There are plenty of sources out there more than happy to impart their insightful wisdom and “top tips” regarding how to achieve the perfect shave. We find that most of them are at once practical, accurate and utterly unoriginal. After all, haven’t we heard most of these before?
- Wash your face first with warm water to remove excess oils.
- Use quality shaving cream and aquality razor.
- Use a shaving brush for the most thorough coverage.
- Rinse your face afterwards with cold water to tighten the pores.
- Dab dry, don’t rub, and apply a good after shave lotion to nourish the skin.
Yes, yes, all very good advice.
However, there is one tip that often is overlooked, and it harkens back to Ye Olden Days when a barber prepared a man for a shave by wrapping his face in a steaming towel and leaving him tipped backwards for five minutes like a freshly wrapped mummy in repose. The purpose of this ritual, of course, was to open the pores and soften the whiskers in preparation for a smooth and close shave.
Now, while steaming towels and old-timey barber chairs may not fit into your daily morning routine, the same effect is easily achieved when lathering up properly. You’ll want to thoroughly moisten the beard with very warm water, and then apply your cream or gel as usual, but it’s what you do next that matters most. You must WAIT!
Allow your shaving cream or gel to sit on your beard for 3-5 minutes before you begin shaving. This will do wonders to help soften the whiskers and lubricate the skin more thoroughly for that clean, one-pass shave you’re after. And it is precisely during this 3-5 minute waiting period that you can begin to change your life. We refer here to the wisdom of David Allen and his advice on conquering procrastination.
Allen advises that the things we put off doing are most likely to become overwhelming when considered en masse. The trick, he says, is to eliminate the small things immediately and regularly whittle down that to-do list. He calls it the two-minute rule: Anything that can be done in two minutes or less – do it now!
Or, in this case, do it during that blissfully empty interval while your beard is softening into a luxurious, velvety state! Load the dishwasher, throw some clothes in the washing machine, send that email, shop for a new shirt, make your kid’s lunch or pay that bill. Every morning, you can cross one or two items off your list and be done with them by the time those final bits of stubble are swirling down the drain.
We think it’s an excellent use of time for a modern gentleman.