8 Tips for the Closest Shave Possible

The quintessential shave is one of the most prominent rituals for men’s grooming. Whether done daily, weekly or when the mood strikes to banish a beard, the secret to success is knowing how to get the closest shave — especially as a pro barber. Regardless if you’re a novice or a seasoned expert, getting a refresher on executing a close shave is never a bad idea. Here are eight tips to help you achieve a smooth, clean result each time. 

1. Start With Clean, Exfoliated Skin

Before anything else, start with clean skin. Excess oil and dirt will stand between you and a close shave, causing razor burn and ingrown hairs. Follow up with an exfoliator after using a cleanser for your skin type. Exfoliating before shaving makes it easier for your razor to glide across the skin, resulting in a smoother shave. Along with removing debris and dead skin cells, it helps lift the hairs so they’re easier to remove. 

2. Shave Immediately After Showering

It’s best if you shave immediately after showering. The steam opens up your pores, making it more effortless to achieve a clean, close, and comfortable shave that won’t require making several passes over the skin. Of course, a hot towel will suffice if we’re talking about a barber shop environment. 

3. Create a Protective Barrier

To prevent razor burn, create a protective barrier between the skin and blade with a pre-shave oil. It's an essential product that helps safeguard the skin from nicks, cuts, dryness, and irritation and should be applied before shaving cream or soap. 

4. Determine Your Choice of Razor

Just as you choose between clippers versus scissors for a haircut, there are different options for shaving, too. The main difference between safety and straight razors is the amount of effort they require. As the name suggests, safety razors are “safer,” more manageable, and more convenient. The only maintenance required is changing the blade regularly — but this is important. Research suggests razors eventually become dull after shaving, even though the blade is about 50 times harder than the hair.

While a straight razor is a surefire way to achieve a close shave, it has a precipitous learning curve before mastering the art of shaving. There’s a higher possibility of nicks and cuts and a more increased financial investment. Even so, if you’re a pro barber, nothing is more satisfying than executing this timeless grooming ritual, so it’s well worth it as long as there’s confidence to back up the technique and tool. 

If you’re not a fan of either blade — or time is of the essence — you can always opt for an electric shaver. While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional razor shave, an electric shaver has several benefits, such as protection from nicks and cuts and less risk of ingrown hairs. It’s also an ideal choice for the man with sensitive skin because it provides an easy, pleasant shaving experience — even for those rocking a beard. The blades on a professional shaver are long-lasting and easy to clean. Note you don’t need step 5 if you go with this option. 

5. Choose Between Shaving Cream or Soap

Shaving creams or gels are lighter than soaps, and they typically dispense a workable lather without putting in any effort. Creams are more moisturizing, so they’re an excellent option for men with dry or sensitive skin. 

Though more traditional, shaving soap takes more exertion to achieve a decent lather for shaving. However, you’ll have a long-lasting, thick, and more luxurious foam once it's performed. Here’s how it works: 

Soak Your Shaving Brush

Soaking should be included because it helps soften the strands pre-shave. 

Bloom Your Soap

Blooming helps soften up the soap. Simply apply a small amount of warm water to the top and let it sit for a few minutes. 

Load Your Brush

Take your soaked brush and give it a shake to remove excess water so it’s damp and not sopping wet. Swirl it in your soap for approximately 45 seconds. The goal is to achieve frosted-looking brush tips. 


Dip your fully loaded brush into a shaving mug or bowl and swirl. Add a bit of water with the tip of your brush as needed to ensure your soap doesn’t look or feel dry and cakey. 


Once you’ve achieved a well-balanced, hydrated lather, apply it using your hands or brush. Pro tip: Some men prefer skipping the bowl or mug and instead lather and apply simultaneously. 

6. Use the Proper Shaving Technique

Hold the razor of your choice at a 30° angle. Use long, even strokes toward hair growth — with the grain. For an extra close shave, apply more product and slowly and gently shave against the grain. Take your time so you don’t experience razor burn, ingrown hairs, nicks, or cuts. 

7. Don’t Neglect the Neck

Keep the back of the neck clean with good clippers, and change the blade regularly. 

8. Implement Post-Shave Care

What does aftershave do? It’s an excellent post-shave finishing product to help close pores, soothe any irritation, and prevent ingrown hairs. If you have a beard or mustache, an oil, balm, or wax helps keep the hair hydrated and lustrous while providing a bit of control. 

Since shaving is a form of exfoliation, the skin is more susceptible to sun damage. Finish your face with a moisturizer containing an SPF. 

Achieving the closest shave possible takes a little practice and patience, but with the right products and tools, it’s easier to master than you think. You can always start with an electric shaver before graduating to a safety or straight razor. The goal is the same — clean, smooth skin!

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