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Men's Grooming: Shaving

       One thing men must cope with that very few women have is facial hair. In some cultures, men's facial hair is a badge of maturity and is expected, particularly among the married men. In other cultures, whether or not a man grows his facial hair is entirely a matter of personal preference. Beards, mustaches, sideburns: there are as many variations and combinations of facial hair styles as one could possibly imagine.
 
man shaving his facial hair        The appearance of a man's facial hair is determined by genetics. Some men can grow only sparse patchy facial hair while others grow thick pelts. Some facial hair is silky, some coarse. Some facial hair is curly, while others have straighter facial hair. The colors of facial hair can be as varied as that found on any other place on the body (including the head). The density, texture and growth pattern of the facial hair determines what styles look best on the individual.
 
       We've discussed the various styles of facial hair men have worn, so now let's talk about removing the facial hair. The most common method used for removing the facial hair is shaving, and shaving can be accomplished in one of two ways - either by performing a "wet shave" through the use of a manual razor or by performing a 'dry shave' using an electric razor.
 
       The electric razor is a small motor-driven device that contains one or more rotating blades under some form of guard. The blades spin very fast and clip off the hair at the skin's surface. They are safe, and easy to use, but usually need to be used for a period of time before they become fully effective. They work especially well on coarse hair. Because shaving with an electric razor doesn't generally require the use of any product to soften the whiskers, shaving in this manner is often called a "dry shave".
 
       The electric razor must be cleaned regularly to remove the particles of hair and dead skin that get trapped in the blades. The blades themselves can eventually grow dull and must be replaced as well. However, such blades last much longer than those found in manual razors.
 
       A wet shave is called such because it involves the use of a cream or lotion to soften the whiskers and lubricate the skin during the shaving process. A manual razor is used to scrape the skin, cutting off the hairs at the skin's surface. Manual razors available today have multiple blades and offer a much smoother shave than old-fashioned razors provided.
 
       The manual razor is generally rinsed after every pass to remove the lotion or cream and the cut hairs from between the blades. The blades also grow dull after a few uses and must be replaced. In most cases, this involves simply disposing of the bladed 'head' of the razor and replacing it with a new one, or with completely disposable razors, you simply toss the entire razor and use a fresh one from the package.
 
       Getting a good, close shave from a manual razor requires knowing how to shave properly. Oddly enough, very few men seem to know even the basic tricks to shaving, so here's how it should be done:
 
The Proper Shave:
 
       You will need:
       Shaving cream or gel
       A small towel
       A disposable razor of your choice
       Access to running water and a sink (or bathtub/shower)
 
       One of the key factors in getting a good shave is softening the facial hair prior to shaving. To do this, take the small towel and wet it using water that is as hot as you can tolerate. Wring out the excess water and lay the towel on your face (or press it to the face) and leave it there for about five minutes. The heat and moisture will combine to soften the facial hair, making it easier to cut. If you are pressed for time in the mornings, you may find it useful to shave after you shower or bathe. The heat and moisture of the shower perform the same function as the hot towel and will save you the time.
 
       Next, apply a small amount of shaving cream or gel to your hands and work the lather over the whiskers to be shaved. Allow the product to sit for a moment, further softening the skin and whiskers. At this point you can proceed with the shave.
 
       Turn on the water until you have a warm flow and wet the blade end of the razor. Then start at the top of the cheek and pull the blade across the skin in the direction in which the hair is growing. {This is important. You should ALWAYS shave in the direction of hair growth. Shaving against the direction of growth can lead to ingrown hairs and cause great discomfort.} The facial hair grows in different directions in different areas of the face and neck, so be prepared to stop and change directions often.
 
       Use short passes with the razor to prevent over-clogging the blades. After each pass with the razor, rinse the blades under the running warm water to remove the cut hairs and dead skin cells that get lodged there. {Note: The use of warm water in rinsing the blade is to make rinsing easier. Oils from the skin can harden and make unclogging the blades more difficult. However, if you have especially sensitive skin, or feel some irritation when shaving using warm water, switch to cold water. This will make shaving more comfortable for you.}
 
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