I was just wondering what the most inane topic I could write about…
I’m an Old-Fashioned shaver.
Okay, maybe not “Old-Fashioned”. I think that actually involves lying back in a barber’s chair and letting some other guy do the work for 25¢, hoping to Jeebus that he doesn’t go all Sweeney Todd on you with a straight edge blade.
Or it means scraping my face with a jagged rock by a river… guess it depends how far back “Old-Fashioned” means…
So, maybe I’m a Neo-Classical Shaver… or something. I don’t know… I was looking for a good opening-line.
But I do it the non-electric way, I can say that much for certain. This is yet another way I differ from the other men in my immediate family: My dad and two older brothers. Not 100% sure about my oldest brother, but I think I recall him using an electric razor years ago. My other brother, the middle one… always uses electric. Don’t recall him ever using anything else. Even today, half the time he’ll walk out of the bathroom with the familiar “buzzzzzzzzzzzz” humming along while he multi-tasks his morning, scraping away the little bit of fuzz that accumulated overnight. My dad… I’m pretty sure he’s strictly electric now… but he used to have the “safety razors”, that he obviously must have used at some point. They were the cheapest little plastic things that could be found… 50 of them for about 2 dollars (today’s prices), with one dull blade on each one. With the lone period of time that I tried to use those, they tore my face up pretty bad… so I’m not sure how “safe” they really were.
But they’re all electric guys. Probably for the convenience sake. After a few weeks when your skin gets used to it, you can buzz your face every day, and you’ll always have that “clean” look forever after. Plus, the one-time cost of it is probably more economical in comparison. I even got an electric razor for the holidays one year… I think I used it for about 2 months before I stopped. For one… it was a pretty cheap model, and wasn’t going to last much longer anyway. But also… as close a shave as it did, it wasn’t as close as the non-electric way was. I’d feel my face after the electric, and it’d feel pretty smooth. But after the non-electric way? It would feel SUPER smooth! Yes, I could tell the difference. I liked that better. Plus, due to the lotions and balms and everything… the non-electric way was more refreshing, soothing. The electric way? Just kind of… Vibrate-y.
The first time I shaved was getting ready for my Junior Prom when I was in High School. I was given a “sample kit” from the place I rented my Tux from, and thought, “Cool… I’m old enough to shave now!” Sure, all I really had was a little peach fuzz… but it felt symbolic to be doing it that night. That night was also my first actual date… ever. (It didn’t go like, end like, or lead to anything as most “real dates” do… or even like other “Prom Dates” stereotypically do…but that’s another story.) So, symbolism abounded for me that night, and I wanted to do it right. (And I only cut myself twice!)
Thereafter, I didn’t shave that often (again, I had nothing but peach-fuzz really), but I’d do it once every week, week and a half. I had heard that “once you start shaving, you have to do it regularly because the hair will start growing faster!” Well, apparently my actual facial hair didn’t get that memo, because the “needing a shave-look” wasn’t much different from the “freshly shaved-look”. At the time, shaving was more of a formality… a zen-like practice that served no practical purpose; but I felt good doing it, and I also felt less like an overly-awkward teen. (I still was… I just didn’t feel like one.)
The first time I actually realized that I honest-to-goodness NEEDED to shave… was when I was in college. The director of a show I was in had asked all the men in the show to “Not Shave”. It was a period piece, set in Russia, so we were all supposed to have facial hair. (I also got to wear a wig and a padded belly for that show.) So, I stopped shaving… and thinking, “I’ve never actually grown anything but peach fuzz… will I even be able to?” But taking those few extra weeks and not shaving… I did start to get some real, rough stubble, and then became a beard. The design team then designated mine to be a “Van Dyke”, so I could shave the neck and sides. (Good, cause it was itching like hell!) I even kind of liked it… so much I kept it for awhile after that show. It was different for me… together with my glasses, it even made me feel a little more intellectual and “collegiate”.
