Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your Skin and Face for Shaving: Expert Tips and Natural Ingredients

How do you prepare your skin and face prior to shaving?

Overall, prepping the skin prior to shaving helps to improve the overall shaving experience, minimize skin irritation, and achieve a closer, more comfortable shave. It is an important step in the shaving routine for men. The benefits include removing dirt and bacteria, opening the pores, softening the hair, protecting and lubricating the skin. It allows the razor to function much more effectively.

To prepare your skin and face prior to shaving, you can follow these steps:

Start by washing your face:

Use a gentle facial cleanser or face wash to clean your face and remove any dirt, oil, or impurities. Rinse thoroughly with warm fresh water. Every one has a little different shaving routine, I shave in the shower, if you shave after the shower(recommended) keep your face warm and wet, ready for the next step.


Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and can provide a smoother surface for shaving. You can use a facial scrub or exfoliating cleanser to gently scrub your face in circular motions. However, be cautious not to scrub too hard or irritate your skin. A good pro-tip is to use a shaving brush to apply your shaving cream, using a circular motion. By using a shaving brush you not only exfoliate your skin but the action of the brush raises the hair from the surface and aids in whipping up a rich lather. The shaving brush allows the razor to work more effectively. I talk more about the benefits of a shaving brushes here.

Luxury high quality shaving brush for exfoliating

Apply a pre-shave oil or gel(Optional):

Pre-shave oils or gels help lubricate the skin and soften the facial hair, making it easier for the razor to glide over the skin. Apply a small amount of the product to your face and massage it in circular motions, ensuring all areas to be shaved are covered. A hair conditioner will also work, as well as olive oil. I list this step as optional as a good soap with good lubrication should do the same. Using a pre-shave oil is a good step if you are new to using a double edge safety razor.

Apply shaving cream or gel:

Next, apply a shaving cream or gel on top of the pre-shave oil. Make sure to choose a product suitable for your skin type. Apply an even layer over your face, working it into a lather using your fingertips or a shaving brush. Again consider a shaving brush for its exfoliation benefits.

Allow the product to sit:

Let the pre-shave oil and shaving cream or gel sit on your face for a minute or two. This will further soften the facial hair and provide more protection during shaving. Take your time...

Prepare your razor:

Make sure your razor is clean and sharp. Dull blades can cause more irritation and lead to nicks or cuts. If you're using a disposable razor, ensure it's in good, clean condition or replace it with a new one. Double edge safety razor blades are extremely inexpensive...no excuse for not using a fresh blade if you use a safety razor. You can generally get 3-5 good shaves from a cartridge razor or a double edge razor blade. If you feel the shave tugging on your hair...change the blade!

Prepared safety razor ready for shaving

Shave with the grain:

Start shaving in the direction of hair growth (known as shaving with the grain). Use gentle, short strokes and rinse the blade frequently to remove hair and product buildup. If you are considering a safety razor and want a close shave for date night...I have some tips here.

Preparing your skin for shaving - Direction of hair growth

Rinse and reapply:

After shaving a section, rinse your razor under running water to remove hair and shaving cream residue. Then, reapply more shaving cream or gel if needed and continue shaving in the same manner. If you want a close shave, your best approach is to do multiple passes but make sure to reapply shaving cream between each pass. Don't go over the same area more then once to avoid irritation. Stick to one pass if you have sensitive skin.

Rinse with cold water:

Once you've finished shaving, rinse your face with clean, cold water. Cold water helps to close the pores and soothe the skin. Pat your face dry with a clean towel. I talk more about some post shave tips and tricks here.

Rinse face after shaving with cold water

Remember, everyone's skin is unique, so feel free to adjust these steps based on your specific needs and preferences.

What are some natural ingredients you can use to prepare your skin for shaving?

Natural ingredients - Water splash

There are several natural ingredients that you can use to prepare your skin for shaving. These ingredients can help moisturize the skin, soften the facial hair, and provide a smoother shaving experience. Here are a few examples:

Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera is a plant native to North Africa, as a result it was probably the ancient Egyptions who used it first. It is a soothing and moisturizing ingredient that can help hydrate the skin before shaving. It has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can also help reduce irritation and razor burn.

Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is a versatile natural moisturizer that can be used as a pre-shave treatment. Apply a small amount of liquid coconut oil to your face and massage it in. It helps to soften the facial hair and provide lubrication for a smoother shave.

Coconut oil is good for skin and shaving prep

Olive Oil:

If you like Italian food, you likely have olive oil on hand. Olive oil is another excellent natural moisturizer that can be used before shaving. Apply a thin layer of olive oil to your face and let it sit for a few minutes. It helps to soften the hair and provide a barrier between the razor and your skin.

Olive oil is a natural ingredients for shaving and moisturizing


Honey is known for its moisturizing and antibacterial properties. Mix a small amount of honey with warm water and apply it to your face. Let it sit for a few minutes before shaving to help hydrate and soothe the skin.

Honey is a natural ingredients for your face prior to shaving


Plain yogurt contains lactic acid, which acts as a gentle exfoliator and moisturizer. Apply a thin layer of yogurt to your face and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse it off with warm water before shaving to help remove dead skin cells and provide hydration.

Tea Tree Oil:

Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which can help prevent infections and soothe the skin after shaving. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) and apply it to your face before shaving.


Cucumber has cooling and hydrating properties that can be refreshing for the skin. You can slice a cucumber and rub the slices on your face or blend cucumber to create a cooling cucumber paste. Rinse off the cucumber residue before shaving.

Cucumber is good for skin during shaving

Remember to patch test any natural ingredient on a small area of your skin before using it extensively to ensure that you don't have any adverse reactions or allergies. Everyone's skin is unique, so it's important to find the natural ingredients that work best for you.

If you have specific skin concerns or allergies it is also advised to consult with a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.

What are some ingredients you should avoid when preparing your skin for shaving?

When preparing your skin for shaving, it's important to avoid certain ingredients that may cause irritation, dryness, or other adverse reactions. Here are some ingredients you should generally avoid:


Products containing high concentrations of alcohol, such as certain aftershaves or pre-shave products, can be drying and irritating to the skin. Avoid using alcohol-based products, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Alcohol does have antiseptic qualities.

Fragrances and artificial dyes:

Fragrances and artificial dyes are common irritants that can cause skin sensitivity and allergic reactions. Opt for fragrance-free or naturally scented products to minimize the risk of irritation if you have sensitive skin. Synthetic fragrances are usually less expensive compared to natural ingredients, this is often why manufacturers use them.

Harsh chemicals:

Some shaving products may contain harsh chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or parabens, which can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause dryness. Look for products that are free from harsh chemicals or opt for more natural alternatives.

Menthol or peppermint:

While these ingredients can provide a cooling sensation, they may also be irritating for some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin. If you find that menthol or peppermint irritate your skin, choose products without these ingredients.

Peppermint can cause irritation when shaving

Synthetic preservatives:

Certain synthetic preservatives, like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents, can be sensitizing to the skin. Look for products labeled as paraben-free or opt for natural preservatives when possible. Often these additives are added to extend the shelf life of the product.


Sulfates, such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), are foaming agents commonly found in soaps and cleansers. These can be drying and irritating to the skin. Consider sulfate-free products for a gentler shaving experience. These are added to create a thick lather...avoid them! You can whip up a great lather with a quality shaving brush and a good soap.

Harsh exfoliants:

Avoid using harsh exfoliating products or scrubs immediately before shaving, as they can cause micro-tears in the skin and increase the risk of irritation. If you want to exfoliate, opt for gentle exfoliants, use a more aggressive shaving brush or do it a day or two before shaving. Expert Tip: Boar bristles in a shaving brush are more aggressive than badger hair, I talk about shaving brush bristles here. We offer a titanium shaving brush with or with out a shaving knot so you can customize your preference.

It's important to note that everyone's skin is unique, and what may be irritating for one person may be well-tolerated and preferred by another.

If you have specific skin concerns or sensitivities, it's always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist who can provide personalized recommendations.

What are common mistakes men make preparing their skin for a shave?

When preparing their skin for a shave, men and women often make some common mistakes that can lead to skin irritation or a less-than-optimal shaving experience. Here are some of those mistakes to avoid:

Not cleansing the skin:

Skipping the step of cleansing the skin before shaving is a common mistake. Cleansing helps remove dirt, oil, bacteria and dead skin cells, allowing for a smoother and closer shave. Use a gentle cleanser or face wash to clean your skin before shaving.

