Your Cart is Empty

11 min read

It’s important that a man dresses to impress, dances like nobody is watching, behaves kind but strong, and shaves using the best tools available. Your attitude and approach to life says a lot about who you are in this world. As most of the world attempts to tear down masculinity, we encourage you to celebrate it.

Unfortunately, our fathers haven't taught us everything we need to know about how to get a close and comfortable shave. Fret not, Grown Man Shave is here to allow and empower you to take back your superpowers.

There are a lot of ways you can get a closer shave through the right technique, preparation, and the right shaving products. When it comes to wet shaving, no matter the tool or shaving products — a straight razor, classic double edge safety razor, or even a cartridge razor — more blades doesn't equal a better baby butt smooth shave. And if you are thinking of an electric razor they will never be able to give you a shave as close as the old fashioned traditional manual way.

Using a sharp fresh blade is just the beginning to the closest shave of your life — a perfect wet shaving routine from start to finish will leave you feeling debonair, productive, satisfied, sexy, and confident before your day has even begun. Knowing how to keep your safety razor blade sharp is a great skill to have. Once you have the basics down to an instinct it is the key to prevent razor bumps, nicks and cuts and ingrown hair and the secret to a smooth shave. This is also the best shaving method for sensitive skin.

The ritual to a perfect shave and closer shave

How To Get A Closer Shave Step By Step:

1) The Pre-Shave

A hot shower - Warm water will open up your pores and relax the skin, making your hair follicles "fight" less against your razor, making for a closer shave and a better shave. Plus, it'll get you nice and loose for the task ahead. A hot towel on your face can also do the trick. We got a few made just for shaving here.

Clean your face - Clean skin will give your blade a smoother surface to glide on. Use your favorite shaving soap just before you shave — and really work it in, so you get your facial hairs nice and lubricated for the shave. If you are new to the shave soap game we recommend anything from Barrister & Mann.

Help your razor help you - Exfoliate your skin with a loofah or bath scrub before shaving to remove dead skin cells. Shaving is actually a form of exfoliation but these extra steps will really help. It might feel like you're taking a belt sander to your face the first couple of times, but we promise it's worth it. Exfoliated skin will keep your razor from getting gunked up with dead skin cells, which will reduce its efficiency. Exfoliating after shaving is not recommended because it can make your skin appear red and angry like a tomato, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Go the extra mile - It's not necessary, but to really pamper yourself, wrap your face in a hot towel as we mentioned above, barber-style. It shouldn't be uncomfortably hot — just pleasantly warm. This also helps your hair follicles relax which helps with a close shave.

Pre-shave oils - Not to be confused with beard oil or shaving oil, pre-shave oil is applied to the face before the shaving process begins. It moisturizes your face and acts as a lubricant, sitting below the shaving cream to give you a smoother shave. That helps to reduce razor burn, and lowers the chance of you ending up looking like knock-off Santa with a bloody toilet paper beard.

Almond oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil can work here — all are natural substances that can soften and moisturize your skin. But for a totally smooth shave, you could try something like Taylor of Old Bond Street's Sandalwood pre-shave oil.

To use it, add a few drops of the oil into your palm and rub it between your hands. Then massage the oil into your skin and allow it to sit for up to 30 seconds. You can lather your soap or shaving cream directly on top of your pre-shave oil of choice.

2) Every masterpiece starts with the stroke of a brush

If your face is your canvas your shaving brush is your paint, be careful not to be inspired by Vincent van Gogh. A badger shaving brush has hairs that will absorb water and soften just like your facial whiskers. Soak your badger brush while you are in the shower. Squeeze the water out of your badger brush, leaving in enough to keep it damp but not dripping water. If you have a synthetic brush, you only need to wet it. Your brush helps moisture the soap orshaving cream which will help you to get a thick lather that will reduce any tugging, redness, or razor burn.

Shaving brushes are available in several variations of hair types:

the different kinds of Shaving brushes explained

Badger hair brushes are the best shaving brush, with soft, durable hair that retains water very well. They come in different grades; Best, Super and Silvertip. They can be pricey, but the rewards are great.

Boar hair brushes -A great budget option however they're stiffer at first than badger brushes, but they're a great introduction to wet shaving. 

