There's no excuse for a well-groomed man not to have a proper skincare routine. After all, most men have been shaving since they were high schoolers—so they’ve been taking care of their skin for long enough to know better than to let it go dry.
However, there are still many men out there who must be living under a rock where exfoliating before shaving as well as after shaving remains a rarity among even style-conscious men. In our books, this is a travesty. Nothing rejuvenates a man’s face and prevents nicks and cuts during shaving like a proper exfoliation routine.
Whether you’re wondering how you can get started exfoliating and taking your skincare game to the next level to avoid irritated skin, or if you’re a veteran exfoliator who’s looking to up your game, we’ve got you covered. Below, we break down the ins and outs of exfoliation to help you get a better shave every time.
Exfoliation 101: A Man’s Guide
In case you didn’t know, exfoliation is the removal of the skin’s old, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Sound a bit gross? That’s because it is. Therefore, the best course of action is to simply get rid of the gunk by exfoliating and taking good care of your skin by whatever means necessary.
If you’re totally clueless about how to exfoliate, don’t sweat it. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular ways to exfoliate your skin and get it looking fresh and new again:
- Hair removal
These are the four main types of exfoliation that you’ll find men practicing around the world. However, even most modern men pass on waxing and Nair—the more salon-style methods of exfoliation—and instead stick to mechanical methods of exfoliation.
Mechanical Exfoliation: The Basics
As you might expect, mechanical exfoliation is a relatively straightforward process that involves the physical scrubbing of the skin with an abrasive material. Usually, mechanical exfoliation is performed with a microfiber cloth, sheet, crepe paper, sponge, loofah, or micro-bead scrub.
The benefit of opting for mechanical exfoliation over chemical exfoliation is that, as the name suggests, there are no potentially harmful chemicals involved in the process. In other words, chemical exfoliation involves scrubs loaded with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and various other acids that might not sit well with your skin.
On the other hand, alternative methods of exfoliation, like waxing, wetshaving, or Nair also have their risks and setbacks. Don’t believe us? Try waxing the sensitive skin under your chin or between your eyebrows—it’s not fun.
Exfoliating for a Better Shave
Most men shave, but few men understand the importance of exfoliating for getting a better, closer shave. You might recall from men’s razor commercials that the key to a good shave is to make sure that your blade gets close to the skin without running into bumps. This is exactly where exfoliation comes into play.
Although you might not see them, your skin is loaded with dead cells laying around like they own the place. But, they don’t. So, kick them to the curb. After a couple of minutes or gentle exfoliation, your skin can be cleared of dead skin cells and ready for a butter-smooth shave that’s as close to your epidermis as possible.
Should You Exfoliate After Your Shave?
The ideal time for exfoliating is immediately before your shave. Why? Because the trick is to remove all the grime and gunk from your skin, so your razor blade doesn’t make contact with anything except the true surface of your skin. In other words, there is no element of shaving preparation more important than clearing your blade’s runway.
When you exfoliate before you shave, you provide a nice, clean shaving surface for your skin that can help protect yourself against cuts and nicks. However, if you opt to exfoliate afteryou shave, you won’t enjoy this benefit. Instead, you will get to enjoy a nice, long burning sensation since your freshly shaven face will be easily irritated.
If you exfoliate after you shave, chances are you will regret it. Aside from the burning, you will have to put up with excess redness, irritation, and maybe even a bit of swelling. To prevent this from happening, it is always a good call to opt for a quick exfoliation session before you bust out the razor and shaving cream.
Your New Pre-Shave Exfoliation Routine
Convinced yet? If so, you might want to follow this quick guide to exfoliating for beginners. Simply follow these five steps to facial exfoliation if you want a close and smooth shave every time.
First, apply a small dollop of exfoliating cream on your index finger and gently work it into the surface of your face. Then, rub it in a little more to make sure all your pores have been opened and the dead skin has been picked up by the lotion or cream. Ensure that you get your so-called “T-Zone” (the bridge of your nose and forehead) since this is a hotbed for dead skin.
Once you’re all rubbed in, it’s time to rinse it off. A true professional will want to stay away from using their bare hands to do this. Instead, we suggest going with a loofah, washcloth, face brush, or an automated brush. Make sure that you rinse your entire face thoroughly and also include your neck, chin, and ears for good measure.
From start to finish, a good exfoliation session should only take a couple of minutes. Once it’s all done, you should feel a slightly hot sensation across your face—this is the feeling of your pores waking up after a long burial underneath your skin’s natural oils and gunk. Now, you can go ahead and enjoy the shave of a lifetime.