Men have been shaving for a very long time—and that has not changed. What has changed is how the shaving occurs. The age of convenience and expedience has overtaken the act of shaving, as it has so many other activities. Consider the shave. A man's shave, not one with a tin can of foam and a plastic disposable razor, or an electric version. No, I am talking about the kind of shave out of a Clint Eastwood western, or a movie about a 1930's gangster. What they both have in common is the ritual of the shave.
Now, in our grandparent’s generation, going for a shave really meant something. You knew that you were going to be treated to multiple hot towels, shaving creams, and various after shaves. This was at a time when a man going for a haircut and shave would have never expected to have his hair washed and blown dry. Back then you knew that you would be resting comfortably in a large, reclining barber chair and receiving an excellent, close shave from a skilled professional. And yes, it was pretty much a place for men, and that was all right. It was not just that the men did not want to hear gossip, because we know that men gossip as well. Instead, the traditional barbershop was a place where men could gossip about men stuff, and that, too, was part of the shaving ritual.
Visiting your favorite barber a couple of times a week, or more, kept you in touch with friends and the community, which is something that we, as a society, seem to make so little time for these days. It also builds a wonderful, calm moment into your day where you can’t be easily distracted. In today’s world that means you won’t be glued to your smart phone or tablet. This idea seems to be catching on in many areas around the country, including the Bay Area.
In the last five or six years, there has been a slow, but steady revival in both barbers providing traditional straightedge shaves, and in the sale of more traditional shaving supplies. There are a couple of reasons that really stand out. The first is getting a good, close shave. While the electric shaver is convenient, for many they just don’t seem to ever get in close enough. The plastic razors, while adequate, seem to clog easily and the blades just aren’t of high quality. The other reason is environmental. All of those plastic disposable razors end up in a landfill. Whether they are the biodegradable type or not, there are still over 2 billion disposable razors going into the landfill in the United States each year, according to the EPA.
While some men have taken the leap backward and started using straight razors, most have turned to wet shaving with double edge safety razors. With fine shaving soaps and creams becoming readily available, it seems that a good, close shave is well within reach. The men’s traditional shaving supply market has increased to the point that Proctor & Gamble, the king of disposable razors, decided to get into the game. Proctor & Gamble purchased The Art of Shaving boutique and doubled the number of stores across the country, according to the Los Angeles Times, including stores in Walnut Creek and San Francisco.
For those who want to experience the art and ritual of a good, hot towel straight razor shave, you don’t have to travel outside of Benicia. Dave’s Barber Shop & Shaving Parlor offers a great experience. Dave is working hard to keep the art of shaving alive. His skill and dedication to the tradition show in his work. If it’s a close shave that you are looking for, it is closer than you think.