Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

When’s the last time you took a step back and looked at when you shave? It’s easy to fall into a routine of shaving at a specific time every day, especially when you have a packed schedule. But just because your shaving ritual fits neatly between a quick shower and morning coffee doesn’t mean it’s the best time for you to shave.

While shaving post-shower has been touted to deliver the most efficient, enjoyable shave, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). Check the shaving forums and you’ll see just as many men exalting a post-shower shave as loathing it, with the latter claiming it sensitizes their skin.

If you find yourself stuck in a shaving rut and experience redness and irritation post shave, reevaluate your timing and take an honest look at what works and what doesn’t. A few changes can turn a monotonous shave into an enlightening one.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of shaving after you shower and shaving before you shower.

Shaving after you shower

The ideal (i.e. most painless) shave involves removing everything that gets in the way of a clean, slick razor glide. Thus, many men shave after they shower, when their skin is soft and pores are open.

When your hair follicles are dry, they have the cutting density of copper wire, so you should never go at them before first reducing the cutting strength by wetting your beard. Steam from the shower softens hair, making it easier to cut with fewer passes. And an easier cut means less tugging and pulling your skin. Meanwhile, the steam opens pores, allowing you to get in closer to the follicle. Think about it: the tighter the pore, the harder it is to rip hair out of it.

Then there is the bacteria factor: shaving after you shower ensures you’ve let hot water wash away traces of pollutants, dirt, and grime so they can’t be caught in your razor and spread around your face.  This bacteria can easily seep into microtears in your face, causing irritation and razor burn.

Shaving before you shower

While shaving after your shower has a hefty list of benefits, some men say doing so actually causes more irritation and makes their skin sensitive. Indeed, depending on how you like your shower, there is some truth in the matter. If you prefer hot showers, the water may over plump your skin, predisposing you to weepers and nicks. Super hot water actually dries out your skin by removing skin’s natural oils, leaving you with a dry feeling when you shave afterwards.

While the solution is to switch to warm water and perhaps apply pre-shave oil to remedy the dryness, it may not remedy the situation for everyone.

Also, not all of us have time to devote to a luxurious shaving ritual after we shower. Shaving before you shower saves time and the effort of extra clean up at the end.

should you shave before or after your shower?

So which is better?

Although the hair-softening, pore-opening steam of a warm shower is fabulous prep for your shave, your skin has its own needs. Try both methods to see which one gives you less irritation and fewer nicks. You may have been successfully shaving after your shower until now, but as your skin changes (due to age or varying climates) you may find that shaving before your shower works better.

Or pick the routine that suits your daily demands.

If you’re simply short on time and can’t afford to progress slowly through the shaving ritual, save time by shaving before you shower – but with one caveat: complete a hot towel treatment before you shave.

A good alternative: A hot towel treatment

A classic barbershop tool, a hot towel treatment is the mid ground between shaving before you shower and shaving after you shower. If you’re planning to shave before you shower, this treatment will warm and soften skin and hair. While a hot towel isn’t as effective at softening hair as a shower, it does make whiskers swell up. A hot towel won’t remove environmental pollutants and grime.

How to do a hot towel treatment:

  1. Wash your face.
  2. Soak a washcloth in warm water and hold it up to your face for at least 3 minutes, the amount of time it takes to significantly reduce cutting resistance.
  3. If you don’t have a towel on hand, you can also wash your face with warm water for a few minutes before applying shaving cream.
  4. Shave your face.

Tips:

-For extra softening, use moisturizing conditioner on your beard in the shower. Look for one with softening properties, like Dreadnought Concentrated Conditioner.

-Test out your pre-shave shower method: use conditioner before you shave for a week, and then no conditioner for a week. Repeat.

-Beginners can benefit for a post-shower shave in the evening, when they can take their time to perfect their method. 

-Option: exfoliate in the shower to achieve a closer shave. Exfoliation removes dead skin and debris that would otherwise get in the way of a clean shave. However, if you are a novice do not exfoliate until your skin acclimates to daily shaving. If you do exfoliate, do so on the days you’re not shaving.

How to Produce Superlather

superlather

Superlather is an oft-discussed topic in the wet shaving community. Some see it as a waste of time, while others can’t sing enough praises about its lovely whipped consistency and easy customization. In the end, all of us desire lather that provides us with enough cushion, glide, and slickness for minimal irritation, cuts, and nicks. Superlather is one route to consider.

Today, we look at why you should consider adding superlather to your shaving routine.

What is superlather?

Superlather is the technique of combining shaving soap and shaving cream to produce lather. In doing so, you combine the smoothing qualities of shaving soap with the easy-to-lather, slick cushion of shaving cream. The result is a dense, creamy lather similar in consistency to whipped cream that is more beneficial than using soap or cream alone.

