Shaving is a ritual. It’s almost ceremonial, this ever-masculine act of standing in front of a mirror, blade in hand – like being knighted, every morning. Even the way we learn how to do it is a rite of passage into manhood: the custom of passing down the razor has become a way for a father to say, son, you’re a big boy now.
Maybe you shave in the morning, or the evening, every day, or once in a week. Maybe you use a safety razor, or a single blade, and maybe you prefer a wet shave, or a dry one. Whatever your preferences, we’re guessing you’ve stuck to your pattern for a while now, and that it’s pretty close to the way you were taught, too.
There’s a reason for rituals – they limit the energy it takes to reinvent the grooming wheel every day. There’s just one problem: they’re always the same.
After years of shaving, most men have got what should be an art down to a thoughtless habit. And while shaving the same way for years on end has no doubt saved you some time in the long run, the fact is that cycling through the same routine over and over is doing no favors to your skin.
But just because your morning routine is efficient and effortless, doesn’t mean it has to be mindless.
Shaving robotically is an exercise in drudgery. The more monotonous it becomes, the worse it feels, and the worse you look. By looking to improve your shaving regimen over time, however, you’ll elevate and enjoy the experience – and ensure your skin retains that healthy, youthful glow for longer.
Step one to give your shaving routine a much-needed upgrade: ask questions. If you’re stuck in a rut of doing exactly as your dad showed you, all these years later, you’re just recycling the same mistakes. This is your chance to examine the merits of your modus operandi, keep what works and make a few bracing changes.
Reinvigorating a tired shaving routine could be as simple as re-evaluating your timing. Remember, when you shave is just as important as how you do it, and too many men suffer the effects of razor burn or rashes after rushing through it on their way to other things.
Your father probably taught you to time your shave around a shower. This is good thinking, as there’s no better time to ensure your face gets as hot and wet as it needs to be – but if you find shaving has become an uncomfortable or irritating experience, your skin’s salvation could be as simple as switching your shave to before you step into the shower, or saving it until after you step out. Let’s take a look at why that is.
Is It Better to Shave Before or After I Shower?
Two things matter most when preparing your face, hair and skin for shaving: soft hair, and open pores. For an optimal shave your blade requires a smooth ride, and dry and hard hair follicles – not to mention dirty and clogged pores – will all get in the way. The result? Slow, painful progress – and damaged skin.
Shaving before you shower might seem an efficient way to save time and effort, but if you don’t prep your skin carefully before you begin, it can also feel a lot like blunt-force trauma. Here’s how to shave before you shower for best results:
- Wash your face. Natural oils are great for optimal skin health, but you don’t want dirt getting mixed up in nasty cuts – give your face a quick once-over wash to remove excess grime.
- Soak your face. Soft hair and open pores, remember? Soak a washcloth in warm water and apply it directly to your face for three minutes – this will help raise the hair up away from the skin, while softening the follicles and make them amenable to easy, effortless cutting.
- Shave your face. Whether you’re using an old-school straight razor or the newest electric gizmo on the market, your hair is now just warm enough to be weakened, yet dry enough to be caught in the blades.
Shaving after a shower, for many men, isn’t something we think about – it’s just tradition. And in many ways it makes a lot of sense: if you’re showering anyway, what better way to warm and wet your skin and hair than by letting hot water simply rain down on them?
That unthinking attitude could get you hurt: get your after-shower shave wrong and you’ll be left counting the cost in the mirror. Here’s how to shave after you shower without the cuts and bumps:
- Act fast. While you are under the water, your skin will be prepped and ready for a clean, close and comfortable shave – but with every minute you waste after you’ve stepped into the cold, more pores are closing.
- But not too fast. Switch off the tap before you start to shave – apart from needless wastage, the sound of running water is a pressurising reminder that you need to hurry this up, and rushing through the act of shaving never turns out well.
- Clean up after yourself. Washing your face after an after-shower shave might seem like overkill, but trace amounts of shaving cream on your face could seep their way into tiny cuts and cause havoc with your skin’s health.
So... Which Is Better, Shaving Before or After I Shower?
Your dad was right all along: shaving around shower time is the best way of giving your skin the wet, warm environment it needs for a clean, close shave. But here’s where he might be wrong – your skin has its own needs.
Whether you’re rushed for time and need to shave before a shower, or prefer to take the time to ensure your facial hair is properly soaked, that’s up to you. A little bit of independent thought goes a long way, and changing up your routine to suit the demands of your day or the state of your skin’s health – well, those are the kinds of responsible decisions that would make him proud.
Either way, prioritize soft hair and open pores. Because you’re too old to look like you started shaving yesterday – and the best way to prove you are your own man is to look like one.