For a long time, pre-shave oils were touted as the best method to avoid post-shave flare ups, but a growing number of dermatologists are recommending a shaving tool of the past to achieve the same results. "I always tell my patients who get razor burn, bumps, and irritated skin when shaving to try a safety razor," says Dr. Terrance Keaney, director of W for Men at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, the nation's first men-only dermatology clinic. "All of these 4, 5, and 6 cartridge razors end up taking off too much skin and natural oils, leaving your face prone to break outs, bleeding, and rashes," says Keaney.
Bevel, a new brand specializing in men's sensitive skin, has just released a cost-effective sensitive skin razor kit ($59.99) that features a nicely weighted German engineered, stainless steel safety razor, and a badger hair brush in addition to shaving cream, aftershave, and pre-shave oil for sensitive skin. There's also been an uptick in well-established brands proffering heftier, luxury versions; Jack Black ($125) and Baxter of California ($250 for a set with brush, razor, and stand) have both recently released new razors that are weighted perfectly – the main factor in getting a good shave from one of these antique-like instruments. And you can still go completely old school; brands like Merkur (from $31) work just as good as they did on your grandfather.
Using a safety razor doesn't require too much retraining. A good face scrub in a hot shower is still the best way to open up the pores and soften the hair before a shave (and you can still use pre-shave oil after that if you want) but instead of slathering on shave cream by hand, a badger brush, which lifts the hair off the face and neck, is best.
"The trick to using the razor correctly is to hold it at a 30-degree angle to your head and only use the pressure derived from the weight of the tool, rinsing with warm water after every few glides," says Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Bevel. When done, rinse the razor with hot water and, most importantly, leave it on its side to try to avoid any rusting. Then splash some cool water on your face to close your pores and finish with a restoring balm or after shave.