Shaving the beard is a right of passage for men. As boys, most of us pretended to shave long before it was necessary and were desperate to learn how to grow a beard fast. As grown men, we have questions about the whole thing. Why do we have to keep doing this? When will Ancient Greek beards come back into prominence? Am I doing this the best way?
We're going to answer all of your questions with this complete guide on shaving your beard.
Why Do Men Have Facial Hair?
When you reach a point that your beard is more annoying than enjoyable, you are bound to ask this question. Why do we have to deal with this chore of shaving in the first place? Did one of our ancestors incur the wrath of ancient forces?
If you subscribe to the whole science thing, there is a perfectly logical explanation for men's facial hair. It might not be the most satisfying explanation, but here it is. Have you ever heard of androgens? These are hormones responsible for a lot of physical changes in puberty (and they included testosterone). They're also part of the standard cocktails used in steroids.
It turns out that these hormones cause hair to darken and become more coarse in both male and female bodies (it's why both sexes have pubes). Since men produce a lot more androgens, more of their body undergoes the body hair change. That tends to include the face.
If you're looking for a larger, grander why, we have to be a little more speculative. Evolutionary scientists think that male beards have developed as a sort of plumage in the human species. A full beard signifies sexual maturity in men. Your facial hair is a natural means to attract women. Some of you guys can remind your wife of that when she gets on you about shaving.
Why Should You Shave Your Beard?
In general, shaving your face is not medically necessary. Beards are natural, and they are not harmful to you in any way. Some guys get negative side-effects from their beard (oily beards can cause breakouts or get smelly), but unless you have an underlying condition, shaving is entirely optional. If you're looking for how to get rid of beard dandruff or other beard issues, shaving is the last resort, not the first.
That said, there are compelling reasons to shave a beard, and we think these top the list.
- Your partner prefers it.
- You have to for work.
- You think you look better with a clean shave.
- You want to do some facial maintenance.
- You want to change things up.
Ultimately, your reason doesn't have to be on this list. If you want to shave or feel compelled to shave, that's good enough.
What You Will Need to Shave Your Beard
Shaving your beard is not brain surgery. You only need a few tools. You want a trimmer, water, lubricant, a razor blade, and an aftershave treatment. A full shaving kit for men can get pretty much all of this at once. Let's look at these in a little more detail.
A Body Trimmer
The trimmer enables you to get rid of most of a scruffy beard before using the razor blade. It makes the process safer and more manageable, and it saves a lot of wear on your razor. We recommend The Lawn Mower 3.0™ trimmer.
You need water to rinse your blade. It is not your primary lubricant. It's for keeping the blades clean, so they work better. It's also for rinsing your face at the end.
Oil For Your Beard
Oil is best used to maintain your trimmer. It needs regular oil, and you can save this for after you finish your grooming. Rinse the trimmer properly, and then oil the blade.
Shaving cream or gel is essential. You don't need it to trim, but apply it before shaving. There is nothing tough or impressive about butchering your face.
Straight Blade Razor
There are plenty of good razors in the world. We make a safety razor that you can get for free with any of our replenishment packages. As long as you have a razor, you can do a good job shaving your face but never use a dull razor.
You don't have to use something with "aftershave" on the bottle. Such products are effective, but any alcohol-free moisturizer will suffice.
How to Shave Your Beard Completely Off
It starts with a trim
As we briefly mentioned, you will start by trimming (unless you shave multiple times a week). You want to set your trimmer to its highest setting; this gives you more room for error as you trim.
Start With Your Sideburns
You are going to attack your sideburns first. They should always be trimmed when you shave. Mutton chops are not currently in style. Using the higher setting lets you trim the burns without completely murdering them. If you prefer not to have sideburns at all, you can tune them up in a bit.
Stroke In An Upward Direction
When trimming your sideburns, you want to stroke in an upward direction. Trimming this way will allow you to blend your facial hair into the top-of-head hair that is actually on the side of your head. You know what we mean. The sideburns are a point of transition from hair to beard. Blend it with that in mind.
