How do I make my stubble feel less like sandpaper?
May 6, 2006 11:02 AM   Subscribe

How do I make my stubble feel less like sandpaper?

This has been a subject of complaint of some of my former girlfriends who have been visibly scratched up by hours of contact with my face. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do about it other than avoiding intense makeout sessions.
posted by rwatson to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total)
try a thin layer of conditioner.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

The face scrubs for men from Nivea, Neutrogena etc. are designed to exfoliate as well as soften up stubble prior to shaving. While I don't have sandpaper-like stubble for very long, I do notice a softening in skin and hair on my face after I use them. It also just feels nice afterwards.

FWIW, the Nivea one is grittier and the Neutrogena one is much finer and gentler - probably more what you're looking for. I think the Neutrogena one is actually marketed as a pre-shave thing.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:24 AM on May 6, 2006

I don't think what you want is possible unless you let your hair grow out longer or shave clean. Think about it; if you've ever felt the head of a person who has a really short buzz cut, their hair is prickly. That same hair grown out can be extremely soft and great to touch. That same hair completely shaved off leads to a smooth head.

Stubble isn't meant to be soft, period. If you want to soften your skin and make it more youthful, go for the conditioners and face creams. But trying to soften stubble, IMHO, is a pipe dream.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:46 PM on May 6, 2006

You can either learn to shave very close, and use skin conditioners, or you can leave enough beard that you don't have stiff, sharp stubble. What tears up a girl's face is the combination of sharply cut, "5 o'clock shadow" stubble, and kissing pressure.

If you shave daily, and have most of your social/romantic encounters in the evening, see if you can work out shaving in the late afternoon, even if you have to do it on a work break. You'll have the closest thing to a fresh shave for your dates, and your "5 o'clock shadow" will be at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, when you're heading to work, but still not too objectionable, in outward appearance, until you shave again in the afternoon. Pay particular attention to areas around your mouth and chin. It's easy to miss a few hairs at the corners your mouth, directly under your nose, and on your chin, which can tear up a girl's skin like a Brillo pad. Using moisturizing hand lotion in place of aftershave gel can keep your stubble from getting as stiff as quickly as it would if you otherwise used a drying alcohol based after shave lotion.

For still less irritation to your G/F, if your appearance is OK with it, learn to live in trimmed stubble, at least an 1/4 inch length. This will definitely cause her less irritation if you have a heavy beard, and the longer the length, the less irritation, because over time, the sharp ends of your beard hairs wear and fray microscopically, becoming less effective as porcupine quills to your G/F.

If you are tough enough, you can also try using a depilatory powder. Black men, or men with very curly, heavy beards often have no other choice for a clean look, since shaving their beards conventionally results in ingrown hairs and "bumps" as the cut hair shaft curls back into the skin as it grows. The depilatory treatment makes the hairs somewhat finer as they grow back, and it takes several days for the hair shafts to re-emerge from the skin after a treatment. You only do this 2 or maybe 3 times a week, at most. But the depilatory powders can be pretty tough irritants to facial skin. Don't shave for at least 3 or 4 days before trying them, and be sure to post-condition your face. Try on only a small area of your face at first, and give yourself a couple of days to evaluate results, before going whole hog.
posted by paulsc at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2006

Seconding the conditioner. You don't necessarily need to leave it in, just let it sit on the stubble for a couple minutes while you shower, then rinse it off. If you shave every morning, then I'd do this before shaving. It should be a cumulative thing; you may not notice much the first time, but over time it should soften a bit.
posted by occhiblu at 1:17 PM on May 6, 2006

Google searching also reminded me that they now make moisturizers marketed to help break down women's body hair to make it finer. Might be worth checking out something like this.
posted by occhiblu at 1:22 PM on May 6, 2006

I hate shaving, but don't like wearing a beard either. So I split the difference and "shave" with your standard electric barber clippers with no guard. This results in a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow, but it's not prickly as paulsc explained above.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 1:25 PM on May 6, 2006

Shave again in the evening. The cultured gentleman of yore would never go out in the evening without shaving for the evening. If your lady is complaining, be a gentleman.
posted by caddis at 5:06 PM on May 6, 2006

Try this: When you're in the shower, slather hair conditioner over you stubble; rinse it off when the shower is over. Maybe will soften the hair up a bit?
posted by Kololo at 6:30 PM on May 6, 2006

This Men's Health forum suggests using baby shampoo on your beard.
posted by rob511 at 7:03 PM on May 6, 2006

Response by poster: Do you think it matters whether I shave with or against the grain? I know people generally say to shave with, but that results in a shave that is less close. Good for my skin perhaps, but maybe not for hers?
posted by rwatson at 1:25 PM on May 21, 2006

Response by poster: This article inspired me to get a cheap shaving brush, which has helped immensely with getting a closer, smoother shave. I hope this doesn't sound too much like an advertisement.
posted by rwatson at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2006

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