Is the renaissance of facial hair related to its ability to disguise, to re-invent? Is it to make a male fashion statement? Or is it simply facial hair?
From Shiny Style:
"In the desert of men's style, facial hair is a rare oasis (or just a big bush, if we're doing analogy accuracy). It is, the more I think about it, a much better version of the female hairdo. It is free to grow and free to maintain. It can be altered day to day with only minimal effort. It requires no straightening, curling, spraying or highlighting. They aren't made to feel inadequate by celebs with 'beard extensions'. And, as far as I'm aware, no man is afraid to go out in the rain in case his beard goes fluffy."
"Forty-two finalists sporting the most jaw-dropping beards, mustaches and goatees in America stand at the foot of the facial hair pedestal waiting to be crowned Wahl Man of the Year."
Last year, Wahl Trimmers sent a mobile barbershop around the country to "celebrate facial hair" and find contestants for the Man of the Year Facial Hair Face-Off. The contest attracted thousands of submissions, and the entries have now been narrowed down to the 42 finalists. For the top three winners, a 42" flat-screen HDTV is the prize, and the other 39 finalists will receive an MP4 player for their entries.
Voting for the Wahl Man of the Year began on January 18, and will end on Monday, February 8 at 5 p.m. CST. Be sure to head over there and vote for your favorite at Wahl Nation.
Wahl Clippers has been around for 91 years now, and they're still putting out new and innovative razors and trimmers, like the Lithium-Ion Trimmer, "the most powerful WAHL solution available."
This spring, are you thinking about getting a new image or a new look? Perhaps a change in facial hair or shaving routine? It's a good time to begin, as we begin to come out of our winter blues into the new energy of springtime. If we approach our grooming with a view to passion, as Art of Shaving does, we may find a whole new experience waiting for us.
"The Art of Shaving brings art and passion to a daily routine."
One of the leaders of the shaving renaissance, Art of Shaving has a great line of natural shaving products and hand-made grooming accessories - high quality, dependable, and stylish.
And starting Thursday morning, you can pick up those purchases you've been putting off, because everything at Art of Shaving is 20% off through Sunday night!
My picks? Both the safety razors and straight razors catch my eye, and the high quality shaving brushes are amazing. I like the kits that are pre-packaged, so you'll get an idea of what the shaving products do when used together, and the hair and body care products are also all natural and cover the rest of your personal care needs.
I also noticed that the Sterling Silver Shaving Set, "the most elegant and luxurious shaving set available", is on sale for only $1700, down from the regular price of $3400. I wonder if you can get 20% off of that? That would make it only $1360. Still quite a bit out of my price range, but it sure is a beautiful piece.
You might want to make a note of heading over to Art of Shaving tomorrow to see if something you've been putting of buying is now priced within your reach. The sale runs through Jan. 31.
My apologies for leaving you hanging last week - I had a bit of an emergency in my life and wasn't able to get any posts up here. Even if I had written some, they probably wouldn't have made any sense to you, due to the pain medication I've been on.
A week ago Friday, I took a big fall while messing around on some rocks with a friend. I landed right on my foot, which ended up with me breaking the ends of my leg bones, right at the ankle. I can't put any weight on it, and have had x-rays, MRI, and tomorrow a CT scan to determine if surgery is necessary. I'm thankful for the prescription for Percocet so I can deal with the pain!
Anyway, after laying in bed for several days, I decided to really get washed up and shaved and into new clothes, just so I would feel better about myself (I was feeling like a patient, an invalid, not a free man). That was an ordeal, but after we figured out how to prop my knee up onto a chair in front of the sink, and put everything within reach, I was able to have a great shave. I felt like a new man afterward!
My thoughts were that if I could feel this much better after a shave, and I only had a broken leg, then what about someone with a broken arm or hand, or someone elderly, who can't control his razor well enough to shave safely? It seems like something relatively small - shaving someone's face who can't do it themselves - but it could have a big impact on that person's attitude in general.
