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Published on Nov 10, 2012
For an activity whose sole purpose is subtraction, shaving has become mired in a stubble-y sea of add-ons: extra blades, ergonomic handles, micro fins, moisturizing hydro strips. Why not cut through all the bells and whistles and get back to the basics with a straight razor shave? Master barber John Rivera has a few tips for adventurous men on how to optimize the single blade experience. First hint: Practice on your cheeks — the skin is looser and therefore less susceptible to nicks — before moving to trickier areas like the neck. And if your hands are shaking just reading this, fret not: The Art of Shaving offers locations across the country if you prefer leaving your de-whiskering to the professionals.
More shaving tips from the master:
1. Prep your skin with hot water or shave right after a shower. This will open up your pores and cleanse your face so your skin is ready.
2. Use a pre-shave oil to help soften your skin and beard so the blade glides better.
3. Use a badger hair lather brush. The brush helps separate the hair from the face, and badger hair has natural antibacterial properties. Badger hair also retains heat to keep your skin and shaving cream warm.
4. Always shave with a sharp blade. This will minimize razor burn and tug and pull. Straight razors come pre-sharpened. When yours starts to dull, take it to a honer for sharpening or rub the blade on a diagonal 'X' across a strip of leather.
5. On the first pass, shave with the grain. As you move the blade over your face, hold the skin tight with your free hand. Re-lather and then shave against the grain.
6. When you're finished, splash your face with cold water or apply a cold towel to help close pores and clean your face before moisturizing.
7. When moisturizing, don't rub your skin; pat the after-shave on, as your skin will still be sensitive.
Good luck, gentlemen, and Happy Movember!
-- Series by Beryl Shereshewsky and Allegra Scarano; video by Beryl Shereshewsky and Tony Ditata