Nicks and cuts are a matter of routine for men who shave regularly, and the “solutions” for treating them haven’t changed for decades.
Today, we are going to dig a little deeper into how to deal with nicks and cuts, beginning first with the most effective methods to prevent them and then examining how to treat the inevitable few that can’t be avoided. There are many, many reasons why nicks and cuts persist even for the most veteran shavers, and some of them might surprise you. It’s one of the top challenges of shaving that we encountered when we surveyed 3,000+ men about their shaving concerns.
About 3 years ago, I met Kaivan at an internet conference in Austin. Back then he was telling me he was planning to start a men’s grooming brand. Over the years, we stayed in touch and about a year ago, we did a survey via email asking you how you treated nicks and cuts and what your frustrations were. Kaivan took the feedback and developed Glyder, a styptic balm (not pencil!) for the shaver who demands more from his shaving products. Once I tried the styptic balm myself I was sold and it made our list of essential Father’s Day gifts. Today’s post is brought to you with the support of Glyder and you can learn why I like it more than other styptic products here.
Dealing with nicks and cuts is one of the last steps in a shaving process, no matter how you go about yours, and the extent to which you need to deal with them often starts with your preparation and technique earlier in your shave. The first step you must take is to do everything you can to prevent nicks and cuts. The second step is to treat them with the best possible product when they do happen.
Preventing Nicks & Cuts
Prevention is always the best plan, and there are many things you can do to avoid them:
1. Skip the Cartridge Razor Entirely.
We’ve written extensively about shaving in our Shaving Guide, and over a year of testing and many combined years of personal experience with shaving, we came to one big conclusion about razors: cartridge razors, while they are slightly more convenient, are truly terrible for your skin and your wallet. The extra expense and the poor performance of cartridge razors don’t justify the small increase in convenience. The main problem with cartridge razors is the quality of the shave; in a nutshell, the blades aren’t very sharp to begin with and they dull quickly. Since the average cartridge is expensive relative to other shaving methods, men who use them are more inclined to stretch the dull blades over more shaves, which increases the risk for cuts, nicks, and irritation. Choose a DE/safety razor, an electric razor, or a straight razor instead.
2. Do a Proper Pre-Shave Process.
Yeah, we know that it’s a pain to go through the motions of a proper pre-shave at 6:30am, but in the long run, you’ll be much happier with the result of your shave if you do (not to mention it will just look better at the office to arrive with smooth, non-irritated facial skin). Your pre-shave process doesn’t need to be long, but it should contain a few key steps: opening the pores with heat, cleansing and lubricating the skin:
- Start by taking a hot shower or splashing your face with hot water to open the pores.
- Use a gentle cleanser to remove any surface dirt or product residue.
- Once the face is warm and the pores are open, lather your face quickly with a high-quality shaving soap or cream. If nicks and irritation are a persistent issue, or your skin is sensitive, layer a pre-shave oil under your lather for added lubrication.
3. Use a Shaving Brush to Apply Lather.
Though many high-quality shaving creams can be applied with your fingers, it is worth getting out your shaving brush. The dense hairs of a shaving brush, when rotated over the skin, coat the hairs in soap and lift them away from the face. This increased lubrication and lift should reduce the number of passes it takes to remove the facial hair, which in turn should reduce the potential for nicks and cuts.
4. Invest High-Quality Shave Products.
Good quality shaving soaps and creams contain a high volume of lubricating ingredients, so skip canned shaving foams and gels, which contain chemical stabilizers that detract from the lubricating power of the product.
5. Use the Proper Shaving Technique.
It can be tempting to shave over the same area twice and use long strokes for efficiency, but this can clog up your razor blade and put the blade in contact with bare, unlubricated skin. Take the time to shave carefully in short strokes, especially around scars, moles, pimples, and your chin/nose area. In addition, re-lather faithfully between passes. For more details, check out our shaving guide.
6. Use a Fresh, Sharp Razor Blade Each Time.
It may seem like an expense, but that’s only the case if you use pricey cartridge razors. Double-edge razor blades can cost as little as $0.10 a piece, so there is no reason to re-use blades. In fact, a DE blade has two blades on either side, so you can even flip to the opposite side of the blade mid-shave for a fresh edge. Like knives, you are most likely to cut yourself using a dull blade because it is not performing as expected, which may cause you to use more pressure than necessary.
7. Experiment With Different Kinds of Blades and Razor Handles.
Unlike cartridge razors, DE razors come in a wide range of sharpness, so if one blade is too aggressive you can try another until you find a blade that suits your needs. The same is true of razor handles, which can come flat (less aggressive) to slanted (more aggressive) so that in combination with the blade, you can really customize your DE razor system.
8. Give Your Face Time to Adjust.
If you recently switched shaving methods, it is important to give your face some time to adjust. A first-time DE shaver will likely experience more nicks and cuts than a well-practiced cartridge razor user, but that is merely the learning curve rather than an indication of how your shave will always be.
9. Deal with Underlying Skin Issues.
If you experience frequent irritation from shaving or acne, these conditions can change the surface of your skin and create obstacles to a smooth shave. Shaving over sensitive areas such as pimples and previous irritation with only make them worse, so for an ideal, nick-free shave, you need to first deal with the underlying issue. For acne, check out our guide on How To Have Clear Skin. For irritation, we recommend following the first 8 suggestions above, and then make sure to add a post-shave product that helps combat post-shave irritation to your regimen.
The Best Way to Treat Nicks and Cuts
Once you’ve done everything you can to prevent nicks and cuts, it’s time to deal with the few you will inevitably get. By and large, the shaving industry has introduced many innovations, yet no matter how many blades they added on to razors, the good old double edge shave or straight razor shave still provide you with the best quality shave if you understand How To Shave Properly.
Unfortunately, you will still get nicks and cuts one product has essentially remained unchanged – the humble styptic pencil. Every man who shaves needs one, but it’s too often a half-dissolved, chalky mess rather than a quick and easy tool to close up nicks.
Glyder wasn’t content to keep offering the same old styptic pencil. The old standard formula fails to offer any soothing ingredients and the packaging was frustrating for many men, so they decided to fix those problems. Now, Glyder offers a styptic balm that stops bleeding, soothes the skin, and is easy to use.
Why You Need A Better Styptic Balm
- Even the most seasoned pro will occasionally nick themselves – that’s the hazard of using sharp blades, which is best for your skin in the long run
- You have the ability to stop the bleeding immediately
- Toilet paper or chapsticks are not suited for nicks and cuts and can cause inflammation
- Products, technique, and prevention can only go so far
- Better packaging makes for no mess and easy handling when your hands are wet. No more accidentally dissolving or breaking your styptic pencil with wet hands or in the sink!
- It’s simply a better formula. Most styptic pencils only contain an anti-hemorrhagic and a wax binder to hold the medication in shape while containing no soothing ingredients like Glyder to reduce inflammation
- No chalky residue. The balm-like texture of Glyder melts into the skin
- Glyder doesn’t contain alcohol, which is a known irritant to skin and a common drying ingredient in treatments for cuts and nicks
How To Use Styptic Balm – It’s Simple
While traditional styptic pencils or alum blocks are not very handy and break easily in my experience, Glyder comes in a tube similar to a lip balm, so you can use it and store it securely with a twist.
If you have a cut:
- Stop shaving
- Clean the cut with water
- Add styptic balm
- Continue to shave
- Reapply Glyder after your post shave routine
Glyder is currently the best solution on the market to deal with nicks and cuts. If you shave regularly, then getting one or two of these is a no brainer so you always have one handy when you shave. For a limited time, you can get 2 Glyder Styptic Balms for just $ using the code: GMG2