The first step to getting the best shave is to start with a clean face. Cleansing your skin opens pores and softens hair and stubble, which are important steps to make hair removal easier. It also removes dirt, bacteria and anything else you may be harboring in that beard. Instead of reaching for a bar of standard-issue soap, though, choose a moisturizing face wash. Shaving is irritating to the skin, and every time you shave, you remove the skin's natural protective oils. A moisturizing face wash will help to hydrate your skin and reduce that moisture loss.
In addition to cleansing, exfoliating your skin is also an important step in getting a great shave. Exfoliation is nothing more than scrubbing the dead skin cells off with a washcloth, loofah or facial cleansing product specifically designed for such a thing. And unless you have sensitive skin, it'll help keep your skin healthy and looking great (if you do have sensitive skin, exfoliation can sometimes be too harsh).
It's best to shave after or at the end of your shower to take advantage of how the steam has opened your pores, but applying a hot towel to your face for three to five minutes works, too.
Choose a thick, moisturizing shaving gel and smooth it on your face and neck. The longer you allow the gel to soak into your skin and hair, the softer the hair will be -- give it a few minutes to do its job, especially if you have sensitive skin.
How do you know which products to use? We'll decode them, next.