Friday, March 5, 2010
Mastering the Art of Shaving
In 2008, Thirsty.Threads brought you The Art of Shaving, an on-the-go guide for guys to get the perfect shave at home. But for those of you with a little more time on your hands, a little more affinity for the golden days, the gentlemen in your life who relish in time-tested rituals and routines, I dedicate today's article to you: mastering the art of shaving - the straight razor.
Caution: before we commence and you try the straight razor shave yourself, know that it's not something to just make up as you go. This is a potentially dangerous art. Think about it - you're pressing an open, sharp blade onto your face and neck. Kindly be careful. Take your time, and all will be well.
So on to the best shave of your life:
1) Prep: It's incredibly important to prep the skin. After exfoliating and cleansing the skin (and preferably a steaming hot shower), apply a pre-shave oil. This will protect the skin, soften your beard, and help the blade glide effortlessly. When shaving, use the hottest water you're comfortable with.
2) Lather: using your favourite shaving cream, massage the product over the face and neck (or any other areas you're about to shave). Using circular motions will create the best lather. For better results: try a badger hair brush - it will help lift the hairs up, for a closer, smoother shave.
3) Shave: When shaving with a straight razor, it's important to stretch the skin that you're shaving so that is tight - you don't want to accidentally shave your skin off. Keeping the blade at about 20 degrees, make your first pass, in the direction of the grain. Move on to the next area, until you've made your "first pass" over your entire face (or the areas you're shaving).
For optimal shaving results: lather again, this time shaving sideways to your first passes. Remember to keep the skin tight to maximize exposure to follicles. (It may be tricky to shave the neck and lip sideways, so focus on the cheeks and jawline.) Finally, lather again and shave against the grain - the opposite direction of your first pass.
4) Protect: When finished shaving, rinse any remaining shaving cream off with COLD water. This will help close the pores and protect your skin. In the event of nicks or cuts, use an antiseptic alum stick to stop the bleeding. Finally, apply an alcohol-free moisturizer, preferably with sunscreen, and you're good to go!
Remember, it's important to shave with a sharp razor. Keeping the blade honed (sharpened with stone, done occasionally) and stropped (keeps the blade fresh and smooth with leather, done every time you shave). Once you've got the process perfected, it shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes for a proper shave.
If you're curious about a straight razor shave, but don't want to risk the art at home, leave it to the professionals. Many barber shops, spas for men, and shaving specialty shops offer straight razor shaves, and are usually performed by the coolest, most storied older gentlemen you'll ever meet.
I definitely recommend The Art of Shaving, and have heard good things about The Grooming Lounge.