ART OF SHAVING
Michael Felton pampers a client with a shave using products from The Art of Shaving.
Michael Felton promotes benefits of proper shaving
MOMS and women's magazines have worked hand-in-hand to ensure that a woman will always have a million things to obsess about, from the color of her lip gloss to the condition of her underwear (for the sake of the medical emergency crew in case one is struck by a car), to whether her calendar is updated with the birth date of her second cousin's niece.
THE ART OF SHAVING
Michael Felton will give a demonstration of men's shaving products and provide complimentary shaves:
Place: Tori Richard, Ala Moana Center
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
Call: 949-5858 to reserve a seat in the barber's chair
Note: In anticipation of Father's Day, Tori Richard shoppers who purchase $125 or more from Sunday through June 18 (or while supplies last) will receive the company's 50th anniversary T-shirt.
Men, however, manage to breeze through life with nary a care, save for the size of their ... let's say television set ... and the number of hairs on their head, remedied these days by simply taking it all off. So what's one more obsession? Heh, heh. We'll see how it feels, boys.
Michael Felton will be in town at Tori Richard Monday and Tuesday, bearing the message that "men don't obsess enough" about shaving.
"Most men hate shaving," he said. "Most who have to shave on a daily basis dread it, just dread it. It's something they have to do and their attitude is, 'Let's get through it, let's move on.'"
Felton, who makes a living sharing The Art of Shaving products and philosophy, said learning the proper methods will reduce the need to shave, to every three days for some who now shave daily, while protecting one's skin and adding a luxurious touch to what is ordinarily a tiresome chore.
The idea of shaving as an opportunity to pamper oneself will probably win over more women shopping for Father's Day gifts than men. Real men, in their view, should be barely groomed, excessive grooming opening the doors to girlydom and all.
"Men are not open to it," Felton said, "but what happens with my clients is that I give them a sample of our shaving cream. A lot of people don't believe me, but in a little over 10 years, I've never had a client who didn't come back after trying the sample."
ART OF SHAVING
Fine badger brush in horn, $180, from theartofshaving.com
. Some products are available locally at Tori Richard and Neiman Marcus.
Souls willing to brave a Sweeney Todd moment can take a seat in the barber's chair to experience Felton's handiwork. To encourage would-be guinea pigs, gentlemen who receive a complimentary shave will also take home a free The Art of Shaving sample kit worth $38, an instructional DVD and a set of Tori Richard playing cards. The starter kit features pre-shave oil, shaving cream, a brush and after-shave balm.
"A lot of men start out very nervous. If you think about it, you're laying back in a stranger's chair and he's coming at you with a razor. But by the time I add the hot towels they start to relax."
FELTON'S maternal great-grandfather, grandfather, father and stepmother were all barbers, and he learned the craft using an old-fashioned straight razor from his grandfather, whose clientele he inherited in 1978. These were men in their 50s and 60s, who had grown up in an era -- before the mass marketing of the disposable razor -- when it was customary to go to a barber for a shave, and they appreciated the old-fashioned service.
ART OF SHAVING
The barber's brush is key to lathering and opening pores for a close shave. Thuja Wood Classic Shaving Set, $630.
And it might have stayed that way, an anachronism in the Gillette Mach 3 era, if not for Eric and Myriam Malka, two Europeans trying to make their way in New York. Myriam's background was in the spa industry, and, as a student of Eastern medicine and aromatherapy, decided to formulate something for Eric when he complained about his shaving ordeals -- the razor burns, cuts and resulting bumpiness.
In the kitchen of their Manhattan apartment, she created a blend of botanical ingredients and pure essential oils to be used prior to shaving. Eric discovered that shaving was more comfortable using the protective oil, and his face remained free of redness, stinging, nicks and cuts.
Doing some basic calculations, they figured that a typical man shaves more than 20,000 times during his lifetime, and while it's generally not his goal to gain healthier, smoother skin from the task, it is one of the side benefits of using the right products.
Wanting to share their new shaving concept, the couple sold their car for $12,000 and invested it in opening, in 1996, a small store on Manhattan's Upper East Side, calling it The Art of Shaving, where they now carry an array of pre- and post-shave creams and balms, and shaving accessories including badger-hair brushes that range from $50 to $1,000. Today, their client list reads like a who's who in the movie and music business, men like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, the Rock, Sean Combs, Ashton Kutcher and Dave Grohl. And women, too, who Felton said use the products on their legs.
STARTING WITH A concept so new that men didn't know there was any other way to shave, the Malkas employed barbers to demonstrate their products, and Felton said his "interview" for a job involved giving Eric a shave.
"I met him, and 10 minutes later I was shaving him," said Felton. "I was nervous, but I didn't cut him. I haven't cut anyone in 20 years, although people tell me, 'Don't say that, you're gonna jinx yourself.'"
These days, Felton is surprised as anyone that he's able to make a living teaching men how to shave, working from a home base in a little Iowa town, Okoboji.
ART OF SHAVING
Three-blade Swirl razor in sterling silver, $1,000.
"Up until four years ago, I never would have believed I would be traveling the United States, teaching men how to shave and getting paid for it. I think I'm the only person in the U.S., or the world, with this job description."
What he teaches is the Malkas' "four elements of the perfect shave," which are to "prepare, lather, shave and moisturize. Preparation involves doing everything you can to soften skin and open pores for the closest shave possible.
Felton said that unlike today's spray-can shaving creams, The Art of Shaving products contain no alcohol, which not only stings, but closes pores.
"My grandfather used cream that did not come out of a can, and he used a hot towel on the face before shaving to open pores," Felton said.
The badger hair brushes touted by The Art of Shaving helps to retain hot water, which when mixed with shaving cream forms a thick lather that also helps to open pores.
Although this trip will mark his first visit to Hawaii, he imagines it is a lot like Miami, where balmy temperatures and high humidity have a natural pore-opening effect "that's very good for shaving."
A scruffy-faced Brad Pitt, left, and clean shaven, above, with Angelina Jolie.
The Art of Shaving after-shave gels and balms then help to close pores after a shave, also moisturizing skin and protecting it from sun and drying winds.
The Art of Shaving sells razor handles in materials ranging from wood to acrylic to 18K gold, for $50 to $650, stopping short of making their own razor blades. Those Mach 3s from the company started by King Gillette, inventor of the disposable razor, work just fine.
"The razor doesn't have anything to do with a very good shave," Felton said. "You do need a very sharp blade, and I never like to admit it, but with the right products and technique, you can shave yourself closer than I can with a straight razor.
"But the whole thing about being shaved is about getting pampered, relaxation, and a lot of high-end spas are adopting it as a much more masculine way for a man to be pampered," he said.