Do you have a father or grandfather who needs assistance? Any relative or friend with a disability who might be really grateful for a shave? Perhaps mobile shaving would be a good move for a local barber shop - going to people's homes and giving them a close shave, maybe even as a volunteer sort of venture?
[Image is totally unrelated, but it's such a great pic, don't you think?]
A man from Virginia, Muhammed Abu Tahir, was on Air Tran flight 39 from Atlanta to San Francisco and decided to have about five airline-sized bottles of wine during the flight. He then decided to take a visit to the lavatory and get a bit more comfortable.
He took off his shoes and socks and placed them outside the door of the bathroom. He then removed his shirt, opened the door, and began shaving. Flight attendants tried to coax him back to his seat, but he wasn't having any of it (maybe it was an epic shave?)
Muhammed turned aggressive and refused to return to his seat, forcing flight personnel and passengers to 'guard' the door to the lavatory. He remained in the bathroom until the flight made an emergency landing at Colorado Springs (F-16's were scrambled to help escort the flight, just in case). He was then arrested and transported to jail.
So let that be a lesson to you - if you're gonna shave, do it before you fly. If you're gonna get ripped during the flight, stay in your seat and don't annoy the rest of the passengers...
Before Pacific Shaving Company sent me a couple of their products to check out, the only thing I knew about them was the rave reviews they've gotten on their Shaving Oil. I've not tried it myself, but it's been well received by the green and natural community due to its all natural ingredients.
I'm not so keen on shaving oils for my everyday shave, so when they sent me some of their all natural Shaving Cream to try, I was jazzed, because I prefer a cream over a gel or oil. That's just what works best for me. They also sent me a tube of their Blade Oil, which I'll be using on my safety razor for a while, and then I'll write up a review of that.
The Pacific Shaving Cream has a very light scent - almost scent-free, but with a hint of botanicals. I prefer that to a strong smelling cream, so that was a definite plus for me. Instead of using my fingers to apply it and lather my face, I used my shaving brush, and the lather was almost effortless.
The company calls it a low-lather cream, but I found that to not be the case, at least with a brush. I got a good heavy lather with only a tiny bit of the cream, and could do a second pass with the lather left in the brush, so I think the jar is going to last a lot longer than the statement on the jar of 40 shaves.
The quality of the shave was great, with excellent razor slip and an easy rinse afterward. My face felt moisturized, without a hint of razor burn.
I think it's a great shaving cream, especially if you are the least bit concerned about the ingredients of products you put on your skin. The only thing I would like to see is a bigger jar. Even if a jar lasts for 40 shaves, that might mean you need to buy 12 jars per year, and I'm a big fan of bulk sizes for things I use every day. It's just less wasteful. The company does have an environmental initiative going with Trees for the Future, whereby they plant a tree for each bottle of shaving oil they sell, so there's another another reason to check out their line of natural shaving products.
It's amazing to me that so many people are up in arms about other people's facial hair choices. Seriously. I follow news items about beards as a part of my job of staying on top of shaving trends and stories, and when I open my newsreader in the morning, I'm stymied by the attention (or lack of) that some of these stories get.
Here's a few beard news stories I'd like to share with you:
Brad Pitt's face gets all the play: Pitt's goatee, complete with mini-dreadlocks, has dominated the celebrity facial hair scene lately, and I can't quite understand the controversy. He's an actor, right? And actors change their looks for roles, yeah? So what's the big deal? Do you think he cares about what the rest of us think of his beardedness? I don't. Let's let the man grow what he wants to on his face.
And on the flip-side, style gurus are saying "The new must-have accessory? A beard": "George Clooney makes us swooney and never more so than with his latest look, a grizzled salt-and-pepper beard that takes the Oscar-winner from dashing to debonair." So it's OK for Clooney, but not Pitt? Hmm.
You better not shave in Somalia: Dozens of men in Somalia's southern city of Kismayo were arrested and jailed by religious police for shaving their beards. Evidently the state has banned the shaving of beards (or ordered men to grow them, however you want to look at it), and will arrest you for violating Islamic culture laws.