Synthetic brushes - Synthetic shaving brushes sometimes get a bad rap, but those views are outdated. Aside from often costing less than animal hair, the technology has improved to a point where some synthetics are better than the real deal and are widely gaining popularity.

Expert tip: Learn how to clean and dry a shaving brush to make it last.

3) Choose a Shaving Soap or Cream

Okay, your face is clean and you're pleasantly oiled. It's time to lather up for the big show and let that razor glide.

Pick your poison - The standard shaving creams or gels that come in aerosol cans will get the job done, but many men find it can dry out their skin and lead to a rougher shave. For a better shave we don't recommend them.

A hard soap that you lather yourself — like our favorite artisans Barrister and Mann or Ariana & Evans— can help your razor glide over your skin more gently.

Use hair conditioner as a replacement when in a pinch or Dr Bronners for a clean soap with no synthetic preservatives, no foaming agents. Slather dollops of hair conditioner or other supple lotions you have on hand onto your body to keep the razor sliding smoothly.

Lather with your shaving brush- Besides making you feel like the main character in a '40s noir flick, whipping up a soap or cream with your shaving brush can produce a denser lather that helps your blade get a close shave.

Step 1: If you have a badger brush, wet it so it's damp but not soaking wet. If you have a synthetic brush, just wet it.

Step 2: Get an almond-sized amount of shave cream on top of the brush. For soaps, you can lather directly on top of the soap.

Step 3: Whip the brush around in a shaving bowl, in the palm of your hand, or directly on your face, adding a little water at a time to build a perfect later. This will take some patience and practice, but stick with it and you'll be rewarded.

Map out your face Next time you look in the mirror, give yourself a minxy little wink and a smile. Okay, now that that's done, take a minute to figure out in which direction your facial hair grows, and where. Most men's facial hair grows downward on the sides of their faces, but things can get a little wacky around the middle.

Check out your upper lip, chin, and neck area, and you might find some surprises — maybe even some little spirals here and there (fun!). Knowing your hair growth direction will be important when it comes time to shave and don't worry you can always re-lather for less irritated skin.

You can read our guide on mapping the face to know more.

Shaving soap and cream for a closer shave

4. Grab a Shave Mug or Scuttle

Lathering up a silky smooth shaving cream is an art form, and a shaving bowl or mug is your canvas. Some of the shave soaps already come in containers that allow you to lather directly from the packaging. However, a hot shave is an experience you will never forget. You can go to the barber and pay for a hot shave, or you can buy a shaving scuttle and get a hot shave at home every day.

The scuttle is not too heavy, you can handle it in the shower while holding your shaver in the other hand or set on bathroom countertop. It all starts with hot water and a little friction. The vertical bars keep your brush sliding towards freedom while the horizontal ridges catch the soap between the brush bristles and create a thick lather ready to be smothered all over your face. Hot shave soap on your face at home is a real treat and one of our favorite wet shaving hacks.

Shave mugs and scuttles are a perfect way to launch into your shaving routine.

Wet Shave Scuttle

5. Bring out the Blades Your Weapon of Choice

Either a straight razor or a safety razor is your best bet here. A disposable razor will work, but it won't be the closest shave ever and is horrible for the environment. Disposable razors were forced upon us by big corporations, part of the empire that works against our sovereign being. Safety razors and straight razors offer a far superior shave to disposable razors, they reduce irritation caused by an inefficient and ineffective dull razor blade and yield the closest shave. Double edge razor blades are only designed to last a few sessions depending on your hair growth and are cheap. Just don't keep using it if the razor tugs or makes your skin irritated.

Experimentation is key here. Your mom was right: you are a unique and special boy, so what works for someone else might not be the best choice for you. Try out a bunch of different razorblades to see what gives you the best shave. No matter your choice of wet shaving instrument the key here is to go slowly to prevent razor burns, ingrown hairs, nicks and cuts especially if you have sensitive skin.

Straight Razor and Safety Razor

Choose your path- It's a good idea to shave with the grain on your first pass, as going against the grain carries with it a higher risk of skin irritation and the chances of ingrown hair. Remember your face mapping? Now's the time to put it to use.

Wait - what does "with the grain" mean? - Shaving with the grain means shaving in the same direction your hair grows. Run your hand upward along your cheek, from your chin to the bottom of your ear, to feel your stubble. Okay, now stop touching yourself. It was prickly, right? That's against the grain. The other way is with the grain.

