Here on Beard Guidance, we are all about beards. We love growing them, tending them and styling them. But there is an equally important discussion which often gets ignored. Shaving.
If you look up anything about beards online then it’s only a matter of time until you discover people who make fun of the idea of shaving or who insult those who do. This attitude is awful, we should be in this together. Afterall, what is shaving if not a form of beard maintenance?
When you shave in the morning, you have shadow by the evening and you’ll probably want to shave it again the next day. But is that healthy or is there such a thing as shaving too much?
How often you shave should be determined by the length you want your facial hair to be. If you don’t mind a little stubble then you can go longer without shaving, once or twice a week. But if you want that clean-shaven look then you will need to shave every 1-3 days. Shaving too often increases your risk of damaging the skin or stressing it out, the latter of which can lead to acne problems. However, if you shave properly by developing a pre- and post-shave routine then you will mitigate this damage and be able to shave as much as you want without consequences.
To learn more about how shaving stresses out your skin and how you can prevent it, stick around. We’ll explore both of these in length and tackle questions such as how to slow down your facial hair growth so you don’t have to worry about shaving so much in the first place.
Why Shaving Damages Your Skin and How to Avoid It
The main factor that will determine how often you should shave will be how quickly your hair grows. This is different for everybody, as we explored in this article. If you are a slow grower then you can get away with shaving less often, if you are a fast grower then you’ll need to more often. If you are a fast grower, however, you must be careful with shaving too much as it can damage your skin.
Just how does this damage occur? Shaving your facial hair is not harmful in and of itself. Though, if your razor pulls at your hair then it could lead to ingrown hairs and other issues. For more on this, check out our deep dive on how to avoid this here. But pulled hairs are a sign of a problem with your razor and shouldn’t be thought of as damage caused by the shave itself.
The problem with shaving comes from what happens to the skin underneath the hair. If you have ever dry shaved, you’ve probably noticed how it leaves your skin feeling raw, sore, red and itchy. This is because what we are doing in the process is removing a lot of the dead skin that was on our face.
You might think that dead skin is a bad thing but it really isn’t. It can be annoying when it is bad enough to flake and become dandruff but we actually want that dead skin to be on there for a little while. It offers protection to the layer of skin underneath that is often still developing. This isn’t developing as in not present but rather it is softer and more tender and needs to harden a little more naturally. We do moisturize our faces to help them feel nice and soft but we want its natural state to be a little rougher.
When we shave too often, we keep irritating the skin because we remove this skin too much. This results in that awful red look that is never ever aesthetically pleasing. So shaving too often can cause this but there is a catch.
The problem isn’t so much that you are shaving too often but that you are shaving too often without the proper care and technique. You should prepare your skin prior to shaving by developing a pre-shave ritual. Get yourself some pre-shave oil, like this, and use it before every shave. Also make sure that you use shaving cream to moisturize the skin and help your razor glide smoothly.
When you finish your shave, you’ll want to apply some aftershave as this will help disinfect any nicks or cuts and it’ll help to soothe the skin and reduce irritation and redness. For more information about how to use aftershave properly, check out this article.
I Want To Shave Less Often, Is There Anything I Can Do To Slow Down My Facial Hair Growth?
Technically, you could slow down your facial hair growth by eating terribly. Consuming too many sugars, avoiding vitamins and essential fatty oils will all help to slow down how quickly your beard grows. But that’s a horrible option that puts your health at risk.
For better results, consider waxing off your facial hair. Let it come in a little bit so it is easier to pull, say two or three days growth, and then get it waxed. We only cut the hair when we shave and so the root of the hair is left in the skin so it only needs to grow more hair. When you wax, you pull the root of the hair right out of the dermal layer.
This has the effect of slowing down the rate of facial hair growth. Instead of seeing new hairs poking out of your face within a couple of days, it will take roughly a month for them to return. It takes much longer for an entirely new hair to form, as the root within the skin needs time to grow before it pokes out. Waxing is your best bet if you want to shave less but it will hurt more than shaving does.
I Shaved My Stubble Beard and Now My Facial Hair Looks Thicker, What Gives?
This is an optical illusion which has led to one of the most prevalent myths surrounding facial hair. People keep spreading the idea that shaving makes facial hair grow back thicker but this just isn’t true. The reality is that your facial hair is exactly the same size it was before.
The problem here is that the root of the hair that you are seeing after your shave was hidden before. Now that there isn’t a beard in the way, you can see how thick the root is. Hair is always thickest around the root. It thins out as it grows, sorta the same way that a pyramid is the thickest at the bottom and the thinnest at top.
When you shave, you don’t make the hair grow back any faster. You simply reveal it as it always was. If this bothers you, then I suggest you stick with waxing.
Do I Still Need To Apply Beard Products If I’ve Shaved?
For the most part, there is no point to applying beard products if you just shaved. You will want to use some aftershave when you finish shaving, as this disinfects any nicks or cuts present and it helps to soothe the skin. But beard products, not so much.
There are some benefits to be had from using a beard product such as butter or oil but this is due to the moisturizing effect it has on the skin underneath a beard. If you have shaved off your beard then you are better off simply using a proper moisturizer such as Brickell Men’s or Wilder’s.
How Can I Get the Closest Shave Possible?
For the closest shave, you need to use a great razor. While you can get a close shave with a safety razor, nothing will beat a straight razor shave. We looked at straight razor shaves at length in this article. If you don’t have a straight razor then try starting out with one priced in the medium range such as this. Avoid cheap straight razors as their price often reflects their quality.
You should also have a warm shower before you shave or press a warm towel against your beard. The hairs will absorb the water and together with the heat they will expand, making for a closer shave. Make sure that you combine this with a shaving cream or a shaving butter like Van Der Hagen’s so that the blade moves smoothly and doesn’t catch.
How often you should shave is a matter of personal preference that will be determined by how quickly your facial hair grows. This is a matter of genetics but a better diet will increase the speed. Since we should always try to eat healthy in the first place, this means that you will find yourself having to shave more often.
While shaving too often is associated with lots of issues such as irritation and redness, these issues can easily be circumvented by using pre-shave oil and aftershave. Even when we are shaving off our beards, we should take care of them and the skin around them. This will make shaving a much more enjoyable experience for you, exactly as it deserves to be.
All beard groomers should know that beard wax is an essential weapon they should have in their beard grooming arsenal. If you have a beard, you will understand how those whiskers can act unruly and...
Your grooming kit is incomplete without beard oil! Seriously! Any man who wants to maintain a healthy and attractive beard needs to get good-quality beard oil; there’s just no escaping that. But...