9 Tips And Explanations For Better Shaving With Sensitive Skin

Does your face resemble a war zone after shaving? Large red patches, blood drips and soreness on your face and neck. These problems are common but even more so for people with dry or sensitive skin.

In order to reduce or eliminate the after effects of shaving when you have dry or sensitive skin you should follow these 9 tips and their in depth explanations 

  1. Always prepare the skin and beard properly before shaving
  2. Use the correct shaving foam / gel / cream
  3. Apply the foam or gel correctly
  4. Use the correct razor
  5. Use a good shaving technique and method
  6. Shave the hair with the grain
  7. Do not use pressure on the razor
  8. Use the correct after shave routine for moisturising and hydrating the skin.
  9. Use a daily skincare routine to reduce problems

Always Prepare The Skin And Beard Properly Before Shaving

Wash Your Face First

Always wash your face and neck thoroughly before shaving. This removes any dirt and grease from the skin that can clog your razor and cause friction that results in redness and sore patches of skin.

There are misconceptions about how to prepare the skin and beard before shaving. A lot of people believe that you should wash or rinse your skin in cold water before shaving in order to close the pores. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Step into any good barber shop that provides wet shaves and you will find a steamer and a hot towel for pre-shave application. The hot towel opens the pores, cleanses the skin and also softens the hairs to some degree ready for shaving.

You can get the same effect at home with the following routine. Start by washing your face and neck but only use a face scrub or wash that is alcohol free and avoid general hand soap bars. Both general soaps and alcohol remove natural oils from the skin and dry it out. This contributes to friction with the razor and skin dryness when you shave. Use the scrub or soap with warm or hot water to open the pores and cleanse deeply.

Once you have finished cleansing you should rinse your face and neck clean of the soap with warm or hot water.

If you have the time, steam your face over hot water for a minute in order to further soften the beard and stubble and purge any deep clogging of the pores. Finally, pat your face dry lightly with a soft towel.

Use The Correct Shaving Foam

There are multiple foams, creams and gels on the market that cover every type of skin. It is important to choose the correct one for your skin type. In the case of sensitive or dry skin you will need an alcohol and detergent free version to stop the skin being stripped of its natural oils. This should be the case for anyone, regardless of skin type.

Different brands add other ingredients such as tea tree oil or aloe vera in order to help reduce skin inflammation when shaving and you can experiment to find the best one for your own skin.

 While all these little extras help a little, most men fail to realise the most important thing about applying the foam or gel and that is time.

Apply The Shaving Foam Correctly

Photo by Tarah Dane

It does not really matter whether the gel or foam is applied with a brush or with the fingers, it is how it is applied that matters. It should be vigorously massaged into the beard and stubble for an extended period of time using circular motions. It should then be left to soak into the hairs for up to a couple of minutes, depending on the product, before you actually start shaving.

Failing to do this is the main reason that guys get the nasty, sore red patches of skin after shaving. Starting with the hot water for washing, then massaging the gel into the beard and finally leaving it for a couple of minutes softens the hairs tremendously. This means that you don’t need to apply pressure to your razor when shaving as the hairs cut easily and don’t snag in the razor. If you shave against the grain the hairs are far more compliant and don’t pull the skin. Even if your blade is a little blunt you can minimise the damage by following this procedure.

Use The Correct Razor

One blade, three blades, five blades, where will it end. Pretty soon the razors will be too wide to fit on your face. Ok, maybe an exaggeration but are multiple blades necessary or any better?

Debunking The Multi Blade Razor Hype

The truth about multi blade razors is not really the same as how they are marketed. Multi blade razors came about because of time, or the lack of it. With busy schedules, guys simply want to throw some foam on their faces and shave quickly. Not preparing properly for a shave led to an increase in the bad after effects of shaving. The multi blade razors with lubrication strips and pivoting ball etc are an attempt to make up for that poor preparation and lack of time.

The major selling point of these razors is obviously the multi blades. More blades means less pressure on the skin and less passes of the razor.

