Dad missed a shav­ing spot

Set aside the ra­zor and head to a bar­ber­shop for a close, re­lax­ing shave

Los Angeles Times - - FATHER’S DAY - By Wes Bau­smith wes­ley.bau­smith@la­times.com

Un­til about a month ago, ev­ery­thing I knew about shav­ing I’d learned from my dad. As it turns out, it wasn’t a whole lot.

Dad ap­proached shav­ing solely as a DIY en­deavor. When I was lit­tle, I’d watch in awe oc­ca­sion­ally as he went through the rou­tine. He shaved me­thod­i­cally and com­i­cally, mak­ing what I con­sid­ered the fun­ni­est faces ever as he stretched his skin into shave able planes. He fo­cused on the man in themedicine cabi­net mir­ror as if in a trance, snap­ping out of it only when he had nicked him­self or oth­er­wise some­how bro­ken the spell of con­cen­tra­tion a close shave re­quires. Some­times he’d un­load the blades in spare shavers and let my brother and me lather up and pre­tend to bust our nonex­is­tent beards. Such was my ed­u­ca­tion in the art of shav­ing.

As a whiskery adult, I’ve abided by Dad’s ex­am­ple; in his book, clean­li­ness was next to man­li­ness. Ex­cept for two bearded pe­ri­ods (one did last six years), I’ve been an ev­ery-day shaver, week­ends ex­cluded, for decades.

Only re­cently did I learn that, as ac­cus­tomed as one is to shav­ing at home, as com­fort­able with the skin-stretch­ing con­tor­tions, as much as you think you know your face, you can­not come close to the ex­pe­ri­ence of a pro­fes­sional shave done by a real bar­ber in a bona fide bar­ber­shop.

The shops have in­volves lo­tions, balms, warm lather, hot tow­els, cold tow­els, putting your feet up, kick­ing back, and plac­ing your trust in the hands of some­one who’s hold­ing a straight ra­zor to your throat. It can in­cludea glass of Scotch, a beer or an espresso. It el­e­vates the mun­dane to the sub­lime, like a mini spa visit for your face.

In th­ese hir­sute times, fa­cial hair is ev­ery­where. It springs forth on the faces of ath­letes, rock stars, ac­tors, busi­ness­men and many oth­ers in the public eye. So much so that one might as­sume that old­fash­ioned bar­ber­ing has gone the way of the buggy whip and the com­pact disc.

Not so, ac­cord­ing to the pro­pri­etors of sev­eral bar­ber­shops where I tried shaves. De­spite the con­tem­po­rary pro­lif­er­a­tion of fa­cial hair, or maybe be­cause of it, there’s a mea­sur­able and nos­tal­gic re­turn to the art of bar­ber­ing, in­clud­ing beard trims and shaves, lest one look like a Civil War re-en­ac­tor.

So, for all the dads out there who shave and shape dili­gently and du­ti­fully, alone and un­her­alded, why not give a Fa­ther’s Day gift that breaks the rou­tine? A shave by a pro is an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other, filled with sen­sory sig­nals that will soothe and re­lax Dad, and help him put his best face for­ward.

Gift cer­tifi­cates, shav­ing and groom­ing prod­ucts are avail­able from each of the three es­tab­lish­ments I vis­ited for my shaves. None of the bar­bers who at­tended to my whiskers tried to up sell me on their prod­ucts dur­ing or af­ter the ap­point­ments. Now that’s what I call re­fresh­ing.

Pho­to­graphs by Kent Nishimura Los An­ge­les Times

RON RAN­DLE

shaves Brad Small with a straight-edge ra­zor at the Shave in Bev­erly Hills.

TIM SKEL­TON’S face is mas­saged at An­gelo’s Bar­ber­shop No. 7 in down­town Los An­ge­les.

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