“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”
Alexander Graham Bell (the Scottish chap who invented the telephone, amongst others things)
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of the United States)
These sentiments hold true for many things in life. However if we are honest I expect we would all concede there’s been many times when we haven’t found (or perhaps more honestly “made”) the time to prepare properly.
WHY BOTHER WITH PREPARATION?
Often preparation can seem dull, boring and all too time consuming. Perhaps not even worth the effort for the better result. How many of us when in DIY mode have bought sugar soap with great intentions of washing the walls down before filling, then sanding, then dusting them, only to end up steaming straight into the tub of emulsion paint in a vain attempt to get it all over and done with as quickly as possible? And the result is simply not as good as it could have been if we had taken our time.
As with DIY, as a small investment in preparation can reap some big and sometimes unexpected benefits when you shave.
Back in our more hirsute days (when we just stopping swinging around in trees), to help protect us from the elements mother nature ensured we kept our hair nicely waterproofed with sebum. Unfortunately evolution is yet to catch up with us, so we still have waterproof stubble.
Now you probably know that wet stubble is much easier for a razor to cut, but to get the best shave you need to spend a little more time preparing your stubble than just giving it a quick splash of warm water.
To allow water to soak into the bristles (making them so much easier to cut) you need to remove the waterproof coating (the previously mentioned sebum) from your beard first. Any wash-type product such as face wash, shower gel, even a shave gel, shampoo or soap (does anyone still use soap?) will do this, but to speed up the water absorption into your bristles it’s best to use a scrub.
A scrub will the open the cuticles on the bristle which lets the water in to the hair shaft much faster. A scrub will also clear away a lot of the old dry skin and dirt from the skin; this means there’s a lot less to clog up the razor. So the blades will sit closer to the surface of the skin cutting the hair shaft as short as possible.
Applying a scrub in a circular motion across the entire beard will also lift the bristles up and away from the skin, which again helps ensure a closer shave with less missed hairs and reduced need for repeated strokes. It also helps stop ingrown hairs and clears out any blocked pores.
A face wash will help prepare your stubble, however for the best results we recommend a scrub formulated for daily use.
This simple and effective pre-shave preparation routine should not take more than a minute, however it will repay you in spades as…
- Your razor will feel like a hot knife through butter on your stubble.
- You’ll not get unpleasant tug or pull.
- You’ll get a closer shave and one with less passes (repeat strokes).
- Your blades will last longer (softer bristles wear them out slower than hard bristles).
- Much lower chance of ingrown hairs.
- Your skin will look brighter
The longer your stubble, the bigger the potential benefit, so for less regular shavers a good pre-shave scrub is a must.
Simply put, decent pre shave preparation will get you a closer and more comfortable shave, for not a lot of extra effort.
Shaving removes more than hair… When you shave, as well as removing stubble, the razor blades also remove some thin layers of old and dead skin from what is called the stratum corneum, which is the top part of skin you can see.
This is not a particularly bad thing as our skin is designed to continually shed itself to reveal newer skin underneath, so in time it recovers it’s thickness (although this process slows down as we age).
However, the multiple layers of the stratum corneum are there to provide a protective barrier for the skin against UV rays from the sun, toxins, pollutants and bacteria, as well as helping the skin retain moisture so it stays soft and flexible, not dry and flaky.
When the thickness of the stratum corneum is reduced, its efficacy as a protective barrier is also temporarily reduced, making the skin much more vulnerable to UV damage, pollutants and bacteria and less able to retain moisture.
Moisturise to help your skin recover
By using a moisturiser or balm with an SPF after you have shaved, you provide the extra protection your skin is missing whilst it naturally starts its recovery process. The SPF provides the UV protection and the moisturiser or balm provides a temporary occlusive (impenetrable) layer on the skin that helps the skin retain its moisture (so helping prevent it from becoming dry, flaky or itchy) and it also acts as an important barrier against bacteria and pollutants.
Also applying a moisturiser or balm post shave is the best way to ensure the actives in the formulation can penetrate the skin, as the removal of the old and dead skin allows these active ingredients to penetrate the dermis (deeper in the skin under the stratum corneum) where they can add the most value.
The January blues; post-festive bags under your eyes, cringing at the thought of how much you’ve had to eat and drink over the past few months… and wishing you could go back and do it all again.
But chin up, no one’s really expecting you to hit the gym 5–6 times a week and come out the other side of January looking like Action Man. Sometimes just a small change can have a big impact on our day-to-day outlook, even something as simple as a new look.
To help inspire you here are a few of our favourite facial hair styles that will leave you feeling fresh faced!
1: THE BALBO
This Hollywood regular has been spotted on such faces as Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and most often, Robert Downey Jr.
Yes, people at work might comment, but whether it’s good or bad really they are all just secretly be wondering if they could ever pull it off like you have.
Our 2-in-1 No Foam Shave Cream allows a comfortable, close shave, without stopping you from seeing where you’re shaving, so you can easily get the perfect shape to your beard.
2: THE FULL BEARD
Maybe you’re one of those guys who likes to experiment with various lengths of stubble, but can never fully commit to the beard?
We say don’t shy away!
3: THE VAN DYKE
Experimental? Sure. But take a look at any photo of Johnny Depp over the last 20 years and tell us it doesn’t look great.
Every. Damn. Time.
4: CLEAN SHAVEN
We know, ‘how original’, right? However you can’t beat a classic. If you’ve ever wanted to feel fresh faced, this is the way forward!
A better moisturiser for better skin! We can’t stop the effects of old father time, but we can certainly try and slow him up a bit. King of Shaves new SPF15 Moisturiser with UVA / UVB filters will help protect your skin from the ageing effects of the sun whilst keeping it smooth and supple. It has a non greasy matte finish and is ideal for all skin types including sensitive.
Use daily to help protect yourself from the damaging effects of sunlight and to help keep your skin in optimum condition. The new Moisturiser features:
- SPF15 with UVA / UVB filters – helps protect from ageing effects of the sun.
- Soothes and calms skin after shaving to help reduce razor burn and irritation.
- Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and aids your skin’s natural healing processes.
- Panthenol contains Provitamin B5 and improves hydration.
- Peptides stimulate collagen helping repair and restore the skin.
- Creatine helps condition and protect the skin from environmental stresses and the effects of ageing.
- Dermatologically tested – no added fragrance.
King of Shaves SPF15 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser is available now from our online store for just £8.99. Plus for a limited time, if you use coupon code SPF152016 on the checkout, you can get a tube for just £5.99 including free UK delivery!
In addition to providing an amazingly comfortable shave, each of our compact King of Shaves Shave Oils also makes a great Beard Oil too. They help prevent any unwanted itching or scratchy feeling and leave your beard with a healthy shine.
HOW TO USE
Apply to a clean and towel dried beard. As a rule of thumb for a small beard you will need 1–2 drops (or pumps) of Oil, a medium beard 3-5 drops, and a big beard 6+. Don’t use too much, better to start with less, you can easily add more.
Massage the Oil into your beard, starting at the top and working down (with the grain), then working up from the bottom (against the grain) using your fingers like a large comb. Finish off by combing through – hold the comb at 90 degrees to your beard so it fully penetrates the beard, not just the top layer. For even more shine just add a little more Oil.
AVAILABLE NOW AT SHAVE.COM
Our Shave Oils are available from major retailers as well as direct from our online shop at shave.com – either individually or as great value Multi-Buy packs (with free UK delivery).