Hmmm really. Let’s be practical here. Yes, the width of the razor means that the pressure is distributed across a bigger area of the face as the razor has to accommodate 3 or five blades in the head. That is an advantage if you are comparing to cheap throw away razors, but if you have dry, sensitive skin you shouldn’t be using cheap disposables anyway. Compared to a cut throat or classic safety razor however, that is not the case.

It may ( or may not ) require only one pass of the razor but there are still 3, 5 or whatever blades in contact with the skin so you may as well make multiple passes with a single blade as it has the same effect. 

Every pass of a single blade removes skin and natural oils as well as hair so regardless of using one pass of a multi blade razor you are still moving several blades across the skin. This is what causes soreness and redness as the oils and skin layers are removed. This tends to negate the big marketing promotion regarding the number of passes you need to make with a multi blade razor. 

What really counts is blade sharpness, preparation and shaving technique.

Let’s refer back to the professional barber shop example. After the hot towel treatment and the lather application you have a warm face full of foam. Does the barber reach for a multi blade swivelling razor, I don’t think so. He produces a single blade that would be quite at home in a Sweeny Todd murder movie. A cut throat razor, named for its ability to do literally what it says on the can. 

No fancy guards, lubrication strips or multiple blades. Why, well it’s the best tool for the job.

If your skin and beard are properly prepared for shaving then the cut throat razor will produce the closest shave you will get and in the hands of a professional barber, without any nicks, cuts or soreness, well hopefully anyway. That’s a real test of trust if ever there is one.

Cut Throat Or Straight Razor

Photo by Josh Sorenson

Does that mean a cut throat razor is ideal for the average guy to use at home, well nope and there are several reasons why.

There is the safety factor. It is a very steep, often terrifying learning curve when you hold a cut throat razor to your own throat and attempt to not relieve yourself of a mass of blood or slash something vital. Even when you are used to it, a single slip could prove serious.

It is also time consuming. You need to strap or sharpen the blade before you use it to make sure it’s sharp. 

You cannot rush through the shave, it requires careful, slow strokes of the razor.

Think 30 minutes for a shave if you are going to do it right and safely.

There are plenty of cut throat razors for sale, so if you are brave and fancy trying to get the best shave you can there are plenty of options. Just have a large towel, plasters and an emergency number handy the first few times you try it.

Practical Razors For Home Use With Dry Or Sensitive Skin

image of safety razor and blade on a towel
Photo by Antonio Arcila

The single blade razor or what is commonly referred to as the safety razor has been around for years. These razors have a double sided, replaceable, single blade that is usually held in place by a top plate that screws into the handle, sandwiching the blade.

These are great razors and ideal for guys with sensitive skin. Provided you buy good blades, they will produce remarkably close shaves with little irritation. 

The common marketing message of the multi bladed razor about less pressure needed and only one stroke of the razor to produce a clean shave would seem to make these razors a no go but, providing you have followed the pre-shave guide correctly ( and to a great degree, even if you haven’t ) then the issues that multi bladed razors claim to solve do not actually come into play for the safety razor. Preparation is everything.

With only one blade in contact with the skin, the superior manufacturing quality and a better blade angle the safety razor wins hands down for guys with sensitive skin looking for the best shave with the least amount of problems.

Another advantage of the safety razor is cost. The razor itself can be picked up cheaply and the cost of replacement blades is about a quarter of the price or less than cartridge type razor blades, even for great blades.

It will probably take a couple of tries to get the best out of a safety razor if it is your first time using one, but when you get the hang of it you will wonder why you ever spent so much money on multi blade razors.

Are multi blade razors ever worth using or the cost?

Well, they have their place. Let’s be honest, regardless of no matter how hard you try to follow a great skin care routine, prep your face and beard before a shave etc, there is going to come a time when you really do need to shave and go in the least possible time and a multi blade can provide a quicker shave. If this is the case try to at least soften the beard as mush as possible when washing your face and applying the foam or gel. Just remember, you will pay the price in terms of skin damage using one of these cartridge type razors and rushing through your shave.

Shaving With A Correct Technique And Method

So, you are all set. Your face is full of foam, beard and stubble softened and you have your chosen weapon in the form of a razor. All you need now is to remove that face fur. However, there is still a bit more to it than just dragging the razor across your skin. For the best shave and to limit any possible irritation or damage it is necessary to shave with good technique and method.