In boxing news, the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) has banned all facial hair from its fighters, which would bar the Sikh and Muslim boxers with beards from competing: "It's such a petty go at the beard. It's a sport and it has some risks but the hair does not really in any way increase those risks. It's a perverse retrograde step that should be challenged." - Dr Indarjit Singh, Network of Sikh Organizations
Despite shortage of rabbis in the Army, this one can't wear his beard and be a military chaplain: "There is only one [Jewish chaplain] right now in all of Europe. We have a large number of young, selfless rabbis who would come to active duty as long as the beard regulation is waived. They are not fearful of going to war zones, because they are so dedicated and committed to reaching out to all Jews."
It has recently come to my attention that a disposable razor that also dispenses shaving cream is growing in popularity and has been picked up by both Target and Walgreens: the ShaveMate Titan and Diva (the women's version). I haven't actually used one of these, but after looking at it and trying to see what practical benefit it could possibly have, I came away feeling that while it's creative, it just doesn't make sense for most of us.
The Titan has a multiblade razor at the top, and the handle also serves as a shaving cream dispenser (the website says it has "real" shaving cream - I'm glad they didn't use fake shaving cream...). The company says that this feature gives you a week's worth of shaves with no "messy rusty rings on the counter" and also says it prevents the need for extra cans of shaving cream in showers or on crowded countertops.
OK, that may be true. It may cut down on the crowding factor, if you are pressed for space. And I can see a market for the traveler who forgot to pack his razor, or for active duty military, or for disaster relief, but I just don't see how this can be a useful product for most men.
For one thing, it's a disposable razor, and will need to be thrown out after a week or so, and the fact that the handle and shaving cream dispenser unit get thrown out as well makes me see this as extremely wasteful.
And I just have to wonder if the blades get dull before the cream is empty, or will the cream run out before the blades are dull? Either way, I could see the tendency to want to hang on to a razor just because it had shaving cream left inside that I could use, which means that I would then have two of these on my counter.
Another issue I have is that I imagine we'll see lots of these end up half used in airport and hotel trashcans, due to people not wanting to pack them, and I just don't see the upside to having more plastic trash. My personal preference, a DE safety razor, needs only one single blade to be replaced when it's dull, and that's one other reason I really like it.
The selling points for the Titan also include the S3 Flex-Neck 'technology', which is just a fancy name for saying that the razor flexes at the head to follow the contours of your face. My razor doesn't do that, but I still get a great shave, so I don't see the plus in this unless you're a lazy shaver.
Having said all that, I do think the Titan is a creative idea, but I just think it's more of a gimmick or an impulse travel purchase rather than a reliable razor for daily shaving.
I'll just say right off that I'm not a manscaper. Now, I'm not a super hairy guy. But I still can't find the justification for taking all the hair off other parts of the body than the face. The more I read about other men's experiences with waxing, and think about why they do it, the more I'm convinced that it's a fashion conspiracy.
"Aside from occasional, youthful experiments with shaving, I've never been a big proponent of so-called "manscaping." It was just too hopeless. Considering my chest looks like a Joseph Conrad novel, you would need to napalm that manscape.
I've also avoided manscaping because I kind of took pride in a lush chest pelt. It harkened back to the days of Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds, when men were men and women were grossed out by those men. It was a simpler time.
Basically, due to laziness and misplaced machismo, I'm quite comfortable in my hair suit. It just fits."
He then goes through the process of waxing for us, describing the pain and the aftereffects of itching and raw skin: "The raw chest rubbing up against the fabric of my shirt is agony." Ouch! (And the before and after picture at the top of the article is rather disturbing...)
But the interesting tidbit for me was the idea that 53% of women surveyed "endorsed" chest grooming, whereas 83% of men didn't shave or wax their chests. So I wondered if the marketing piece comes through convincing women that men should shave or wax elsewhere, and then they convince us we need to do so.
What do you think? Is the pressure to manscape going to come from our wives and girlfriends?