Cleansing and washing face prior to shaving

Not hydrating the skin:

Failing to hydrate the skin properly before shaving can make the hair tougher and the shaving process more uncomfortable. It is always good practice to take a warm shower or place a warm towel on your face for a few minutes to soften the hair and open up the pores. This helps prepare the skin for a smoother shave. The towel is a barber trick used by expert barbers during a shave.

A warm wet towel over the face prior to shaving to soften the hair and open the pores.

Using hot water:

While warm water is beneficial for softening the hair and opening the pores, using excessively hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to dryness. Opt for warm water instead of hot water when washing your face or preparing for a shave.

Hot water not good for post shave


Shaving without sufficient lubrication:

Insufficient lubrication is a common mistake that can lead to razor burn, cuts, and irritation. Apply a shaving cream, gel, or foam generously to create a smooth and protective barrier between the razor and your skin. Allow the product to sit on your skin for a minute or two before shaving. A pre-shave oil will also work...make sure to not shave over the same area more than once, reapply your shaving cream between strokes.

Using the wrong type of razor or blades:

Using a razor or blades that don't suit your skin and hair type can result in a less comfortable shave. Experiment with different types of razors (such as safety razors) andchoose blades to find the ones that work best for you. We are biased but in our experience a machined stainless steel safety razor or a high polish, machined titanium safety razor is your best choice, we offer 4 different levels of base plates to cater to your shaving preferences. You can read more about how we are able to customize the experience here. One benefit about a safety razor is you have more options for blades, each blade has a distinct feel and can swing your shaving experience for the good.

Applying too much pressure:

Pressing the razor too hard against the skin is a common mistake that can cause cuts, nicks, and skin irritation. Use a light touch and let the razor glide gently across your skin. Applying excessive pressure doesn't lead to a closer shave but rather increases the risk of skin damage. This is a common problem with cartridge razors.

Shaving against the grain too aggressively:

Shaving against the grain can provide a closer shave, but doing it too aggressively can lead to irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. If you are looking for a close shave, consider taking multiple passes starting with the grain, then across the grain and finally against the grain. Take shorter, gentle strokes and follow the direction of hair growth for a more comfortable shave.

Not rinsing the razor blade properly:

Failing to rinse the razor blade adequately during the shaving process can result in a less effective shave and can clog the blades. Rinse the blade regularly under warm water to remove hair, shaving cream residue, and debris. Be particularly careful and thorough with a multi-blade cartridge razor as these are more likely to get clogged and are more difficult to clean resulting in a collection of bacteria and dead skin between the blades.

By avoiding these common mistakes when preparing your skin for a shave, you can achieve a smoother, more comfortable, and irritation-free shaving experience. Take your time, use the right techniques and products, and listen to your skin's needs and feedback for the best results. If you feel irritation, your skin is asking you to do something different.

How do you prep for a shave? Do you have a tip for pre-shaving you use? I would love to here it, leave a comment below!


Misc. At CarbonShavingCo notes: Wet shaving is a bit of an art form. It is personal to your skin type, which dictates the type of soap and shaving brush you will be using. Opting between a straight razor or safety razor (disposable razors won't be the best of experiences at all). The use of some hot water to open up your pores and soften the facial hair is a good thing. When it comes to skin conditions, such as sensitive skin, razor bumps, and at times hair growth in multiple directions extra care and consideration must be taken and avoid razor burn caused by dry shaving, lack of lubrication, wrong direction, ingrown hairs, etc. At CarbonShavingCo, the construction of our razors aims to be bacteria-free as much as possible to help avoid allergic reactions by being polished with easy to clean surface, the design maximizes the flow of debris, the pinch design reduces gaps for the collection of debris and germs, we aim to help people with sensitive skin and prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. We believe that wet shaving is the best approach with a good shaving soap as opposed to using men's disposable razors. This also applies to safety razors for women. Keeping your gear clean is so important if you are sensitive. Join the community of wet shavers today to learn more so you can enjoy your personal spa experience.

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