What is the point of creating superlather?

There are a few good reasons to give superlather a go:

  1. You own a wonderfully scented soap but its lather leaves much to be desired.

Let’s say you’re taken with Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap in Almond, but it won’t give you a lick of lather. Combine that soap with an unscented shaving cream like Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream and you will have salvaged a soap that might otherwise just sit and collect dust.

  1. You have a soap lacking in one performance area and want to combine it with a complementary product that makes up for this weakness.

For instance, your Acca Kappa LiboCedro Shaving Soap Bowl may offer fantastic glide and lather stability, but you’d like more cushion. Add a small drop of Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl in Sandalwood for a creamy cushion.

  1. You’d like to experiment with scent combinations.

Wet shaving is a pleasure and a hobby. As such, many of us own more soaps and shaving creams than we’d like to admit. One way to get around to using your entire collection is mixing and matching scent combinations. The experimentation process is an adventure, and you end up with a customized scent!

  1. You have hard water.

If you have hard water where you live, lathering with a soap can be near impossible. The high mineral content in hard water reacts with soap, producing insufficient lather. Superlather mitigates this with the addition of shaving cream, which already contains water and is therefore not dependent on water hardness for a good lather.

That being said, we still highly recommend investing in a water softener or purchasing distilled water for shaving purposes. You simply will not get your best shave using hard water. Learn more about how hard water affects shaving here.

Superlather process

To create superlather:

  1. While you’re showering, soak your brush in water.
  2. Place an almond-sized dollop of shaving cream in your shaving bowl.
  3. Load your brush for 30 seconds on the soap.
  4. Build your lather by working the soap and the cream together in the bowl. Swirl the brush using circular motions while monitoring the lather’s consistency. If it’s becoming pasty or dry, add a few drops of water.
  5. You’ll know you’re done when lather starts resembling whipped cream.

6 Best Shaving Cream Scents for Fall

Scent is indelibly tied to memory. Perhaps, come autumn, a whiff of tobacco smoke reminds you of your granddad smoking his cigar pipe in his library, or the scent of sandalwood takes you back to crisp autumn hikes with friends during your youth. As the weather cools down and we try our best to get warm, we gravitate towards these familiar smells, and many of us switch our cologne from the light, zesty scents of spring and summer to something headier. It’s also possible to capture scent memories – while making your wet shaving ritual feel ever so seasonal – with a fall shaving cream.

The following six shaving creams feature fragrance accords of the darker, richer variety. Think smoky vetiver, earthy patchouli, and hints of leather and aromatic spices. Give them a try along with warm lather from a shaving scuttle for a comforting fall shave.

Simpsons Shaving Cream – Lavender and Vetivert

If fall conjures up scents of smoky firewood, look for vetiver or vertivert (the essential oil of the vetiver plant) in your shaving cream. Simpsons Shaving Cream in Lavender and Vetivert has an earthy base punctuated with woody, smoky top notes and floral, minty undertones.

The glycerin-based formula contains aloe for an irritation-free shave.

SHOP: Simpsons Shaving Cream – Lavender and Vetivert

Kent Luxury Shaving Soap

Kent Luxury Shave Soap features a beautiful fougère fragrance with a base of heady, rich patchouli lifted by extracts of pine, clove, and lavender. The soap’s fragrance finishes with lasting base notes of nutmeg, cedarwood, vanilla, musk, and sandalwood.

Made from natural lanolin sourced from English sheep wool, this shaving soap is decadently creamy, providing your skin with the extra cushion and moisture it needs as the temperatures and humidity dip.

SHOP: Kent Luxury Shaving Soap

Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl – Sandalwood

Reviewers have called Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl in Sandalwood a “hyper-masculine scent that’s highly addictive.” A year-round bestseller, this shaving cream is particularly beguiling in the fall, boasting a deep fougère fragrance with top notes of lavender, rosemary, liquid amber, and geranium, opening to a heart of fern and orange blossom.

SHOP: Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl – Sandalwood

Castle Forbes Essential Oil Shaving Cream – Cedarwood and Sandalwood

A sophisticated woody fragrance grounded in cedarwood and sandalwood essential oils, Castle Forbes Essential Oil Shaving Cream is distinctly masculine. Thankfully, the scent is quite light so it won’t conflict with any aftershave cologne you apply afterwards.

An ultra-moisturizing formulation of coconut oil and glycerin provides thick, creamy lather for maximum lubrication, and it’s gentle on all skin types.

SHOP: Castle Forbes Essential Oil Shaving Cream

Truefitt and Hill Shaving Cream – Grafton

The gold standard autumnal fragrance, Truefitt & Hill Grafton was formulated in 1983 at the suggestion of one of HMS Grafton’s officers, who while being attended to by a Truefitt’s barber took a liking to the aroma and suggested it be named after the gracious line of HMS battleships.

