Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fathers to sons: Tradition passed down.

As the father of a four year old boy, I look forward to all of the wisdom, advice, corny jokes and general knowledge I’ll need to pass along to my son.

I look forward to it but dread it at the same time. I often struggle with feeling as if I have to be “Super Dad” just to be sure that I know everything and can actually answer many of the inevitable questions he’s sure to come to me with. You know the questions kids come up with these days: “What does OPEC stand for?” , “Who invented the internet?” , “What’s the distance between the earth and the sun?.” “Why is Paris Hilton famous?” (Thank god for Google!) I’ll also have to bone up on all of my sports knowledge and athletic skills just to keep up! All of that and of course, the basic, practical stuff that all men learn and will serve them well throughout their adult lives like, how to tie a tie, how to have a suit properly tailored, how to properly order a bottle of wine in a restaurant, how to always be a gentleman with the ladies and of course, how to shave. Of all the things we’ll teach our sons, shaving will be the one daily ritual that will perhaps serve to be one of the most important for the rest of their adult lives.

So why not get it right! ? Far too many men have abandoned the traditional means of shaving for the more, “fast food” approach of shaving. A plastic, multi blade, battery operated gizmo and a can of high pressurized…crap which gets spread across the face with…fingers? Umm, no!

Not sure when the art of shaving became, less than art and men abandoned the traditional means, but it’s time for the classic “wet shave” to make its way back to the everyday ritual.


First things first: Ditch the random cans of pressurized shaving creams and gels. It’s all crap for lack of a better word and simply not able to lubricate your skin properly for a smooth shave. Go with a traditional shave soap or cream. May seem a little more pricey than the can stuff, but it lasts much longer and will provide your face with the ultimate in luxury feel and smoothness when putting blade to skin. Check out some of the old school, English shave shops like Taylor of Old Bond Street ( or Geo F. Trumper They each have an amazing line of products and you’d be hard pressed to find anything better.

Second: Lose your fingers! Invest in a decent, pure badger hair shave brush. This is probably the most important part. You simply can’t prepare your face for a good shave by slathering on shave cream with your finger tips. A shave brush helps to lift the hair on your face and exfoliate the skin. Both critical to the shave process. A good badger hair brush will run between $30 to $100 and can get even pricier. Badger hair is best for retaining moisture and will be significantly more effective than a cheaper, boars hair brush.

Third: Toss the Gillete “Mach 25”, “Fusion”, 6 to 8 blade having… whatever razor and buy yourself a classic DE (double edge) safety razor. You can look online to find a decent one. I’m currently using a Merkur Heavy Duty razor. (check Amazon) Right away you’ll notice the weight and substantial feel of this razor in your hand. You’ll sense that this is a man’s razor and never return to the plastic. Using a DE razor will take some time and practice to get used to. You don’t need to press down on your strokes. The blade simply glides smoothly over your face and the weight of the razor does most of the work for you. Keep in mind also, that in the long run, you'll be saving money not having to buy the disposable blades and you'll be doing your part to save the environment by not having to throw out the plastic.


Now that you’ve got the equipment, time to get to the shave! Like many things we’ll one day teach our son’s, shaving should be one of those things that’s done slow and steady for maximum effect. Preparation is essentially the key here. A good shave requires the facial pores to be opened, so it’s usually best to shave when you first come out of a hot shower. If not, be sure to soak your face with a really hot wash rag/towel. Once your pores are open and ready, time to brush on some shave soap. Put about a nickel sized amount of soap into your shave mug. (any mug or soap bowl will do really.) Dip the shave brush into hot water then mix the soap up to a nice froth. Use the brush to then lather up the soap all over your face using a circular motion. Take your time! A good minute or two of just brushing on the lather will really prep the skin and hairs. Once you’re lathered up, time to get your shave on. I won’t get into “how to use a razor” here. From this point, it’s really pretty basic. Go with the direction of your hair growth. Use nice, smooth, easy, short strokes and rinse the blade each time. Remember, using a safety razor doesn’t require pressing hard against your face. Let the razor do the work and most important, again…TAKE YOUR TIME! I prefer to go over everything once, then re-lather up and pass the blade a second time, sometimes even three times. When done with the shave, rinse with cold water then finish off with a good, alcohol free after shave to soothe your skin. Trumper’s Coral Skin Food is a great choice: You can also use it as a pre-shave.

Once you get into this routine and ditch the “on the fly” “hurry up and rush” shave, you’ll start to appreciate it and will even consider shaving a relaxing experience. I tend to shave at night, after a nice shower. I find my shave time to be a luxury and a peaceful, soothing way to end my day. The effort you put into your shave will be well worth it later and your face will more than appreciate it as time goes on. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to razor bumps, this method will undoubtedly serve you well.

The classic shaving accessories and the method are simply unbeatable. Not to mention, there's a sense of elegance, sophistication and style that goes with it all. In the end, the joy of passing this knowledge down to your son(s) one day will be much appreciated by them and truly gratifying for yourself.

For more information on classic shaving, shaving products and more, check out some of the following links: