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Preparing your face and beard

With traditional wet shaving preparation is everything. Taking time to prepare your beard means the razor has the optimum surface to cut the whiskers, without nicking or tugging at the skin. It needn’t be a time consuming process and you can start with just water, shaving soap and a brush, adding other products as you go.

It is important firstly to wet the beard using hot water. This is because hot water softens the beard making it easier to cut through the hair. It is best to shower immediately before you shave or to hold a cloth soaked in warm water over your face for a short time. However, many men find that splashing the face with warm water is sufficient. Whilst not completely necessary, you can choose to either wash your beard or exfoliate your skin at this point. Using an exfoliator helps to clear away any dirt or dead skin which can build up around the hair and also helps to soften the beard. A face wash or pre-shave soap carries out the same function and might prove to be a better option if you have more sensitive skin. Most pre-shave soaps contain glycerine which if not completely rinsed off act as a lubricant when mixed with a shaving soap. You can use a pre-shave soap in the shower but be careful not to leave it in there as the glycerine content means it will absorb water and dissolve fairly quickly. If you fancy using something different then at this point you could use pre-shave oil. Again this acts as a lubricant to help the razor slide over the skin and also helps to soften the beard. Another option is a pre-shave soap such as those made by Proraso, which are left on the skin for a short time before applying shaving cream.

The next step is to apply lather to your face. This is created by using either a shaving soap or cream, warm water and a shaving brush. To make a good lather you should first soak your shaving brush in warm water for a couple of minutes. This allows the brush to soak up as much water as possible to help produce the lather. Then remove the brush from the water and shake off any excess. If you are using a shaving soap it is easier to use one in a bowl. Apply the brush to the surface of the soap in a circular motion or flicking the brush across the surface until a thin lather forms. Continue this process until you have dense lather containing small bubbles. Add a small amount of water if necessary. A lather with larger bubbles means that it contains too much water with the result that the lather will disappear too quickly when put onto the face. Note however that the bowl is not a receptacle for the lather, this should be held on the brush. Equally, you can apply shaving cream directly either from a tube or tub to the brush if you prefer, using the palm of your hand to build up the lather. Alternatively you can apply the cream to your face building the lather on your beard. Again the trick is not to use too much water. It may take some practice to get the lather at the right consistency – something similar to the consistency of beaten egg whites is what you need.

Once you have a lather which is the correct consistency, the next step is to apply it to your face. The best way is to start around the neck and chin and move the brush upwards in a circular motion covering the beard. This is an important part of the process as it lifts the hairs of the beard and surrounds them with lather. When the face has been covered, use the brush to even out the lather and to take off any excess. Now you are ready to start your shave.