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Why Would You Ever Put Clippers on That Face?

Apr 26, 2008
Have you ever noticed after you shave your face with clippers that your skin is dry and ashy? That's because when you shave with clippers the clippers rob your face of moisture. Even the way you need to use the clippers for shaving your face goes against how they were intended to be used. When using clippers on your face, you need to turn them backward and use them upside down. They were designed to give you a tight fade and trim your hairline or the nape of your neck. Shaving your face with clippers scratches the skin, inflames follicles, and removes moisture. Your face should always be hydrated when you shave, but when you shave with clippers the face is completely dry.

In my 30+ years in the barbering and grooming industry, I've learned one thing for certain: brothers are scared to use a razor. Be it urban legend, or Black men not being handed down the tradition of razor shaving by their fathers, or maybe even the unrealistic belief that razors are the cause of razor bumps and will jack up their skin. Whatever the reason, African-American men are shying away from the razor. So, here is the real deal on razor shaving.

Debunking Razor Myths

You can't get a close shave with a razor

This is absolutely untrue! You will get the closest shave possible when using a razor. The razor is able to get much closer to the skin than a clipper or electric razor can. You should also make sure you are using a multi-blade razor that you change out regularly.

Razors cause you to get razor bumps and messes up your skin

It is true that razor bumps and ingrown hairs, clinically known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, affect up to 80 percent of African-American men. But the fact of the matter is, if you are getting razor bumps when you shave with a razor, then - I hate to tell you it's not the razor it's your technique. The most important thing to know is that you should be shaving with the grain, not against it. A lot of men have been taught to shave against the grain to get a closer shave. However, not only will shaving against the grain not give you a closer shave, but it is also a leading cause of skin irritation and inflammation, resulting in ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

You have to shave more often if you use a razor than if you use clippers

Again, this comes down to technique and equipment. Using a double or triple blade razor and shaving with the grain of the skin will give you a shave that lasts just as long as any other method of shaving.

Razors dry out your skin

Sorry brothers, wrong again! Actually razor shaving is an exercise in hydration. What do I mean by that? Just think back to when you were a kid and you saw the old men in the barbershops giving razor shaves. If you don't remember that, just think back to the movie Barbershop when Eddie, played by Cedric the Entertainer, got ready to shave his client. What did he do? Old school barbers would lather the face, then put on a hot, damp towel and let the lather soak into the skin for a few minutes. So how does that translate to you shaving at home? Razors should always be wet and warm. Keep rinsing the razor off in hot water as you shave. When you are finished, put on a post-shave treatment that reduces the chance of inflammation ever occurring.

TAKE DIRECTION. The No. 1 mistake is to drag a razor against the hair growth. Face mapping determines the right direction and is fundamental to my Directional Shave Method. Typically, hair grows down from the temple to about the Adam's apple, where it changes direction. However, each beard is different and should be mapped and shaved accordingly.

KEEP SHARP. The No. 2 shaving mistake is to use a dull blade. Dull blades tug at hairs and cause skin irritation. Choose a high-quality multi-blade razor for ample ease of gliding, and let your razor do the work. Replace blades before they begin to tug. Rinse them often while shaving to extend their lifespan and to prevent dirt and hair from entering pores.

STAY WET AND LUBRICATED. Mistake No. 3 is not wetting and lubricating the face sufficiently. Never use soap when shaving; instead, liberally apply a formula with aloe or menthol, to moisturize and lift the hairs.

DO IT DAILY. Shave every day or at least every other day. If men don't shave regularly, their beards grow too long, making it harder to shave without tugging. Tugging causes irritation, and irritation causes bumps.

DON'T LINGER. Shaving should take only about three minutes. Any longer means a man is needlessly shaving over the same areas, which could irritate the skin. Use light strokes, and never pull or stretch the skin while shaving. Use sidestrokes to finish for an extra clean shave.

TREAT YOURSELF. Treat yourself everywhere you shave, every time you shave, to reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and hydrate and soften the skin. If your beard is prone to razor bumps, use therapeutic aftershave consistently after each shave.
About the Author
So you feel inspired to give razor shaving a try. But even after getting these guidelines and the 411 on what does or doesn't cause razor bumps you feel like you need to see how to do it before you actually put that blade on your face? Don't worry, I got you. Go to http://www.bumppatrol.com and check out my video Smooth Moves for shaving tips.

Master Barber Will Williams
Director of Education
M&M Products Company
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