How to care for your beard

No matter where you live, if you have a beard, you need to take care of it. The elements can destroy your beard in Victoria in no time at all. Sun, rain and wind all take their toll on those fragile whiskers you’re trying to grow. So how do you care for your beard?

Step 1: Beard Cleanser

What? You mean soap…don’t you Steve?

I say nope to soap. Soap can be very drying and can remove all those lovely oils from your beard. When you do that, you leave your beard exposed to negative ions, which cause it to become frayed, broken and crack. So the first step to maintain a good beard is to wash it properly. Ideally you would use a gentle cleanser without sulfates…that’s right no Head and Sh—-ders. The perfect beard cleanser would have an antibacterial element to it as well. Something mild like tea tree will do the trick. Tea tree oil in a cleanser will help to prevent pimples and itchiness caused by bacteria.  By the way, beard cleansing should be done at least once a day. Our faces have way more sweat glands than other parts of our body, so they need to be cleaned regularly. The best time to do this is before you go to bed, so that you are not sleeping on your dirty beard all night long.

Step 2: Beard Repair

After you’ve gently removed the grit and dust of the day, now is the time to smooth the cuticle of the beard. Beards are hair…just like on your head, but they need extra special attention because they are pulled and tugged and scratched way more than your head hair. All these daily activities causes the hair shafts to flare up, and get puffy. A good beard repairer will fill in the little holes in your beard with positive ions, make it smoother and less puffy. Usually it is applied after your wash your beard, and is rinsed with water. Hot water can aggravate hair, so it is best to use lukewarm water…or even cold water if you can handle it.

Step 3: Beard Protection

After you wake up the next day, and you’ve had a good nights sleep with a nice clean beard, you will need to protect your lovely facial foliage with a beard protector of some kind. A decent beard oil will do the trick. It should not be over thick as this will gunk up your beard, and it shouldn’t be too thin, as this will leave it exposed. Something made with grapeseed oil and olive oil are really good as they will reduce static build-up and puffiness. Meadowfoam seed oil is also good as this has an anti-inflammatory effect on hair, making it less puffy.

In the end, if you want a beautiful, lustrous beard that would make any man question his masculinity, then follow the above three steps and use really good beard products. Good luck!

Highlights for men?

Men’s hair has long been under the authoritative rule of ‘lumbersexualism’. Since 2010, men with beards and tight taper cuts have been the norm on the streets of major cities. It has been a combination of lumberjack and sexy man.

But I feel that the tides are changing. I feel that another decade of fashion for men is about to unfold. I get the sense that the biggest influences in the lives of men are wanting something different.  Who are these influences?

Women of course.

That’s right. The lovely ladies in our lives have let us men have fun with big beards while nurturing our masculine bravado…but I sense a bit of a revolt forming.

Don’t get me wrong…some women like beards…and then some women HATE beards.There is a life span for most things in fashion…and with beards becoming a mainstream accessory, the ‘cool-kids’ look for ways to distinguish themselves from everyone else.

That is where highlights step in.

That’s right…I said it. Highlights.

Don’t think back to ‘Justin Timberlake in the 90’s highlights’. The highlights that are going to make a comeback are going to be more sophisticated than that. They are going to be an addition for men who want to brighten their look while still keeping their manhood in check.

They can be subtle. Or they can be bold.

They are a great way to lighten up an otherwise ‘hairy’ situation. Just think about it. With all that hair on a man’s face and head…it can look a little ‘bear-like’. With a couple of well placed streaks of blond or light brown, suddenly a man looks trendy again. He looks fresher. He can still keep the beard…but its a’ lumbersexual’ with a cosmopolitan edge.

Let’s call him a ‘Cosmojack’ ©.

A cosmojack can keep his facial folliage well groomed…but at the same time appease the lady in their life with a hint of flare.

Just make sure that you keep your beard tight and neat…or you could end up looking like a ‘cosmojoke’.

Myths and Facts about shaving

There’s a certain art to shaving.

Whether you use a straight or safety razor, there are a lot of mixed messages out there that can lead to confusion — and some pretty terrible shaving habits as well.

Steven Bailey, classically-trained barber and owner of UOMO Modern Barber, took the time to offer a closer look at common shaving myths and facts. Hopefully his responses will shed some light on some of the best (and worst) shaving practices out there and help you understand a bit more about what goes into the ideal shave.

True or False: You should only shave with the grain when shaving.

False. Shaving is a very personal endeavour. Every man is different. Some beards are harder, some are softer. Some skin types are flexible, others are more brittle. Some men have exposed hair follicles, others have recessed hair follicles. The bottom line is the same hat doesn’t fit everyone.