In all my years of wearing a full beard, I never had issues with bugs. I went backpacking and camping and on canoe trips, through all types of terrain, and not once did I have to deal with a beard infestation.
So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a question about this very topic over at Askville:
"Why are stink bugs so attracted to my beard?"
I chuckled to myself, visualizing some guy waking up every morning with these big bugs in his beard, and wondering where the heck he lives, so I can avoid that place.
But then I read the answer voted as the Best Answer, with 4 1/2 stars:
"Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill (of ZZ Top) had this exact same problem for a very long time. It wasn't until the mid eighties that Billy and Dusty adopted a pair of what are now known as "beard frogs" and found their solution."
Coffee came out my nose when I read that - I'm imagining the beard frog creeping up the long white beards and popping its head out during a concert.
You'll have to read the rest of the beard frog answer for yourself, and tell me if you've ever heard of such a thing happening to a bearded man. Who knows? The beard frog might just might be the next pet rock.
Over the last several years, the green and natural products market has really exploded - I know people who've never taken an interest in those qualities come and tell me about their favorite new product, which is either natural, organic, or green in some aspect. I think it's a great trend, and one that we'll continue to see more of in the shaving market.
If you're the least bit crunchy or green, or are concerned about the ingredients in your shaving products, you'll be interested in the coverage of natural and organic shaving products for men that's featured over at EcoSalon:
"We took a look at the world of organic and natural shaving products for men. And our awesome friends, boyfriends and husbands stepped up to the green plate with some interesting feedback."
I like the Dr. Bronners and Burt's Bees products they named, but there were a few there that I've never heard of.
Do any of you use exclusively natural or organic products for shaving? Which are your favorites?
"Two fully independent floating heads to provide a close shave that will leave you looking smooth and feeling great. The floating heads follow your facial contours for an extremely close shave. The inner blades are precisely angled, and the inner blades features a counter-directional movement which reduces vibration and offers quieter shaving. The wet/dry design of the Pro Curve means you can easily clean your shaver by simply rinsing it under running water. The wet/dry functionality also gives you the option of shaving wet with lather while in the shower in addition to dry shaving."
"Makes it easy for you to keep those embarrassing hairs in your nose and ear nice and trim. This trimmer uses a rotary blade cutting system that is fast and safe, eliminating the possibility of injury from using scissors. The ER421KC is a powerful trimmer that is perfect for use at home, but small enough to take on the road. The ER421KC Trimmer has a built-in light that provides a bright, focused light that eliminates shadows to ensure that you don't miss any stray and hidden hairs."
"Combines the technologies of the titanium/carbon comb and the ceramic cutter to reduce friction, allowing the powerful motor the freedom to cut thick hair without stalling, ensuring maximum clipper performance. German technology and craftsmanship since 1872."
You might want to read this post about the effect of facial hair on people's perceptions of you. You may want to go clean shaved, or you might start growing that beard.
From the Vancouver Sun:
"If I had to guess, I would have thought that facial hair -- especially a full beard -- would worsen your chances of getting a job (or a promotion) as it's seen as somewhat unkempt and messy. Indeed, I know some normally bearded people who have actually gone clean-shaven when going in for a job interview.
But the research on the question is actually pretty mixed."
Before you start on your New Year's Manscaping Resolution, remember that not all women are down with it. They may actually prefer your hairy self.
"Depilating dudes? Hell no. Let me just say it: Men should have hair. On their heads if possible but certainly on their bodies. I've heard arguments to the contrary -- "a sweater should be worn not grown." To which I respond: Who's more appealing the ultra-depilated Brüno or his very hairy -- and sexy -- alter ego Sacha Baron Cohen? Chest fur connotes virility testosterone bad-boy biker danger. In a rugby match pitting Liev Schreiber and Clive Owen against Matthew McConaughey and Robert Pattinson I'm backing team one on leg hair alone. And I believe that pretty-boy teenage vampires notwithstanding most women are rooting along with me.