Hack #1: Preparation
The most important things you can do to get a good, clean shave happen before you even pick up your razor. First and foremost you need to use heat and damp to soften up the hair and make your skin's pores open up. You can splash a little hot water on your face (or wherever else you're shaving) if you don't have a lot of time, but it's a better idea to use a hot towel, or a full shower with plenty of steam to make sure your skin is warm, relaxed, and clean.
For serious shavers it's also a good idea to apply some pre-shave oil or lotion to soften up the hair and skin as well. Remember that dry skin is more likely to snag and get irritated than moist, soft skin is. Don't be afraid to use some lotion after the shave to keep your skin moist either. If you do you'll likely notice a lot fewer cuts and scrapes quite quickly.
Hack #2: Use The Right Lather
There are a lot of fancy creams and shave gels that claim to be the best when it comes to making your beard stand up straight to be shorn, but they just don't get the job done the way you might expect. If you really want to get a smooth, clean shave your best bet is to use the conditioner you have in the shower (especially if it's the good stuff), or a natural, glycerin-based soap. Natural soaps made with lye moisturize your skin, work up to a good lather, and allow for a smoother shave that does less damage to your skin than detergents commonly sold as bar soap.
If you really want to get a good lather with soap though, don't be afraid to get a shaving brush. Typically made with boar bristles, these are the kinds of brushes you see in old-timey movies. Ever wonder why men are so clean-shaven in those black and white films? Part of it has to do with their barbers and the soap they use to make their shaving lather.
If you're looking for great, all natural soap for shaving then check out Natural 20 Soaps right here.
Seriously, They Make Companion Cube Soap!
Hack #3: One Blade Is More Than Enough
Will one of those five-bladed ginsus give you a smooth, clean shave? Sure it will! It will also cost a ridiculous amount of money, use a lot of resources, and be un-recyclable once you've finished with it. When it comes to shaving it's important to remember that less is more, and you should look for a single-bladed razor.
We're not talking about those cheap, .25 blades you see at the supermarket. We're talking old school safety razors. If you've never seen one chances are your dad or your grandpa has one. They're a metal handle, and a mechanism at the head that allows a single blade to be put in or taken out. Those single blades are cheap, sharp, and they can be completely recycled.
For those who want to become true shaving gentlemen though, there's no blade better than an old-fashioned straight razor. These blades take practice and skill to use properly, but there's no closer shave in the world. Also, as an added bonus, you'll never have to buy another blade again! When properly combined with the right soap, the right routine, and taking a few extra minutes out of your day to really pay close attention to your shave, a razor like this can make you into a whole new person.
Hack #4: Go With The Grain First
While it might be instinctual to shave against the grain, try shaving with the grain first. Pamper your face, get it lathered up, and then do one pass. Once the first pass is done, thenshave against the grain. The result is going to be fewer ingrown hairs, less irritation, and a much smoother, closer shave than you would get with a single pass.
Hack #5: Aftercare
Even if you shave with the best natural ingredients and get your technique honed to a keen edge, your skin is never going to take being shaved particularly well. That's why it's important to make sure that you exfoliate dead skin (for men this should be done once every week or two), and use moisturizing lotion to touch up with. Healthy, happy skin is going to react better to being shaved, and just putting on a touch of lotion instead of aftershave will cool any burn and make it a lot less likely that your skin will have the raised, red bumps that so often come with a harsh shave.