How To Get a Pain Free and Comfortable Shave Every Day | Mens Shaving

3 Ingredients You Need To Avoid Before, During and After Your Shave For A Comfortable, Pain Free Shave Everyday

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If you’ve ever read my story before…you’ll know that I used to suffer from horrendous shaving problems such as ingrown hairs, razor bumps, rashes and so on…

And…in my attempts to fix these problems, I tried everything…Shaving Ingredients to Avoid

…from changing face washes, shaving creams, after shave balms and razors to the point where I almost gave up hope of ever finding a solution.

During that period, I spent a lot of time looking at the ingredients on the back of every product I bought…

…eventually getting to the point where I could rhyme off every standard ingredient in a can of shaving gel or cream.

My reasons for doing this at the time were simple…

I wanted to see if anyone had actually come up with something new…something that would help my very sensitive skin from breaking out after every shave.

So, cutting a long story very short…

…I learned all about the benefits…and potential side effects…of these ingredients.

To say it was an eye opener would be putting it mildly.

My findings were shocking in fact.

No wonder my skin was a mess when you understand what some of these fancy sounding ingredients actually are…or are used for!

So, here’s my guide which looks at 3 specific ingredients to watch out for before, during and after your next shave so that you too can have a comfortable, pain free shave everyday.


Before Shaving – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are ingredients used in products mainly for their cleansing properties and as a thickening agent.

It’s these same ingredients that produce the ‘fake lather’ or ‘luxurious foam’ you get with the majority of soaps, face washes, and shampoos.

However, these ‘fake lathers’ or ‘luxurious foams’ strip the skin dry of all the natural moisturising properties on your skin…

In fact, these are the same ingredients commonly found in detergents, dishwasher liquids and car wash soaps…specifically to act as a cleansing agent.

Hey…they might be good for cleaning your dishes at home or washing the car…but there NOT good for cleansing your sensitive face.

So, for those of us with sensitive skin, it’s an ingredient that you really should keep an eye out for, and avoid where possible.

My simple advice is this…

Try and locate a good face wash that doesn’t contain these ingredients…often promoted as SLS Free…

Or…if it does contain SLS…make sure it’s not towards the top of the ingredients list on the back of your next face wash.

In other words…it’s not a main ingredient that’s simply been added to create a fake lather…but it’s in there for its cleansing properties only, and in moderation.

Quick Tip: Contrary to popular belief, avoid using a facial scrub on the skin before you shave.


During the shaving process, you remove a layer of skin…so there’s no need to remove further layers of skin with a facial scrub.

Removing too many layers of skin at the one time is a no no…as it can severely aggravate the skin and cause further irritation after your shave.

A good facial wash will cleanse your skin sufficiently and remove unnecessary dead skin cells before you shave… without the need for a facial scrub. Use a facial scrub on days when you don’t shave.

One final thing…a shaving brush will also provide more than adequate exfoliation before shaving.


During Your Shave – Menthol

For many years, menthol has often been added to…AND PROMOTED as a good thing to have inside a shaving product…


Well, apart from being cheap…

It provides that fresh, cooling feeling…which tricks you into believing you’re having a great shave…

…and any fresh, cooling feeling is the opposite of razor burn, which we all want to avoid.

In addition, splashing your face with cold water when you’ve finished shaving, enhances the benefits of the menthol even further.

The cold water reacts with menthol to give that cooling sensation…which makes you feel more awake and believe you’ve just had an amazing shave.

A marketing dream.

And we’ve all been there.

However…all of this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is, menthol is simply acting as a ‘numbing’ agent, and is masking the fact that your skin is being stripped to bits during your shave.

Whilst you may think you’re having a great shave…the menthol only provides short term relief…if you can call it relief.

As I said earlier…menthol temporarily numbs the skins surface so you don’t feel the razor gliding across the skin.

And unfortunately…your skin will pay for it later in the day…despite the fact you think you’re having a great shave at the time.

Razor burn will kick in…and rashes will start to appear. And if you’re shaving technique is not right, you’ll get ingrown hairs too, as menthol dries out the skin.

My advice on this one is simple. Avoid menthol based shaving creams, gels and foams at all cost.

Look out for natural, alcohol free shaving products…ones that haven’t been artificially enhanced with fragrances, colourings or dyes.


After Shaving – Anything with Alcohol

Any kind of alcohol being applied to the skin’s surface where it’s just been shaved is to be avoided at all costs.

That ‘tingly’ sensation you see when people apply their favourite After Shave or Eau De Toilette to their freshly shaved skin IS NOT A GOOD THING…


During the shaving process you’re removing a layer of skin…

…exposing new, freshly clean skin to the world’s elements.

Applying alcohol to this fresh layer of skin is the worst thing you can possibly do.Don't put alcohol directly onto shaved skin

That ‘tingly’ feeling is really your fresh, new layer of skin burning and drying out. Yes…burning!

And, drying out the skin is never a good thing…

It’s one of the major causes of ingrown hairs…as dry skin stops your facial hair from ‘breaking through’ your skins surface when it starts to grow again.

If your hair can’t break through the skins surface, then it will fold back in on itself…eventually becoming an ingrown hair.

And one more thing…

Applying alcohol to the skin is also a major cause of premature ageing…you have been warned!

Now…the easiest way to check for Alcohols in your shaving products is to look out for any ingredient ending in ‘ol’.

It’s that simple.

Now…after all the bad things have been said about Alcohols…we still want to apply our favourite After Shave in order to make us smell and feel good…

So…if you want to apply your favourite scent to your skin, don’t apply it in areas that have just been shaved…apply it to the back of your neck…or behind your ear lobes.

You’ll still get the same sweet smelling benefits.

And, for those areas that have been shaved…don’t get fancy.

Simply apply an alcohol free after shave balm that helps to moisturise and rejuvenate the skin.

By following this simple procedure, you’ll help to repair and rejuvenate your skin in preparation for your next shave.

Quick Tip: Don’t rub in the after shave balm…this can cause aggravation to freshly shaved skin. Try your best to pat it gently into the skin.

I really hope this article helps you in pursuit of that pain free, perfect shave every day.

If you have any questions or comments based on what I have said in this article, please post your comments below. I will try and respond personally.

If you liked this article and believe it could help many others who suffer from shaving, please share it on your favourite Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google + and so on. To make it quick and easy, you can use the buttons to the left of this article.

Shave Great. Feel Amazing.

Robert Gillespie


  1. Sue

    December 3, 2013 at 8:06 am

    are there any shaving balms you can recommend

    • Robert Gillespie

      Robert Gillespie

      December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Hi Sue,

      As per previous reply, stick to The Art of Shaving brand at this stage or you can also try a brand called The Gentlemens Refinery –

      Both of these brands do not use alcohol in their products, and this is the key thing to note when looking for any shaving product especially at 17.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Matthew

    August 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

    As I mentioned in a previous post, I use Gillette Intense Cooling Lotion. I hate Gillette razors, but that’s a separate story. Also, since what I use is a lotion, I can’t pat it on. So, I’ve developed a way of applying it which is very similar to the shaving technique you have described in a separate post. I simply apply the lotion in the direction of my hair growth and it doesn’t irritate my skin.

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Robert Gillespie

About Robert Gillespie

Robert Gillespie is the Editor and founder of Men's Shaving magazine. Robert launched his first shaving business - The Perfect Shave - in 2005, and in 2006 was nominated as a ‘UK Entrepreneur of The Year’ finalist. With his expertise in the area of men's shaving, Robert's advice has been featured in some of the world’s leading magazines including Arena and GQ. Follow Robert on Twitter @mensshaving or get in touch directly at
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