Things you should know about being a man: Shaving

Posted on March 22, 2011


There comes a point very early on when shaving your beard loses its novelty and becomes one of life’s great tediums.

Image obtained from Wikipedia commons.

The weekly, for some daily, monotony of shaving facial hair is packed with annoying decisions, such as choosing between a wet shave or an electric razor –

knowing full well that once the choice is made, changing between the two options sends your skin into rebellion.

Chances are that for the first few years you will go for the wet shave option, as mucking about with foam and an ultra-sharp blade can seem a lot of fun.

If this is the case, here are some pointers before you begin:

1) Never go sideways! This will give you the mother of all paper cuts, and will bleed profusely until the god of blood is appeased with the amount of toilet tissue applied.

2) Avoid going against the grain! A good explanation for why you should avoid this is suggested by

‘Shaving against the grain causes ingrown hairs (razor bumps) and is advised only as a way to donate blood.’

‘Using short strokes, and using your free hand to pull your skin taut and flat. Start your shave with the sideburns then move to the cheeks and neck.

‘Finish with upper lip and chin last, since whiskers are heaviest in this area. Do not apply too much pressure – razor burn is no one’s friend.’

3) Don’t grip the handle like you’ve caught a poisonous snake! You will jarr your movements and likely lop your head off.

How low can you go?

Nowhere, though, is it made clear exactly how far down and round the neck you are supposed to cover, nor how far up the face.

From experience I can say that above the cheekbone is too high. I remember at 15 having to explain to classmates exactly why the top half of my face was covered with tiny blood specks and dried toilet roll.

Make a decision early on as to where your facial hair stops and your chest hair begins. This line will become more blurred with age, so it is good to get a vague idea before that happens.

Electric shave/Male grooming kit

There is a very subtle difference between the masculine sounding ‘Electric Shaver’ and the more flowery ‘Male Grooming Kit’.

The shaver spins over your skin, slashing the hairs in a big metal whirl before hoovering it up in its special hair-dust pouch.

The groomer glides over your skin, cutting hairs precisely before ejecting the cuttings all over the bathroom in a big flourish.

There are pros and cons for both methods in styling and in comfort. But one unexpected and inexplicable difference has never been explained to me:

that the cuttings from the shaver will almost certainly appear grey no-matter what colour they were to begin with, and the tiny hairs exploding from the groomer will forever be found around the basin, annoying other (mainly female) users of the facility.

Perfecting the 5pm beard

To start with, growing the perfect 5 o’clock stubble can take anything up to eight weeks of constant, determined growth.

There will therefore be several more embarrassing stages to pass through before the desired effect is created – think Team America.

Patches of skin with slower hair growth is normal, but be wary of patches of skin with ‘bumfluff’ growth – your wild west/bandit look will be foiled by an area better seen on your backside.

Rise of the metrosexual

Over the past few decades, men’s styles and trends have shifted towards a well groomed, looked after look which can involve the shaving of other regions of the body.

This is only recommended for experts! Don’t run before you can walk.

Jeremy on writes after taking the decision to shave his chest hair.

‘I expect it’s an issue that will always divide people but let’s remember that women put a huge effort into exfoliating and grooming. Perhaps blokes should make a similar effort?’

Well Jeremy, you may have a valid point. But lets make sure we all know how to get the basics right first.

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Posted in: Rules of manhood