(Animation by Julia Pott; Music by Eric Beug)
Gentlemen! Brush the crumbs out of that tired beard and embrace a smooth, dapper face that will be catnip to ladies and men alike. Today we’ll be learning how to achieve an old-fashioned barbershop technique at home: the straight razor shave.*
We ventured down to Ernest & Olivia’s Barber Shop and Salon in New York’s West Village to get a personal tutorial from Oscar, a talented third-generation barber. Our brave model (and victim) is Etsy’s Office Ecologist, Jakob.
• Straight edge or cut-throat razor
• Shaving cream
• Pre-shave oils
• A dry towel
• A hot towel
STEP 1: INSPECTION
Everyone’s face is unique, so the first thing you want to do is to inspect the shaving area for things like irritation, cuts or bumps. If you find any places where the skin is rough or damaged, make a note to be especially careful when shaving these areas.
STEP 2: TREATMENT
Using circular motions, gently massage the pre-shave oils into the hair. This will loosen up the follicles and prepare them for the blade. Then apply a hot towel to your face for about a minute to loosen up the pores. To make a hot towel, simply run a face towel under hot water or warm it in the microwave.
STEP 3: LATHER
Apply your shaving cream. Be sure to cover the whole shaft of the hair, but there’s no need to make a huge foamy beard! As long as the hair is completely covered, you’ll be fine.
STEP 4: THE FIRST SHAVE
You’re now ready to begin your first shave with the razor. For this shave you will be using gentle, downward strokes and shaving with the grain. (Which way is with the grain? Rub your hand on your stubbly face. In one direction it will feel more rough and will resist the push of your hand. That rough direction is against the grain, while the other, smoother-feeling direction is “with the grain.”)
- Begin by shaving the right side of your face. Go from the right cheek down to the chin. However, do not shave the chin yet!
- Next you will shave the moustache area, using gentle, downward strokes.
- Continue with the left side of the face, from the left cheek down to the chin.
- Shave the neck area, making sure to shave with the grain.
- By now there should only be a small amount of hair left on the chin. Finish up by shaving the chin area with small, gentle strokes. Take special care, as it is the most difficult area to shave!
When you are done, why not throw on another hot towel?
STEP 5: THE SECOND SHAVE!
Not all men need a second shave, but it is the closest shave you can get!
Apply your pre-shave oils to the face once again (you will be using them as a lather instead of shaving cream in this instance). Use the blade to go against the grain, cleaning up anything you left behind with smooth, gentle upward strokes.
The end result? Now you should be a handsome, clean-shaven man. Show that face with pride!
*If you’re new to the technique, be sure to practice on an inflated balloon before trying this on yourself!
About the filmmakers: Buffalo Picture House is a production company founded by a select group of award-winning, young filmmakers and producers in New York City. Check them out at www.buffalopicturehouse.com.
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