Black Men, Our Skin and Shaving: What to Do Before, During and After

Today, I turned 49 years of age. When someone said happy birthday to me and asked my age, and I replied 49, the person seemed astonished and remarked that I did not look it and that I had nice skin. Over the years I have learned that many of us African American do not take good care of ourselves and this is particularly consistent with ourskin and our face.

So I want to take this time to give a brief background of what I have done over the years to maintain my facial appearance before, after and during the shave, as well as a few other hints designed to keep your face fresh and young.

First to consider are the tools needed to maintain healthy skin. Cleansers and moisturizers are essential, especially for mature skin that has likely lost a lot of moisture. A gentle, non-soap cleanser is preferable. I use Leaf and Rush Green Tea Wash. This is essential and should be done each day and night, even on the days you do not shave.

Black men have a completely different concern with shaving than white men. Black men’s hair is curved at an oblique angle. This means if we cut our hair too short, it may grow back into our skin. So it is wise to avoid using multiple blade razors or to use electric clippers. In addition, the scrapping and rubbing against the skin during shaving can cause inflammation. To combat this I use alcohol-free creams and post shave products.

We should stay away from  shaving gels like Edge and use creams. My preferences are 1) Baxters of California Super Close Shave Formula and 2) Proraso shaving cream. However, before you apply the cream, try to use a pre-shave oil, then layer the foam on top of the oil. My favorite pre-shave oil is Caswell-Massey 1752 Sandalwood pre-shave oil.

When you start to shave, do so against the grain and in a downward direction. This will reduce inflammation and the growth of shaving bumps.

When you finish shaving, thoroughly rinse your face with cold water. This settles the skin. Next, apply a non-greasy balm or moisturizer like Sharps hydrating Gel or D.R. Harris & Company Arlington Aftershave Milk. When the skin is ready, I also like to use Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes.

In 2012, we must be ready to take care of ourselves. Taking care of our face is one of the things we can all do, especially if it is our desire to maintain our youthful looks and live up too the old adage, “black don’t crack.”

torrance stephens, ph.d.


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