I have always been intrigued by the ritual of shaving one's beard. Years ago I started with a razor blade shaver and then moved onto electric shavers because of complications I experienced from a wet shave. I've always wondered why and how this happened. So, in my first Health & Wellness post I reached out to Shana Sandri, the founder and CEO of M.E.G - Men's Executive Grooming. M.E.G is not a salon nor a spa, and they certainly don't believe in complicated treatment menus with hundreds of treatment options. They provide a customised treatment plan for gents who have time constraints giving them a practical approach to their grooming needs.
If you're wondering about the differences between shaving with a razor and electric clippers, well, Shana breaks it down.
What are the differences between shaving with a razor blade and electric clippers?
Electric razors tend to shave hair away faster than manual razors. Because they roll up the skin, forcing hairs up before cutting them, men don’t need to go over the same area as many times. Shaving with an electric razor could reduce nicks, cuts and ingrown hairs. Electric shavers are usually done on dry skin and one does face the risk of the batteries dying in the middle of a shave. You are also unable to use an electric shaver in the shower.
Razor blades/ manual razors, on the other hand, provide the closest shave for a longer period of time than other razors. Manual razors are often the first shaving gear a man relies on since they are so easy to use. The blades and equipment are easily replaced. Although their cost can add up over time, manual razors are usually the cheapest and most cost-effective option available to men. Manual razors are also easy to travel with and to clean.
How do you prepare the beard for shaving with both methods?
Preparation is everything! If you prepare your beard correctly, almost 90% of common shaving complaints are eliminated. Always moisturise the skin the night before because moisturised/hydrated skin allows for a more comfortable shave.
Always shave post shower because the heat from your shower softens the beard.
In order to power cleanse in the shower, mix your cleanser and scrub together, so as to clean and remove unwanted dead skin cells and lift the beard hairs. If you have unusually thick beard growth, use a pre-shave guard (I love DERMALOGICA’s one!) and a shave cream. For lighter beard growth use a shaving gel.
Which direction do you use with either method?
Always follow the grain of the hair and if you choose to go against the grain, be sure with the wet method to reapply your shave cream.
What happens immediately after shaving is complete and the hair is removed?
It’s really important to remove any shave cream/gel residue as these have not been designed to stay on the skin. They can cause breakouts. Then I always suggest that you soothe, hydrate and then protect your skin. Apply a post shave balm to soothe (It should be fragrance free because this can irritate the skin). You can hydrate and protect with a good moisturiser and sun protection.
In the past I used razor blades to shave and that resulted with ingrown hairs. Ever since I started using electric clippers I have never experienced ingrown hairs. What was the cause?
An electric shaver is not as “aggressive” on the skin as a razor/wet shave is. Remember that one is mechanically aggravating and removing hair and dead skin cells with each stroke of a razor blade. An electric razor doesn't cut the hair as close to the skin as a wet shave does. This means that there is a small amount of hair that is still exposed and it doesn't need to push through the skin as it would with a wet shave. Ingrown hairs happen when the hair cannot push through the skin and turn back down into the follicle. A well moisturised and exfoliated skin prevents this from happening. So, it is more likely that, had we worked on your skin and shave prepped you, we would of eliminated the possibility of ingrown hairs.
Is there a difference in the way that a Caucasian man’s beard responds to both methods of shaving compared to an African man?
Yes, African men have a curlier hair shaft that often tends to grow back on itself and causes beard bumps and folliculitis. It’s critically important that your skin is healthy and well prepped for shaving to prevent this. Caucasian men have a straighter hair follicle that pushes through the skin more easily.
My beard grows back very quickly, is there a way to slow down hair growth after shaving?
Your beard regrowth is there as you are using an electric shaver. I know that if we perfected the wet shave it would buy you some more time. There are no miracles in a bottle to stunt growth that I have ever found.
Is the severe itch once the beard starts growing back, particularly after a clean shave, inevitable or can it be prevented?
That itch is most definitely preventable. The two most critical factors here are, you need to remove all dead skin cells that prevent the hair from breaking through the skin with a good scrub/exfoliant. Secondly, the skin must be well moisturised and supple to allow for this.
How important is aftershave? What purpose does it serve?
I am not a fan of ‘old school’ aftershaves that create a burn, especially if they have alcohol or fragrance. The burn it creates is a problem and stressor to the skin. I prefer using a fragrance and alcohol free soothing gel designed specifically to calm and hydrate the shaved area.
Any products you can recommend for the perfect shaving experience?
I have never worked with a better range than the Dermalogica Shave Line. #incredible!
From a woman’s perspective, what’s a beard style no-no?
I love a clean shaven man, as I hate the tickle of a beard against my skin. However, an absolute no-no would be a very thick beard or musty. And lamb chops are from another era.
Shana, thank you very much for talking to us. I really appreciate you taking time to engage and educate us.
Ah, it’s my pleasure! I love to educate; so what a wonderful opportunity! Thank you!!!
If gents out there want to get in touch with you or pay a visit to your grooming centre where and how can they get a hold of you?
We are in Umhlanga, Durban.
Go to website www.m-e-g.co.za
Twitter : @MEGSkinBody
Facebook :MEG Skin and Body Experts
Address: 5 Park Lane, Mayfair on the Lake, Ground Level, Shop 4, Parkside, Umhlanga Rocks.
A little bit about Shana: She is a highly motivated, passionate and experienced visionary and business owner to a successful specialist men's grooming centre, a first-of-its-kind in KZN and South Africa. She is passionate about life, the Skin Care industry and creating balance.
Qualifications and Specialisations:
Shana is a qualified Heath and Skin Care Therapist ( SAAHSP and CIDESCO – 2001). She has four years experience as a Regional Manager, Post Graduate Trainer and business consultant for The International Dermal Institute of South Africa (DERMALOGICA) that focused on driving sales, developing new business and Post Graduate training. She specializes in Sports Massage, Reflexology and Aromatherapy and is also a contributor to ‘The Lounge’ magazine and is East Coast Radio’s online Skin Expert and ‘Men's Health’ magazine’s Grooming Expert.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.