The Lost Art of Shaving

I am often asked by my T-lady friends ‘How can I cover my beard?’ and ‘What is the best way for me to remove my facial hair?’ The answer is simply ‘shaving’. (I’m taking it that they don’t want to go through the lengthy and expensive process of electrolysis or laser hair removal!) But what do you really know about shaving? I’m always amazed at the number of chaps who hack away at their lovely faces with crappy razors and not a single thought of how to take care of that tender, sensitive skin.

Shaving with straight razorAs a very young gal, I was fascinated to watch my grandfather shave, a ritual which took place in the kitchen, above the kitchen sink. He used a straight edged blade (he called it his ‘cutthroat!’) and used to whisk the shaving lather in a cup and apply it with a pig bristle brush, a process that totally intrigued me. I thought there was something incredibly mysterious about how the hair grew and how it was removed- I wanted to know all about it! And damn, he was King of the Close Shave!

The art of shaving has not changed at all over the years, despite technology, and if you ladies want to prep your face so that you have that perfectly smooth canvas on which to apply your make-up, you just need to remember a few simple tips for the perfect shave that will give you beautiful, smooth, soft skin.

The first thing to remember is to CLEANSE your face! Get the dirt off! You can only really start this process with clean skin. How you do that, what you use – that’s a whole other topic that I will get to – but whatever you do, clean the canvas first! And get those pores open with a little heat or steam, which will also help soften that beard.

Next, the step most men don’t know about; pre-shave oil. This does three different things: it provides a barrier between the skin and the blade, it moisturizes and conditions the skin, and lastly, it contains elements that will lift the beard out of the skin, raising it for a closer shave. This step I guarantee will give you a closer shave! I’ve stroked a lot of faces recently in the course of research! and the common factor for those whose shave is extra close is the pre-shave oil.

Then, once the shaving cream or gel has been applied, it’s down to business. A single blade razor will produce the best shave. I know, Gilette or Bic or whoever has just come out with one that has ten or something like that but that will not serve you well. You need a good sharp blade, just one. (And ideally, you should replace your razor after every six/ eight shaves.) Your movements with your blade across your face need to follow the grain, that is the direction in which your hair grows. If you go against the grain, it encourages ingrown hairs and pimples. You don’t want those!

If you really want an extra close shave, you can reapply the lather and shave across the grain. I learnt this when I visited the barbers with a friend recently and it is beautifully described in this video by Craig the Barber

Remember, with your free hand, pull the skin taut before each stroke. This pulls the root closer to the surface and exposes more of the hair. It stops the blade from pulling the hair too, which just plain hurts!

Remember to cool the skin down after your shave – you have just traumatized it! -and treat it with some love. The application of coolness will reduce redness and lessen the appearance of pores. Apply moisturizer and a primer and you are now ready for make-up application!

getDynamicImage.aspx I spent quite a lot of time in Sephora, looking at shaving products and talking to a fabulous lady named Nora Leonhardt who specializes in male skincare. She showed me the Anthony: Logistics for Men skin care products that were very impressive and so reasonably priced. There is a wonderful Glycolic Facial Cleanser ($21) that has exfoliating qualities and also a fabulous Pre-Shave Oil ($22). Other great brands include the Art of Shaving, Jack Black and Clinique. Just remember, alcohol in products will dry your skin. That’s good for those with oily skin but not for you ladies with dry, sensitive skin.

woman-face-glow-220x144I remember once talking to a beauty consultant who said to me ‘You only have one face’ and that has always stayed with me. Take care of it, treat it with love. Just because you may have to shave every day, doesn’t mean you should not lavish care on your skin, especially in a ritual such as shaving. It is for most T-ladies the first step to transformation. What do you ladies do to bring out the woman in you?

Talk to you soon!


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About fiona

Guest Columnist – Fashion and beauty

Fiona is currently completing her post-graduate studies in Fashion and Textile History at FIT and when finished, plans on starting her own business supporting the transgender community. Before she started her studies in New York, she was living in California working for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and doing freelance styli...

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3 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Shaving

  1. I was a Mary Kay Consultant for about three years and learned most of what you wrote about. I did learn about the pre-shave oil.. What a great idea! I also learned that yellow concealer cancels out the blueness of the beard. I find it works better for men than a concealer similar to your foundation color. Also, I use MK moisturizing cream and Day Solution prior to the concealer. This daily ritual keeps my face clean and moisturized, which keeps wrinkles at bay.
    Thank you for a great, informative article!!

  2. Dear Fiona,
    You are great. Any way you can share your contact info, like email or telephone so I can get the benefit of your wisdom. I am new to all this
    thanks & regards,

    • Hi Dipika,

      I passed your comment and contact info on to Fiona. So glad you are enjoying the site. I designed it with the new girl in mind. Let us know what you would like to see and check the blog out too.


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