Friday, January 27, 2012

Advice from a Master Barber: Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade:  In the Water Closet

Here is a list of 15 things that I don’t think I could live without.  Unless I’m camping or something; I am a reasonable man. 

1. Tweezers:  It is difficult to appreciate how useful great tweezers are until you have been caught without them.  Do yourself a favor and pick some up.  They are great for taming the unruly eyebrow and elusive nose hair.  Come springtime, amidst the spring-cleaning and deck building, excellent tweezers make sliver removal a breeze. 

Use:  The secret to using tweezers that often escapes men is:  Don’t squeeze them so hard!  The higher the quality of the tweezers, the more important this is.  Excellent tweezers are fairly delicate in construction and should not be used like pliers.  When over-squeezed, the fine tips of the tweezers will begin to separate and may bend the tweezers, decreasing their performance.

Recommendations:  J.A. Henckels.  Check out their website here.  They can often be found at Nordstrom.

2. Nose & Ear hair Trimmers:  This one is obvious.  Keeping your ear and nose hair civilized is a service to yourself and is greatly appreciated by those around you.  Well-groomed ears and noses seldom receive the praise they deserve but, when neglected, rarely go unnoticed.  Compliment your stylish outfit and clean hairdo with the sharp absence of accessory hair.

Use:  No secrets here.  Just stick them in there and let ‘em rip. 
Recommendations:  J.A. Henckels makes a brilliant manual version that requires minimal finger strength to negotiate.  Electric versions are also available that make the task quick and easy.  Please do not hesitate to spend a bit more to get a good one.  You will appreciate the additional investment when the device easily cuts the hairs instead of ripping them out, which in turn results in heinous in-growns. 

3. Fingernail Clippers:  Another no-brainer.  Keep it clean on the fingernail front boys.  They may not mention it but, considering the care that most women exercise on this aspect of grooming, I promise you that the fairer sex thanks you. Good clippers are also great for cutting the zip-ties off the packaging from your new toys. 

4. Q-tips:  One of life’s simple pleasures, and something that I wish for myself and all I love, is the gentle nibbling of one’s earlobes by a passionate partner.  When performed well, it has been known to give the sensation of floating an inch or two off the ground.  If you intend on enjoying this rich ritual, you better do your partner the courtesy of keeping ears free of bitter-tasting debris. 

Use:  Doctors will tell you that they are not particularly fans of the Q-tip.  While it is handy to have around for simple grooming, it does tend to pack wax back in the ear instead of removing it. 

Recommendations:  Any decent super-market pharmacy has a small ear-cleaning kit consisting of wax-dissolving ear-drops and a bulb to flush the ear with water.  It feels great and is appropriate to perform from time to time.  Also, consider using a quick flush of the ear with hydrogen peroxide before Q-tipping.  Consistent cleansing of the ears will also increase the likelihood of overhearing comments made on the new car you bought with your back-end check.  Way to go champ!

5. Cotton applicator rounds:  These are a must-have for applying astringents and toners.  They also aid in the application of alcohol to the disc brakes of your Mt. bike. 

Recommendations:  The quilted ones tend to fall apart less on your 5 o’clock shadow.

6. Facial Cleanser:  Yeah, wash your face.  You wouldn’t wax your car before washing it. 

Use:  If you have added an exfoliating facial scrub to your arsenal, then feel free to take it easy with your face soap.  Give your face a break.

Recommendations:  A Glycolic cleanser will help to gently polish away dead skin and the such, making your face more sexy and easier to shave.

7. Astringent:  Whether or not you know what it is for, you will love the way if feels.  Cool, fresh and clean.  James Bond wouldn’t be caught dead seducing without it, and neither should you. 

Use:  An Astringent is meant to shrink your pores (the holes you see across your cheeks and nose) and help control shine (keep you from looking oily) during the day.  Trust me, small pores are much more becoming than large ones.  The astringent works by breaking down the natural oils in your face, this is usually accomplished by the alcohol that is in the ingredients thus, it may result in some significant dryness; especially on sensitive skin.

Recommendations:  Kiehl’s.  Check ‘em out.  Click it.

8. Toner:  Give your face a healthy glow and remove any leftover dirt, oil or debris that may have survived your soap and shave.  A toner will also help to restore your face’s natural pH levels after having waged chemical warfare on it.  Basically, it is a chill-pill for your face that lets it know that everything is going to be alright. 

Use:  A toner will also help to shrink pores and reduce shine.  It tends to be milder than an astringent and can be used all over the face with less dryness.

Recommendations:  I tend to use a toner all over my face and use the astringent specifically on the more oily areas like my cheeks, nose and forehead (the “T zone”).  I also got some Anthony astringent toner pads.  They are great for a quick way to freshen-up.  Check them out here.

9. Exfoliating Facial Scrub:  Exfoliating is like sanding your face.  It is like toothpaste for your mug.  It polishes dead skin away while it frees up in-grown hairs and removes deep down dirt and grime.  Just like sanding a deck or chair that you are refinishing, regular exfoliation is a proper foundation to other treatments you may have for your face.

