A Gentleman’s Time Out: The Art of Shaving

| BRIAN WEARS | Al Bazar double-breasted blazer, shirt, and tie | LOCATION | The Art of Shaving Barber Spa, 2151 Broadway, New York, NY | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

I lead a very busy life. Even when I’ve got time off I’m always thinking, “What’s coming up? What’s next? And what do I need to be doing to be ready for it?” It’s just who I am and how I work. Depending on the day, it can be a curse or a gift. Holidays are always a very busy time as well. And if you’re like me you’ll spend a good portion of your waking moments running around, shopping, meeting friends, going to parties, and just generally thinking about everything and everyone except yourself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, however, it’s that it’s extremely important to take a personal time out – to disconnect, collect your thoughts, and take a deep breath before plunging back into life.

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

To be completely honest – and those who know me best will attest to this – disconnecting is one of the hardest things for me to do. In the modern world, I think many of us can relate. Put the phone down and step away from the computer! It’s interesting – and refreshing – to see the resurgence in popularity of activities and pursuits that harken back to a simpler, if not more refined and elegant, time.

Think about the recent explosion of menswear. The craft cocktail revolution. Mustaches! And events like the Jazz Age Lawn Party. They’re all welcome escapes from contemporary matters and I was lucky enough to be treated to one of my own recently – namely, a traditional straight razor shave – at The Art of Shaving barber spa in New York City, where I got to relax and kick my feet up. Literally.

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

| THE PERFECT SHAVE | The Art of Shaving’s trademarked wet shaving system consists of four elements: prepare, lather, shave, and moisturize.

A traditional straight razor shave is not just about the shave, it’s about the experience. There’s nothing like the process and detail that goes into a traditional barber shave. It is truly an art. And a skilled barber can transform what we generally consider a routine into a ritual.

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

| EASY DOES IT | A good barber will listen to you and understand your needs. My skin is fairly sensitive my barber John gave me a close shave with a light touch, using a combination of pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and after-shave balm.

Whether at home or a traditional barber, a perfect shaving ritual consists of four basic elements. First, you need to prepare your skin. At The Art of Shaving barber spa, that consists of a series of hot towels and a pre-shave oil, to both soften the beard hair and make it more supple. Next, lather up. Then shave. Two passes – one with the grain, the other against. Finally, moisturize. An important aspect of skincare, and even more important after shaving.

Getting a traditional straight razor shave is a commitment to relaxation and an investment in yourself. It leaves you feeling good, looking good, and ready for whatever the rest of your day – or night – may bring.

Art of Shaving - He Spoke Style

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

He Spoke Style

Disclosure: Compensation for this post was provided by The Art of Shaving. The opinions expressed herein are mine alone and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of The Art of Shaving.


Chime In

  • Seth Nelson

    I recently started shaving around my beard and mustache with a straight razor. Love it. Love the process. I do have a question. I’m fine going with the grain, but have not tried going against on a second pass. I already feel like my blade will start to stick in bad ways as the lather is wiped away. Do I need to re-lather before the second pass?

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Yes, definitely re-lather and make sure the blade is sharp. Try stretching your skin a on the second pass too. That’ll help lift the hairs a bit. Thanks, as always, for the comments, Seth!

  • http://www.thekentuckygent.com The Kentucky Gent

    Couldn’t agree more on the busy part, even when I have down time I’m wondering what’s next that I need to work on/do. It’s great to take a minute or thirty to relax and pampering yourself a bit, especially this time of year.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Sounds like we’re on the same wavelength! I need to start building in some more “me” time. Sounds like New Year’s resolution material!

  • Tom


    A straight-razor shave at a real barber is definitely one of life’s great pleasures – one that is getting harder and harder to find in USA. I’m very lucky with TWO good barbers here in my little southern town, but most places… forget it. On the other hand, when I’m running around overseas, there is nothing better than sitting down at a local barber. I get to relax a bit (especially on a business trip!) and meet the real people in the places I’m traveling to – fun conversations, sometimes leading to amazing experiences. Barbershop tourism…. ;-)


    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      You’ll have to let me know where you live! I’ll be in the south next spring and would love to get a shave at one of those barbers’!

  • TimL

    Did you keep the stache ?
    Go for a goatee next for another look.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      I didn’t. It was the first thing we shaved off!

  • Michael

    First of all, thank you for all this great content. I have found your site to be a wonderful tool for developing my wardrobe to match a great new career I have taken on. I especially appreciate the posts and information on the timeless pieces that I can invest in and will never go out of style (I’m looking forward to the Essentials Guide).

    I wanted to chime in on this post because for better part of the last decade I have been shaving with a 1930s Gillette safety razor and a badger hair brush. I started doing this when my uncle passed away suddenly and my grandmother asked me if I wanted his badger hair brush. Having never used one I found the idea kind of novel and fun and decided to find a classic razor to match my brush. Now, more than seven years later, I still shave with both most days and find the process to be cathartic and pleasingly ritualistc.

    In addition to the nostalgia, I am able to ignore all the glitzy ads and commercials for the latest 5-dollar, eight-bladed razor. In fact, I buy a pack of 100 safety razor blades on Amazon for $15 every three or four years!

    Anyways, I guess what I am trying to say is that while I have never had a straight razor shave, it seems from your description that it’s similar to the experience I get at home each time I shave with my safety razor. So I would encourage you and your other readers to think about changing their daily shave to experience a similar feeling to the professional straight razor shave on a daily basis.

    Thanks again.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Here, here, Michael! I’ve been a safety razor user for about four years now – a Merkur “Heavy Classic” – and also use a shave brush and soap. I love the morning ritual. And, like you say, it’s very cost-effective. I’m going to have to order a new 100-pack of razors this week, actually!

  • The Art of Shaving

    Brian, So glad you enjoyed the experience. With the right razor and products you can get a nice close shave at home, but nothing beats the luxury of a barbershop shave!

  • Guy Flanderson

    I truly enjoyed this article and found it to be very informative on a good barbershop experience. Often times I care for my beard myself using awesome beard oil from, http://detroitgrooming.com/blogs/the-313-beard-blog.