I've got a sensitive skin, how to shave and what to use?
August 20, 2006 9:32 PM   Subscribe

I've got a sensitive skin, how to shave and what to use?

I have a very sensitive skin, and I can't shave more than once a weak, otherwise my face's skin will get irritated and very red. It'll look like a strawberry.

Currently I shave with Mach 3, one time following the hair flow and another against it, in order to get a close shave. If I don't do the second one, I won't get the it close enough, so i'll look like someone who's been using an old blade for ages.

1) Any techniques I can use so I can shave every day without ruining my skin?

2) Which one should I use: a shaving blade or an eletric shaver?
posted by dcrocha to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had this problem (irritation and redness) until I started shaving in the shower. I put shaving cream on my face before getting in and then wash the blade off in the hot water. Also, you might want to try the new battery powered razors. They sounded like a gimmick but they gave me a much cleaner shave with no irritation.

Good luck.
posted by null terminated at 9:49 PM on August 20, 2006

Here is the process that works for my sensitve skin with the products I use. Keep in mind, it's not cheap.

1. Shave immediately following the shower, preferable after you have been awake and out of bed for 30 minutes. This allows your facial muscles to tighten and get a closer shave or so I have read.
2. Use a pre-shave oil and let it sit for a couple of minutes (Art of Shaving Lavendar Pre-Shave Oil)
3. Use a shave brush with real shave cream. Badger hair brushes works well. Apply in circles which helps raise the hair follicles. Again, let sit for 1-2 minutes for the cream to penetrate the stubble (For Men Shave Cream from the Body Shop)
4. Shave with the grain cleaning the blade often. (Gillette Fusion Power razor, but use the non-power blades. They're cheaper and are not any different. I like the vibrating razor, it seems to help a little.)
5. Repeat step 3 then shave again against the grain.
6. Splash cool water on your face, it closes your pores. Pat semi-dry and apply a non-alcohol based aftershave balm. (Of a Man Aftershave Balm - I like the scent but a non-scented version works fine too.)

Again, this is what works for me. I have tried virtually all of the razors on the marke, including electric. The Gillette Fusion power razor has worked the best. If you must use an electric, I'd suggest the Norelco 7735X which uses Nivea's gel cream to smooth the stubble as you shave. It worked best for me in terms of irritation as an electric razor.
posted by karmaville at 10:18 PM on August 20, 2006

I definitely second the hot shower shave. I soak the razor by holding it under the showerhead for about 30 seconds and also make sure my face is hot and steamed.

I actually use lathered soap on my face then, and I rarely irritate or cut my face anymore – I also agree about the battery powered 5 razored monstrosity, it's really nice.

I go once with the hair, and then lather up and go again, against the hair, and I do it without a mirror, feeling my face with my off hand to make sure I have done all the areas. For some Jedi Knight reason, I cut myself more when I shave by sight. .. that REALLY just might be me though.

(I have very sensitive skin, and I used to cut myself all the time before I started the shower shave, so much so that the torn dots of toilet paper were basically a permanent part of my style).
posted by visual mechanic at 10:19 PM on August 20, 2006

Preface: There are a ton of previous Ask MeFi threads on this exact subject, which you might want to mine for useful data. Keep in mind that some people will recommend elaborate and arcane rituals, while others suggest that shaving cream itself is a racket.

I've struggled with this issue since I began shaving so many moons ago, and have for the past several years resigned myself to using Mach 3 razors and Gilette shave gel for sensitive skin. Even so, I was only able to shave every three days, lest I turn my face into bloodbath.

Last week, having noted the ever-increasing rapidity with which I must replace blades before they become unusable, I finally got fed up and switched back to the (Norelco) electric shaver I bought in 2000. Thus far I'm quite happy with the results.

The key, it seems, is the frequency with which I shave. My earlier habit of twice-weekly shaving allowed the whiskers to grow to a sufficient length that they demanded a second pass (against the grain) to complete the job. The more contact with the blade, the more irritation and nicking occurred.

With the electric, however, I'm shaving every morning, allowing a minimal amount of growth between passes. This requires less work and thus less irritation, and requires far less time than a two-pass shave in the shower.

No, the shave isn't as close as one delivered via fresh Mach 3, but I find myself more than willing to forfeit baby butt smoothness in exchange for the money, time, and blood lost when I use blades. Your kilometrosexualitage may vary.
posted by Danelope at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2006

Get the best electric you can afford and quit spending money on blades and especially shaving creme. This takes hundreds of unknowns out of the equation in the form of perfumes and who knows what else ingredients that might be contributing to the problem.
posted by scheptech at 10:26 PM on August 20, 2006

I think my earlier question on this subject is worth mentioning here. Having followed several of the suggestions made in that thread, I've much improved in terms of technique and results.
posted by killdevil at 10:36 PM on August 20, 2006

To sum up the approach that's worked well for me: shave with a clean, new Mach 3 blade. Omit shaving emoluments other than water. Shave slowly and deliberately, with a very light touch, and never against the grain. Rinse the blade with cold water in between every stroke or two.

Also, you would do best to ignore the electric shaving propagandists, IMO.
posted by killdevil at 10:41 PM on August 20, 2006

This has been asked many times.

All posts tagged with shaving
posted by ludwig_van at 10:54 PM on August 20, 2006

Yeah, this has come up before – like the visual mechanic I'm in the Mach-3-shave-in-the-shower camp. Plus Nivea aftershave balm. That stuff's solid.
posted by furiousthought at 11:02 PM on August 20, 2006

Everyone has their method. I think it's a matter of finding what works for you, which may take some experimentation. At about 28 I started having ingrown hairs, causing a lot of problems shaving. I have tried electric, triple edge, double edge, quattro, etc. Here's the method that works for me to add to the mix.

1. Shave in the shower. Get your face good and wet, soak your neck and beard areas, and wash with soap. I also do the shampoo and condition thing first, to allow time for water to soak into the beard area.

2. I use King of Shaves Shaving Gel. Works great for me. Let it sit for a minute or so.

3. I use a single edge disposable razor. Just the cheapest Bic single edge there is.

4. Shave WITH the grain with a LIGHT touch. I use barely any presssure beyond the weight of the shaver, which weighs nearly nothing.

5. Rinse the blade OFTEN.

6. Once I finish all the beard with the grain, I go VERY VERY lightly against the grain in just some select areas that feel rough. If you can avoid going against the grain, so much the better.

7. I DO NOT go for a baby-skin smooth shave. If my skin feels totally hair-free, I can guarantee major ingrown hairs by the end of the day. That's just how it is, deal with it.

8. I finish by rinsing with cold water, drying, then using Aveeno oatmeal based lotion on my face. I usually apply this later in the day as well.

This has made a big difference. I still get some trouble spots, which I am resigned to live with, but it's WAY better than before.

Good luck. Shaving is a complicated thing for men sometimes. It's God's way of evening out that we don't have to wear makeup.
posted by The Deej at 11:18 PM on August 20, 2006

If you want to go the double-edged safety razor route, read this. He covers just about everything. You shouldn't have to put up with redness or ingrown hairs, nor should you settle for stubble. I say ditch the expensive mach 3 and try what men have used for generations prior - a solid safety razor.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:44 PM on August 20, 2006

You sound like me. Here's the sad truth for me: I can't get a baby-faced shave. It just won't happen, ever. Either I have a slight shadow first thing in the morning, or I'm bright red. My beard is too stiff and dark and my skin too sensitive for it to work.

It's sort of like when I try to style my wavy hair into a straight-hair style; sure, some people can look like that but I'm not one.

Stop shaving against the grain. It doesn't matter if your shave is razor-ad smooth. A bit of shadow is fine (and these days is even fashionable) compared to a rash.
posted by mendel at 4:19 AM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

definitely do not shave against the grain.

I shave after showering, and will often put a hot-as-I-can-stand-it towel on my face for a minute or so prior to shaving.

Find a shaving cream that suits you. Everyone is different. I've been experimenting with hair conditioner with good results. If you don't use a hot towel, let the cream sit on your beard for sometime.

Shave in long, flowing movements. Shave from the temple to the side of your chin in one stroke, and then repeat if necessary. You are more likely to cut yourself or give yourself razorburn if you shave in short, sharp motions.

Pat your face dry with a towel. Don't rub the towel on your skin, as its really sensitive right now.

Always moisturize after shaving, and if you can, use a moisturizer with SPF. Let the lotion dry.

Now apply aftershave or the like, if that is your preference.

Hopefully you now have a clean and comfortable shave.
posted by dantodd at 6:46 AM on August 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

Don't use shaving foam from a can, invest in a brush and a stick of shaving soap. Quite often I don't even use that, I just shave with water once my hair softens a bit in the shower.

I found that an aloe vera gel which is intended for easing the pain of sunburn and promoting healing works beautifully instead of aftershave. I've used it in a couple of instances where I've had to shave in a hurry without the time to soften my whiskers and not had access to any sort of lather.

The stuff I used is a low odour, clear gel, and it really does prevent all the stinging and itching.
posted by tomble at 7:01 AM on August 21, 2006

This is a timely question for me. I've been thinking about this for a while and I read all the questions here and did my own research. As far as background is concerned, I used to enjoy shaving but in the past year or two my skin has got more and more sensitive and shaving has become a real chore. I bought a badger hair shaving brush and some nice shaving soap. I was still using the Gillette Fusion razor but I noticed an almost immediate improvement. My skin felt a lot better. I just got a safety razor (Merkur Futur) and I tried it out for the first time yesterday. Now that felt like shaving. It's a little daunting as you actually need a shaving technique (rather than the scrape-down-the-face-thing that we all do with modern the-more-blades-the-better razors) but it feels good. This is a good article. I now realize that shaving is, and should be a pleasurable ritual.
posted by ob at 7:22 AM on August 21, 2006

Rhomboid that article is superb!
posted by ob at 7:33 AM on August 21, 2006

So much of the art of shaving seems to be the art of shopping. There are razors designed for sensitive skin. The best I know of is the Schick Protector, which is almost impossible to find these days except via that link. However, once you've got one, the secret is that it can take Silk Effects blades, which are widely available, in a lovely ladylike pink.

The blades are positioned behind micro-thin wires that effectively hold them a nano-distance from your skin. They're close enough to shave to baby softness, but there's no razor burn, no matter how hard you try to dig the blade into your face.
posted by Eater at 7:42 AM on August 21, 2006

Edge Gel for sensitive skin, followed by Nivea shave balm.
Works for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:56 AM on August 21, 2006

As someone who used to write about this very thing for a very well-known men's magazine, most of these guys are right on the money (shaving in the shower, etc). But the neck thing is a sticking point for a lot of guys—lemme just add one more suggestion.

I have very thick hairs that grow in all different directions and love being ingrown just as much as being outgrown, so finding a solution took me a shamefully long time. The thing that works best shaving up first (which is, weirdly, with the grain for me), then relathering and going--verrrrry gently--down, against the grain. then, as soon as i get out of the shower and my neck is dry, I use a post-shave toner, something with witch hazel and/or salicylic acid. This tightens the skin and, for me at least, has effectively made ingrown hairs a thing of the past. A lot of people like TendSkin, and I've found great results with both Baxter of California and Bullie. Don't forget the moisturizer afterward, though.
posted by LDL_Plackenfatz at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2006

Even questions previously answered are worth asking again: every month sees new products, new techniques, new research, new posts and articles, and new eyes to read the question. For example, the post that rhomboid linked to above didn't exist before 7/10/06---and since it's continually updated, didn't exist in its present form even three days ago.

So: if you have a question and you find that it was already asked a few months ago: ask it again anyway. The answers may have changed (or grown).
posted by LeisureGuy at 11:31 AM on August 24, 2006

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