Do you find that your skin looks red, feels irritated and begins to flake after you finish shaving no matter how careful you’ve been? Don’t be ashamed, it’s not because you never learnt how to shave properly. You’re most likely one of the many men out there with highly reactive and easily irritable skin. In fact, a 2019 study found that 50-60% of men reported having some degree of sensitive skin. But that doesn’t mean you and all these men can’t enjoy an irritation-free shaving experience. Between dull razor blades, chemical-heavy products and poor preparation, there are plenty of small things that can really irritate the skin, but fortunately the little things are the easiest to fix. If you’ve been searching for ways to reduce redness, irritation and damaged skin, you’re in luck. Our experts at The English Shaving Company have put together a guide of the best products and top tips for shaving with sensitive skin. Say goodbye to angry, red skin and hello to your most comfortable ever shave.
Taking a shower or rinsing your face before shaving is essential as warm water opens your pores and softens the skin, but you should never use soapy water. Soaps—particularly cheap mass-produced soap bars—can dry out your skin by removing your face’s natural oils. This leaves your skin dry and taut, which is the worst condition for shaving. After washing your face, massage pre-shave into your damp face. With countless pre-shave creams on the market, it can be hard to know which is best, and more importantly, which will upset your sensitive skin. Overly perfumed and chemical-heavy creams and lotions can cause delicate skin to develop irritating red patches, which become even more inflamed after your razor has been over them. To avoid any upset from the get-go, use a specially formulated pre-shave such as Proraso Refreshing & Toning Pre-Shave Cream 100ml. It is formulated with eucalyptus oil, which soothes and calms skin ahead of any potential irritations, while menthol and allantoin provide pleasant cooling qualities before shaving. The best part is that this pre-shave has long-lasting effects, actively reducing your skin’s oversensitivity with every use.
It is also important to exfoliate sensitive skin before shaving. Removing dead skin cells reduces the amount of detritus between your face and the blade, creating a smoother and more comfortable shave. While a high-quality shaving brush acts as an excellent exfoliator, those with sore and flaky skin will benefit immensely from Scottish Fine Soaps Vetiver & Sandalwood Pre-Shave Scrub 150ml. Made with charcoal, hemp oil and vitamin E, this scrub moisturises and exfoliates the skin when massaged in and is gentle enough for regular use. Whereas shaving cream is applied on top of pre-shave, you will need to wash this pre-shave scrub off your face first to remove all the debris that has been brought to the surface. As this scrub contains synthetic fragrance, it may not be suitable for all skin types, but for those who are less reactive, it leaves you with a clear, healthy complexion as you begin your shave.
As mentioned, shaving brush bristles are great at exfoliating the skin before shaving. However, it’s important to know which shaving brush fill is most effective on your skin and beard. Pure Badger brushes, like this Nom Carl Petrol Shaving Brush, have particularly strong bristles so are adept at lifting dense facial hair and exfoliating tough skin. However, these bristles are often trimmed and the harsher ends may irritate some people, which is why pure badger brushes tend to be the most moderately priced. Although considerably more expensive, Synthetic Silver Tip is beautifully soft, giving your face a beautiful massage. The bristles of this Edwin Jagger Chatsworth Barley Shaving Brush are purely manmade fibres, making them ideal for anyone who is strongly allergic to all types of animal hair.
Learning how aggressive you want your razor can be a painful process—quite literally. Save yourself time and money with this Rockwell Model T Adjustable Safety Razor, which features a one-of-a-kind, adjustable dial to match any skin type and facial hair length. Simply twist the dial to change the blade gap and exposure and control the comfort and closeness of your shave. Start gentle and work your way up if you experience zero irritation and find you want a closer shave. Remember: a more exposed blade can often provide a less painful shave as fewer passes are required to get that perfect smoothness. The less stress on your skin, the less soreness after shaving, so don’t be afraid to try a sharper, more precise razor. However, if you know your skin and you’re pretty set on a mild safety razor, then the Parker Semi Slant Razor is perfect for you. The larger cutting surface and slanted razor head make this a better suited for those with sensitive skin than traditional double edge safety razors or straight razors, without compromising on the quality shave.
Next up, shaving cream and soap. If you find these cause your skin to react, don’t make the mistake of trying shaving oil instead. Shaving oil can damage shaving brush bristles and is no better for sensitive skin. Instead, lather up with an unscented and skin-friendly shaving soap or cream. Martin de Candre ‘Le Nature’ Unscented Shaving Soap is a simple blend of vegan-friendly ingredients, with no added artificial fragrance to irritate your skin. As a less expensive option, try Le Pere Lucien Unscented Shaving Soap, which is specifically tailored to those intolerant to perfumes and essential oils. For those who prefer a rich shaving cream over a hard shaving soap, Esbjerg Sensitive Shaving Cream is an exceptional choice. Made with coconut oil and essence of rosemary and sage, it harmonises and regenerates the skin without any harsh detergents. Unscented shaving soaps and creams may be no frills but they’re by far the best choice for anyone with sensitive skin.
Your shave doesn’t finish once you’ve got rid of your 5 o’clock shadow. Your face will be at its most sensitive after your razor has been over it so always finish off with a nourishing aftershave. Forget spraying yourself with cologne (this can actually dry out your skin and irritate it more depending on your complexion), we’re talking about skin-loving aftershave lotion. Edwin Jagger Aloe Vera Aftershave Lotion 100ml is perfect for sensitive skin as it protects, soothes and moisturises your post-shaven face. Aloe vera is regarded as the best choice for aftershave as the natural gels are packed full of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties. If you’re more concerned about painful cuts from shaving, Proraso Protective & Moisturising Aftershave Balm 100ml is just what you need. Packed full of aloe vera and vitamin E, it hydrates and tones your sensitive skin while soothing and repairing any damage. With zero alcohol, parabens, silicones or mineral oils, it is ideal for even the most sensitive of skin.
It is also worth taking the time to regularly moisturise your skin to improve your shave long term. Routinely applying Muhle Organic Face Cream 50ml in between shaves creates an effective moisture barrier for a more comfortable shave time after time. Formulated with argan oil, aloe vera, soya oil and shea butter, it nourishes, moisturises and regenerates skin with zero synthetic aromas or colourants. Regular moisturising doesn’t have to be a chore either. Clubman Pinaud Charcoal Peel-Off Face Mask 90ml gives you chance to relax and unwind as you moisturise your face. Just apply a thin layer, leave for up for 20 minutes and then gently peel off to unblock your pores, hydrate your skin and give yourself a bright and healthy complexion. Clean pores and exfoliated skin lead to a better shave after all, so go on, treat yourself.
Shaving isn’t the only part of male grooming that can cause you grief if you have sensitive skin. If your scalp feels irritated when you apply hair product, you need a chemical-free wax like this Rugged Nature Sandalwood & Cinnamon Vegan Hair Wax 90g. The natural ingredients and steam-distilled fragrance make this 100% natural wax the perfect styling product for those with breathing difficulties as well as sensitive skin.
If you’re now ready for a complete overhaul of your shaving set to take better care of your sensitive face, we recommend investing in a Proraso Vintage Selection Tin (Sensitive). This excellent set contains a pre-shave cream, shaving cream and after shave balm, all in Proraso’s expertly made Sensitive range. Formulated with aloe vera and green tea, there really is no better set for soothing, protecting and nourishing your skin throughout the entire shaving process. Presented in a fun, retro-style tin, it also acts as a great present for a fellow shaver suffering with sore skin.