Perhaps your profession requires a beardless appearance or your significant other voices discontent when battling the scratchy hair for a kiss. Even if you simply prefer the shaven look to the bearded alternative, no one enjoys the itchy, dry skin that often comes with shaving the face. Steps must be taken before, during and after shaving to ensure smooth, comfortable skin.
Causes of Itchy, Dry Skin
Shaving too frequently increases the likelihood of razor burn, cuts, skin irritation and bumps from ingrown hair. Allow the skin time to recover by using a beard trimmer in between shaves, once the hair has grown back out. No matter your skin type, if shaving leaves you with a dry, itchy feeling, you will need to discontinue using soaps that contain alcohol or detergent. These ingredients are not suited for the face, as they strip the skin's natural oils, taking moisture away rather than adding it. This creates a dry surface on the face, rather than the optimal slick surface, and the razor will easily catch on the skin.
Ditch the Cheap Razor
Cheap razors and generic soaps, while easy on the wallet, are harsh on the face and can lead to the uncomfortable feeling post-shave. You don't need to purchase the most expensive products, however. Look for shaving creams and gels with lubrication and moisturizing properties along with antiseptic and neutralizing agents. Preference will dictate the style of razor you select, whether it is a straight razor, safety razor or cartridge razor. Keep blades sharp, to make quick cuts instead of tugging along as dull blades do. Once blades dull, toss them.
The Right Conditions
Shave after a shower or a long, exfoliating face wash, when the skin is warm, relaxed and clear of dead skin and dirt. Leave the face as wet as possible and keep your hands clean, to prevent further dirt or oil from getting onto the face. Most important of all, do not rush the process.
Unless you have excessively oily skin, rub shaving oil into your beard at both the face and neck, to lift the hairs and provide lubrication. Follow with shaving cream in the same areas. Shave in short strokes in the direction of the hair growth and not against the grain, regularly rinsing off the blade. Start with the easiest areas, the cheeks, before moving to the upper lip, chin and neck. For stubborn hairs, reapply the oil and cream in that specific section before shaving the area again. After rinsing the razor for the final time, dry it completely to prevent rust, which decreases the life of the blade.
Once finished, splash the face and neck with cool water and pat dry with a soft towel to remove any excess product. Apply aftershave containing aloe generously to moisturize and heal the skin, applying extra to sensitive areas. Get in the habit of moisturizing daily, with a lightweight moisturizer for oily skin or a thick, long-lasting moisturizer for dry skin, and apply sunscreen before venturing outside.
Pam Smith has been writing since 2005. In addition to her work for Demand Media, her articles have been published online at CBS Local. She also wrote for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's Literary Map while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently an editorial assistant for Circulation Research.