Get a Barbershop Shave at Home -- for Less

Master barbers tend to use the word “process” to describe shaving, and there’s a reason. Take the typical 30-minute shave at Manhattan barbershop BBRAXTON: Executive director, general manager and master barber Gary Clark reclines clients to a 90-degree angle, smoothes on pre-shave oil, allows it time to soak in, massages in shaving cream, lays down a hot towel (fresh from the hot towel kiln, no less), shaves the client, lays down another hot towel and tops it off with shave balm for the finishing touch. The actual shave almost gets lost amid all the other steps.

Although this might be the best way to treat your face -- resulting in a super-clean shave and protected skin, not to mention stress release -- we’re going to assume you don’t have the luxury to hire someone to do this every time you want a bare face, or have the time or money to do it yourself. But, Clark reveals, it is possible to cut the 30-minute process in half, do it at home with inexpensive products and get incredibly similar results. Here’s how.

1. Raid your kitchen cabinet.
According to Clark, olive oil or grape-seed oil are perfectly acceptable pre-shave oils. “All-natural products are great,” he says. “Shaving is pretty harsh on the skin, but they keep the moisture locked in.”

2. Shave in the shower.
“Make sure it’s a steamy hot shower,” says Adam Ramos, a master barber and owner of Virile Barber & Shop in New Jersey. “One of the key components to a quality, comfortable shave is heat and moisture.”

For men with curly hair -- in other words, those prone to razor bumps -- Clark recommends applying moist hot towels for one-and-a-half to two minutes before and after shaving, even if you’re already in a steamy shower. “The vapor brings up any impurities and toxins and softens the hair follicle tremendously for a smoother, cleaner shave.” Install a fogless mirror in the shower and you’ll be sure not to miss a spot.

3. Forget the expensive badger hair brush; your hands will do just fine.
Says Ramos: “The purpose of the brush is to lift the hairs on your face and make sure the shaving cream really gets underneath and keeps those hairs propped up. Then the blade can get under them and shave as close to the skin as possible.”

Traditionally, barbers will heat up a disk of glycerin soap, place it on a scuttle or inside a shaving mug, run the brush under warm water and mix it with the soap (or with fancy concentrated shaving cream) to concoct the lather they desire. That translates to an extra 10-15 minutes of time before you can actually shave, plus the price of all the supplies.

Luckily, says Ramos, “Your fingers are just as good, so long as you’re really massaging it in.” Rub the shaving cream in vigorously, using circular motions to make sure you get in under the hairs.

4. Apply an inexpensive aftershave balm.
According to Clark, inexpensive aftershave balms can be as effective as their pricier brethren. In a pinch, even a splash of cold water will do the trick.

Follow these four simple steps and you’ll walk out the door looking like you just left the shaving salon.

 

Coarse, Curly Facial Hair? These Beards Are For You

You know a beard can add flare to your overall look. But growing one is not without obstacles, like figuring out the right style to fit your face shape and maintaining your beard to look as fresh as it did the day you left the barbershop. If you have coarse, curly hair, you can multiply these challenges by a factor of 10.

Compared to your less curly counterparts, you’ll need a lot more skill when holding the immers. Most importantly, you’ll need to master the curl of your beard because, depending on how short it’s worn, the tightness of the curls can give the beard the appearance of looking patchy. In the beginning stages of beard-growing, patchiness can be prevented by using immers (or a beard comb or brush, when ansitioning from a short to long beard length) to smooth out your facial hair every two to three days.

Best Beard Styles for Coarse, Curly Hair

Take your cues from the stars: These beard styles are the best bets for guys with coarse, curly hair:

  • Beard scruff, which works on all face shapes:
Lenny Kravitz
  • Goatees like the Vandyke and the full goatee (where the mustache is connected to the chin hair):

Diddy (Vandyke) Will Smith (full goatee)
  • Chin strap:
Dwayne Wade

  • Light beard:
Flo Rida

Keep Your Beard Looking Fresh

The key to making these styles look good day in and day out is maintaining a desirable length. How long is too long? When the sharp lines that helped create the style become less noticeable due to the curl of the beard. And, of course, as mentioned earlier: If the beard grows to a length at which the hairs begin to create holes or patches in the beard, it’s grown too long.

The best way to keep these styles looking neat, especially for the super-curly beard crowd, is a detailed finish with a razor (keeping in mind, of course, that many men with this beard type are more prone to shaving irritation). The focus of the blade should be on the perimeter of the beard in order to accent the style; the surrounding area can be immed rather than shaved.

So what about the full beard? You’ll need patience -- and preferably a long vacation on a secluded island -- while you brush and comb your beard through the patchy period and into its full glory.

  • Full beard:
Rick Ross

 All Images: Getty Images

Universally Flattering Facial Hair: Is It a Myth?