Use:  Facial scrubs are very course.  They should not be used everyday.  Realistically, your face can only keep up with 2-3 times a week.  Any more than this is a waste of money.  Please be extra gentle if you are using any acne treatments.  These tend to thin-out an weaken the skin.  A dermatologist may recommend avoiding a scrub.  Please note that for best results, you MUST rub gently.  Consider that the harder you press, the more the scrub is forced out from between your fingers and face.  If you scrub gently, you will actually keep more of the polishing scrub moving under your fingers. 

Recommendations:  Laura Mercier makes a face scrub that is full of ground up fruit seeds.  It is awesome and I got it at Nordstrom as well.  I dare say that it played a small role in getting me backstage at a Poison concert where I met my first two ex-wives. 

10. Oil-free Facial Moisturizer With SPF 15 or higher: How many of us put a sealant on the deck and a UV protectant clear-coat on the BMW?  Don’t forget your face!  He’s been there for you all this time.  Slow down the aging process and avoid sun related damage to your skin with a moisturizer with SPF 15 or so. 

Use:  Don’t undo all the work you’ve done up to this point by oiling up your visage with heavy lotions!  Stop it!  Victoria doesn’t let Mr. Beckham do it, and I wont let you.  If you procure an oil-free lotion for your face, don’t hesitate to smear it on.  In fact, if you think your will avoid getting oily during the day by skipping over oily areas with your moisturizer, you are wrong.  If you leave the oily areas to fend for themselves, they will do what they can to produce even more oil to make up for your impudence.  Let them kick back and relax with a rich cocktail of moist and SPF.

Recommendations:  Anthony Logistics for Men.  Love it.  Click it.

11. Pre-Shave Oil:  If you haven’t had the pleasure of shaving with a pre-shave oil, chances are you are not alone.  Most of the men I know have never heard of it.  Now you have and you have no excuse for not sharing the love.  If you are plagued by razor burn, in-grown hairs and post shave irritation, get your mitts on some. 

Use:  This stuff is going on BEFORE most other face action, so it’s okay to oil-up in this case.  Just use a small amount and work it around.  You don’t need much.  The oil will soften the beard and lubricate the skin.  It is a lifesaver.  Keep in mind that shaving healthy, toned skin is easier than shaving rough, irritated and grumpy skin.  This in turn, means that the healthier your skin gets, the easier the shave, the less irritated your face, the less likely you are to pick a bar fight.

12. Shaving Cream:  Duh.

13. Razor with fresh blades:  The sharper the blade, the better.  Keep blades clean, sharp and new.  Be aware of where and how you set your razor down.  Be very careful not to bend the blades at all or… there will be blood. 

Use:  You probably think you know all about shaving.  You might.  But, here is the goal:  Do the most with the least.  Do what you can to get the best shave with the fewest strokes.  All of your first swipes should be WITH the grain of the hairs (unless you are a collector of fine razor bumps and in-grown hairs).  If you need another swipe to get the job done, consider swiping across the grain second and against the grain as the last resort.  Feel free to re-lather for each phase. 

(Straight Razor)  Wow, yeah.  I’m not even going to try here.  This will have it’s very own section.  Well worth the time and money though.  A shave that would make Doc Holliday proud. 

(Badger-hair Brush)

14. After-shave Balm:  Ever hear Van Halen’s “Finish What You Started?”  Step one: go listen to it; it’ll do you good (if you have a second, check out “Respect the Wind” too).  Step two:  do it.  The after-shave balm, like the toner, tells your face that all is well and to relax.  While a simple concept, this is SO important.  Don’t leave your face hangin.  Have the consideration to finish it off with some love and satisfaction. 

Use:  You can handle this one.

Recommendations:  Oh Anthony, what will you think of next?  Click it.

15. Electric Razor with clipper attachment or set of Clippers:  If you have someone that is willing to do so, keeping your neck and hairline clean and sharp is sexy.  Any time I go to get my hair cut, the stylist asks without fail:  “And your sideburns?  Are you attached to those?”  That is their way of saying:  sick.  Keep ‘em trimmed up. 

Use:  Also, consider doing your partner the courtesy of some serious “Manscaping” in the nether regions.  Do I really need to make a case for this?  Come on… you should know better.  Entertain the idea of keeping armpits clean and smooth.  The hairs only tend to hold onto dirt, bacteria and odor.  Get that outta here!  *Side note:  if you do shave your armpits, be very careful of the deodorant and antiperspirant that you use.  Consider organic or all-natural alternatives. 

Recommendations:  I am using a deodorant crystal.  It contains minerals or something that keep odor-causing bacteria at bay.  It works really well for me.  Additionally, I met a lady the other day that uses straight up Vodka to keep clean.  Marlon Brando… eat your heart out. 

That’s it.  Get out there.  Get classy. 

-Buster A. Boyd

Local Barber Salt Lake City Utah Style Men's

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