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 DIY a Barbershop Hot Towel Treatment at Home

No visit to the barbershop is complete without a hot towel treatment. While many men enjoy this step for the indulgent relaxation alone, a hot towel treatment also has a very practical purpose: it softens your beard for a shave, especially when doused with essential oils or pre-shave oils.

A hot towel treatment works wonders for skin and hair. Steam and warmth from the towel open up pores, so any treatments you apply absorb better. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, it’s a wonderful step to add to your shaving routine. But it’s absolutely vital if you are prone to getting ingrown hairs.

Thankfully, this barbershop treatment is easily done at home with minimal equipment.

Tools:

1. Apply your choice of pre-shave treatment onto the dry hand towel

Use any essential oil you’d like to create a relaxing scent during the treatment – peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus are all lovely. You can also select an essential oil based on its skin benefits. Peppermint and eucalyptus, for instance, are both natural antiseptics (peppermint also has skin-cushioning omega-3 fatty acids!), while lavender oil is an antibacterial (great for acne).

Apply only a few drops. Should your face be needing extra moisture – a common concern in the winter – try a pre-shave oil like Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil. This pre-shave oil contains moisturizing sunflower oil and soothing aloe to soften your beard.

Alternatively, Geo F. Trumper Skin Food is a good option. Its glycerin base nourishes your face while protecting it from the shave ahead. Experiment to see what works for you.

2. Wet the towel and heat it up:

Option 1

Microwave the towel for 20 to 40 seconds in a microwave-safe dish. The towel should be hot, but not uncomfortable.

Option 2

Run your towel under hot water from your bathroom sink, then wring it out so it’s damp.

3. Find a comfortable spot to lean back and enjoy

Hold one end of the towel in each hand. Wrap the sides of the towel around your face, covering your cheeks, chin, and forehead, leaving out just the nose. Then relax and meditate for a few moments. Once your towel cools down (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove it and begin your shaving routine.

A full hot towel treatment and barbershop shave, as demonstrated by Players Barber Shop:

Untitled-1

%d bloggers like this: