[grooming-filter] how do I beat the five o'clock shadow?
July 17, 2008 5:56 AM   Subscribe

[grooming-filter] how do I beat the five o'clock shadow?

I have an especially persistent five o'clock shadow on my cheeks.

it's the kind that appears within an hour or two after shaving, not late in the afternoon. I use a mach 3 blade, tend to shave multiple times in multiple directions and yet the unwanted look is back before I make it to work. I don't know how to shave even closer without ripping my cheeks apart. I also don't think my skin, which is already prone to irritations, could take a much more intense shaving ritual.

help me, hivemind. I don't want to look like a bloated, alcoholic don johnson past his prime. how do I get the clean look for more than an hour?
posted by krautland to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you can't beat it, join it. We don't know your face as well as you do, so maybe you look ridiculous in a beard, but I somehow doubt it. Embrace the face hair. Experiment with different styles and lengths, and always keep it looking neat, but there's really no reason to kill your face skin off unless you're in an industry that doesn't allow it. (Disney park workers, for instance...are you a Disney park worker? No? Try a beard!)

A friend of mine can grow back a beard in the time it takes to wipe the shaving cream remnants off his face. When he finally let himself grow a beard, his reaction was something to the effect of "I have been an idiot since I was 15." Roughly.
posted by phunniemee at 6:07 AM on July 17, 2008

How much sun do you get? Additional (careful) exposure tends to darken the skin tone and lighten hair, which should help the perception a bit. Other than that you're pretty much at the mercy of genetics and hormones, neither of which is worth screwing around with for the sake of that just-shaved look.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:27 AM on July 17, 2008

A short while ago there was a thread on wet shaving which included a link to this guy and his "method shaving". To me it all seems a bit OCD however. I would agree on the phunniemee's beard suggestion.
posted by rongorongo at 6:34 AM on July 17, 2008

Supposedly wet shaving should prevent it.
posted by majikstreet at 6:51 AM on July 17, 2008

To what extent are you letting the beard hairs soak up warm water before shaving? I've heard recommendations of up to five minutes before. That should cause them to both soften and expand, so that when you shave them, what's left behind is that much shorter. I would expect this to have the added risk of ingrown hairs, though.
posted by kimota at 6:53 AM on July 17, 2008

I still don't grow much facial hair on my cheeks (I'm 27), yet my moustache will grow in leaps and bounds right before your very eyes. To help matters, my skin is apparently translucent. To keep from sporting the "molestache" look, I actually shave my 'stache with an electric, which somehow (surprisingly!) gets a closer shave than I can do with a blade. I also try to keep a little bit of a tan, to prevent everyone from seeing through my skin to the moustache hidden beneath. So maybe try another shaving device and give your face a little more sunshine?
posted by Grither at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2008

Oh, also, I use the electric shaver AFTER a warm shower, which seems to help as well, because as kimota said, that gives the hair ample time to expand to get a closer shave....
posted by Grither at 7:04 AM on July 17, 2008

a full beard looks silly on me - there are two areas where I'd end up with patches of clear skin surrounded by relatively thick hair.

I haven't taken the time to soak my face before shaving. my usual routine in the morning is washing my face, then applying shaving cream, then brushing teeth and finally shaving. (taking a shower is usually tha final step.) I thought giving it three or so minutes to soak in the shaving gel (nivea) would do the trick but I'll try soaking in warm water next time just to see how it goes.
posted by krautland at 7:34 AM on July 17, 2008

I don't want to look like a bloated, alcoholic don johnson past his prime.

I can't speak to bloatedness or resemblance to don johnson, but there are plenty of us ladies who find the 5 o'clock shadow to be quite fetching. If your clothes or hair look sloppy, the shadow might add to that perception of sloppiness. But if you're in well-fitting, ironed clothes and your hair is groomed, the shadow adds a manly, rugged impression. The same goes for outdoorsy, athletic clothes - yum. I say own the shadow.
posted by vytae at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

But if you're in well-fitting, ironed clothes and your hair is groomed, the shadow adds a manly, rugged impression.

I agree with vytae. Just think: you're dressed for work and perfectly groomed but dang it under all that officin' attire, you're such a man your beard can't be stopped! My husband has the same "problem" and I think his thick beard is very handsome.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2008

Try showering first. I generally get a closer shave by showering first and then shaving.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:24 AM on July 17, 2008

yeah... about that? I'm a designer. think ironic t-shirts, sneakers, jeans. believe me, I cannot show up in ironed clothes or even suit jackets (which I do like wearing) without coming across as terribly pretentious.

besides... it's about how I like seeing myself, no?
posted by krautland at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2008

How shower first, also try using a shaving soap and a brush, the OCD man in the video was right, it not only exfolliates your face but gives you a better lather and stands up the hairs so you will get a closer shave. I just switched to a wet shave safety razor, but if a mach 3 keeps working for you then stick with it.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:39 AM on July 17, 2008

I thought the "just rolled out of bed" look was popular, but I live in Hicktowne where fashion take a few years to filter here if it gets here at all.

How old are you? I've noticed since I hit *cough*40 that I have to shave every day instead of every other day.

You could try shaving in the shower instead of after... the steam seems to loosen things up.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2008

Sorry, the first word should be hot.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2008

I'm a designer. think ironic t-shirts, sneakers, jeans.

Can you iron your t-shirts? Wear dark jeans that fit nicely? Choose some trendy sneakers rather than a ratty old pair of nikes? T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers can look very well put together or very sloppy; there's a huge spectrum. Most of the designers I've known or shared coffee shops with tend towards the spiffy end up that spectrum. Even bed-head hair can look sloppy or trendy depending on how you do it.

besides... it's about how I like seeing myself, no?

Absolutely. I just didn't want you to think other people would necessarily mind your 5 o'clock shadow, since these grooming-related questions can be motivated by wanting to present a certain impression to others. Plus, if you try the shower-first trick and you're still not looking how you wanted, I wouldn't want you to despair. :)
posted by vytae at 8:43 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

How old are you?
30. I've always been close to the monkeys on the evolutionary ladder.

Can you iron your t-shirts? Wear dark jeans that fit nicely? Choose some trendy sneakers rather than a ratty old pair of nikes?

I very much do. it still doesn't look right with a beard, in fact it looks like the only thing I don't care about is my face.

I don't want a full beard. I want to know how to get my cheeks as smoothly-shaved looking like so many other men.
posted by krautland at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2008

I too once used the Mach 3 blades (for several years) but just recently moved up to the Gillette Fusion (5 blades + 1 for trimming). I didn't believe in the marketing hype at first, but I have noticed quite a bit of an improvement. Not only do I get a closer and more comfortable shave, but the blades last longer too!

If you do not want to upgrade just yet, then your best best is to apple a hot towel/water to your face a full 5 minutes before your shave. You may also want to shave while in the shower where the steam also helps. Don't forget to wipe/blow-dry the excess moisture from your blades when you're done!
posted by mahoganyslide at 9:37 AM on July 17, 2008

Try shaving in the shower and using soap instead of shaving foam.

Even though I'm blonde I've had perminant five o'clock shadow for so long I've got used to it... a had the full beard for while when I was younger then a few years ago I adopted a goatee, 'tache and long sideburns which helps to mitigate it (and saves time shaving)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2008

Have you tried a good electric? I know that the conventional wisdom is that the shave isn't as close. But, if you can get past the initial break-in period (at least a week, probably 2 or 3), you might be happy with the results. The advantage isn't necessarily that it's closer, it's that you can shave more often. A wet shave more than once a day isn't really practical, but you can shave several times with an electric as long as your skin will tolerate it. An anti-razor-bump after shave (something with salicylic acid) can help here.

When I was using an electric razor many years ago, it was the smoothest my face had ever been. I have a very thick, fast-growing, dark beard, but little shadow was visible for a few hours after shaving. When the razor broke, I tried one replacement, didn't get the same results, and switched to a wet shave using the newest Gillette super-multi-blade product. My procedure now involves (1) 2-3 minutes of hot water to the face, followed by (2) shaving oil, followed by (3) shaving soap applied by brush, followed by (4) the shave with the grain, followed by (5) rinsing the soap, followed by (6) cold water to the face, which closes the pores. It doesn't take quite as long as it sound like, but I often skip (2) and (6) when rushed. If it's a special occasion, I add another lather and against-the-grain shave after (4). The problem with doing that is that it takes a while for your beard to adjust back to the with-the-grain-only shaves.

So, my recommendation is to try a good electric razor for a few weeks. Unfortunately, I can't point you in the direction of a specific product, but I'm sure a few searches will point you in the right direction.
posted by lionelhutz5 at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2008

Have you tried a cream depilatory? You might have seen the Nair ads for women, which tout that legs stay hair-free for longer than shaving.

There are also products specifically for men's beards. The main selling point is that they help with "razor bumps" (ingrown hairs) but presumably the longer-lasting hair-free effects would be similar.

My experience with the leg version is that it works, but follow the directions and remove the stuff on time. (wince)
posted by CruiseSavvy at 10:18 AM on July 17, 2008

Facial moisturizer. If you're not already using one. And you should be (for the sunscreen protection).

It makes your skin more welcoming to a razor.

You could always get a single laser hair removal treatment to thin out the hair, but it could also mean months of patchiness.
posted by Menomena at 10:28 AM on July 17, 2008

My dad and I both have what I have always referred to as "permanent 5 o'clock shadow". Even when my face feels totally smooth, you can see the chopped off ends of my facial hair, flush with the surface of my skin. I do lots of soaking, and have tried various types of electrics, razors, shaving creams, shaving oils, etc. There isn't really anything that can be done in my case - and I've noticed some other men like this. Sounds like you may be similar.
posted by chr1sb0y at 11:37 AM on July 17, 2008

Don't use Nair on your face. I am tremendously serious about this.

Shave after the shower (or in it). Opens the pores, hair expands and will cut cleaner.

Brush and shaving soap. Will stand the hairs up.

Whatever razor you like, but not a disposable. I get a noticeably smoother shave with the Mach 5 despite how ludicrous it is.

Aftershave can tighten up your pores again to make the small amount of remaining stubble less noticeable.

Last resort: Makeup. Yes, I'm serious. I know someone who does this. He's vain, but it does work, but it will take practice to learn how to apply it without looking like you're wearing makeup. Befriend someone at the Sephora store.
posted by Ookseer at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2008

I had a few years where I had trouble managing my moustache stubble. It was no fun. If I shaved in the morning I'd have a silly looking rough patch by the time I left work for the day.

I tried some new products/techniques, and things got better. My advice from a previous AskMe question still stands.

Also... I always shave after a shower, and I always let the lathered up shaving cream sit on my face for awhile before starting. After rinsing my face with COLD water (close those pores!), I pat on two different aftershave products. The first is a liquid "toner" that reduces oil/shine and has just enough alcohol in it to feel warm (but won't make you scream), and then I pat dry and put on some Neutrogena aftershave cream.
posted by adamk at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2008

Hi, former skin care consumer goods employee here. Numerous good recommendations above. I particularly like Ookseer's above me, but to give you my own set:

I haven't taken the time to soak my face before shaving. my usual routine in the morning is washing my face, then applying shaving cream, then brushing teeth and finally shaving. (taking a shower is usually tha final step.)

That's your first problem. Heat and water softens skin and hair, which allows for a closer shave. I personally shower with the bathroom door closed and apply shaving cream while the room is still steamy. Those who recommend shaving in the shower do it for the same effect. This alone will help you.

I thought giving it three or so minutes to soak in the shaving gel (nivea) would do the trick

Try a hard-core shaving cream (or soap), not a gel or foam. Splurge for a high-end product like a Kiehl's or Art of Shaving tube that has a heavy, penetrating consistency. This will further soften things and allow the razor to penetrate.

Do try upgrading to a Fusion from a Mach 3 and see if it helps. If nothing else you're increasing razor exposure by 67%.

A shaving oil will further aid the softening. My former employer even has a daily treatment that, among other things, slows the rate of growth of your hair. No joke: I tried it for a week on one cheek and had reduced stubble there for a month.

A good aftershave will help your skin rebound from your hard work, and certain products tout their ability to close pores, so try one of them.

Don't Nair, don't laser your cheeks, don't switch to an electric, don't go crazy. Just give your skin and hair a fighting chance and you'll do much better.
posted by werty at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2008

As noted by lots of others, hot shower first.

Work some shaving cream/soap into your beard after you get out of the shower (preferably with a shaving brush), then rinse it off with hot water. Work more shaving cream back into your beard (with the shaving brush) then shave. You should reapply the shaving cream when you shave the same spot in the other direction.

Afterward, get a good aftershave lotion to moisturize. For some reason, aftershave lotion helps diminish my shadow.

You may need to change your shaving blade more often, like after every two shaves, if you have course stubble. If changing blades often becomes cost-inefficient, then I might recommend investing in a safety razor, which has very cheap blades.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2008

Do like my grandpa and shave twice a day...

Data point- I have Irish skin/hair. Thick hair, thin skin. The wet shaving methods like softening up the hair and all that just result in Razor Burn Tremendous Face Pain. No matter what. My solution is to either grow semi-beards or just deal with a sub-standard shave and shaving again at night if I need to.
posted by gjc at 7:31 PM on July 17, 2008

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