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Can you handle a close shave?


Man Scape

A journalist for 20 years and a man for longer, Richard Hughes would never, ever use canned shaving foam.

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A perfect shave

Steve Salecich of Grand Royal Barbers explains how to achieve the perfect shave.

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How long can you go without doing it? Does once every two or three days suffice, or do you find that you need to do it in the morning and then again before the end of the day?

Shaving is something most men would like to get away with doing as infrequently as possible. Although the result is satisfying, the process and the time it takes can be enough to make you want to give it away. I'm sure the rise of the beard owes as much to the inherent laziness of the average man as it does to claims of street cred or style.

Many men work in an office environment that demands a clean-shaven face - at all times, in some cases. “I keep an electric shaver in my drawer that I use just before meetings,” says one smart young twenty-something who works in the law. “The five o'clock shadow is usually obvious by 3. I can't keep up with it.”

A colleague in a not-so-smart executive environment (the media) says he shaves every morning so he doesn't look like an old (and disposable) git with his whitening bristles (for the record, he's in his 40s and as of this week is yet to be offered a redundancy package).

These workplace protocols and manoeuvres have helped spur growth in a complementary industry. The barber shop is back. Many are still handing over the readies to young stylists for flattering salon cuts, but also seeking the traditional male barber for the old-fashioned cut-throat razor shave.

Craig Meggs has seen business grow week-on-week since The Barber Shop opened in the sumptuous surrounds of Canberra's QT Hotel. “Once someone's had a proper razor shave there's no going back,” Meggs says. “There is no closer shave. It can last two days longer than the shave you give yourself at home.”

It is also pampering. I eased back - right back - in a traditional barber's chair and my lower face was wrapped in hot damp towels before the process began. Craig had to tell me to relax once or twice - I was, after all, exposing my throat to a blade wielded by a stranger (albeit an amiable and sharply dressed Englishman) - but once I did, it was a relaxing process. The shaving cream smelt of sandalwood, the moisturiser was massaged in just so, and the aftershave was suitably bracing.

Craig also cleaned up my sideburns, neck and eyebrows. It took about 20 minutes all up. My skin felt remarkably soft and I felt incredibly clean. Now I really know what the term “clean shaven” means.

It's not only Canberra's government and diplomat types heading to the QT for one of Craig's professional shaves, but also the unbesuited and less securely employed – to wit, public servants, journos and students. It seems to be a phenomenon in all the big cities. Upmarket barber shops are opening, and the ones that have been forever are enjoying a resurgence. Men are learning the benefits of a good, clean shave.

Have you bared your throat to the razor? Was it worth the time and money versus your own work at home?


  • Mach 3s (though a ridiculous rip off - $24 for 8? Really? It was $17 not long ago…...) do the best blades.

    Electric razors are hopeless. I can go three days without another shave using a blade. But I am blessed with fair hair.

    Also USE SORBOLENE!!!!!!!!!! Cheap, highly effective and doesn't make your skin sting and burn. The other stuff is not much better than throwing metho on your face.

    Burleigh Heads
    Date and time
    May 27, 2014, 11:15AM
    • I have straight razors, DE razors, SE razors and injectors at home, which I mix up according to how much time I've got in the morning, where I am going and how long its been since I used the razor last. I try to shave every day and find that the injector and straight razor give me the best shave in terms of avoiding the five o'clock shadow.

      I've found the key is preparation and post-shave care, something you will find a good barber will also take care of. Good preparation ensures a nick and irritation free shave, and the application of witch hazel/alum/other post shave will help keep this nice and calm.

      Learning to shave with a straight or any other DE/SE/injector is a learned skill and and with a straight you have to factor in stropping and honing (which you can learn yourself or engage a honemeister) which ups the maintenance factor. I find I can get very near to a straight shave from my injectors or the SE razors but without the added detail of maintenance.

      I'm yet to expose my throat to a kamisori but its definitely on the bucket list. Even if it stays on display for the most part there is something about the simplicity of the Japanese steel that I find irresistible.

      Date and time
      May 27, 2014, 11:20AM
      • Shaving was a little difficult after breaking my wrist a few years ago so I went to an old fashioned barber shop for a decent shave and came out wondering why I don't do it more often. Hot towels followed by a rich lather worked into the bristles for about 10 minutes rather than the 30 seconds I take at home then a beautiful close shave that only a cut-throat razor in the hand of a skilled barber can give. Very relaxing, although I couldn't stop thinking about "The Man from Ironbark" which was a bit disconcerting.

        Date and time
        May 27, 2014, 2:07PM
        • I started using a double edged razor a couple of months ago and I will never go back to disposables. There's something about the process that makes it a satisfying experience rather than the chore of shaving with a cartridge razor. It ensures you give your personal grooming the care and attention it deserves. It's cheaper too. I would like to get a straight edge razor at some point though.

          Date and time
          May 27, 2014, 2:18PM
          • A Natural Shaving Oil is a must. A few drops on the blade after every shave and the blade will last for months (lots of months, I find) - huge saving on the ridiculous price of blades.

            Milton, NSW
            Date and time
            May 27, 2014, 2:30PM
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