I have performed over 3000 shaves in my career, and have yet to meet a face that is exactly the same as another. Take it from me: Know your skin and know your beard. You know how it feels, so don’t let anyone tell you that something is impossible. If it feels comfortable and it doesn’t cause any kind of irritation or ingrown hairs, then go for it. If you have soft skin and a hard beard, it would be best to avoid it. You be the judge.

One thing is for certain though, our skin can change over time and with environmental stress. For instance, the same face that would be easy to shave in the summer when the air is hot and humid, would be very different in the mid-winter when the air is dry and cold. My best advice: Shave closer in the summer and less close in winter. Use a good pre-shave and a good badger brush and moisturizing soap and you’ll notice a big difference.

True or False: The amount a shaving agent lathers is key to a great shave.

False. Even though this myth can be answered in so many different ways, it is important to understand that preparation is the key to a good shave. This includes good shaving products.

A pre-shave is the first step. If your skin is dry, I recommend an oil. If it is oily, I recommend a balm like the OM 3in1 shave balm.

Next, choose a soap that has a good lather…but bigger bubbles is not necessarily better. Remember that a lot of shaving soaps use potassium hydroxide (also known as lye). Lye is great for creating a very rich fluffy lather, but it also strips away all the natural oils from your skin. It is more important to choose a soap that is lye-free and that is very moisturizing.

Also, watch out for SLS in shaving soaps…they are even harsher than lye.

True or False: The more you shave, the faster your beard grows.

False. There is no scientific evidence that I am aware of that supports this myth.

True or False: The more blades on a razor, the better the shave.

True. More blades definitely give a better shave. I predict that technology will one day make a blade that consists of 20 micro blades. Gillette has already introduced thinner blades. However, the main thing is that these blades wear down – and this is where the blade companies make their money.

I encourage my clients to emphasize the ‘preparation’ part of shaving…not just the blade. Preparing the skin before you shave with a good pre-shave and a good soap can greatly reduce the wear and tear on your skin and your blades. This will save you money in blade purchases and your skin will be singing a happy tune!

True or False: A hot shave is the closest shave you’ll ever get.

False. This is an interesting myth – and cause for much debate.

Novices to straight razor shaving should understand that the straight razor is a very aggressive form of shaving. There is a reason why they went out of style – they can cause irritation. When I trained with Master Barber Pasquale Giordano from Italy, he gave me by far the closest shave in my life. Ask me if it was the most comfortable and I’ll tell you without blinking: No. It was close…but with my soft skin type and hard beard, it was irritating.

Novices need to understand that the straight razor is not a magic wand that is going to make all of your shaving woes disappear. It is an ancient tool of hair removal that made the most sense until they came out with the safety razor, which revolutionized shaving. When I shave clients I try to get it close, but comfort is more important to me. And, quite frankly, there are some skin types – especially drier skin types – that should be very careful when they shave with a straight razor. It is possible to get a very close shave with straight razor shaving, but closeness should not be the ultimate goal.

True or False: There is no advantage to using any kind of pre-shave products.

False. Pre-shave is more important to some than others.

Drier skin types NEED a pre-shave — hands down. They should use an oil. This will help to plump up the skin cells so that they do not nick as much.

Normal skin types can get a very close shave if they use a balm pre-shave.

Oily skin types often have over-inflated skin cells. This can over-protect the beard, making it hard to shave. Oily skin types definitely need a pre-shave balm that contains eucalyptus and tea-tree oil. These act as astringents that dissolve the oils on the skin, exposing the beard. This makes it easier to shave.

True or False: Your face is pretty resilient. You can use pretty much anything on it after shaving and it will get used to it.

False. Ouch. I remember when I first used my dad’s Old Spice Aftershave. YIKES!

Here it is: NEVER use an alcohol-based aftershave. I dont care what kind of skin you have — it will never be good. The best thing to do is use an aftershave that neutralizes the skin’s pH. The OM Aftershave Splash is ideal for this. All skin types can benefit from this.

The next step for dry skin types is to apply a moisturizing shave balm like the OM Cucumber Lotion. This will add necessary fats back to your skin, making it more moisturized and flexible for the next time you shave.

Oily skin types need to use a shave balm with tea tree oil, which will help to dissolve excessive oil and regulate the pH of the skin. Normal skin types can use either types of aftershave. Just remember that the type of aftershave you will need to use will also depend on the time of year. In the winter, we all need a more moisturizing aftershave. In the summer, we can use something a little lighter.

True or False: There’s no difference between a balm, a gel and a foam when it comes to using them for shaving.

False. There are often times butane and iso-butane gases in aerosol forms of shaving products such as gels and foams. These products can further dry out the skin, leaving it exposed to the elements. A balm from a non-aerosol container is the better option.

True or False: Just like there are different hair types, there are different facial hair types and you need to treat it accordingly.

