When and How to Teach Your Son to Shave – Modern Day Rituals of Manhood
The team at Groom+Style cover the when and how of teaching your son to shave, with an introduction by Homer Simpson.
Right before teaching Bart how to shave, Homer Simpson offers his son three sage pieces of advice, “The three little sentences that will get you through life — Number one: Cover for me. Number two: Oh, good idea, boss! Number three: It was like that when I got here.”
Teaching your son how to shave can be great fun for both of you, and it’s a fantastic way of bonding with him. You’re unlikely to offend the guy by suggesting that he learn how to shave, he’s dying to know. He’s probably had a play around with the razor once or twice already, but to him that thing in the bathroom with the lethal-looking blades is still something mysterious. It’s not part of his world yet — the razor is about as alien to your son as the tampon is to you (it’s ok, we know.) In this article we’re going to explore when and how to teach your son to shave.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Making the offer
- Choosing your equipment
- Prepping and shaving technique
Be incredibly relaxed and lighthearted about all of this. It’s not a right of passage or an initiation ceremony, it’s shaving. It’s a chance for you to have some fun with your son, and it’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life. Make it count, but don’t stress about it.
Making the Offer
Unless Spartan initiation rituals are commonplace in your house, we suggest keeping it simple. The next time you’re about to shave, invite your son to join you, saying that he might like to learn how to do it himself.
Tell him that he’ll need to start shaving regularly soon, even if he does choose to eventually maintain an awesome beard. If asking him outright to follow you and watch you shave feels a bit weird, buy him a disposable razor kit — he’ll be thrilled with it and raring to try it out.
Groom+Style does recommend you start by teaching your boy how to shave with a manual razor. You can start with a disposable razor, or if you want to make a bigger occasion out of it, you can gift your son a safety razor. Once your son has learnt to appreciated the art of shaving you can discuss alternative shaving methods such as straight razors or electric shavers.
But, even with the kit, he might not be ready to give it a try just yet. He might be having a bad day, or he might want to approach you once he’s ready. Offer it to him, say, I can see the start of a beard, there. Want me to show you how to shave? I’m doing mine. He might say yes, but if he’s unsure, turn it into an open-ended offer, Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll show you.
That’s option number one. Option number two is to do as Homer Simpson does and simply tell your son that he’s going to learn how to shave.
“Now come on, you’re gonna learn how to shave.” Homer Simpson
Choosing Your Equipment
Groom+Style highly recommend giving your son his own razor right from the start. You can give him a disposable, as we mentioned, but even if it seems unnecessary to give him a decent Gillette razor with replacement blades at this stage, this is an experience of a lifetime for your son. When he looks back on this in ten, fifteen years, he’s going to remember that you made it a really special occasion by giving him his very own shaving set. If you’re thinking that spending money on something the kid can’t even use properly yet is a waste, pinch yourself and ask whether you’d think the same about a musical instrument or a sketching pad. Something like the Merkur Shaving set would be an ideal gift – get yourself one while you’re at it so you can match!
Either way make sure you’ve got the following to hand:
- A new razor for both you and your son
- A good quality shaving cream
- A face wash and moisturiser
If you’re an old-school aftershave applier, go for it, but plenty of us at Groom+Style prefer a simple moisturiser.
Prepping and Shaving Technique
This is really for your benefit, right here. If you get in there with your son and realise that actually, you don’t know how to shave properly (a lot of us don’t) you’ll spoil the experience. Avoid rashes, razor bumps and an uneven finish by following these steps for a smooth shave. We know, he might not have enough hair yet to warrant worrying about such things, but it’s the thought that counts, and while this is primarily a bonding experience right now, what he learns with you is going to stick with him when shaving becomes a daily routine. So let’s get it right – you can also find more details in our article on the art of shaving.
Wet Your Beard Thoroughly
Dry shaving is one of the leading causes of rashes and razor burn. When your hair is warm and wet, it becomes much easier to cut. If you’ve ever had a straight razor shave from a barber, you’ll know how seriously they take the pre-shave washing ritual.
Wash your face in very warm water, massaging the hair as you go to get it all standing up.
Use a Quality Shaving Cream
Shaving creams with a lot of foam are a bit misleading. We need something to look at in TV ads, which is partly why most creams foam so much. You don’t want that, though. A shaving cream’s job is to lubricate your face and make it easier for the razor to cut the hair. The more foam, the less contact there is between razor and skin. If your beard is wet and warm enough, you should only need a small amount of cream to get the job done.
Use a Sharp Razor
A blunt razor is more likely to cut your face than a sharp one, since you’ll press harder with a blunt razor and it’ll catch more. You’re using a metal razor against soft, wet hair, there should be no contest. If your razor is sticking and catching, change it.
It never hurts to wet your razor in warm water right before use, either.
Shave With the Grain First
The simplest way to get a good shave, is to remember that shaving in the direction of the hair growth is best. Everyone’s beard grows in differently, but it should be pretty easy to tell which way yours goes (it’ll grow in different directions on different parts of your face.)
Let the razor do the work, gliding over the hair. If you’d like to get an even closer shave, apply more cream, then go sideways. You can go against the grain when it’s very short, but you risk bumps and ingrown hairs.
Wash and Moisturise
When you’re done, wash your face gently with clean, warm water. Pat dry, don’t rub, and apply a moisturiser to soften the skin out.
That’s it. You’ve got everything you need now, to make this a fun and memorable experience for you and your son. If it goes well, let us know by dropping a comment below, or share a photo with us on Facebook.
After all that if your son is not ready go outside and play some catch, and try again next year!