Men’s Shaving Guide: Shave Down or Shave Up

If you’re like many guys, you can’t shave upwards without enduring nasty razor burn or shaving bumps afterwards. yick. That said, you just can’t achieve a close shave without resorting to shaving up.

You wind up with tiny stubble right after shaving, or an unbearable 5 o’clock shadow. Or perhaps you find stubble or an unwanted mustache shadow is significantly amplified by flash photography? This is a common complaint from guys with darker facial hair.

Shave down or shave up – those are the only options you ever see on all of those commercials, and maybe the only directions you’ve ever considered. Well, friends, there is another way — a third option untapped by the masses of stubble-ladden or razor-burned masses:

The Doggedly Daring Diagonal Shave

Why shave diagonally? Because for many men, doing so allows us to have the best of both worlds: you get the close shave that comes with shaving up without the shaving bumps and irritation that typically come with it. Sounds swell, right?

Diagonal Shaving Technique

Let’s begin with some words of warning. Shaving this way is potentially dangerous and requires you one to pay close attention and take your time when shaving. This technique cannot be used on or near the neck and does not work on the chin. We recommend never shaving directly across your face, as the risk of cutting yourself is too great.

Step 1: Shave regularly (downwards) as you always do.

Step 2: When you’re done, rinse your face with warm-to-hot water (as hot as you can stand it, basically).

Step 3: Re-apply your shaving cream or gel, but apply more thinly than you usually do (use less product).

Step 4: Using your fingertips, massage your shave cream or gel into the remaining stubble using a light circular motion.

Step 5: Begin shaving diagonally. Start just right or left of your chin, and shave up towards your ear. Aim to shave at 45 or 135 degrees:

That said, you can vary the angle shaving at to find what works best for you, but don’t go too far upwards, and never shave directly across your face!

Step 6: Rinse your razor in warm water after each shaving stroke. Repeat, working either below or above your initial diagonal shave. So, each step is a shorter diagonal line than the previous one.

Note: Sometime it’s helpful to puff up your cheeks with air when shaving this way, as this helps the blade connect better with the contours of your face. Do not press down hard with your razor when trying this. (you shouldn’t press down very hard with your razor with any sort of shaving anyway)

Diagonal Shaving – Advanced Technique

Many men find this shaving diagonally to be more effective if they vary the diagonal direction of their razor even on the same side of thier face.

Step 1: Shave from the bottom, right side of your face diagonally across towards your nose. Use 2 – 4 separate strokes to cover this entire quadrant of your face.

Step 2: Shave diagonally across your cheek up towards your sideburn or ear, for example. Use 2 – 3 separate strokes to cover this entire quadrant of your face.

Step 3: Repeat both steps above on the other side of your face.

Step 4. On the chin only, shave up, using as many light strokes as required to cover the entire area one time only.

Of course every man’s face is different, but these instructions should get you started. With a bit of patience plus a little trial and error you’ll learn exactly what works best for you. There’s no reason to endure a constant stream of stubble on your cheeks! Carefully use the diagonal shave approach and achieve the same flawless face as your blonde-haired brethren!

It’s common knowledge these days that the best time for men to shave their face (or anywhere else, for that matter) is straight out of the shower. This is when your skin is relaxed, your pores are opened, and shaving will be easiest, causing a minimum of redness and irritation.

But there are times when it’s just not practical to shave right after showering. Perhaps you already showered today, or you’re running really, really late, or you’re not at home and able to shower. Whatever the reason, there are steps you can take to mitigate the razorburn and shaving bumps that are more likely to arise from shaving an un-showered face.

Three Tips to Shave Without Showering

Hot Towel. There’s a reason you see barbers wrap a hot towel over the guy’s face they’re about to start shaving in all those old movies. It works. With effects similar to showering, placing a warm-to-hot towel over your face before shaving will absolutely mitigate potential razorburn or irritation.

Fill a clean sink with warm water – as hot as you can stand against your skin, and drop in a small towel. A hand towel is the best size. Remove and wring out. Put your head back, close your eyes and lay the towel over your face. This is easiest when sitting if possible. When the towel gets cool (which will happen quickly)

Pre-shave oil. Some guys like to apply a pre-shave oil underneath their shaving cream or gel, to provide an additional layer of protection against shaving bumps and irritation. Others shave with just a shave oil, using no shaving cream whatsoever.

But if there is one time we always recommend employing a pre-shave oil or shave oil: when you can’t shower just before you shave. Why? The shave oil helps mitigate the problems that arise from shaving without showering first (closed pores, razor drag and potential irritation).

“Shaving Light.” You can take steps to make the process of shaving easier on your skin, especially if you’re unable to shower first. First, don’t press your razor quite as hard on your skin as you typically do. Next, make fewer passes of the razor over the same part of your face.

Third, don’t shave upwards if you typically do. Although you won’t get quite as close a shave with these techniques, for many men it’s a reasonable trade-off to avoid unsightly razor burn.

Guys everywhere are wondering: can I really shave up, like those smiling, bare-chested men in all of those Gillette commercials, who plow their razors upwards across their cheeks with nary a care?

Can you shave up your face? Should you?

Is it really the kind of razor you use which allows you to shave up or not (hint: nope). Is it the kind of shaving cream that allows you to shave up with no razor burn or irritation (wrong again). Before we discuss if or how to shave up, let me first answer the question with a rather annoying answer:

Q: Can I shave Up?

A: It depends.

Why, you ask, can this not be a simple yes or no answer? Why does it “depend?”

Well, the truth is it’s not the products you use which let you shave upwards successfully or not. Even how you shave is not the primary factor.

It’s your genetics.

As a general rule, typically men with lighter, finer facial hair can shave upwards with little irritation, while men with darker, coarser hair typically experience a large amount of razor burn or irritation if they shave upwards.

This point ranks up there on the irony scale, because guys with finer, lighter hair don’t usually need to shave up, while guys with darker hair can often only achieve a very close shave if they do shave up.

So if you find you need (or want) to shave up for a closer shave, here are some tips:

Use a newer blade. Yes, a fresh or near-fresh blade is certainly a factor in preventing shaving irritation. Blades typically last 3 – 4 full shaves for men with darker facial hair, and 4 – 6 shaves for men with lighter hair.

Shave just out of the shower. Like all shaving, you’ll get better results if a steamy shower loosens up your skin’s pores first.

Go slow, man. The point is, to lessen irritation and reduce the odds of cuts, you need to take your time when shaving up. This isn’t something to do when you’re in a hurry — be methodical.

Make one pass only. Just like regular facial shaving, though more important here, irritation increases with each pass you make upwards over your face. Shaving up yields such a close shave there just ain’t no reason to make a second pass anywhere anyway, compadre.

Be selective. Shaving upwards is tough on your skin, so it makes sense to apply this technique only where it’s necessary.  Perhaps under your sideburns, or up the shin for example – places where there are stubborn hairs or stubble you just can’t get rid of shaving the regular way.

The neck is the toughest place to shave upwards and achieve a good result. The vast majority of men will find irritation develops after shaving upwards on their neck. It is recommended you only shave downwards on your neck.

Exception to the Rule

There is one place almost all men can shave upwards with little to no irritation: the chin. This skin on your chin is less sensitive and, if you go slowly and make only one pass on each part of your chin, you should be able to shave up along your chin with no irritation. For many guys this is the only way to achieve a stubble free chin.

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