoyable experience, go natural. Look for ingredients like coconut oil and glycerin, which will calm and moisturize your skin, reducing irritation as you shave – and natural essential oils, like sandalwood, that will soothe your skin and keep it from becoming too sensitive.
Wholesome ingredients, small circles, lots of water. We told you shaving cream wasn’t complicated.