Movember is coming to a close. And kudos to you for growing those things out in honor of men's health awareness! But let's -- ahem -- face facts. Your beard is probably getting a little rough-looking.
If you plan on losing the late fall fur, read on for some tips to groom that thing down, or whack it entirely.
1. Pick your moment, man
If you're a little hairier than most, then there's a good chance your skin hasn't seen the light of day since the beginning of the month. Yes, if you went full-lumberjack, that includes your neck, friends.
If you shave mid-week you might have some seriously sensitive skin, thanks to a month free of your Gillette. With sensitive skin comes razor burn and ingrown hairs, which doesn't make for a fresh look the next day.
To avoid this, be sure to prep that beard properly with grooming products, and give your skin some adequate moisture after shaving. Maybe you should plan to do it on a Friday, so your skin has a chance to recover before Monday morning.
2. Trim that thing
If your beard grew a little longer than you planned, don't try to clear it with a few passes of your razor. Otherwise, there will be blood! (Or at least a nasty rash.) The best way to take care of your lengthy beard is to trim it down with a good set of clippers.
Yes, you could go to a barber and have him handle the entire process. But where's the fun in that?
Once that beard is down to stubble, it's time to prep.
3. Get your skin ready for a long overdue shave
One Google search for "proper shave techniques" will bring you a load of results, so it's best for you to just choose the one that works for you. However, one thing almost everyone agrees upon is that it's always best to shave when facial hair is softened and your pores are wide open.
In other words, if you shave before your shower, you might be doing it backwards. Instead, take a hot shower, be sure to get your face nice and wet. Then, either shave in the shower, or at the sink right after.
(That's the bathroom sink, guys. Don't ruin dinner.)
Oh, a little tip from a guy who knows? Try to avoid aerosol-based shave gels and creams. The aerosol can dry out your skin over time, leading to rougher, more-irritating shaves down the line.
4. Anything one can do, three can do better
Now that companies are releasing razors with double-digit blade counts, we've gotten used to shaving our faces quickly, in one pass. But all those extra blades are doing is removing precious layers of skin. Then, when you start hacking away at those stubborn hairs in tough spots, you're actually rubbing multiple blades on one spot, way too many times!
What you want to do instead is give your face a fighting chance against razor burn, but using fewer strokes. Next time you shave, pull your skin tight with your "non-razor" hand, then do one pass going in the direction of the hair growth. Next, do a second going across the grain. Then, if needed, do a final pass with slow, easy strokes against the grain.
By the time three passes are done, your face will be as smooth as promised, with less irritation to get in the way of that baby-smooth skin.
5. Step up your post-shave routine
Alcohol is bad for your skin. Okay, let us rephrase. Alcohol-based aftershaves are bad for your skin. Much like aerosol does in the shave cream, alcohol will dry your face like leftover turkey.
The first thing you should do after this monumental Movember shave -- or any shave for that matter -- is use cold water. Like ice cold. After a shave using pore-cleansing hot water, the ice-cold follow-up will tighten the skin and soothe any burns.
Then, to ensure you didn't rob your skin of too much natural moisture, find an alcohol-free aftershave or gentle cleanser to heal your skin, and make you smell better in the process.
Oh, if you cut yourself, a little styptic pencil attention will help heal that nicked skin. It burns a little, but helps a lot. Just remember it's for nicks, not gushing wounds -- don't be a hero.
Your Movember (or No-Shave November) beard did a lot to raise awareness. And we commend you for taking part in such a worthy cause. But if your job (or partner… or mother … or concerned friend…) tells you it has to go, make sure you don't hurt your skin in the process. Use these tips and welcome in December with your best-possible skin game on display.