Monday, July 18, 2016

The My-Preferences Series: Beard Preparation

Normally, my daily schedule makes bathing more appropriate later in the day rather than first thing in the morning. However, because of gray in my beard, the unshaven look isn't too flattering to me, so I shave every morning.

Because my skin is likely just a bit more sensitive than the average, I have spent some energy assessing beard preparation. I have found that the road less traveled is a much better path for me. In this case, the road less traveled means avoiding the ubiquitous recommendation for extensive beard prep using hot water, hot showers, hot towels, etc.

I have found that hot and warm beard prep makes for a more uncomfortable post-shave experience. Just the other day, due to a schedule anomaly (the rare early-morning workout, which is usually later in the day), I took a hot shower prior to my morning shave. Although I got my normal shave closeness using a shave process and equipment that is completely within my normal routine, my post-shave skin sensation was not exactly razor burn, but rather a minor but noticeable irritated feeling. Yet using the same gear and process in daily shaves preceding and following the one at issue, I had normal results: no irritation.

I have long attributed the hot-water beard prep for the additional removal of precious skin oils that are somewhat protective when dragging sharpened steel across one's dermis. That afore-mentioned shave the other day was a reminder of that conclusion that I had formed long ago.

Although I have previously described my pre-shave beard prep as using cold water, that may not be quite accurate. Actually I take the drizzle of cool tap water into my hands and rub them a bit to warm the water slightly, then rub the remaining moisture into my beard. I will typically do that two to four times prior to applying soap and lathering with a brush repeatedly dipped (just the bristle tips, not the entire knot) in a small cup of cool tap water.

That's the extend of my beard preparation prior to a shave. No hot water, no face wash. (I believe that the face wash also does more harm than good by removing skin oils. My skin isn't that dirty to need a pre-shave wash.)

That's my process. If yours is different, more power to you. However, I will go out on a limb and state the obvious, which is that virtually all barbers and most of the wet shaving world has the prep process a little wrong: the hot-water wash and prep is not the best process for everyone. For some of us less really is more -- especially keeping cool rather than hot.

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. Don't you just love the way Blogger trashes your pics!

    I'm a lukewarm shaver myself with the only prep being three or four drops of shave secret or Somersets. This seems to make the first pass across the "goatee area" a little easier on the skin. I totally agree that excessive skin prep for us sensitive skin shavers can do more harm than good. A good soap such as Palmolive with palm oil extract provides (at least for me) a very good cushion between the blade and skin.

    BTW Loved your last post!