Remember your first few shaves as a teenager…? Remember the thrill of picking up a razor for the first time? Remember the excitement of feeling like you’d been inducted into a secret club?
For many guys, those memories are almost too long ago to recall. But you probably don’t look upon shaving with the same exhilaration anymore. Nowadays it’s fair to say that shaving is not much more than a chore.
And this may have led you to wonder if you really need to be dragging a razor over your face every single day. Read on to learn how often you need to shave and whether you can even skip a day here and there.
So, how often should a man shave?
Shave too often and your face will pay the price. If you’ve got sensitive skin and regular shaving leaves you with redness and irritation, skip a day or two between shaves. If this isn’t possible, take extra care with your shaving technique and make sure that you don’t forget aftercare.
The daily scrape
Far from the gratifying thrill that you experienced as a kid, shaving has become a tedious, inconvenient task that you’d rather not have to go through. You’re not alone. For most guys past a certain age, the daily burden of taking a blade to their face is far from a treat.
At the same time, what choice do you have? If you’ve been following the same daily routine for most of your life, you may not see any alternative. Before you resign yourself to the inevitability of daily shaving, let’s look more closely at what goes on when you shave.
Like other biological features, facial hair develops in males during puberty under the influence of the sex hormone testosterone. The thickness and texture of the hair varies widely person to person. This is why you noticed such a difference among your highschool classmates.
The growth of your facial hair is strongly influenced by genetics and race, among other factors. These will determine how quickly and thickly your beard grows. Contrary to what many believe, the frequency of shaving does not appear to substantially affect how your hair grows.
The process of shaving
Each time you make a pass with your razor, the blade slices your facial hair close to where it emerges from the skin. Along with your bristles, your razor also scrapes off a layer of skin cells from the outer layer of your face (the epidermis).
It’s this process of stripping away hair and skin cells that causes most of the unpleasant side-effects of regular shaving. For instance, if you’re not careful to thoroughly prepare your skin before a shave you risk irritating the skin. This leads to the bothersome redness that plagues many men.
If you enjoy a close shave (and particularly if you shave against the grain of the hair), you’re likely to be cutting the bristles beneath the surface of the skin. As these hairs regrow in the days that follow a shave, they may curl inwards rather than breaching the surface. This causes the characteristic bumps and itchiness of ingrown hair.
Lastly, by removing a layer of skin cells from the epidermis you’re also depleting moisture from the face. The result can be dehydrated skin that appears dull and aged.
Who needs all this aggravation…?
After all’s said and done, there’s clearly lots to recommend retiring your razor. At the least, you’ll avoid the irritation and dehydration of a poor shave. And if you do decide to go the route of a beard, then more power to you.
Having said this, many men still want to keep their facial hair in check. Sometimes this can be for entirely personal reasons. But sometimes social and professional pressures can be a factor too. In some careers, for instance in the emergency services and military, a clean-shaven face can be almost mandatory.
Even if you’re not a Navy SEAL, there are lots of other reasons for coming back to your razor morning after morning. For those pursuing the corporate track, it’s not uncommon for guys to use shaving to keep them looking youthful and energetic around the office.
And let’s not forget that many guys have a significant other in their life who enjoys the look and feel of a close shave.
Optimizing your daily shave
If any of the above applies to you, you may be looking for the best way to strike a balance between growing a beard and subjecting your face to year-round irritation.
You’ll find the following tips can make a world of difference to your grooming routine:
Skip a shave
This first point is kind of obvious. If your professional and personal commitments don’t require you to shave every single day…then don’t. If you’ve got sensitive skin and don’t respond well to daily shaving, then give your face time to recover by taking the day off.
Unless you’ve got an exceptionally strong beard, by creating a 48-hour gap between shaves you’ll still look pretty groomed but give your cheeks time to restore themselves to their baseline. In fact, recent anecdotal reports suggest that many guys favor the alternate-days shaving routine.
Go with the grain
If for whatever reason you can’t leave your beard alone for as long as a couple of days, just make sure that you avoid shaving against the grain. If you run your hand over any part of your beard, you’ll notice that the hairs naturally track in a particular direction. This direction is the hair’s ‘grain’.
Men who enjoy a smooth-as-glass shave typically shave both with and against the grain, but by doing so they’re taking the risk of aggravating the skin and causing ingrown hairs. If you’re looking to reduce the trauma to your skin, just stay with the grain.
Don’t forget aftercare
However often you shave, don’t forget to tend to your face after you’ve assaulted it with a blade. Rinse off with cool water to close the pores and calm the skin. Then follow up with a soothing aftershave that will replace moisture and reduce irritation.
To shave or not to shave…?
If you’re tired of the redness or irritation that can result from regular shaving, don’t be afraid to skip a day or two. If your lifestyle doesn’t allow it, then at least practice good shaving habits and always remember your aftercare.
Hi, I’m Theo, and I started Shaving Parlour to help men everywhere get the best shave of their lives. Check out my popular guides on Safety Razors, Shaving Cream, Shaving Brushes, Beard Oil, and more!