November trends: Grow a moustache, finesse your shaving technique and enjoy it all!
The crackling blanket of russet leaves across pavements and parks is a reminder that the autumn season is marching on and that, somewhat staggeringly, November is already upon us.
It is also the month of the year when men’s grooming is a global concern, as gentlemen everywhere endeavour to grow a moustache to raise awareness of men’s health. The initiative began in Melbourne in 2003, when a group of friends decided to canvas for sponsorship to grow moustaches in November to donate to testicular and prostate cancer charities. It has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising funds of a staggering $65m, and now focuses its efforts not only to aid cancer research but also on men’s mental health charities.
Cultivating a moustache, or opting to join in No Shave November to grow other forms of facial hair, is by no means a straightforward affair and growing a handsome tash is not as simple as merely allowing your top lip to sprout whiskers. Precise and methodical shaving is paramount as your moustache needs a counterbalance and the rest of your face needs to be clean-shaven. That essential grooming process starts with properly prepared skin.
Unfortunately, so many men still accept that the painful heat of irritation is a natural consequence of shaving and consider shaving a tedious necessary evil to be endured rather than enjoyed. Redness, blotchy patches as well as painful nicks and cuts should not be the result of a clean shave and, as our Master Barbers attest, the exact details of how you shave will determine how your skin will feel afterwards. As there is no doubt that the correct technique and product selection will determine the outcome, there are a number of essential steps to be considered while shaving and caring for your skin afterwards, so that your moustache growing goes as swimmingly as possible and yields a spectacular result!
‘Temperature is key. The perfect shave starts with warm, relaxed skin, so shaving after having a shower or after applying a steaming warm towel will serve to relax and soften the skin, open up pores, and is essential.’ - says Jason, one of Truefitt’s Master Barbers. ‘Similarly, one needs to apply that same level of heat to your equipment keeping your shaving brush under hot water before applying lather, and also by running your blade under the hot tap.’ Jason adds.
Your tools, products (and some tricks!)
The next step should focus on product selection and how to use them correctly. Jason recommends Truefitt & Hill’s Pre Shave Oil, one of our best sellers, which has rightfully earned a considerable following amongst the shaving fraternity. Its unique formulation will not clog the razor blades, as other pre-shave oils on the market may tend to do, while effectively easing the razor glide, moisturising, conditioning and preparing the skin for a close, yet comfortable shave. ‘From there, set about whipping up your lather. This may seem insignificant; however it is an essential part of the technique ensuring a close, comfortable shave.’ Jason says. The consistency of the lather will govern how well it lifts the hairs, making it easier for the razor to glide across and cut the hair shafts at a right angle for a smooth shave. ‘Whip one of our shaving creams in a shaving bowl using one of Truefitt’s shaving brushes making sure that the consistency is fluffy yet firm - it definitely shouldn’t run off the brush, it should form soft peaks’ advises Jason. ‘I recommend the sensual notes of the Sandalwood Shaving Cream or spicy, yet refreshing accords of the Trafalgar for autumn. Once your lather is ready, apply it in a circular motion to swirl it around the hair follicles and lift the hairs, so lather packs underneath and suspends the hairs in perpendicular position to the skin. Don’t apply the lather in downward strokes as this will flatten the hairs against your skin and result in a very poor shave.’
‘Working with the grain is essential’, says Jason. By this he means an awareness of the direction your stubble follows. Generally, hairs grow horizontally downwards on the cheeks towards the chin, then downwards from there. Lower on the neckline, hairs tend to face upwards. However, the hair direction is highly individual, so a careful examination is essential to establish your hair growth patterns before a successful shave. Guide the razor in the direction the hair flows. Doing so will reduce irritation and ensure a smoother, fluid action as opposed to an aggressive ‘scraping’ sensation.
Choice of razor
The choice of razor is pivotal in the effect it will have on your skin, says our Master Barber. For a quick and easy shave opt for a Mach III or Fusion blade – a popular choice for men on the go. The increased number of blades makes the job quicker and the design allows easy pivoting around jawlines, however, it also means that you are making more passes across your skin and taking off more layers, which may result in an uncomfortably (and unnecessarily) close shave. So always ensure you use a pre-shave oil and a well-balanced razor and do not exert too much pressure – a common mistake while using Mach III or Fusion blades.
‘For men who are looking for a more traditional option that is perfect for everyday use and suitable for sensitive skin, I would recommend the double-edged razor (DE razor), which is rapidly gaining in popularity”, says Jason. ‘This more cost-effective choice, allows men to change the blades more frequently and have more control over the number of passes on the skin. The double edge razor blade is also sharper, so it will cut through toughest stubble much easier than the Mach III or Fusion blades’ he adds. Another very important aspect to consider is the weight of your razor. Truefitt’s perfectly balanced razors, such as our handsome DE, Wellington or Edwardian range, will help you achieve a comfortably close shave as the razor’s weight will naturally be balanced, ensuring the correct level of pressure is exerted while you shave.
All-essential after care
‘This is where many men make mistakes’, says Jason. After a shave, your pores are wide open and your skin is at its most vulnerable. Without post-shave care and treatment, freshly shaven skin is immediately exposed to external aggressors - walking into the open air will expose the unprotected skin to pollution and fill the pores with dirt particles, causing irritation and infections. To close the pores, apply a cold towel to the shaved area, ensuring that both the cold compress and the towel you use afterwards to pat your face dry, are clean. Follow with one of our shaving balms, which will heal, condition and moisturise the skin - an essential step in your post-shave routine. Matching the scent of your balm to the shaving cream scent and cologne will ensure you layer the fragrance throughout your routine. If your skin is particularly sensitive, try our Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream that is formulated with lavender essential oil, which acts as a subtle antiseptic to heal razor-weary skin, and follow with the unscented Ultimate Comfort Aftershave Balm. Finish off with our Gentleman’s Moustache Wax to soften and hold your moustache in place - whatever stage it is at in its hirsute journey. Most importantly, enjoy your shaving ritual and pride yourself not just on experimenting with a new look, but on doing some good along the way too.