The best products for a natural shave

Photo: istockphoto.com/gvictoria

Revive and refresh your skin naturally for a great shave.

It’s not surprising the task of shaving is often seen as unpleasant when so many shaving products are made ingredients that can actually stiffen the beard, not to mention leave the skin irritated with razor burns and bumps. Using more natural, non-toxic green shaving products will be gentler on the skin and also kinder to the earth.

Pre-shave prep makes all the difference
Experts agree that the number one secret to a great shave is the pre-shave. A clean face helps prevent ingrown hairs, infections and those annoying shaving bumps. Get your skin ready by wrapping your face in a damp, warm towel (just like a barber would do) or by shaving after a shower. Dr. Hauschka Skin Care carries a cleansing milk made with grain extracts that leaves the skin hydrated and supple. The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil has aromatherapy oils like lavender for softening the beard and preparing the skin. If you are using an electric razor then some kind of pre-shave oil is highly recommended. Shaving oils are actually a recent addition to the shaving product lineup and are preferred by men sporting a beard or moustache who need a precision shave. Men who shave their heads have also found that the oils give them a closer shave. Any organic oil suitable for skin can be used but be sure to avoid oils that have been combined with the following ingredients known to be carcinogenic: cyclomethicone, laureth-4 or tBHQ.

Shaving Brush and Soap
Many dermatologists recommend using a shaving brush and shaving soap since the brush works the soap into the hair bristles, making the shave closer and less irritating. This is also the most enviro-friendly shave since the shaving brush never gets thrown away and the soap, which lasts more months, comes in a reusable bowl or mug.
A badger hair shaving brush is considered de rigueur for a comfortable wet shave since badger hair holds onto water and can evenly distribute the lather over your beard. These brushes are more expensive than others but will last a lifetime. The key to a good shaving soap is one without a strong fragrance. A Wild Soap Bar sells Sassafras Shaving Soap made with cold pressed olive oil and aloe juice for a rich creamy lather.

Gel or cream?
The difference between shaving creams and gels is that creams retain water and make for a smoother shave while shaving gels give a closer shave. Aveda offers a shave cream with an aloe extract, coconut-derived glycerin, lavender and peppermint extract that gives a close, smooth shave and helps prevents nicks. If you are feeling the burn, the Aveda Rosemary-Mint shaving gel is good for a friction-free shave. Aubrey Organics has a new Men's Stock line with shaving creams made with organic avocado oil, wheatgerm oil and witch hazel with fresh scents of pine, cedar, sandalwood and bergamot.
Unfortunately, most of the leading brands of shaving creams contain triethanolamine (TEA) or diethanolamine (DEA). Both act as an emulsifier, preservative and foaming agent that can irritate the skin and hair. In some instances they have even been linked to liver and kidney tumours. Not surprisingly, a healthier alternative is to choose shaving creams with natural ingredients that will nourish the skin instead.

The final step: aftershave
An aftershave treatment will help your skin recover so it is not a step to miss. Lotions containing alcohol should be avoided since they irritate and dry out the skin. Instead go with an aftershave like Herban Cowboy which has conditioning carrot, cucumber and collagen ingredients. Or try the Organic Herb After-Shave Splash from the Pioneer Heritage Shoppe with aloe and witch hazel. Soothing aftershave balms are also available from Aveda and Aubrey Organics.