A custom-made suit will always fit better than anything off the rack. The same applies to your facial hair: You look better when your whiskers are groomed to fit your face shape. But, like a well-made ready-to-wear suit that looks pretty decent on most men, is there one facial hairstyle that brings out the best in almost every guy who wears it? To find out, we asked barbers across the country. Perhaps proving that there isn’t one universally flattering facial hair style, their responses were as diverse as their hometowns.

NORTHEAST: The Groomed Five O’clock Shadow
“Each man has his own style, and facial hair is a way to express that. Men grow facial hair differently too -- some is coarser than others, some is finer. Some faces are more pronounced than others, creating shadows and spots that may not look great with a beard. But if I had to choose, I’d say the groomed five o’clock shadow is the safest bet. The style is professional enough for work. Plus, you can have a clean-shaven face in the morning and a shadow by night, creating a different look. As for a beard, goatee or mustache, you might not have enough facial hair growth or the right dimensions to pull it off.”

-- Manuel Vazquez of American Shave Classic Barber in Union, N.J.

MIDWEST: The Full Beard
“The one style that works for most men is a full beard, whether it be scruff or the ‘I just got done hiking the Alps’ look. It looks classy when your beard is groomed, rugged when unkempt. It can really make a man look distinguished and it can sometimes age a baby face. Guys that have patchy beards should keep them short and tidy to give a fuller appearance.”

-- Shawna Carter of State Street Barbers in Chicago, Ill.

WEST: The Style That Squares

“It’s always best to choose a beard style that best fits your face shape. A square face shape is the most ideal and desired shape. For men with square faces, the choices are endless. For those who don’t have a square face, the goal is to choose a beard style that helps to square the face so it gives the illusion that they do. This will be different for every face shape.”

-- Craig the Barber of Gornik & Drucker barbershop in Beverly Hills, Calif.

SOUTHWEST: A Mustache

“After surveying our team of barbers, the vote came back unanimously for the mustache. We all agreed that the mustache (well-groomed, of course) represents a sense of style, confidence, security, strength and distinction. Just consider Clark Gable, Billy Dee Williams, Tom Selleck, Salvador Dali, Burt Reynolds, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin.”

-- Christopher Dickerson, president of Christopher’s Vintage Shave in Sugar Land, Texas

… Or a Goatee
“A well-trimmed, well-managed goatee looks good on every man -- as long as you choose a goatee style that’s a good fit for your face. Some goatees may be fuller, thicker or longer than others, but the key is how it’s kept up. I find that most men take better care of a goatee than a full beard or just a mustache. You can’t grow it and ignore it.”

-- Adrian Armendariz of V’s Barbershop in Houston, Texas


SOUTHEAST: No One Style Works for All

“There’s not one facial hairstyle that looks good on every man, because every man’s facial hair differs. Some hair is coarse and stiff, some is curly, some grows in spotty.

The style that’s the most flattering on an individual is the one that’s contoured to the man’s face; is neat and linear; and compliments the natural flow of the man’s cheekbone, jawline or lip structure.”

-- James B. Kynes Jr., Kings of Atlanta Grooming Lounge & Spa in Atlanta, Ga.

Beard Style Guide for African-American Men

Beards in the African-American community have always been popular. Of course we can all think back to iconic figures from the ’60s -- Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Shaft -- who brought them into popular mainstream culture. However, I think the real reason for the enduring popularity of beards stems from the desire to hide (and avoid) the effects of shaving irritation. The end result of having to deal with these shaving challenges has been an amazing evolution of facial-hair styling. Today, we see many major figures sporting variations of these original styles. The goatee, the chin strap, the full beard and the scruffy beard have all experienced tweaks in order to make them relevant in 2012. These updated styles can definitely enhance your look, but be careful: They can have the opposite effect if worn incorrectly.

THE SCRUFFY BEARD

Beard scruff has become much more popular in recent years, perhaps even surpassing the goatee style. There are two reasons for this: easy maintenance and social acceptance of the look in professional settings. The biggest challenge is making sure that the beard scruff remains approximately 1/4 inch in length, which isn’t difficult if you have a pair of adjustable clippers. Keeping the hair close is key because it will prevent the appearance of an unkempt beard -- and the possibility of revealing areas that don’t grow in evenly.

THE FULL BEARD

This style can be worn by anyone who is capable of growing a full beard evenly. Although a full beard can sometimes be an intimidating look, it has its advantages. It can make the face appear slimmer, and it can also alter the face into a more desirable shape, like a square or oval. But keep in mind that the slimmer the face (i.e., triangular, oblong, diamond shapes), the less full the beard should be (one-and-a-half inches thick or less), simply because a full beard can quickly overpower a smaller, narrower face.

THE GOATEE

The Van Dyke

The two most common goatee styles among all men are the musketeer and the Van Dyke. In the African-American community, however, it is the Van Dyke and the full Van Dyke. Men who like to be the center of attention tend to gravitate toward these styles because the beards are concentrated on the mouth area, leading the eye’s focus to the goatee’d speaker.

