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Do You Exfoliate Before Or After Shaving?

If you want to shave properly, then exfoliation will need to become a permanent addition to your routine. It helps prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn as well as moisturizes your skin, keeping it clean and healthy.

But what you may be wondering is whether to exfoliate before shaving or after shaving to maximize the positive effects gained from it. Luckily, we’ve got you covered and will tell you everything you could want to know about exfoliating while shaving, when to do it, and offer up some facts about shaving and moisturizing in general.  

Now, if you need a new shaver then be sure to check our guide here.


Should I Exfoliate Before Shaving?

In short, yes. Exfoliating prior to shaving is the way to go as it will help prevent the razor from becoming clogged with dead skin cells, which reduces its effectiveness.

Exfoliating will clear pores and reduce oil prior to shaving which will, in turn, reduce the chances of you getting nasty side effects like ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and burn, as well as acne or rashes if you have sensitive skin.

We recommend a mechanical exfoliator. Some formulas contain sugars, salts, or micro-pearls. There’s also coconut oil and cocoa butter to polish away dead skin with ease and leave your skin silky smooth.


What Is Exfoliating?

Exfoliating is the process of ridding the skin’s surface of dead cells which have shed over time. If not dealt with these dead skin cells can build up and clog your pores which traps dirt and can lead to acne or razor burn and razor bumps if you shave with clogged pores.

Exfoliating eradicates those cells in order to prevent them from blocking your pores and removes pollutants and bacteria that accumulate on your face throughout the day. Exfoliating the right way will help your skin look healthy and clear so don’t neglect it just to save a few minutes.


Different Ways To Exfoliate

There are a variety of exfoliation methods available so let’s have a look at them and see how they compare.


This involves the use of a granular scrub that physically abrades the skin’s surface which removes dead skin cells and debris build-up.


This method involves the use of enzymes and acid-based products, usually with alpha or beta hydroxy ingredients, that dissolve protein bonds between the dead skin cells.


This method uses face cloths, brushes, or sponges, typically combined with a facial wash liquid, to scrub the skin.


Tips For Exfoliating Before Shaving

  • Mild pre-shave exfoliation can improve your shave and skin unless your skin is very sensitive, in which case you might want to restrict it to your non-shaving days. If your face feels too tight after a post-exfoliation shave, rethink your method.
  • Give your face adequate rest time after shaving before exfoliating.
  • Be careful with harsher methods, both chemical and mechanical. If you’re going to try them, ensure adequate time after and before shaving in case you have a poor reaction to the method.
  • If you exfoliate apart from pre-shave prep, apply a moisturizer to the exfoliated skin.


How To Exfoliate: A Step By Step Guide

  1. Use Warm Water – Always start by rinsing your face with warm water before you exfoliate. The temperature will open up your pores, allowing your exfoliator to dig deep into the skin and remove any debris and dead skin.
  2. Exfoliate – Always remember to be gentle. Your skin doesn’t need to be scrubbed hard and if you do then it will only harm it as this can remove too much of your skin’s protective barrier, which could result in redness and irritation. Massage your face and neck softly while still being firm so the product can really seep into your pores.
  3. Shave – If you want a comprehensive guide on shaving then click here. However, for now, we’ll just emphasize the importance of using enough shaving cream or other lubricant and shave with the grain to avoid cutting your skin.
  4. Use Cold Water – Once you’re done shaving you’ll need to rinse your face again. Splashing your face with cold water will force the pores on your skin to close quickly, ensuring that no dirt is trapped beneath the surface.


Do You Exfoliate After Shaving?

You may be tempted to exfoliate after shaving, as you would assume that this will further clean your skin. However, there is the danger of over-exfoliating. Doing so after a shave can cause irritation on the skin’s surface and may lead to redness and breakouts. It may also strip the protective barrier of natural oils, which makes the skin more susceptible to damage.  You should, however, always use a moisturizer as it will hydrate your skin. 


What About Waxing?

For the best results, it’s usually a good idea to exfoliate prior to waxing as well, to help ensure that the buildup of dead skin cells is reduced. That being said, you won’t want to go overboard. Use a gentle exfoliant a day or two before your hair removal appointment and leave harsh scrubs alone.


Risks Of Not Exfoliating

If you don’t exfoliate then you run the risk of encountering some nasty side effects. Your skin needs to be taken care of and shouldn’t be neglected for the sake of saving some time or because it requires some extra effort. To make sure you know what you’re in for we’ve detailed some of the risks involved when not exfoliating.

Razor burn – Razor burn is when you get tenderness, a burning or hot sensation, and often itchiness from shaving. While not serious it’s definitely uncomfortable and having red blotchy skin isn’t a look most people really want.

Razor bumps – When your pores are clogged with dead skin and debris you become more prone to developing ingrown hairs when you shave. This then leads to razor bumps which as the name suggests are red bumps that can be sore and don’t look pleasant on your skin.

Unhealthy skin – Not exfoliating can have long-term effects on your skin too. Exfoliating is no doubt very beneficial for your skin as we produce thousands of dead skin cells a day and not removing these can lead to a build-up of dirt which makes your skin rough and dry.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you exfoliate right before shaving?

Yes! One of the most important parts of your pre-shave prep is exfoliation, which helps to buff and prepare your skin for shaving.

How do you exfoliate before shaving?

You can use a number of methods to exfoliate and each has its perks, even a simple yet effective sugar scrub can be used. This will open up the hair root and get a closer shave. Get into a warm shower and thoroughly wet your body with water. Now scrub it up and downward, but don’t be too harsh as to avoid irritation.

Why is exfoliating important before shaving?

Exfoliating before shaving can provide your razor with a much smoother surface to glide across for a smoother shave. This isn’t just because excess dirt, oil, and dead skin cells will be removed, but also because exfoliating can lift hairs to stop them from lying flat against your skin.

Is it better to shave after or before a shower?

The best part about shaving after your shower is the efficiency of the shave. When we shower, the steam causes the pores on our face to open up, giving us easy access to the hair follicles, thus resulting in a much closer shave. If you use a traditional safety razor, this is definitely the option for you.

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