A classic masculine fougère with a green herbaceous opening, Grafton has a heart of dry, spicy floral resting on a base of rich, woody amber and leather.

Grafton Shaving Cream captures this warm, aromatic scent while soothing your skin with glycerin and coconut oil.

SHOP: Truefitt & Hill Grafton Shaving Cream

RazoRock Zi’ Peppino Shaving Soap

RazoRock Zi’ Peppino Shaving Soap is rife with the scent woody, fresh tobacco flower, topped with a hint of spice. A lightweight fall fragrance, this shaving soap is perfect for gentlemen who don’t like fall fragrances that are too heady. The soap’s consistency lies somewhere in between a shaving cream and shaving soap, so you’ll easy produce mountains of lather. A bonus? The formula is vegan friendly.

SHOP: RazoRock Zi’ Peppino Shaving Soap

The RoyalShave Guide to Post-Shave Products

Your skin is at its most vulnerable after a shave. You’ve just abraded the top layer of skin, and with it your natural protective oils. Your skin will also be drier due to the use of shaving soap or cream. To ensure your face stays irritation-free over the course of the day, you’ll need to replenish with a tailored post-shave ritual. Below, we cover six aftershave products to consider, and mark which skin types befit each product.

Remember, before using any products: wash your face with cold water to tighten up blood vessels and reduce redness and swelling.

Aftershave Splash

Best for: Normal or oily skin

Aftershave splash is an antiseptic with a lingering scent, although the scent is lighter than a dedicated cologne. Aftershave splashes usually contain alcohol to kill bacteria and are antiseptic in nature, meaning they constrict blood vessels to tighten pores and smooth skin.

While these properties are immensely beneficial for plenty of wet shavers, gentlemen with dry or sensitive skin will want to avoid aftershave splashes in general, due to alcohol content. Alcohol can be too drying for sensitive or dry skin, especially right after a shave when skin is particularly vulnerable. If you have sensitive skin and still want to use an aftershave splash, look for one with witch hazel in place of alcohol.

SHOP: Geo F. Trumer Aftershave

Aftershave Lotion

Best for: Normal, dry, or sensitive skin

Aftershave lotion is thicker in consistency than aftershave splash, and ranges in consistency from liquid to cream. Non-greasy, an aftershave lotion absorbs quickly to cool and refresh skin while replacing lost moisture. Unlike aftershave splash, aftershave lotion won’t dry out skin. Conditioning agents and antioxidants defend skin from unwanted elements post-shave.

Aftershave splash also has a subtler scent and tends not to contain alcohol, so it won’t irritate dry or sensitive skin.

SHOP: The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Aftershave Lotion

Aftershave Balm

Best for: Normal, dry, or sensitive skin

Aftershave balm has the thickest consistency of all the aftershave varieties, making it highly emollient and soothing for those with dry or sensitive skin. We also recommend aftershave balm for men of all skin types during the winter, when the climate is cold and dry. When it comes to application, a little goes a long way. Depending on the thickness of your balm, you can use anywhere from a dime-sized amount to a quarter-sized amount. While some balms contain alcohol, the best contain none, substituting less-irritating essential oils.

With a subtler fragrance than splash and lotion, aftershave balm is a good choice if you regularly apply cologne and don’t want a conflicting fragrance.

SHOP: Proraso Aftershave Balm – Green, Refreshing and Toning

Alum Block

Best for: All skin types

An alum block is a necessity for all skin types. Made of potassium alum, these products have several important functions: they stop bleeding from nicks, they are antiseptics that kill bacteria, and they provide feedback for your shave. Running an alum block across your face will make sensitive areas sting, so you’ll know where you applied too much pressure or the wrong angle. Less stinging = a better shave. This feedback can be used to improve future shaves.

There are other reasons you should add an alum block to your shave routine – see them in our Alum Block 101 post here.

SHOP: Osma Alum Block

Styptic

Best for: All skin types

When you’ve got a big nick and need to stop the bleeding fast, a styptic will do the job. Made with aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate, a styptic can come in either a pencil or a pen form. But be careful: because a styptic is a stronger astringent than an alum block, it will also sting more.

SHOP: RoyalShave Alum Pen

Cologne

Best for: All skin types except dry or sensitive skin

To smell fresh long after you’ve set your razor down, spritz on cologne. Keep in mind that you cannot substitute cologne for aftershave, since a cologne doesn’t have antiseptic properties. However, do match your aftershave scent with your cologne, or you’ll risk offensive odor mixing.

Because fragrance and alcohol are some of the top skin irritants, it’s best to avoid using cologne if you have reactive or dry skin.

SHOP: Truefitt & Hill Cologne

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