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Cutting-edge products give men a closer, better shave

By Al Varela

Dear Al: I am a man in my 40s with a Vandyke beard and I feel a little silly asking questions about shaving at my age. I get a red, dry irritation where the hairline meets the area that I shave. What do you suggest?

First, let's establish some basics about shaving.

Incorrect shaving can cause nicks, ingrown hairs and scrapes. Always make sure you use a razor that is tempered steel. Using a single-blade razor is preferable because it will tug less and will be smoother on the skin. Use plenty of warm water to moisten the skin and soften the beard.

The best time to shave is after you have showered. Your shower should help to cleanse and moisturize your skin making the shave smoother.

A shaving preparation helps to set the beard. It can be a cream, soap, gel or oil. There is even a shaving cream by Kiehl's, the Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream, that has benzocaine, which helps to numb the skin to get a closer shave.

All shaving preparations need to soak in for three to five minutes. That is what hydrates the whiskers making them easier to cut. Shave in the direction of the whiskers and remember that hair grows in different directions under the neck. This may be one of the problems you are having.

Shave down the cheeks and up the neck. Shave slowly and carefully and go over each area once instead of repeatedly. A close shave in one swipe is possible if you have a good sharp blade. Make sure that you rinse the blade during shaving and try not to hit the blade on the side of the sink because it can dull it.

The next problem is that you may have been neglecting the skin underneath the beard. Use a quality cleanser for the skin under your beard and remember to exfoliate to get rid of dead skin. One thing you can do is use a hair conditioner on facial hair. It will help soften the hair and keep it conditioned.

After cleansing and shaving, use the blue astringent toner by Kiehl's not only to condition the skin but to get rid of shaving irritation. Always follow with a skin moisturizer.

No matter how you cut it, shaving correctly is an important part in making a man look well groomed and ready for the day, even for those who are shaving only a portion of their faces.

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