– The burden of grooming one’s face repetitively.

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I do not believe there are too many men out there who honestly enjoy shaving. It’s not the act itself that bothers us, as much as it is the repetition, day after day, month after month, year after year. Not surprising we relish the occasional day off where we neglect to shave thereby allowing the stubble to grow which may be fine for a day or two, but becomes rather irritating if allowed to persist. I don’t care what Hollywood thinks, wearing stubble makes you look like a bum, which is fine if you’re retired or unemployed, but looks bad in the workplace. Let me be clear, I have no problem with facial hair. I have seen just about every kind of mustache, beard, goatee, and sideburn imaginable, and they can look very professional if properly groomed, but also very haggard if not.

As teenagers, men relish their first set of whiskers which denotes passage into adulthood. Not surprising, we proudly display the sparce facial hair every chance we get, particularly to the opposite sex. It’s like saying, “Hey, I’m masculine, here I am” (like that is the only indicator women notice). After the facial hair has finally grown out though, we discover shaving has gone from being an amusing curiosity to an obnoxious routine.

Over the years, I think I have tried just about every razor imaginable, from blades to electric. I once tried a straight razor (with leather strap) but quickly discovered it was not as convenient as the modern razor blade. I originally started out with a double-edged safety razor, but eventually graduated to the cartridges featuring multiple blades. I always thought the ads for such blades were amusing; originally, they showed a graphic demonstrating how two blades could outperform a single blade by cutting the individual hair down to its roots, but I guess this wasn’t good enough as they next came up with a three blade cartridge outperforming the two blades, then a four blade cartridge outperforming the three. Five over four, and now six over five. That’s right, a six blade cartridge. Does this mean the razor companies were deceiving us about the effectiveness of the two blade cartridge? Or three? Somehow I suspect the old double-edge safety razor is just as effective as today’s multi-blade cartridge. By the way, there is nothing wrong with the inexpensive plastic disposable razors which seemed revolutionary when they were first introduced.

I never had much luck with electric razors; I simply could not get as close a shave as with a blade, but that happens to be my preference. I know plenty of men who are perfectly happy with electric razors, including my father who used them for years. As for me, I’ll typically use an electric only if I need a quick shave at the end of the day before going out for the evening. Surprisingly, the best electric razor I ever used was a small inexpensive portable from Panasonic which I obtained in Japan. I’ve tried the big razors, but this tiny unit simply outperformed them.

I’ve also been known to dry shave now and then, particularly if I’m out in the wilderness when soap and water are not readily available, but I try to avoid it as it feels like you’re ripping the flesh off of your face. Yes, it is very tingling and not for the lighthearted as you are likely to get a nick or cut thereby requiring you to put wads of toilet paper on your face to stop the bleeding; a very attractive feature I might add. Fortunately, somebody thought of shaving soap thereby simplifying the shave and minimizing the scaring of your face. I began with a simple cup with shaving soap which I would whip into a frothy lather using a badger hair brush. I believe I still have that brush buried somewhere in a bathroom closet which is probably now a collector’s item.

Which brings us to the matter of shaving creams versus gels, and I have tried both. Although I prefer shave creams, one seems as good as another to me. For some reason, gels remind me of smearing petroleum jelly on my face. Both the creams and the gels are normally applied cold on your face, which is useful for waking you up in the morning but bothersome otherwise. As an aside, perhaps the best father’s day gift I ever received from my kids was a hot lather dispenser which preheats the shaving cream.

It appears aftershave lotions are also something from a bygone era as few people seem to use them anymore. Somehow, the application of a cold alcohol-based lotion to recently scraped skin can invigorate any of us, not to mention making us smell a little better.

Perhaps the best place to get a shave though is the local barber shop or hair salon. It’s not something I do often, but now and then, a good shave by a trained professional using all of the accoutrements at his disposal is worthwhile. It’s always a pleasure to watch somebody who knows what they are doing regardless of the job. Interestingly, years ago most barber shops used hot towels from a steam table to moisten your beard as opposed to shaving cream, and it worked remarkably well.

Facial hair is not so much about masculinity, as it is about an annoying habit we have to live with, whether we like it or not. We can elect to either pay attention to it and practice good grooming, or neglect it thereby making us look like a bum. Either way, shaving affects our lives both personally and professionally.

First published: June 15, 2012

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST


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