The Best Way To Shave A Beard
The best way to shave a beard? I can tell you that it’s all in the preparation. Preparation can make the difference between red irritated skin with cuts and ingrown hairs vs a smooth clean shave. Properly preparing your face and your tools will make shaving a beard, or even just trimming it, a cake walk.
This is the easy and effective method to shave a beard without irritated skin. So how do I prepare for the best shave?
The best shave starts with the right preparation
“Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” Amelia Earhart
The best way to shave a beard starts with the right preparation. Shaving and trimming prep is the most important part. We want to work smarter, not harder. Preparation isn’t only for the actual shave but, the aftermath too. Aftershave skin irritation is no joke.
Just a few things to help us prepare:
- Warm up the skin and facial hair
- Soften the beard for easy trimming
- Make sure our beard is clean (no clogged razors or trimmers)
- Trim down the beard for easier shaving
- Use proper lubrication
- Get the right tools
Get these things right and that beard will be effortless to take care of. I’ll break down everything we need to do starting with warming up our face.
Trimming and Shaving Prep – Warm up the beard
The best way to shave a beard is to get started by warming up your face and facial hair. The most convenient way just so happens to be a shower. A quick hot shower works best.
A long hot shower? Not the right play.
That’s an easy way to dry out your skin and your beard. Let’s avoid anything that will irritate our faces after the shave.
A shower will:
- Give you a smoother shave
- Keep skin irritation low
- Make facial hair softer and easier to cut
- Be the fastest way to prep in the morning
You don’t have to take a shower either but, unless you don’t have access to a shower, it doesn’t make much sense to me to soak a towel in hot water and continuously apply it to different parts of my face. No thanks, it’s not worth the effort. That takes forever! There are much better ways to use your time for a shave.
But wait! A shower gives us other benefits.
While we’re in the shower we should aim to get our beard and face clean. That’s usually the purpose of a shower right?
Wash away any product, dirt, or oils on your face to keep your tools in good condition. Want to make your shave or trim effortless? I don’t want any gunk in my beard to mess up my shave. A dirty beard is an easy way to clog up your tools. I want my razor to last a while.
Highly recommended! Use a gentle beard wash/beard shampoo. Why? Normal shampoos dry out my beard. Beard shampoo is a less harsh version of a regular shampoo that will fight any itchiness and irritation. It’s the top way to clean a beard. When I haven’t shaved in a while, I need every bit of protection for my face that I can get.
Follow this step both before trimming your beard down and before shaving it completely.
Let’s talk a little about tools first
The best way to shave a beard is to use the right tools. The type of tools we’re going to use will dictate the process we follow. What tools can we use?
- Straight razor, Shavette, DE (Double Edge) Open tooth comb razor
- DE Safety Razor/Cartridge Razor
Straight Razor, Shavette, and DE Open Comb Razor
The first set of tools (Straight Razor, Shavette, and DE Open Tooth Comb Razor) I listed are great if you want to take off a full beard in one go.
The reason? These razors don’t clog.
Both a Straight Razor and a Shavette have no guard. There’s nothing to clog so you can take off as much hair as you’d like.
If you’re familiar with safety razors the DE open tooth comb razor is similar. But instead of a guard, it has, just as the name implies, an open tooth comb head that looks like a rake. That helps to avoid clogging.
Those three razor types are all different with their own pros and cons but, something to keep in mind is that they are more aggressive razors than your typical cartridge razor. The blades are sharper which can give you a much smoother shave and less irritated skin if you know what you’re doing. It can also mean lots of cuts if you don’t.
If you’re not experienced using one of those three types, I wouldn’t recommend going for one to shave off a full beard.
The aftershave feeling can be quite painful if you use an aggressive blade type when you haven’t shaved in a while. Your skin is even more sensitive. Pair that with no experience using one of those types of blades and it’s a recipe for disaster.
They are very efficient though. Watch this guy shave his beard like butter:
Trimmer and Scissors
If you don’t plan on using one of the tools I mentioned above (Straight Razor, DE Open Tooth Comb Razor, or a Shavette), I would highly recommend starting with either a trimmer or a pair of scissors.
It’ll save you from the headache of shaving just a little bit then spending a minute pulling lots of hair out of a clogged razor.
A nice pair of scissors works perfectly for trimming but, if you plan to take the whole beard off, you might want a tool that works faster.
If you’ve got a fairly long beard, you might want to look at a few ways to reduce the mess. Clean up easily with a beard bib.
DE Safety razor and Cartridge razors
The final option for shaving will be either the safety razor or a cartridge razor. Once again the safety razor is another tool that has a more unforgiving blade if you haven’t used it before. The safety bar gives you a little more protection from the blade but, it still takes a little getting used to.
If you’ve never used a safety razor, I would stick with a razor you’re comfortable with to take off the beard.
I would recommend picking up a safety razor for future use though. The main draw for one is the reduced cost on blades. You can finally buy inexpensive replacement blades!
There are many different blades too so if you don’t like the feel of one, you can try out other blades for cheap.
And once you get the hang of it, a safety razor can be easier on sensitive skin than a cartridge razor. One blade dragging along your face is much better than three or even five blades.
Shaving Prep – Shaving Soap and Shaving Cream
Not only are there different types but, there are different qualities of shaving lubricant too.
And as I mentioned before, the best way to shave a beard is to prepare correctly. That means we’ll be making our own shaving lather using a shaving cream or soap rather than using something from a can. We’re going to focus on shaving soap and shaving cream because we want the best possible shaving experience. They can save you from irritated skin.
Shaving lubricant from a can is very convenient but, what you get in convenience you must sacrifice in quality. Pre-made lather just isn’t going to offer the same quality. The chemicals added to canned shaving foams make them more drying for your skin.
Does that mean they’re all horrible and you should never use them? No. But, my personal recommendation is to go for the nicer stuff.
The best way to shave a beard is to use a quality shaving lubricant for a smooth experience.
Shaving Soap/Shaving Cream
Which one works best? They’re both great options.
A quality shaving cream that’s easy to lather will work best for beginners. Shaving soap has a bit more of a learning curve. Once you get the hang of it, shaving soap will be just as easy to make lather with. It only takes about 30 seconds when you know what you’re doing.
The ingredient list of each individual shaving lubricant is more important than the difference between the type of lubricant you use. It should be full of moisturizers to hydrate your face and ingredients that make for a slick, rich, and creamy lather.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Shaving soap/Shaving cream
- A Badger Shaving Brush
- A bowl to mix it in
The nice thing about shaving soaps and creams is that we don’t need a ton of product to make a nice lather. Just about a dime-sized amount of shaving cream with a little water for mixing. You can always add a little more water or cream if you need. It will take some time to learn how much water to add to get your lather looking good.
After that just use the brush to apply the cream to your face. Let your shaving cream sit on your face for a bit before starting to shave. Like a conditioner, your lather will have time to moisturize your face.
Don’t apply any pressure with your razor. Sure, the pressure will make you shave your beard quicker but, you’ll also cut your skin quicker too. Your razor blade should be doing all the work, you don’t need to press at all.
If you feel like you have to press to cut anything there could be a few problems. It could be that the blade is dull, clogged, or at a bad angle.
Re-lather between passes. Your first pass should always be with the grain. If you choose to do a pass against the grain, make sure to apply shaving cream again.
The best way to shave a beard – Use aftershave
An aftershave is going to provide your face with comfort and hydration. Aftershaves are typically astringents. So if you’ve suffered any minor nicks while shaving, an astringent is going to sort of bind the cut together to stop bleeding.
I prefer to go for a top-notch aftershave that will soothe my skin and eliminate razor burn.