Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coping with Winter Dryness

In my part of the world we are deep into the indoor heating season. This often means that the indoor air has less moisture, and the outdoor air is cold, biting, and extra hard on exposed skin. The outdoor air leads to chapped lips, dry cracked hands, and facial skin begging for more moisture.
The single edge of a razor blade can remove precious oils from
skin like a windshield wiper removes rain & road grime.

I have long accepted the existence of the squeegee effect of single-edge shaving implements; that is, that a single blade removing hair also takes with it precious skin oils much like a windshield wiper removes rain drops as one drives his car.

Of course, there are other wet-shaving practices that can increase the removal of skin oil, and these include the following:

  • Hot water shaves
  • Use of common bath soap as a shave pre-wash agent
  • Some shave soaps/lathers can be drying
  • Alum blocks are drying
  • After shave lotions and balms that contain alcohol
To combat the drying effect of these common practices, I have long made a habit of altering my routine accordingly:
  • I use cool tap water for my shaves. Not only is this less disturbing of the precious skin oils, it also reduces water waste (by no longer waiting for the tap to run hot), it reduces shave-prep time, and it reduces energy loss by no longer heating and running all that water.
  • For a long time I have eliminated the pre-shave face wash all together, and instead simply splashed and rubbed in cool water into my beard. Lately I have been testing the effect (if any) of using more specialized soaps for a pre-shave wash. I have been using a shea-butter-laced bath soap among other more specialized products to clean without drying.
  • I now minimize the use of the alum block to only those areas necessary, and only when needed. For me, the days of the automatic whole-beard post-shave alum rub are long gone.
  • After-shave lotions are limited to low- or no-alcohol, and almost always supplemented with a bit of conditioning oil to protect my skin and retain as much remaining natural skin moisture as possible.
  • Some days before I leave the house I rub on some additional moisturizing lotion with sun screen.
Happy shaving!

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