Although beards seem to have been all the rage over the past few years, the majority of men still opt for a freshly shaven face each morning. But if you suffer from sensitive skin then the idea of running a blade across your face is enough to make you wince.
Shaving is something that the majority of us don’t put much thought into, but if you have sensitive skin then you need to take extra care when you’re shaving. If you don’t then you’re likely to cause irritation that can hurt surprisingly badly for many hours.
What Causes Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin can be caused by many different conditions like eczema, acne or rosacea. But you can also get sensitive skin from have dry skin, sunburn and even as a side-effect from some medications.
If your skin is extremely sensitive then you might be unable to shave without unrealistic pain, but for most of us with some extra care and preparation you can make shaving a breeze.
Why is Shaving Painful for Sensitive Skin?
In general, the pain from shaving is caused by the friction of the blade against your delicate skin, which causes irritation. The second most common cause of pain is when the blade pulls the hair, rather than cutting directly through it.
The key to a painless shave is therefore to reduce the friction of the blade against your skin and to allow your blades to glide effortlessly through the hair.
Preparing Your Skin
Before you begin shaving you need to take a few moments to properly prepare your blades, the hair on your face and also the skin itself.
Even those with delicate skin need to exfoliate once in a while to remove the buildup of dead skin cells on their face, but it’s best to do this in the evening, rather than before shaving.
Instead, gently wash your face with a facial cleanser, making sure not to press to hard and only using a warm water rather than anything too hot. Once you’ve finished you can delicately dab your face with a towel, don’t rub as this will cause irritation.
Choose the Right Blade
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different razors out there for you to pick from and choosing the right one is critical to achieving a painless shave with sensitive skin. There are three main categories of blades; straight, safety and cartridge razors.
Straight razors are what you see in old movies, a single long blade with a handle, that looks more like a hunting knife than something that you would shave with.
Safety razors look much closer to the razors you find in stores, they use a single, double-sided blade, that is extremely sharp and has no guard.
Finally, cartridge razors are made by the likes of Gillette and other multi-nationals. These have a a handle that attaches to replaceable cartridge blade heads, which often have three or more blades to them, as well as a gel guard to reduce irritation.
Although purists will argue that cartridge razors are terrible, we completely disagree. Cartridge razors will struggle to give you the same close shave that you can get with a safety or straight razor, but they can deliver an easy and effective shave with little irritation.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some of your time to learn how to use a safety razor, it’s arguably going to give you the smoothest and least painful shave. That is, once you’ve learned how to use it and stopped cutting yourself.
However, for most people with sensitive skin a cartridge razor can be perfectly fine, presuming that you use it effectively, buy a good product and replace them regularly.
If you’re looking for a great safety razor then you should consider the Merkur 23C with Feather Double-Edge Blades. But if you’re going to stick to cartridge razors then we would recommend the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 5.
Shaving to Reduce Irritation
Once you’ve decided on your razor you need to make sure that it’s useable, don’t try and stretch out the lifespan of your blades if you’ve got sensitive skin, it will only cause irritation.
Instead, pick a nice sharp blade that is going to slice through the hair without any effort.
The first step of shaving is to use a cream, soap or butter that is going to coat the hair on your face and allow the blade to glide along your skin and through the hair. Use plenty of lather the get a thick layer and re-apply if you need to go back over an area.
Once your face is well covered you can begin to shave. It’s best to shave with the grain of the hair, this means that you shave in the direction that the hair is growing. You can tell this in each area of your face by looking closely at the hair follicle and where it is directed.
Don’t press overly hard, especially with a safety razor, just glide the blades along that surface of the skin and through the hair. After a couple strokes you should rinse the blades under the faucet or in a sink of water to remove the lather and hair.
Continue shaving until you’ve gone across all areas of your face.
At this point you should rinse your face with warm water to remove the lather and then finish with a few splashes of colder water.
Now that you’re done shaving it’s time to finish up. Firstly, you need to ensure that you’re caring for your blades. This will prevent them from dulling which will cause irritation by forcing the blades to tug at the hair rather than cutting through it.
To care for your blades you should rinse them thoroughly to remove all debris and then dry them with a towel, before storing them in a dry area like a medicine cabinet. Leaving water on the metal blades will cause them to rust, making them useless for shaving.
Finally, it’s time to care for your face. Even shaving with great precision can cause irritation, after all, you’re dragging a piece of metal across your face. To counteract this you should use some moisturizer with aloe vera which will hydrate your face and prevent the burning sensation.