IMG_1846Barber shop shave - after

I had a shave today. It had been a while since I had a shave – well over a week. And while my efforts at making a beard in that small amount of time are reasonably feeble, it was far more of a beard than I usually have. But the more I grew it, the less I wanted to shave it.

And then I remembered something I’ve always wanted to do: have a barbershop ‘straight razor’ shave.

I made a few enquiries, and searched on the web a bit, and soon I found a place in Birmingham that does them. It’s called Jack’s of London, it was a good deal fancier than my regular barber, and it was more or less on my way to work – so I popped in, took a seat on the leather sofa, and waited.

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Within ten minutes, I was being hot towelled and lathered, and my face was being scraped away at with a lethal piece of steel. However, and I was quite impressed by this, the whole process was first explained to me in detail by Anthony, my attending barber, who was reassuringly expert.

I guess that’s a desirable thing when someone’s going to be at your face and throat with a sharp instrument.

The whole process took just over half an hour, and while it wasn’t a luxurious and relaxing experience in the way that, say, a massage or a facial might be – it was definitely a case of being pampered in the interests of personal grooming, which is not something I often experience. I thoroughly recommend it.

Clean-shaven

It goes without saying that I got a close shave – though not as close as it could have been. Anthony was careful to point out that since this was my first ‘proper’ shave, he’d go easy on my skin as it was likely to irritate if he went too close. And it did seem like he was being extra cautious.

It’s certainly something I’d do again. Perhaps not every few weeks as was suggested, but maybe every couple of months or so. Having experienced it once, and all of the uncertainty (let’s not call it fear) has been put to rest about the process and how it works, I’m entirely comfortable about doing it more often.

It’s difficult to put into words what it is about the process that makes the experience worthwhile, but it is immensely satisfying and does give a very good result.

I don’t mind shaving as much as some people do. Some of my friends outright resent having to do it. It’s no big deal as far as I’m concerned, though I certainly don’t dwell over it. But to have it turned into an act of craftsmanship that feels old-fashioned and is taken seriously as a piece of ritual, is vastly superior to the Gilette Fusion once-over every couple of days.

And feel how smooth!