The beard came and went a few times over the next few years. Sometimes growing it for a show, other times shaving it for a show. I’ve done quite a few things for shows, actually. The most extreme was not only shaving my face… but my arms, legs, chest, and head. The play I was doing it for was a very odd Tennessee Williams play called In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, and at one point, I strip down to this Japanese Shinto-Diaper-Thingy. And every bit of skin that was exposed was shaved. The only part that wasn’t was my eyebrows… that would have looked too weird, we agreed. The character was this weird, intense, crazy artist, who we figured would want to do a ritualistic head-shaving (like a monk)… only he’d take it to the absolute extreme, and shave everything. So we went with it. I ended up looking like some intense, homicidal, overgrown baby… which was interesting on its own, for sure. (Add to that me smearing latex interior housepaint over me… like I said, it was an odd show.) Several times I would talk to people about this and mention how I had to “shave everything”.
They’d look at me with a raised eyebrow and say, “EVERY-thing?” Clearly implying about parts under the Shinto Diaper that weren’t being seen.
“No, I did not shave my crotch for the show.”
They’d seem almost relieved and say “Okay” at that. There *are* limits to Method Acting, thank you. I most certainly did not shave my private parts for that show.
The fact that I shaved those parts ANYWAY, I didn’t mention. So yes, I was completely bare during the show. But I didn’t shave the bathing suit area *purposefully* for that show, so I wasn’t lying… it was simply a personal preference. (You think shaving feels nice on the face? Just imagine that sensation down there… very soothing in the summer, let me tell you.)
Okay, I’m sure that’s way into the realm of TMI (Too Much Information)… Oh well, cope.
I’ve always considered shaving to be one of those “manly man” things to do. I’ve seen it on lists of “sexiest things a woman can see a man do” (supposedly written by a woman, or taken from a survey of women), alongside “tying a tie”, “interacting with a child”, “cooking”, “juggling”, and “zombie-defense-preparation”. (Okay, maybe those last two are from *my* list of what should be sexy) If that’s true… then I’m one hell of a Sexy Manly-Man. Well, unless your list consists of MORE then those… then I only have these points down.
I love the smoothness of the end result… the crisp, clean feeling. It’s awesome, it really is. My face feels refreshed, rejuvenated… and helps me to feel damn Sex-ay. (And I’m sure adult women can think of other, practical advantages for a man having a smooth face. No, I’m not “going there”… because You just did.) I don’t know what it is about the existence of certain body hair that makes me feel not-as-sexy… but the fact it is probably explains why I have no problem getting rid of it.
On rare occasion, I’ll shave my legs. Usually just in the summer, solely for the comfort factor. My chest… sometimes I’ll shave for the summer comfort, but I don’t mind a little hair on that part. But I do try to keep it trimmed…. I don’t like it getting long, twisty and out of control. Keeping it to the level of “pleasant fuzz” is my preference.
Armpits… I shave regularly. Using the Norelco Body Trimmer helps with this. Hey, I don’t think you noticed, but armpits stink. You know why? The sweat is trapped in the hair and it ferments. I may not sweat any less, but my pits are a LOT less stinky, thank you.
And thanks to my genetics… I’m cursed with a hairy back. Not the kind of hairy where the Gay Community would put me in the “Bear” category, but enough that it itches and makes the heat less tolerable. I’ve tried to shave it… but I have to bend my arms in very unnatural ways to do so, and that hurts. I tried using the “Nair” and removal creams, which works decently for a few weeks at a time, but application is difficult. I did get help on a few occasions… one really good friend slathered it on me, and another time, a girlfriend did it. While she said she didn’t mind, when I look back on it, I can’t help but think, “That was unfair to ask her to do that for me.” Why? Well, it may not be horror-movie disgusting… but still an unappealing task. So, come the future, I shall not ask of that in a relationship again. Nope… so, now, and for the past few years… I’ve been getting waxed.
Figured if I’m going to enlist help, it should be a professional, and one who gets duly compensated for it. Plus, the waxing has the benefit of lasting longer then the creams.
On the downside, it hurts like a Motherfucking-Hurt-Machine. (But I am a sensitive lad, dontchaknow?) Granted, after doing it almost 10 times by now… it hurts less then it did at first, but I still don’t look forward to it.
Now, I can get a good 8 weeks of pure hairlessness, and then another month or so as it grows back, and there’s no chance of missing spots. They’re pretty thorough. They get a good way up my neck, the tops of my shoulders and all the way down the back. When I’m asked, “How far down do you want me to go?” (No, I don’t make an innuendo. They have hot wax and are already causing me pain, do you honestly think I want MORE of it?) I say, “If you see crack, you’ve gone too far.”
Now, I may not have female companionship to take advantage of the super-smoothness, or recognize the pain I’ve experienced and wish to “make it up to me”… but I do it anyway. If I relied on sexual rewards as my reasons for shaving and hair removal, I’d look like Grizzly Adams by now.
Nope, shaving is for me. It’s my Zen thing, thank you.
Over the years… I have refined my technique since my first facial shave. It really is more then Lather, Scrape, Rinse. There’s an order. There’s a procedure.
I like procedures.
First… hardware selection. I’m currently using the Gillette Mach 3 Turbo. I don’t know exactly why they call it “Turbo”, but it does work a tad better then the regular Mach 3, I know that much. I just buy the refills in bulk from Costco so I’m not paying as much as from the normal store. As the whole shaving thing can get expensive if you’re not careful… I therefore try to be careful. (The “Fusion” razor is really nice too, and even gives a better shave, but its still way more price-wise.)
Then, you need the heat. Steam heat, to be precise. I used to just splash a bunch of warm-to-hot water on my face for a few minutes, but I prefer to simply shave in the shower. I helps to open up the pores.
Next… shaving cream? NO! Now’s the facial scrub. I use an exfoliating facial cleanser. I really like the one from Nivea.
Now, the shaving cream, right? WRONG! Now is the pre-shave oil. Yes, it’s called a pre-shave oil. It’s a tiny little bottle, and you only use a few drops at a time, like 5-6… about the size of half a penny. (A little goes a long way) It’s got a bit of the menthol-thing going on, which sometimes feels counterproductive to the steam heat… but it works really well. Helps the hairs to stand up a bit. According to the bottle, you could actually shave using JUST this oil if you had to, but I never have. The kind I use… (and the only kind I can find, though it works so well, I don’t care) is from King of Shaves.*
*if the company is named King of Shaves, you can assume they know something about it.
Okay, now has to be the shaving cream, huh? NEVER!! I use a shaving “gel”. The old shaving cream/foam…besides smelling funny, it also makes it hard to actually see the hair you’re shaving off. It’s not that fun to go completely blind when having a sharp object near your face. Just sayin… No, shaving technology has made some leaps and bounds. The gel type of shaving lube is pretty clear, and makes it a lot easier to do things like keep the sideburns even, or even care for that goatee you’re trying for. Plus, it really does work a lot better. I’ll occasionally try different brands, but I do keep coming back to the King of Shaves brand again… the Sensitive Skin formula. (I *do* have sensitive skin, dontchaknow?)
Then… the actual removal. I’ve always read you’re only supposed to scrape “with the grain”... but when I do that, I always feel stubble left behind. So I always go back up the other way, “against the grain” as well, and that removes it all. And I’ve never had a problem with in-grown facial hairs or gashing my face open or whatnot as a result. I just go easy, methodical… and get that super-smoothness I love so much.
But it’s not over! After the scraping, I’ll obviously rinse off thoroughly (easy enough as I’m already in the shower), finish up all the other shower-business, and out. Then I pat dry my face… and then break out the… anyone? Anyone?
After-shave lotion? What am I, a masochist? (Don’t answer that.) Alcohol on microscopic wounds? Hell, no. Nope, I go with the “post-shave balm”. It’s a thicker kind of goop, that’s non-alcoholic, non-painful… and gives that nice bit of smooth polish to the face, with an extra moisturizing kick. Again, a little goes a long way. I don’t stray from the Nivea brand on this one.
And that’s my shave. I do this every 4 days or so. I can get away doing it after 3 days, but any less then that, and my face gets torn up a bit. No, with my face, the blade needs a decent bit of stubble to get a grip on to. In fact, the longer I go without, the easier it is to shave it, oddly. Unless it’s more then 6 days (meaning I have no dates or social plans)… in which case, it’s too long. So I’ll take my regular old-clippers and trim down the face to a shaveable length.
It works for me. Maybe it is a “manly-man” thing to do… I just do it because it makes me feel “good”.