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Shaving Tips

If you're after a real close shave... Lessons mean trouble for your stubble

This wasn't my idea. I was to be taught how to do something with apparently four out of five men don't know how to do properly - shave.

Now, in my ignorance, I thought I'd been doing it pretty successfully for years - notwithstanding the odd cut, nick, and strategically placed bit of toilet tissue.

How difficult could it be?

So difficult, it seems, that one Glasgow groomery has set up a Shaving Academy which will run twice a week to teach guys how best to brandish their blades.

The Men's Store on Sauchiehall Street is offering trimming tutelage, claiming that "a proper technique allows a man to shave every day without having to worry about the effects of sensitive skin".

The staff are trained every month by celebrity barber and shaving guru Daniel Rouah, whose clients include Lennox Lewis, Richard Branson and Jools Holland.

He claims that shaving properly not only makes men look better but also makes them more positive and assertive and releases their inner man.

Open blade

It's a load of old rubbish, obviously, but here I was in the (hopefully) safe hands of Mary Dillon, beauty therapist turned men's groomer, who was to take an open blade to my face.

It was one of the stranger interviews I'd done - couldn't take notes, couldn't speak - but thankfully Mary did enough talking for both of us. She cleaned her blade and cut to the chase.

Tip one. "Use a good moisturiser before you start. It softens the hair and protects the face."

Yeah, yeah, girly rubbish I thought. So she applied said balm and it felt nice. Next.

"You can use soap, cream, gel or oil, but whichever you use it helps to use a good brush as that makes the hairs stand up." That was tip two. Mary gently massaged a load of cream into my face and head. I was getting used to this.

Tips three and four blended together as the blade came to my neck. "Take your time. Guys rush and that's why they get razor burn. If you don't have time in the morning, shave the night before."

Tip five, the important one. "Always shave in the direction of growth. Shaving against the grain might get closer but will cut skin, tear follicles and irritate. Most hairs grow in one direction but others grow to the side, follow them with your razor."

Mary stroked the razor across my skin, stopping regularly to clean the blade (tip six). I got especially nervy when the blade was hovering across my Adam's apple. Mary noticed and smiled.

"Guys always get nervous when the blade gets near their Adam's apple." Yeah, funny that.

A few skillful strokes later and the first course was done. Mary cleaned me up and then applied oil for a second shave to get it really close. There wasn't so much in the way of growth to get rid of this time and it felt pretty good.

That was followed by a hot towel treatment, another dollop of moisturiser (Tip seven: "You need to moisturise after shaving as you have removed a layer of skin") and a facial massage. Yes, I know - but don't knock it till you've tried it.

It wasn't however, followed by aftershave. Tip eight - "Never use aftershave after you've shaved, just a bit behind the ears or it will dry the skin right out."

Pampering

The whole process takes about 30-40 minutes and will set you back £15. Treat it as a half-hour or macho(ish) pampering. Mary tried to explain the best ways of exfoliating and the virtues of desquamating. I wondered if I should try explaining the offside rule. Two genders separated by a common language.

Yet it seems the young dudes of Glasgow have embraced grooming, manicures, massages and facials, going from No Mean City to New Preen City in the flick of a blade.

"We do at least a few manicures for guys every day, especially the joiners and builders," said Mary. "They spend the week chipping fingernails and getting their hands dirty, so when they take their wives and girlfriends out at the weekend, they want to look good.

"I have a machine that takes ingrained dirt and dust from under their nails and they aren't embarrassed at all. If anything, it's the guys in suits who are more awkward.

"The shaves drew guys in, because they still have a butch image. But once they're here, they want manicures, the works."

So did I feel more positive and assertive. Well, probably. Did I find my inner man? Don't be daft. I got a nice close shave but my inner man is still running around with three days' growth on his chin.

Eight Tips For A Good Shave

Tip one: Use a good moisturiser before you start. It softens the hair and protects the face.

Tip two: You can use soap, cream, gel or oil, but whichever you use it helps to use a good brush as that makes the hairs stand up.

Tip three and four: Take your time. Guys rush and that's why they get razor burn. If you don't have time in the morning, shave the night before.

Tip five: Always shave in the direction of growth. Shaving against the grain might get closer but will cut skin, tear follicles and irritate. Most hairs grow in one direction but others grow to the side, follow them with your razor.

Tip six: Clean the blade regularly while shaving.

Tip seven: You need to moisturise after shaving as you have removed a layer of skin.

Tip eight: Never use aftershave after you've shaved, just a bit behind the ears or it will dry the skin right out.

by Craig Robertson - The Sunday Post, March 20, 2005

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