The Perfect Shave

AS TOLD TO EMMA LOCKWOOD

For Chandler Parsons, living the details starts at 4:55 a.m. with a turf management project that strikes a little closer to home. Here he takes us through the steps to getting a shave that looks as good as every one of his commercial sites.

LIVING DETAILS:  Why use a straight razor?

CHANDLER PARSONS:  Let’s get this clear from the beginning - using a straight razor isn’t about getting the best shave, although that is obviously one result. The real reason is far more important than grooming. A straight razor shave is a tangible reminder that life is short and there is meaning in perfecting a process.

LD:  Seriously? You’re going zen on me?

CP:  Look - this world is full of people who are happy to drive to work in the morning with a cup of coffee between their legs, a phone in one hand and electric razor in the other. How does that set-up your day?

LD:  For a lawsuit?  [Laughing.]

CP:  On the other hand, you could wake up, take a long look at yourself in the mirror, really scrutinize the details of what you see, and commit yourself to starting the day with one perfect act. And if you succeed, you get to carry that perfect act with you - on your face - for the entire day. It becomes a source of confidence and a great reminder of what’s possible.

Sandalwood shaving soap with wooden bowl from The Art of Shaving. Böker Silver Steel Extra Hollow Ground Straight Razor with classical tortoise shell handle available at www.boker.de. Simpson Chubby 2 Best Badger shaving brush from SimpsonShavingBrushes.com.
Sandalwood shaving soap with wooden bowl from The Art of Shaving. Böker Silver Steel Extra Hollow Ground Straight Razor with classical tortoise shell handle available at www.boker.de. Simpson Chubby 2 Best Badger shaving brush from SimpsonShavingBrushes.com.

LD:  So how do you get started?

CP:  The key to a great shave is to get your pores to open up and loosen their grip on your facial hair. The best way to do that is to prep the beard by holding a hot towel against your face until it cools. You want to get the water as hot as possible and apply the towel at least twice.

LD:  What kind of brush do you recommend?

CP:  A good quality badger hair brush is the only way to go. Silvertip Badger is the softest and most luxurious, but I prefer a brush made with Best Badger hair as it seems to hold the perfect amount of water and bristles the beard a little better, which improves the shave.

LD:  How do you get started?

CP:  Fill your shaving bowl with the hottest water that your faucet will provide and soak the brush for a minute or two. Then squeeze the water from the brush, dump the water and work up a lather in the bowl with the brush. If this is done correctly, the lather will hold a little bit of heat from the bowl and brush.

LD:   Soap or cream?

CP:  There are a lot of great creams on the market now that produce a thick lather. I prefer to use shaving soap as it travels better.

LD:  So what about the shave?

CP:  When you have a thick lather going, use painting strokes to layer the lather on the beard and then swirl until you get high peaks. Let the lather rest on the beard for five minutes or more, and then re-lather if the soap has dried out. Letting the lather rest will allow it to penetrate your pores, helping to moisturize your skin.

Then, stretch your skin with one hand, pulling tight the area to which you will apply the razor. Place the razor against the skin at an angle of 20 degrees. With a sharp straight blade you need very little pressure - much less than with a modern razor. Easy does it.

LD:  How many passes do you take?

CP:  To keep your lawn looking great, you need at least two passes. The same is true with your face. On each pass, start with short strokes and gradually increase the length of the stroke. Make the first pass in the direction of grain.  Then lather up again and make a second pass perpendicular to the grain. If you have weathered skin, lather up a third time and shave directly against the grain.

When you’re finished with your shave, rinse your face with very cold water to help close the pores in your skin. Rinse and dry the razor blade, strop the razor with a leather strop and then apply blade oil to protect the blade from moisture damage and rust. Rinse the brush, shake out any excess moisture and hang it upside-down in a brush holder to dry.

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