Background to a Smooth Shave
Mr. Woolf doesn’t always entertain novices but he can be kind.
He also believes if you give a man a random shaving tip, he’ll remember you for a day. But help him solve a problem and he will remember you for a lifetime.
So what happened was that a gentleman to be was sitting with me the other day. A very bright kid, very ambitious. Moonlights as a CA during the day and as a graphic designer/ web developer/ SM architect/ innovator at night. I knew him through a common friend, very straight-forward, humble, well-mannered with polished medium brown Oxford shoes.
Mr. Woolf was sitting in his study, I knew our banter would be audible to him but I wasn’t prepared for what was coming next.
“I am not sure if the unsuspecting gentleman had any idea either”.
It started when he opened up about having grown a beard as it took him 30 minutes to gather the shaving tools. And then gather the courage to shave, because without fail he would always end up cutting himself.
“Do you watch the National Geographic?”
I knew whose voice had made an entrance but he was not ready for this. I had an inkling that Mr. Woolf would like him, with his attention to details and all but I did not know this would move him enough to get up from his study and walk out to the sitting area.
Not that Mr. Woolf is into eavesdropping, he’s too passionate about shaving. I am not trying to speak for him, it is that this hasn’t happened before, and so I am not sure.
The young startled man turned his head to find Mr. Woolf’s towering persona looking at him and mustered a subtle nod.
Followed by a “Why do you ask?”
“You’ll find out,” said Mr. Woolf and came around the sofa to sit with us and began a conversation with a stranger.
“Sometimes, I can’t figure out how he can start a conversation on a topic with anyone”.
“What do you use for shaving?”
Taken aback, the young mane started speaking up- “a disposable razor, canned shaving foam, and an aftershave that stings.”
“And how much time do dedicate to the shaving process” Mr. Woolf continued.
“Process?” The young man wasn’t prepared to acknowledge that his 2-minute job that usually took 30 minutes is a process. He said “I would rather like to get done with it as soon as I can, and also now that I have a beard, I don’t put myself up with that at all. Shaving cuts happen all the time and my skin isn’t used to it. Why does it happen to me every day? “
Mr. Woolf took a deep breath and continued.
“Well if you see these wildlife channels you’d know that a baby bird is pushed out of the nest. If you need a flying experience with your daily shaves, you have to take a leap of faith and follow me. You will only get benefit out of it and it is like the baby bird pushed off the nest.”
The gentleman who had a dismissive air in the beginning, seemed to lean in and show interest in the matter.
Mr. Woolf turned towards the young man and began –
“First of all discard all that you’ve been using. Throw them away, they are of no use. A canned Shaving foam is nobody’s friend. You need to invest in the right set of shaving tools, like your favorite pair of jeans or a fine pair of shoes.”
He went on…
“And process. Everything that’s worth doing and needs a result has a process. I don’t repeat it for everyone but I will do it for you. You can ask me to stop now if you are not interested.”
The young man seemed to have settled pretty on the sofa and had no intention of letting go of this wisdom.
“I want to learn Mr. Woolf, it’s easy for me to say it doesn’t work but I want to know the right way to shave. So please continue.”
Mr. Woolf, impressed with the young man’s humility, continued, “A good shave begins with cleaning the skin and applying a pre-shave oil. The oil creates a barrier between the blade and the skin that helps prevent cuts. After the oil, use products like a shaving brush and a shaving cream not a shaving foam. All good, self-respecting shaving soaps have aloe vera & shea butter that moisturize your skin and create a barrier to help you get a smooth shave. The rich & thick lather allows the razor to glide on your skin without pulling or tugging and help provide you with a clean, comfortable shave.
In the first pass, always go with the grain. In the second pass, go sideways or against the grain depending on the pattern of your hair. Once done shaving, check if you missed any spots, wash your face with cold water and apply an aftershave balm or lotion that has a moisturizer in it. Make sure the after shave has no alcohol, else it will sting and your face will become dry.”
I noticed the young man hiding his gaping mouth as he no longer heard the old man’s voice.
“And start watching some National Geographic, it teaches you a lot”
Saying which Mr. Woolf got up and went back into his library.
The young man and I shared a look ‘Did this happen?’