True. Just like your head, your face is a unique entity. Often they reflect much different qualities to your own hair. It is important to understand those differences and how to shave to them. Softer facial hair needs less preparation than harder facial hair. Some facial hair is curly, others are straight. Curly hair should not be shaved too closely. This can cause ingrown hairs. It is also important to understand that there are differences in hair girth as well. Larger diameter hairs are more difficult to cut than finer hair types.

Once again: Know your face. And if you don`t understand your skin, talk to your local barber about it.

It’s about the pickle…not the mustache

We are half way through Movember, and it is nice to see how many mustaches have walked through my door. Some I have to admit need a little work…but others are looking great! Either way, men are trying to raise awareness about men’s health.

Of course, this is the entire point of Movember. Did you know that prostate cancer used to be called the ‘silent killer’. This is because it used to sneak up on men who wouldn’t do regular prostate checks.

There are two primary early detection tests (cancer.org):

  1. PSA: Prostate Specific Antigen levels in the blood are elevated above normal
  2. DRE: Digital Rectal Exam or as I call it: the Dreaded Rubber-glove Entry test

Either test is not 100% accurate, but it is important to discuss these two options with your doctor.

The important thing to remember this month is that whether you are growing a mustache or not, Movember is about the pickle…not the mustache.

Be healthy everyone!

How to loose the mustache

Movember is coming to an end. You’ve toiled for an entire month and yes, you have proven to the world that caterpillars do exist. Now might be the time to take that furry critter off of your upper lip.

So what should you do? Should you bite the bullet, take your cold razor, and rip it off like a bandage on a bad wound? Or is there a better way?

Well, I like to think that removing a mustache should be as painless as growing it… (and way less itchy).

Here is how.

1.If you have an electric trimmer, take as much fur off as you can. This will save you much aggravation later.
2. Soften your beard with a good preshave oil. Rub this into your beard until your skin feels soft and flexible.
3. Soften your beard even more with a hot towel.
4. With a good badger brush and a cream soap lather really well with lots of water. If you don’t have a badger brush and cream soap think about getting one as it will really improve your shave. Or else, just use your favorite shaving cream.
5. Shave with a fresh razor in the direction of growth. Ever mustache is different,  but most mustaches grow downward from the nose. Your first stroke should be starting from the uppermost part of the lip just under the nose. If you have a softer beard, and your skin is strong, then you can stroke from the sides starting at the corner of the mouth and shaving toward the center of the upper lip.

When you are done, make sure to look admiringly on your newly shave face with youthful awe…and then give your loved one a big, fat, furless, unprickly smooch!

Are you a Movember cheater?

I see it every October. Men with half grown mustaches…sneakily growing a meager crop of  “stache” hair before the beginning of Movember.

Do I care?

Why?

Some men have an ability to grow ample ‘stacher’s in no time flat. Within days, a nice. fluffy, neophite of a mustache grows under the noses of some men I know. They are the mustache ‘easy-gainers’. They the ones that in grade five were already shaving, and had a girlfriend named Tiffany. They are the mustache elite. I call them the ‘stachers’. They are freaks! Mutants! Like Professor X, they some how control the minds of their upper lip hairs, and grow them at will!

Do I care you ask again?

Of course not…Why should I? Just because my mustache looks like a ten year old boy’s face…after three weeks of hard growing…why should care? Unlike these mustache masters, I grow a feeble excuse for a ‘stache’. After a full month of Movember mustache worship, my upper lip looks more like Frida on a good da. But whose measuring? Guys?  We don’t measure…..do we?

Of course not. Don’t be silly.

So do I care that the mustache meager men out their are cheating….HHHHELLLLL NNNNOOOO!

Go for it! Cheat away! I’d cheat… if only to save face (alright…bad pun).

As long as men are becoming more aware about their health, and the whole reason for Movember is not lost, I say: ‘meager mustache growers!…cheat away.’

Landing the perfect part

Whether you’re a 60’s marketing mogul like Don Draper, a mysterious millionaire like Jay Gatsby or an average Joe trying to find that right hairstyle, the side part is perfect for anyone who is looking to class up their act. Most men will find that their hair has a natural part already distinguished and can easily be found right out of the shower. Once your hair is wet, simply take a comb and brush your hair both directions to see where your hair naturally likes to part, once you find that direction, you can easily customize the look of the part. There are two routes you can take for a part, a distinct bold part, or more of a natural sweeping part.

