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