Getting that perfect shave can be a challenge and there's simply no replacement for a professional shave. It's a luxury that not enough of you have enjoyed - but those of you who have will undoubtedly agree with my sentiment.
Relax, and Get Your Beard Wet
Your hair cuts best when it's wet and your skin is relaxed. One of my favorite parts of getting a professional shave is the hot towel to kick things off. You can do this hot towel treatment at home by taking a wash cloth or hand towel and adding a dab of menthol rub and essential oil to the towel (the scent is up to you but stick to eucalyptus so it smells the same). Apply the rub as a thin layer across the towel's surface, fold it over and then add a few drops of the essential oil.
To heat it up, take the towel and get it damp then place in a microwave safe pan and heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave. Make sure your towel is pure cotton and doesn't have any metallic fibers though.
Now, take the towel and apply it to your face. As the towel temperature returns to normal, make sure to rub in the opposite direction that your hair grows. This will help raise the hair while making sure that it is fully wet and ready for you to get a good clean shave.
Use a Quality Shaving Cream
Hair can dry quickly and you want to make sure that it stays wet throughout your shave as well as providing an extra layer of lubrication to help protect your skin, so make sure you lather well and you might even chose a brush to help you apply it more evenly than you can with hands alone.
Invest in a Quality Razor
While a straight razor may be the tool your barber uses, you can get a great shave with a disposable too. But you want to make sure that you select a quality one like the Schick Hydro 5. The Hydro gel on the razor even helps to hydrate your skin up to 2 hours after your shave and it actually has a gel reservoir vs "lubricating strips" so you are sure to get plenty of lubrication when and where you need it.
Plus, with five blades and minimum space between each, this will help reduce nicks while giving you a closer shave.
Learn How to Shave Properly
Shaving is an art and a lot of guys do it wrong. When I first started it seemed like shaving against the grain would give the closest shave ... and it does. But with a bladed razor, it's a great way to nick your skin and draw blood. Additionally, because you are getting an extremely close shave - that means you are often cutting the hair below the skin and this leads to ingrown hairs that turn into razor bumps or worse.
Instead, shave in the direction that your beard grows. Each person's face has a different pattern so this is going to take some getting used to initially. Give yourself some time and you'll figure it out.
In addition to simply shaving in the right direction, make sure to use the proper pressure. Again, there's an inclination to press down to get a close shave ... but this is the WRONG way to do it. Assuming you have a good razor in your hand with sharp blades, just let it do its job then pull the razor over the skin gently but firmly.
Take Care of Your Skin After Shaving
The goal of shaving might be to simply cut that excess facial hair but the reality is that you're going to be dragging a sharp object over the skin itself too. While the lubricated strips on the Hydro 5 help reduce that damage, you should still make sure to rinse afterwards with a facial wash that has a high concentration to tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that will help cleanse as well as protect from razor rash reactions.