The Full Van Dyke

This style adds length to all face shapes, so it should be avoided by men who have longer faces (i.e., oblong) and pointed chins (i.e., triangular and diamond face shapes). You don’t want to make your long face even longer or bring attention to an already pointed chin.

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHIN STRAP

 

 

 

 

 

This is another style that requires confidence to wear, for one simple reason: It outlines the jawline. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an outlined jaw unless there is a fuller face involved. A round face will always end up looking even rounder with this beard style. The same problem also occurs with rectangular, triangular and diamond face shapes. Oval and square faces work best with this style.

How to Get That Bedhead Look

“I’ve got too many more important things going on.”

“I’m a free-spirited nature man.”

“It’s 2 p.m., but I just rolled out of the sack with a super-sexy lady friend.”

There are many ways to interpret the bedhead look. Consequently, it’s one of the hottest styles out there, attracting everyone from business-casual dudes to artsy types. The versatility doesn’t stop there: Comb your hair back or to the side with a part, and suddenly you’re Don Draper. That, of course, may be the biggest reason guys love bedhead: It’s low-maintenance.

With that said, it’s not completely effortless. Below, we get master advice from San Francisco–based hairstylist Ashley Smith, a 10-year veteran currently working at Population Salon, on how to choose the right bedhead style for you, and how to get the look.

Adam Levine

The look:

Very textured on the top, cleaner on the sides.

What hair texture it works with

: Any.

Who it’s for:

The guy who needs to look a bit more conservative during work hours. Since it’s cut tight on the sides, it looks more polished.

How to ask for it:

Use words like “clean” and “well-kept” for the sides and back, and ask for more length and texture on the top.

What product to use:

Use a water-soluble paste that has a matte finish -- it should look invisible on your head. For shorter-length, piecey styles like this one, you don’t want shine since it can easily be mistaken for grease. Another plus: It should last all day long, and you’ll still be able to run your hands through your hair eight hours in.

Prep time:

Five to 10 minutes. Start with dry hair. Take a nickel-sized drop of the product and rub it all the way into your hands so there are no clumps or clusters. Rub your hands through your hair from your roots and then finish by pulling the product through the ends with the tips of your fingers. Then piece it out as you like.

Go back to the stylist:

Every four to six weeks. In most major cities, stylists offer complimentary cleanups in between haircuts, and that’s really important for shorter haircuts like this. If you come in every six weeks for your haircut (that’s your “cycle”), make a quick trip to the salon at the three-week mark for what’s called a “neck trim,” a five-minute dry haircut to polish up the little fuzzies on the neck and sideburns.

Robert Pattinson


The look:

A much longer, messier version.

What hair texture it works with:

Straight, slightly wavy.

Who it’s for:

Someone who’s younger, whose lifestyle is conducive to a messier look, who doesn’t mind spending time on his own hair in the morning but can’t be bothered with booking frequent hairdresser appointments.

How to ask for it:

Tell your stylist, “I want to let this grow. I’m not looking to get it maintained all the time. I want this really choppy and messy all over. Keep it long so I can wear it in lots of different ways.”

What product to use:

Use a styling cream or gel. It should be really light so you can’t see it, but it should also have hold in it. You might also want to invest in a good hair spray.

Prep time:

Leave yourself 15 to 20 minutes. Apply the product on dry or (preferably) damp hair. The technique is the same as above: Rub it into your hands and apply from roots to ends, working it through with your fingers. When your hair is dry, finish it with a hair spray to set it and prevent it from collapsing.

Go back to the stylist:

Every eight to 10 weeks. You might even be able to stretch it longer. Basically, go back to the hairdresser when it’s too long for you to put product in.

Ryan Reynolds


The look:

More conservative than Pattinson but a bit crazier than Levine.

What hair texture it works with

: Wavy, curly hair.

Who it’s for:

Guys who naturally have texture in their hair and are looking for moderate bedhead.

How to ask for it:

Communicate that you want a lot of texture. Make sure the stylist is experienced in cutting wavy hair on men because it’s more difficult than straight hair. You can ask for a twist-cutting technique, which is specifically for curlier hair and something most stylists are familiar with. Twist-cutting creates great texture in this kind of hair.

What product to use:

The hair has a coarser texture, so stick with something a little more oil-based. Grooming cream that feels like a lotion works best.

Prep time:

Five to 10 minutes. Apply to damp or dry hair, working a nickel-sized amount in your hands and rubbing it from roots to ends. With the tips of your fingers, arrange small or large sections, depending on how piecey you want it to look. If the hair is very dry or coarse, carry a small amount of your product with you when you leave in the morning and apply a little bit for touch-ups during the day or before going out at night.

Go back to the stylist:

Every four to six weeks. Since wavy, curly hair grows out rather than down, it needs regular attention from the hairdresser to keep it in line.

Photos: Getty Images