Firstly, as most guys know, the first passes of the razor should be made in the direction of the hair growth or with the grain as it is referred to. This is generally downwards for the face and upwards for the neck. Once the first passes have been made further passes can be made at angles across or against the grain. Strokes should be slow and light.

One thing that guys don’t think of when they shave is the actual angle that they hold the razor at to the skin. Most just press the razor head into the skin and rely on the shape or width of the head to dictate the angle. This often leads to excess pressure being applied to the razor, generating friction which leads to redness and soreness along with an increased chance of nicks and cuts.

For the best shave the blades of the razor should touch the skin at somewhere around 30 degrees. A lot of razors will have the blades set into the head at a good angle and make this easy to do but, if you apply excess pressure to the razor then the skin is pushed into an arc and this changes the angle. It is actually better to use two passes that are light and at the correct angle than to use excess pressure.

Thoroughly rinse your razor between every pass. This will reduce build ups of hair and skin in the blades, reduce friction and lessen the chance of cuts.

Keep the skin hydrated at all times when shaving. If you have made a pass with your razor over your skin and removed all the foam make sure your razor is wet before making another pass over the same area.

If your razor starts tugging at your skin and you cannot stop it by cleaning the blade, it is time to change the blade or razor. Blades that are starting to blunt really cause problems for sensitive and dry skin types as they irritate the surface of the skin easily and also lead to cuts and nicks while shaving. 

If a really close, glass like finish is required the face and neck should be rinsed, a second light coat of gel or foam applied and the process repeated. Never use excess pressure in an attempt to get a closer shave.

Use A Good Post Shave Routine

When you have finished shaving and rinsed your face and neck clean it is extremely important to apply a moisturiser or aftershave balm, especially for dry or sensitive skin. Even if you have followed the full routine to minimise any damage or irritation, it can all be rendered a waste of time if you fail to follow a good after shave routine.

The moisturiser should be alcohol free, provide hydration and contain suitable ingredients to eliminate any redness or soreness should they occur. Commonly used items include tea tree oil and aloe vera. The moisturiser should be applied generously, don’t worry if you have rubbed plenty in but some still looks like it’s sitting on top of the skin as it will rapidly be absorbed. The skin is super greedy for hydration after shaving.

Adopt A Regular Skin Care Routine

Prevention is better than cure as the saying goes. Time has moved on and it’s now ok to moisturise if you are a guy. Find a good daily moisturiser that hydrates and nourishes your skin. Avoid any alcohol based ingredients or cheap balms that leave the skin feeling greasy or oily. A good moisturiser should soak into the skin and leave it feeling soft and hydrated but not slippery.

Exfoliate. Gently removing the dead skin that builds up on the face and neck reduces the risk of ingrown hairs and stops pores getting blocked. This in turn reduces bumps, lumps and uneven skin, all of which prove problematic when shaving.

Make sure that you get a good supply of vitamins and minerals as a lack of these from a poor diet can affect skin and produce problems when shaving.

Following a good daily skincare routine makes shaving daily less of a problem. Even sensitive skin can handle the rigours of a daily shave if it is well hydrated and properly cared for.

TIP – When applying aftershave, that great smelling man perfume, apply a layer of moisturiser first and let it soak in. Aftershave, being alcohol based removes natural oils and dries out the skin. Applying the moisturiser first reduces the bad effects on dry and sensitive skin with great effect. When you wash it off, reapply some more moisturiser to replace what has been removed by the aftershave.


Shaving can be a pain in the neck, literally. By following the above guides you can lessen or even eliminate shaving problems. In this fast paced world it has become the norm to take shortcuts with everything we do, even when we sometimes do not even realise we are doing it. A few extra minutes on your shaving routine can save you from hours or even days of pain or healing from cuts and shaving burns so make the time, do it right and keep smiling with a clean shaven, injury free face.

Author: EricD

Lead generation consultant and website designer specialising in local service business marketing. I created Hair, Beard and Beauty as a marketing tool for hair and beauty businesses based in the UK. The website is operated by my marketing agency. If you are a local service business based in the UK and need website design or marketing visit www.Leadsforservices.co.uk