How to get a Perfect, Smooth Shave (Black Skin Care Guide)

Posted by Otis Skincare on

Shaving can be challenging anyway - and for black men it presents even more challenges.

Your strong black hair texture can all too easily lead to ingrown hairs and angry razor bumps.

But it’s possible to avoid this pain.

The secret is to prep your skin well, adopt a good shaving technique and take extra care of your face afterwards.

Here’s everything you need to know for a super smooth shave, and a beautiful, clean-shaven face – looking clear and rich and glowing.


Handsome black man stroking smooth face after shaving

A super smooth shave leaving your face clear, smooth and glowing.


Shaving black skin can be challenging 

You’re blessed with incredibly thick, strong hair.

But this strong hair can be a curse for black-skinned guys when it comes to shaving.

It makes you more prone to ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and skin infections.

And whilst anyone can get these, your thicker, curlier hair is more likely to curl back on itself, growing underneath your skin and turning into an angry, red bump.

This bump can become infected while shaving over it - and ruin your clean-shaven look.

Plus they can really hurt!


How to avoid razor bumps altogether 

The best way of stopping them from becoming a problem is to start by gently exfoliating your face every day.

This will keep your skin clear and free from dead skin cells which can block your hair follicles trapping the hair beneath the skin.

At the same time, you need to adopt a good shaving technique that works with your stronger hair texture and doesn’t irritate your face.


Best shaving cream for black skin 


Best shaving products for black skin 

A smooth, clear shave starts with you being choosy about the shaving products and tools that you use.

Choosing the right razor 

Stop using multi-blade razors. They cut too effectively and cut the hairs below the surface of your skin. As your hair grows back there’s more chance it will curl back on itself because it can’t get through the skin’s surface.

Use a traditional single blade razor instead.

A single blade razor will cut the hair level with your skin’s surface – not below it. So the hair can grow back normally.

It’s also easier to change the blade regularly on a single blade razor, and therefore make sure that it’s always super sharp.


The best shaving cream 

A good nourishing shave cream has three jobs.

It should…

  • protect your skin
  • help reduce irritation and
  • lubricate to allow the razor to glide more freely over your face.

This will leave your dark skin looking smooth and clear, with a luminous, rich glow.

Ingredients to look for: Shea Butter to protect and nourish your skin, Apricot Stone Oil to soften your hair making it easier to cut and Tea Tree Oil to purify and reduce any irritation.


Black man holding OTIS Hydrating Daily Moisturizer pump

Seal in hydration with a moisturizer after you shave


ACTION PLAN: Best shaving practices for black skin

First things first... 

#1: Clean and gently exfoliate before you shave

The secret to getting a smooth, easy shave is to have smooth skin to start with. So the first step is to get your skin really clean and exfoliated.

In fact, gently exfoliating your skin regularly is one of the best things you can do for black skin.

Exfoliation gets rid of dry dead skin cells that can make your face look ashy, clog your pores and, of course, cause ingrown hairs. 

It also accelerates cell renewal and stimulates your skin’s natural repair mechanism.
So …

  • your skin tone looks more even and glowing
  • your pores appear smaller
  • it allows for better absorption of your moisturizer, keeping your skin well hydrated and healthy

It also increases blood circulation to your face, bringing nutrients to the skin’s surface. Giving you a healthy, vibrant and glowing complexion.

But the key word is ‘gently’…

Avoid using a facial scrub to exfoliate your face! They are too harsh for facial skin, damaging the surface and causing your skin to become dry and irritated.

When it comes to cleaning and exfoliating your skin (especially just before you shave), the product you use makes all the difference.

You need a good quality, non-drying face wash that includes an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (an AHA). (Definitely do not use a bar of soap - we explain why here: "Face Wash vs Soap".)

The right face wash will gently exfoliate at the same time as cleaning away excess oil and debris – without making your face feel dry.


The best solution: Gently clean and exfoliate your face every day with one product - a gently exfoliating face wash.

Our Daily Face Wash does double duty - cleaning and exfoliating in one step

It contains a mild Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Lactic Acid, to thoroughly get rid of the dead skin cells, but without drying out your skin.

Along with an AHA our Daily Face Wash contains Glycerin - to stop your skin from drying out – and hydrating ingredients like Aloe Vera to soften your skin.

Plus Black Tea Extract (a natural antioxidant) and Tea Tree Oil to purify and regulate excess oiliness.

Washing with our exfoliating Daily Face Wash keeps your face fresh and clean - and dead skin cells never have the chance to build up and block your hair follicles and pores.

Plus it's gentle enough to use twice a day (even if you have sensitive skin). 

Best Face Wash for Black Skin 



 The next step …

#2: Prep your skin for your shave 

  • Open your pores first – try to shave after your shower. The hot and humid atmosphere will open up your pores and leave your skin nice and relaxed. Alternatively apply a hot towel to your beard area first, like a professional barber would.
  • Massage in a nourishing, protective shave cream – this will create a protective barrier between your skin and the blade. This is especially important on sensitive areas like your neck.
    The cream will also soften the hair so that the razor will cut them on the first pass.