Lower Your Guard Settings
As you go through the process, lower your guard settings. You want to transition to progressively shorter hair on your face. Eventually, you will have no guards, and you will trim your beard down to just stubble.
Exercise Care Around Your Mustache
As a note, you want to exercise a little care around the mustache. If you cut with the grain, you will minimize irritation, which is never fun to experience on the upper lip.
Line-Up Your Sideburns
When you are at the lowest trim setting on your trimmer, you want to return to the sideburns. Make sure they terminate at an even line across your face. You need a mirror and some practice, but you'll get it.
Lubricate Your Face And Finish With A Straight Blade
With the trimming done, you are ready to lubricate your face. You can rinse it first and then apply your shaving cream. As we recommended, you are going to use a straight blade razor. For this, you are going to take your time shaving with the grain across your entire face. You want to minimize the number of strokes you use to mitigate irritation, but you will inevitably have to go over places more than once. No razor will ever perfectly cut every hair on your face with a single pass.
Moisturize Your Face
When you are finished shaving, you want to rinse your face thoroughly; this does not mean you need to scrub your face. You just want to be free of annoying hair clippings. Apply your aftershave or moisturizer to your clean face. It will help prevent razor burn and everything else.
Take care of your instruments, and you are done shaving.
Do You Shave Your Neck When Growing a Beard?
This has a short and sweet answer: yes. If you look straight at yourself in the mirror and see hair below your chin, it should be removed. Some guys can pull off a bit of stubble on the neck, but if you're not used to the style, go ahead and keep your neck smooth. You don't have to shave it every day, per se, but you want to be proactive about killing neckbeards.
There is one guy in the MANSCAPED™ offices who keeps insisting that neckbeards are making a comeback. He's wrong. We had to duct tape his mouth shut and stick him in the supply closet. No neckbeards!
How to Shave Your Neck Beard
In general, when you shave your neck with a beard, it is the same as shaving your whole beard. That process doesn't change. That said, some techniques will help you keep your neckline pristine and make sure you look good when you're done with this more-specific shaving method.
Place One or Two Fingers Above Your Adams Apple
So, your first step in eliminating the dreaded neck beard is to place one or two fingers above your Adam's apple; this is the beard line. Go ahead and grab your trimmer (with no guard) and mark that line by removing some hair. You want a clean line, so be meticulous until you get the hang of it.
With your line established, you will trim down from the middle and work your way outward on your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Follow Your Jawline
You must pay attention to your jawline when you work on the neckbeard. Your jawline will curve up a little as you get closer to your ears, and you want to follow that slight curve. Match the contours that are on your body. It looks better.
Define Your Corners
You also want to carefully define the corners. They should have a clear look to them, and you can choose if you want sharp or rounded corners. There is no universal answer as to which is right for you. Try both and go with the style you prefer. Typically speaking, the sharper corners appear more masculine and deliberate, but they don't always prove to be the superior aesthetic.
Lubricate Your Face
At this point, you have only trimmed. You are now going to use your lubricant to prepare for the razor. The same razor (with a fresh blade) that works on your face can work on your neck. Shave with the grain to avoid irradiation and show extra care on the Adam's apple. It's easy to nick yourself there.
Shave Your Face
You're only shaving the neck where you just trimmed to get it nice and smooth. That means you'll need to take your time with the jawline and corners, but you don't have to figure out any of your lines with your razor blade.
When you're done shaving, rinse properly and moisturize. This step applies to any shaving anywhere on your body.
How Often Should You Shave Your Beard?
You have a good workflow to follow for shaving your beard, but the next question is obvious. How often do you need to do it? This will vary by how fast your beard grows and how you want it to look. In general, it's good to do a full shave at least once a month. This gives you a chance to do some targeted skincare on a regular basis that keeps your face healthy.
When it comes to maintaining your neck, a minimum of once a week is necessary for most guys. Some will need to shave multiple times a week.
While we're on the topic, let's get a few common questions out of the way.
Can you shave every day?
Technically speaking, you can definitely shave every day, and some situations will demand it. That said, if you can reduce the frequency of shaving without causing yourself problems, it gives your skin more rest between sessions which is good for you. Anyone who can get away with shaving four times a week or less should consider it.