For the bold part, simply take a fine toothed comb and start to make a hard line by combing the hair to one side while combing the other side of the line down flat, this will give a very distinct line in your hair. For a more natural sweeping part, take your comb and brush the hair to the side without making any distinct lines, giving your hair a blended part. Products needed for this hairstyle varies depending on your style. The OM Spiker Fiber($25.99), gives the bold distinct side part  perfect hold and shine, lasting all day without reapplying, while the the OM Clay Texturizer ($26.99) will give a sweeping side part more of a dry matte finish.  If you are a traditionalist, a part should fall right in the middle of your eyebrow.  Draw an imaginary line from the part straight down to your eyebrow. Or use a comb as a reference, and line the part up to the center of the eyebrow with that.  This will make the part look balanced and not our of place.

 

Good luck!

Shaving and barbering workshops in Prince George

It was early Sunday morning when my alarm went off.  I had just finished a good week in the store, and a few hours of extra sleep would have felt really good.

But this was no ordinary Sunday. Today, I was on my way to Prince George to teach progressive barbering techniques.  It is something that I really enjoy doing. It is a change of pace, and a great opportunity to meet other professionals in the BC who are looking for forward-thinking education.

I’ll be honest, I did not know what to expect. It was my first trip to ‘PG’, as it is referred to by the locals.  I have two employees who are from PG, and when I told them that I was teaching up there, they both smiled and said: “why are you going there?”

I was soon to learn that this is how “PG-ians” think of themselves.  They often take themselves way less seriously than us up-tight Victorians do. In fact, it was refreshing to be around people who did not take life as seriously as we sometimes do down here. When I asked my class what people do in PG, they all said: “Red-neck stuff!”

I laughed. What a great attitude to life. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of exchange.

The girls at the Razor’s Edge Salon and Spa were one of the best classes that I ever taught. They were open and generous with their energy. I could tell that they really wanted to learn.  When we started the straight razor shaving class, they were all pretty nervous. One of them almost fainted when I mentioned safety precautions (almost, but not quite), but it may have been the early Sunday morning air, which was normally reserved for sleeping in and ‘party-recovery’  But these fine ladies were dedicated.  By the end of the course, they couldn’t wait to do more shaves! It was a real honor and treat to see them learn so quickly.

By the end of the two day workshop, the girls were revved up and ready to go. I have no doubt that they will be leading the way in Prince George in the years to come. Well done girls!

Men’s hair problem: Frizzy Hair

Travis came to see me this week. Since he is in the military, he asked for business on the sides and back, and party on top.  Lets call it the ‘Long-Short’.  I used scissors on the side to bring it in nice and close, and thinning shears to remove some of the excess curl on top. As we were doing the cut, it came up that one thing that drove him a little nuts was the curl in his hair.  He was wondering if there was a way to get rid of  that darn wave so that the top was a little straighter.

Of course, hair product is a great way to finish a style, but it is not the best way to get the style.  This is where the hair dryer becomes handy. One great trick to get rid of unwanted curl and frizz is to use a hot blowdryer.  Remember that frizz and curl are enhanced with moisture.  Just ask any curly haired person how their hair behaves in Hawaii and they’ll tell you that their hair goes CRAZY! That’s because the moisture breaks ‘H-Bonds’ in the hair, which normally holds the curl under control.

My advice to Travis was to use a high heat dryer, and blow the hot air down through the curls, just like the picture below.

Afterwards, the curl is more relaxed…and it only takes a couple of minutes. You can finish it off with a pomade or fiber such as the OM fiber, which will give it a little shine and hold throughout the day (and night).

Remember: business at the back, and party on top!  Happy styling!

Undercut comeback

For all of those who remember how cool we were in the early 90’s with our mushroom cuts… guess what?  They’re back!

That’s right. Even though we may look at our high school photos and say to ourselves: “What was I thinking?!”, you now have a change to relive those glory days.  Just make sure not to play Fresh-Prince’s Summertime while your cruisin’ with the top down.

I see this style moving in subtly at first (even though there is nothing subtle about this haircut). It will evolve from the  ‘hipsteresque comeover’, which will grow longer on top while the sides and back are cut short. The big difference between this new undercut coming up and the one in the 90’s is that it will be played back with some product and finger combed.  Don’t think of ‘Flock of Seagulls’ when you picture this style.

Think more of David Beckham meets Hugh Grant.

It is vitally important when cutting this men’s haircut that careful attention is given to the shape of the man’s face. If your face is long and lean, then a more ‘Hugh’ look is in order, keeping width on the sides. Otherwise, you could end up looking like a q-tip. If you have a wider visage, then fell free to go a little tighter on the sides. As this style does add roundness to the top of your head, if you already have a round face, this style may not work for you.

The best way to style it is loosely swept back with a wax-like product, such as OM Fiber. This will give it the professional hold it needs to keep up in the office, while allowing  your girlfriend to run her fingers through your hair without getting ensnared for life.

Either way, keep it tight on the sides, and have a party on top!