Set yourself up for success - Start wherever feels comfortable. If you're using a straight razor, keep it at about a 30-degree angle. Too steep and it'll tug; too perpendicular and it'll lead to redness and irritation. Safety razor angles are more forgiving.

Don't force it Pull your skin taut with your free hand, and let the razor almost fall through your facial hair. This is important: let the weight of the razor do the work it helps prevent skin irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. You want to keep enough pressure on the blade that it stays on your face, but very little more than that.

If you're used to disposable razors, this can take some getting used to. Just relax, and trust your blade. It'll take care of you.

How many passes should you do?

You might think that the more passes, the closer the shave. But a lot depends on your skin and hair type, and your technique. Some men find that three passes — once with the grain, once against it, and once from the side — gives them the closest shave. For others with more sensitive skin, that can lead to irritation.

Some guys swear by one pass against the grain, while that can lead to razor bumps and redness for others. Try out a few techniques and see what works best for you.

Should I shave against the grain?

Every man should try shaving against the grain at least once if only to feel the perfectly smooth shave it gives. But if it irritates your skin, even after following the rest of these steps, you likely aren't built for it. No shame there. You can still go against the grain in life — just not on your face.

6) The post-shave ritual

First of all, take a second to admire your baby-smooth mug. Aren't you a handsome devil?

Time to finish up your shaving routine by taking care of your skin, so it'll feel this smooth and hydrated throughout the day. After you rinse with cool water, try an aftershave lotion, an alum block, and a normal moisturizer to keep your skin happy and healthy.

Rinse off - Just like warm water opened up your pores before you shave, cold water will constrict them, as well as stopping any minor nicks from the shaving process.

Plus, it's damned refreshing.

Select an aftershave - Nick yourself? Hey, nobody's perfect. Aftershave is an antiseptic for your face, which helps to tighten up little cuts. Depending on the type, it can also moisturize, helping to avoid dry skin.

Witch hazel is another antiseptic that also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be a solid option to treat razor bumps and other skin irritation, if you don't want to opt for a professional formula, like Barrister and Mann Reserve.

Get it on there

Step 1: Rinse your face and pat dry.

Step 2: Rub a dime-sized portion of aftershave between your palms.

Step 3: Rub the aftershave all over the area you just shaved.

Try an alum block

Alum blocks can also help reduce post-shave irritation, including cleaning up tiny nicks and cuts, sooth razor bumps and heal ingrown hairs. We've gone over all the benefits of using an alum block here.

Moisturize (it's the 21st century we're all doing it)

If you find your skin is dry after using aftershave, it can't hurt to add some moisturizer afterwards. Some men also prefer to moisturize first, then add aftershave. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Post Shave Ritual

FAQs & Tips

Can't I use normal soap?

Sure. You can also use a hacksaw if you want, but it's not a great plan. Regular soap doesn't provide an optimal glide for your razor and can leave you with dry, flaky skin.

Can't I just dry shave?

(See hacksaw example above). Dry shaving won't be nearly as close as if you use the right products and techniques and has a much higher chance of skin irritation and ingrown hairs, as there'll be no barrier between your face and the sharp metal dragging over it.

Do I need a shaving brush?

You can use your hands to apply aerosolshaving cream or gel, but good luck working up a lather from a hard soap with your fingers. A brush will also get the cream into all your delightful man-nooks and crannies, penetrating your facial hair so it can soften it up for the razor.

How often should I change my razor blade?

It really depends on a number of factors, such as facial hair thickness and coarseness and how often you shave, your rate of hair growth, the quality of your blades, and a few other factors. To get a really good idea of how often you should change your razor blade our in depth post covers all the information you need.

For more great answers to all your wet shaving questions here is our top shaving frequently asked questions.

The Close Shave Wrap-up

If you've followed these steps, you should be left with a super close shave and a baby-smooth face. Maybe you've also gained a few nicks from experimentation. Don't worry. Those are battle scars, and they're a testament to your bravery and willingness to innovate. At least you won't have to invest in laser hair removal.

Now, all that's left is to open the bathroom door, let the steam pour out, and face the day. If you a new to wet shaving check out our beginners article and if you want to throw away that disposable straight razor and start wet shaving we have some great men's straight razor kits and more to help get you going on your journey to looking great:

Embrace your masculinity!