MARK OF A MAN

THE SPIRIT OF RUGGED IN­DI­VID­U­AL­ISM GETS MAKEOVER AS THE NICHE WORLD OF PRES­TIGE MAN-CARE GOES CUT­TING EDGE,

India Today - - SPICE - SAYS VA­ROON P. ANAND

“Win­ning is like shav­ing. You do it ev­ery day or you wind up look­ing like a bum.” JACK KEMP

Os­car Wilde de­scribed a man’s face as his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, and a woman’s as her work of fic­tion. In the late 90s, the im­age of men’s groom­ing and per­sonal care moved to­wards a softer, more fem­i­nine aes­thetic un­der the guise of met­ro­sex­u­al­ity. But the re­cent suc­cess of Mad Men, the rein­ven­tion of James Bond in Casino Royale and the frat-hu­mour of The Hang­over have gone a long way in re­assert­ing chis­elled mas­culin­ity. And there’s no male ac­tiv­ity more as­so­ci­ated with in­de­pen­dence, rugged­ness, and ma­tu­rity than a world-class shave.

Amer­i­can man­u­fac­turer The Art of Shav­ing has found great favour among to­day’s prickly-faced per­son­al­i­ties by cre­at­ing ‘The Four El­e­ments of the Per­fect Shave.’ These might seem like sim­ple pre­cau­tions, but the truth is most men won’t make time for these nec­es­sary steps. The usual ex­cuse is lack of time, but the real story is that shav­ing has al­ways been deemed a ne­ces­sity, not an ac­tiv­ity to en­joy and in­dulge. This care­less­ness leads to dam­age over time, like painfully in-grown hairs, ra­zor burn and stub­ble rash. The Art of Shav­ing at­tempts to use the four-tiered sys­tem to trans­form shav­ing from a chore to a cher­ished por­tion of the morn­ing rit­ual by cre­at­ing lux­u­ri­ous prod­ucts for each di­vi­sion. The first step looks at prepa­ra­tion by ap­ply­ing pre-shave oil to soften the beard and pro­vide pro­tec­tion. The sec­ond in­volves lath­er­ing up with cream for a close and com­fort­able shave. Then comes elim­i­na­tion, where one must shave with a clean blade that has a good han­dle dipped in hot water; it also spells out the cor­rect tech­nique. And, fi­nally a nec­es­sary, and oft ig­nored final step, is to mois­turise to re­vi­talise and soothe dry skin. Read them like the four shav­ing com­mand­ments if you will, but clearly, in a world where lux­ury is as much a pre­serve of men as women, shav­ing takes on a new, more el­e­vated man­tle. A top of the line kit with pre-shave oils, af­ter shave balms still has to in­clude ac­ces­sories like a $250 ( 12,500) en­graved sil­ver­tip badger brush and a $260 ( 13,000) car­bon steel straight ra­zor hand­crafted by Thiers-issard with a horn han­dle that pushes your set past the $1,000 ( 50,000) mark quite quickly.

But to truly ap­pre­ci­ate the most ex­pen­sive shave in the world, all you have to spend is $100,000 ( 50,00,000). The Zafirro Irid­ium is a lux­ury ra­zor that fea­tures hy­poal­ler­genic sap­phire blades and a han­dle made from ex­tremely rare and dense irid­ium. Avail­able in a limited run of 99 ra­zors, the Zaf­firo Irid­ium was de­vel­oped by Port­land, Ore­gon-based Bright Light Ven­tures. The blade re­mains as sharp as the first shave for a year, with the prom­ise of com­pli­men­tary re-sharp­en­ing for up to ten years. The rare irid­ium that the han­dle is made of is ten times more scarce than plat­inum; only three tonnes are pro­duced an­nu­ally. The blade is also made of solid white sap­phire blades that are hy­poal­ler­genic, im­per­vi­ous to ox­i­da­tion and cor­ro­sion, and an or­der of mag­ni­tude more durable than any other shav­ing blade in the world, or so they claim. These blades get sharp­ened by high-en­ergy, ionised par­ti­cles to make blades less than 100 atoms across, or about 1/1000th the width of a hu­man hair. How’s that for a re­ally lux­u­ri­ous shave?

While fa­cial hair rarely dec­o­rates the male up­per lip in the dig­i­tal age, swapped for the youth­ful ap­peal of a clean shave, there are still many who con­sider them tra­di­tional and just plain dash­ing. Main­tain­ing the lus­tre of a well kempt ‘stache’ can be a hair-pulling ex­pe­ri­ence. Whether you’re grow­ing a pen­cil-thin one for Movem­ber or hon­our­ing time tested val­ues, a mous­tache comb is an es­sen­tial for pre­sentabil­ity. The Of­fer­man Wood­shop in the United States of­fers mous­tache combs that are in­di­vid­u­ally hand carved out of var­i­ous ex­otic woods, with a non-toxic fin­ish to keep that un­ruly growth in check for a rea­son­able 4,000.

But once the bristly hairs have been mowed or re­moved, what if what lies be­neath causes alarm? Age robs ev­ery­one of the def­i­ni­tion and char­ac­ter of their story. To re­store it there is a unique new de­vice that helps build mus­cle tone to re­store the youth­ful char­ac­ter of the face. The Slen­der­tone Male Face is a por­ta­ble mus­cle ex­er­ciser de­signed es­pe­cially for men and works to build un­der­ly­ing fa­cial mus­cles which form the foun­da­tion of the face. Elec­tro mus­cle stim­u­la­tion ac­ti­vates the cra­nial nerve which reaches all the fa­cial mus­cle groups, mim­ick­ing their nat­u­ral move­ment in­creas­ing the mus­cle mass to help re­store the orig­i­nal firm, youth­ful shape of the face and tighten the skin. Used for 20 min­utes at a time, five times a week, the Slen­der­tone Male Face can pro­vide your fa­cial mus­cles a full work­out, pro­vid­ing a vis­i­ble and nat­u­ral face-lift.

With a shorn and re­vi­talised coun­te­nance, the next step would be to find the per­fect dis­play. One stop, to ei­ther feel proud or en­vi­ous, would be the bi­en­nial World Beard & Mous­tache cham­pi­onships in Nor­way. Com­pet­ing for the most re­gal mous­tache, par­tial beard or beard will bring new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the un­en­cum­bered growth that marks the pas­sage into man­hood. At times mark­ing viril­ity, van­ity, and even hon­our­ing the majesty of a well-groomed male face speaks vol­umes.

A HOT SHAVE RE­MAINS THE LUX­URY STAN­DARD TO­DAY’S MEN SEEK TO EM­U­LATE WITH NEW PROD­UCTS THAT MAKE IT EASY AND FUN

$100,000 THE ZAFIRRO IRID­IUM WITH SAP­PHIRE BLADES ( ABOVE); THE SLEN­DER­TONE MALE FACE ( BE­LOW)

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