Does trimming or shaving cause your beard to grow back faster?
The answer is a resounding "no." Cutting hair does not make it grow back faster, thicker, tougher, or darker. That is a complete myth. The only reason to slow down shaving is to save your skin from the ravages of a razor blade. Trimming is something you can do daily with virtually no drawbacks.
Where to Shave Your Beard
We know how to shave. We know how often to shave. Where should we do it? There's not a definitive answer, but there does seem to be a consensus. When you shave, you want access to running water, a mirror, and good lighting. You also want to do this where the hairy mess doesn't ruin your life. These are the reasons most guys choose the bathroom.
In fact, we ran a survey on this one. It turns out that 73 percent of men shave over the sink. That's hardly surprising. Still, 17 percent shave in the shower, and 3 percent go to the barber for a professional shave.
Any of these are viable, but keep a few things in mind. The clippings from your beard can and will eventually clog drains. If you trim over a newspaper (or a Magic Mat® since nobody gets newspapers in print anymore), you greatly reduce how much hair goes down the drain, and prevent major clogs. Also, going to the barber every time you need to groom your face gets expensive. It makes for a nice treat, but if you aren't rolling in dough, the DIY approach is probably for the best.
Tips for Shaving Your Beard
We've covered the basics of shaving. Now, we want to get into some best practices that will make everything go a little better.
- Always use a fresh blade. Also, don't mix and match between different parts of your body. That causes cross-contamination, which can lead to skin infections. You really don't want that.
- Shave after you shower. We often recommend showering before a grooming session, but you want to invert that when it comes to shaving. A warm (not hot) shower softens the hair follicles and helps you shave with less tugging and irritation.
- Trim first. We touched on this before. Trimming reduces how harsh the shave is on your skin. It also helps your blades last longer. If the hair is so short that your trimmer can't touch it, skip to shaving. Otherwise, trim first.
- Always moisturize after a shave. Shaving literally scrapes away the top layer of your skin. That removes the acidic barrier that protects the skin, and it causes dryness and irritation. Aftershaves and moisturizers are designed to deal with this fallout. Moisturizing after shaving will make your face feel great, and it will keep your skin healthy.
Alternatives to Shaving Your Beard
If you're like most guys, shaving can feel like a real chore. You might feel fresh for a little while after you do it, but it requires a lot of time and energy. We all want a better way. In truth, you have some options, but they all have trade-offs.
Technically speaking, you could wax your beard instead of shaving. We don't recommend this. Waxing hurts and can cause a lot of bleeding. You don't really want either of those on your money maker. The same can be said for tweezing.
A safer alternative is hair removal cream, but you still want to exercise caution. No matter how safe or well-designed one of these creams is, human bodies react unpredictably to hair removal formulas. If you want to experiment, try a little of the cream on your wrist or lower arm first. Just do a little dot. See if it removes the hair, but more importantly, pay attention to how your body reacts. Slight pain on your arm is going to feel a lot worse on your face and neck. Most importantly, never let the cream anywhere near your eyes. If you have some high cheek hair, find another method for it.
The other primary alternative hair removal is the use of lasers. While this is technically a possibility for beard removal, it's not ideal. First, laser removal can be permanent, and it's hard to say that you'll never want to grow your beard out again. Remember what we learned about plumage at the top of this article?
The second issue with laser removal is that it won't work on most beards. Dark, coarse hair is much harder for lasers to safely remove, and the average beard is not a candidate for the technique. If you happen to have a beautiful, golden Viking beard, lasers might work, but why would you want to permanently remove something so exquisite?
For the most part, trimming and shaving dominate beard care because they are by far the most practical. Fortunately, you now have a working guide on how to shave your beard.
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Shaving is best done after a wet warm or hot towel has been used to soften hair follicles. I find it reduces any irritation and just feels better overall. I run hot water over a towel for a couple minutes and then put over my face and neck for a couple minutes before lathering up and shaving. I like to do the warm towel again after as well as I find it relaxing and again seems to help with any skin irritation.