The shaving industry hasn’t changed in more than 100 years. With its advertisements that promote one single type of masculinity (usually white, straight, athletic, hypermasculine), it’s one of the least inclusive of industries. We want to change that. For an entire week, we at Very Good Light want to redefine what shaving could look like if the industry was more open to all types of guys. It’s our goal to completely shatter shaving’s traditional perceptions of masculinity with positive, culture-pushing stories from diverse communities. Together with Harry’s, we’re launching a video series called “My First Shave,” one that reimagines the shaving industry’s messaging altogether. Each of the videos document powerful, real, raw stories from all types of guys from all walks of life. To them, shaving isn’t about becoming more of a man. Rather, it’s  about getting that much closer to loving the man you always were, one shave at a time. 

With the grain or against? Soften the hairs or just go for it? Lots of shaving cream or a little?

Shaving: it’s complicated. With so much information out there, what are the essentials that you ~really~ need to get started on your first shave? We broke it down with the help of Brittania Boey, VP of Product and R&D at Harry’s, who told us shaving really doesn’t have to be that difficult. “Shaving right goes a long way than shaving quickly,” she tells us. “It doesn’t have to be a tedious process.”

Ready to get going? Good! Get going into your bathroom, lock the door and read these instructions!

What you’ll need:

-Fresh razor

-Shaving cream or gel (creams are thicker, gels foam with water, take your pick!)

-Grooming scissors if you have long whiskers

1 Prep your skin

(Illustration by Tomi Um)

Before going into battle, take some time out so your skin is prepared for your razor. To do this, Brittania suggests softening your facial hair. To do this, you simply dab your face with warm water. You then mix in your shaving cream or gel and let it sit for two entire minutes to get it in the right condition. “The water and the gel or cream will help soften the hairs and get them in the best condition so that they can be easily cut with a razor,” she tells us.

2 Map thy face

(Illustration by Tomi Um)

Do you have patchy spots or do you have hair all over? A good rule of thumb is to examine what parts of your face need shaving before going in. For instance, if you only have a goatee and mustache growing, there’s no reason to put a razor to your cheeks or sideburns. The more thorough you map it, the easier your shave will be.

3 Are you WTG or ATG?

(Illustration by Tomi Um)

That is, are you With the Grain or Against the Grain? Answering this one question is perhaps the most important step of all. While there’s a lot of heated debate whether you should start with WTG or ATG, we here at Very Good Light suggest going WTG if it’s your first time. To get the answer as to which direction your hair is growing, take your fingers and lightly run it across your face as if you were shaving. If there’s little to know resistance, you’re definitely WTG. If it’s prickly and feels awkward almost like petting your cat the wrong way you’re going ATG. If you don’t know, let the hair grow just a little bit more and then try again. It should become as obvious as your cat hissing at you to try petting again.

4 Shaving: The Musical

(Illustration by Tomi Um)

In the tune of Frozen: Let it GROW! Let it GROW! When everything’s going, er, smoothly, your razor will start to sing. That is, there won’t be any pain, agony, rather, your skin getting a pleasant massage. Think of it as the razor and foam making sweet, sweet love on your face. You’ll realize after your first stroke, it gets easier. Brittania suggest short small strokes to begin with. If you’re shaving your full face, a good rule of thumb is to start from the chin and finish off with the side burns, she says.

5 Special move

(Illustration by Tomi Um)

Need a double pass to get a squeaky clean look? If you’re up for it, try this special move: ATG. Use this wise and don’t press too hard (or there will be some cuts involved). After going WTG got once ATG and you’ll see just how much more hair you’ll be able to get.

6 Post prep!

Looking brand new? Can’t get over yourself? Obsessed with your shining face? Well, prepare for some aftershave. While this may conjure visions of Kevin McAllister in Home Alone, it doesn’t have to be so painful. That pain happens because of alcohol, says Brittania. To bypass pain, take a left in the zero alcohol aisle of your medicine cabinet. Don’t have a post-shave balm? Not the end of the world! Simply go for your toner and moisturizer and allow it to soothe your skin. After all, it went through a lot.