Is there such a thing as a perfect shave? Yes, there is, and we have experienced it with a little help from our good friends at American Crew.
What is it exactly? We’ll explain that in a minute.
Do you need a professional to achieve such results? No, you don’t, but you may benefit from the advice and tips from one. Introducing one of American Crew’s international all-stars and the Director of Shaving and Skincare at Groom for Men, Patti Davenport.
Urbasm: Hi Patti, some of us guys may not even know what we’re missing, so tell us exactly what a perfect shave look like?
Patti Davenport: A proper shave looks and feels like: obviously smooth, hair-free skin with a firmness and soft touch; irritation-free, nick-free with a fresh and cool feeling. The skin will have no flushing or signs of redness when the shave is complete.
Urbasm: So tell us, straight up, no political correctness necessary… which is better between an electric or double/single-edge razor and why?
PD: I prefer a double edge or Single blade because they actually remove the hair at a much closer length. Right where the hair emerges from the follicle onto the surface of the skin. An electric razor trims the hair down, so there is still slight length. Besides the length difference, the skin of a man that uses a blade razor will overall have a better feel, look and be healthier, as the action of the blades physically exfoliates and removes dull, dead skin cells from the surface. The electric razor is not close enough to physically exfoliate the skin; the skin on this man – pending he has extreme razor sensitivity – may appear dull, thick and tough and could also have blotches or patchy dryness.
Urbasm: What are the basic tools that every man needs to attain a great shave?
PD: One, a good fresh razor blade—double, single, straight edge, whatever – it just needs to be a new blade. Two, shave cream or gel. Three, water – warm or hot while prepping the skin and cool or cold water for after the shave is complete. Four, aftershave lotion/moisturizer – I would suggest a moisturizer that has SPF 15-30 in it. Protect that money maker!
Urbasm: Yeah, we definitely agree with the SPF 15-30. What do most guys get wrong when they shave, and what should they be doing differently?
PD: They don’t spend enough time softening the beard with their preferred shave product. This is a crucial step. Either do it in the shower after the beard has steamed or directly after the shower… then apply your favorite shave product—gel or cream—to your beard…. and work it in. If you have a brush use it, if not, hands are perfect. Work the shave product in until the beard feels soft, supple, flexible and non-resistant. If the beard is coarse or tough, keep working the product in, in circular movements. Once you can feel the beard moving and softening under touch, move on to the shave step. Make that shave product work for you. It has the properties to soften and swell hair making it more manageable and easier to remove with your razor.
Urbasm: How much shave oil and cream is the proper amount? Can there be either too little or too much?
PD: This is going to depend on the texture and hydration of each person’s skin. Start with a nickel to quarter size amount of cream or a dime to nickel size amount of oil. If the beard and skin are absorbing it, that means they are dry, and you can apply more product. You will notice during different times of the year with the weather switch that you will need more or less product…. it’s all related to the hydration of the skin and the environment around you.
Urbasm: Take us through the basic steps of shaving, from preparation to the finish line?
PD: One, hop in the shower, wash/cleanse and scrub. Two, hop out of the shower, dry off, then start shave prep. Three, apply shave cream, gel or oil to beard. Work it in. If you use an oil, once the hairs are coated, apply your shave gel or cream over that. Four, once the beard is soft, flexible or offers a little bend, you can start your shave. Five, using your fresh razor, begin your shave in the area you prefer. And remember, always follow your natural hair growth. Six, after this pass, rinse skin with warm water. If you desire a bit closer shave, add oil to skin and do a second pass. Seven, follow with a cool/cold water rinse to close pores, remove residual shave product, and reduce redness. Eight, apply your moisturizer or aftershave using minimal pressure as you don’t want to rub freshly shaved skin. Nine, pat skin dry. Ten, avoid touching your face throughout the day. Dirty hands on freshly exfoliated skin can cause a breakout.
Urbasm: Good advice. And do you have any other tips beyond what we’ve already talked about?
PD: Remember the importance of shaving with the grain. All too often men think they should be shaving against the grain, when only a small fraction of men can actually do this comfortably. Most of the time the skin is too sensitive and the angle of the hair coming out of the follicle will make it difficult to nearly impossible to shave the whisker without damaging it. That can set a person up for ingrown hairs, razor burn or nicks.
Urbasm: Thanks, Patti, we’re looking forward to putting this advice to work in our own morning ritual. Cheers to you.
Patti Davenport is an International All-Star of American Crew and the Director of Shaving and Skincare at Groom for Men in Milwaukee, WI. Patti has been influenced by American Crew’s philosophy since becoming licensed in 2004. Since then, she has explored every facet of the men’s grooming industry, starting behind the chair as a barber at Groom for Men, and later owning a barbershop and a private barber college in Arizona. It was during this time that Patti created a textbook and curriculum for straight razor shaving. Her expertise led her to corporate work as an education manager for American Crew, before heading back to Groom for Men in her current role. “I’m thrilled to be behind the chair again because I’ve always been interested in men’s grooming and cutting.” As a lifelong learner, Patti continually strives to be on the cutting edge of the men’s grooming industry and recently completed expert training as a skin therapist. With her true passion being teaching, Patti continues to find joy by helping others discover their unique sense of style through American Crew education.