Our Protective Shave Cream includes Shea Butter and Glycerin to nourish and protect, as well as Apricot Stone Oil to soften the hair for a smoother, easier shave. And it leaves your skin beautifully hydrated following your shave.

So now with your pores relaxed and open, your skin nourished and protected, the hair softened, your razor will glide easily over your face – with no irritation.

Best Shaving Cream for Black Skin 



#3: Shave Direction 

Always shave WITH the grain.

Shaving against the grain not only aggravates your skin causing irritation but it also distorts the hair follicles making ingrown hairs more likely.

For more on achieving the perfect, painless shaving experience see: “SHAVE: 9 tips to give you a pain-free shave".


#4: Moisturize afterwards 

After you shave it’s time to seal in hydration with a moisturizer.

Black skin tends to be oilier which can lead to shine. So the trick is to use a mattifying moisturizer on your face that ensures your skin remains hydrated while also combatting any oiliness.

We designed our Hydrating Daily Moisturizer to be incredibly hydrating, but it also mattifies your skin really easily so it won't leave your face looking greasy.

It's also packed full of the best anti aging ingredients.

Because whatever your age, and whatever your skin type, using a moisturizer every day is a must if you want to keep your complexion looking smooth and your black skin glowing.

Our Hydrating Daily Moisturizer :

  • hydrates and smooths your skin throughout the day, but with no shininess whatsoever
  • evens out your skin tone
  • refines your pores and
  • reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, especially the fine lines around your eyes.

It’s packed with the hydrating superstar Hyaluronic Acid to deeply hydrate your skin, smoothing out skin tone. And it’s rich in anti-oxidants to keep your complexion looking even.

It keeps dry skin (and dead skin cells) at bay, and your skin looking smooth and healthy.

Best Moisturizer for Black Skin 



And finally…

#5: Take It Easy

Be good to your skin and let it rest. Try to limit shaving to every other day so that your face has a chance to recover. 

And for more info on taking the best care of your black skin check outBest Skincare Routine for Black Men.


Grooming your body hair

When it comes to shaving the hair on your body, you can be even more prone to ingrown hairs and irritation. So follow the rules above to keep it to a minimum.

For more on manscaping, and alternatives to shaving when it comes to removing body hair, check out: "MANSCAPING: Mastering the art of grooming your body hair".



Which skincare ingredients work best on black skin? 

Black skin can be very sensitive, so try to focus on natural ingredients.  Shea butter, Jojoba Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E are all excellent moisturizing ingredients.

And to gently exfoliate your skin look for products containing a mild Alpha Hydroxy Acid, like Lactic Acid.


How do you prevent ingrown hairs on black skin? 

Gently exfoliate your face every day to get rid of dead skin cells. Make sure to adopt correct shaving technique, using a rich shaving cream that softens your hair, protects your skin and prevents irritation. Follow this with a light, mattifying moisturizer to keep your face smooth and hydrated.

Ingredients to look for are Shea Butter (to protect and nourish), Tea Tree Oil (to purify and stop irritation) and Apricot Stone Oil (to soften hair).

Why is exfoliation so important to your shave? 

Exfoliation will prevent ingrown hairs that can turn into angry red bumps and become infected when you shave over them.

But it's important to use an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (an AHA), which is a natural chemical exfoliant. It works without damaging or inflaming your skin like a gritty, physical scrub would do. Again, shaving over already inflamed skin is the last thing you need!

Exfoliation will also dissolve away the dead skin cells that can clog, blunt and reduce the life of your razor blades.


What causes ingrown hairs? 

Ingrown hairs occur when a hair that should grow out of the skin from the hair follicle, instead curls back or grows sideways into the skin. It’s the build-up of dead skin cells that traps the hair and stops it growing correctly, so clearing them away is important.

The result of this prep will not only be a clean and smooth surface for you to start shaving, but it also brightens your complexion, letting your skin’s natural glow shine through, even on non-shaving days.


How often should a black man shave? 

Try to only shave every other day.

This gives your skin a break and the hairs have a chance to grow back a little before your next shave. They will be less likely to curl back below the surface of the skin, and you won’t irritate any existing razor bumps.


The Takeaway 

Shaving is never easy, and for black guys there’s even more challenges.

But following these tips will make for a super smooth shave and leave your dark skin clear, smooth and glowing.

The result? A beautiful, clean-shaven face.

  1. Clean and gently exfoliate your face every day
  2. Prep your skin before your shave
  3. Always shave with the grain
  4. Moisturize afterwards
  5. Take it easy

And, finally, be really choosy about the shaving products that you use.


All you need to keep looking handsome. 





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