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How to Teach Your Young Man How to Shave

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Multi-generation men applying shaving cream to faces
Sam Edwards/Caiaimage/Getty Images
I will always remember being teased a lot about my whiskers when I was in 8th grade. I got hair on my arms and legs early in life, and whiskers soon followed. Fortunately, my dad was around and a big part of my life and he taught me the ins and outs of the world of shaving.

A big job for any dad is to teach his sons the finer points of being a man, and teaching them how to shave is one of those defining father-son moments. So, whether it is a manual razor or an electric, whether you like gel or heated foam, notice when he starts with the peach fuzz and get him started in the right way at the right time.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Half an hour several days running

Here's How:

  1. Notice when he needs to start shaving. Quite often, young men are oblivious to the obvious. When you start to see peach fuzz on his face, or when those long, unsightly hairs start sprouting out on his upper lip or chin, it is time to start working on the shaving thing. For most young men, they will start shaving a couple of times a week, but the frequency with which they need to shave after that will vary with each young man. So pay attention, and help him shave often enough not to look badly groomed.
  2. Select the right razor. Most young men start shaving with the method that works for their dads. So, if you use a manual razor, start there with him. If you use an electric, find one that is less expensive and let him practice. If you are starting with a manual razor, get one that uses a disposable cartridge. They tend to make shaving, especially at the first, more comfortable. If his beard is fairly fine and light, use a 3 blade cartridge. If it is coarse, use a 4 or 5 blade cartridge. If he has a bad case of acne, you should start with an electric razor; they shave might not be as close, but it will be safer.
  3. Teach him how to prepare his face. If he is using a manual razor, teach him to use hot water and to wash his face first with soap and rinse it off. This makes the shaving cream lubricate better. Start him with a shaving gel that has good moisturizing content; blades glide easier and he won't have to experience razor burn. Even though there is no feeling quite like heated foam, he can graduate to that later. He should apply the shaving foam liberally. If he is using an electric razor, you might want to encourage him to use a pre-electric shave lotion that will help the whiskers stand up straight before shaving.
  4. Show him how to shave. Let him know to shave with the grain of his beard--usually it runs from the top of the face to the bottom. If he runs his hand over his face with whiskers, the coarser feel come running against the grain of the beard. Remind him to go slow, to use long, smooth strokes with even, light pressure. He also has to rinse the blade after every one or two strokes. Also remind him to always keep the blade perpendicular to the direction in which he is shaving. Side to side can have some nasty consequences!
  5. Consider after-shaves. When I learned to shave with a manual razor, my dad splashed some Aqua Velva after shave on my face and I thought I was going to die! Thank goodness there are lots of after-shave gels and moisturizers available now. Putting a good after-shave gel on the face can feel pretty good after shaving, whether you use a manual razor or an electric.
  6. Coach him through the first couple of times, then let him shave on his own. Too much coaching will make him think you don't think he is capable. Remember, he will likely experience a few cuts the first few times he shaves. Teach him the value of a styptic pencil and a few dabs of toilet paper scraps on those little bleeding spots. But remember that once the bleeding stops, the remnants of the styptic should be rinsed off and all the toilet paper scraps removed, or he will be embarrassed at school.
  7. Don't forget the cleanup. Manual razors need to be rinsed thoroughly after each shave. Have him wipe up any water spilled on the counter, and make sure to wipe down his face from any shaving cream remnants. If he uses an electric razor, the whiskers need to be cleaned out every few days and the heads lubricated. Also, razors and shave heads do not last forever. Replace manual razor cartridges every 5-7 shaves and replace the foils or rotary heads on an electric shaver when they start becoming dull.

Tips:

  1. Have a styptic pencil handy. You can get a styptic pencil at the store near the razor blades. It is a little pencil-sized stick made of alum that is good for stopping the bleeding on small, razor-induced shaving cuts.
  2. Remind him to take care of his skin. Shaving and acne do not mix well, so make sure he knows the best ways to keep his skin clean and moisturized. Sunscreen when he is outdoors will help prevent that terrible feeling of having to shave sunburned skin.
  3. Let him watch you shave. My boys learned the most about how to shave by watching me shave on the weekends. Talk through what you are doing so he can get the overall picture. Starting before a boy is old enough to shave is also a good idea; he is inquisitive without being overly sensitive about the puberty thing.

What You Need

  • A razor with replacement cartridges or an electric razor
  • Shaving gel or a pre-electric shave lotion
  • Moisturizing after shave

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