The art of shaving: Valentine's Day good looks

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The most romantic day of the year is upon us, and men all over the UK will be sprucing themselves up to take part. This will include the acquisition of new clothing, the use of an ironing board and an hour in the bathroom, perfecting the art of shaving.

Run an internet search on shaving and you will discover statistics like: men spend on average two months of their lives shaving and the age at which a British man will first marry is 29.8 years. Okay, I cheated with that last statistic. But hey, it's almost Valentine's Day.

Because the last thing you want for this special occasion is a shaving rash, make sure ahead of this weekend that your tools are up to scratch. If you like the more traditional style of shaving, with a badger hair brush and cream, is the brush looking past it, is the cream still in date? Is your razor sharp enough or rusting and clogged up with stubble? Do you have any post-shave products to finish off the look?

Most importantly, when did you reacquaint yourself with the art of shaving itself? Did you learn watching your dad, by reading a magazine or website, talking to your mates or do you use techniques you've developed yourself, over time?

Here's a step by step guide to a good shave:

1. Prepare your skin: open your pores by rinsing your face in warm water; this also softens the hairs. Some men like to lie back for five minutes with a hot damp cloth over their face instead - very relaxing too!

2. Half fill the sink with warm water, for rinsing the razor during the shave.

3. Lather up: apply the cream with your brush against the direction of growth.

4. Shave carefully in the direction of growth. Keep your skin taut with your other hand to prevent dragging and get as close a shave as possible.

5. Rinse your razor regularly and ensure it remains clear of debris and build up of lather. Splash your face with water if you need a second pass, but another application of cream should not be necessary.

6. Once this is completed, rinse your face with cold water to flush away soap residues and close your pores.

7. Dress any cuts with a styptic pencil, which seals the wound. Apply a moisturiser or a moisturising after shave balm.

8. Rinse your tools, flick excess water from your brush and store in a holder to dry upside down, ready for your next shave.

The art of shaving can be mastered like any other skill: with thoughtful preparation, appropriate tools and practice, and your Valentine's Day date will appreciate it on any day of the year.

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