All men want to get the closest shave possible, but they also want to avoid razor bumps, which are a common skin problem caused by shaving. Fortunately, it is possible to get a close shave without razor bumps by following the tips outlined below.

Use a Single-Blade Safety Razor, Not a Cartridge Razor

Modern multi-blade cartridge razors are convenient, but they’re not actually the best choice for your skin. As the multiple blades pass over your skin, the first blade pulls up the hair and the others cut underneath it. The manufacturers claim that this gives you a close shave, but the truth is that it can be a little too close for comfort. Multiblade razors can actually cut the hair under the skin, which leads to ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

Single-blade safety razors offer a safe alternative that is less likely to cause razor bumps. By combining a double-edge safety razor with the tips below, you can still get a close shave, with the added bonus that your skin will feel more comfortable and look better.

Use a Pre-Shave Oil

Pre-shave oil is essential to getting a close and comfortable shave. The purpose of this oil is to soften the beard so that it can be shaved without tugging at the hairs, and also to provide a protective layer of lubrication between the razor blade and the sensitive skin of your face.

The best pre-shave oils contain a mix of natural oils, such as caster oil and olive oil, which provide the perfect amount of lubrication while also supplying some much-needed hydration to your skin.

Shave with the Grain

When you shave against the grain, the blade of the razor tugs at the hair, pulling it away from the skin before slicing through. Some men think that this is beneficial, because the hair is cut closer to the skin, but the truth is that shaving against the grain can be a damaging way of getting a close shave. Pulling the hair away from the skin in order to cut it closer can increase the risk of ingrown hairs, which can swell up into unsightly red razor bumps.

In order to shave with the grain, you first need to find out which way the hairs are growing. Running your hand across the stubble should help you to identify the direction of growth. Over time, you’ll get to know every inch of your beard so you can shave with the grain without having to think about it. (See our “Grain Mapping Guide” for more details.)

For a closer shave, just complete more passes with the grain, re-lathering before each one. You might also try shaving “across the grain.”

Use an After-Shave Lotion

After-shave lotion is the perfect thing to apply to your face after shaving. Unlike alcohol-based after-shave products, lotions are highly moisturizing, so they can stop your skin from drying out. Some after-shave lotions also contain ingredients that prevent inflammation, which means that they can prevent irritated pores from swelling up to form razor bumps.

Aloe vera is an important ingredient for soothing skin after shaving. Other beneficial ingredients of after-shave lotion include tea tree oil, which keeps bacteria out of your pores, and jojoba oil, a powerful natural moisturizer.