A Note on Having a Close Shave with Straight Razors
While down in Vegas, I’d neglected to bring along my shaving kit because I had some notion or other about hassles with the TSA, and, while feeling scruffy, I wandered around a corner of the Shoppes on the Grand Canal and ran into The Art of Shaving.
In many ways, it’s the kind of shop I’d ordinarily flee from, in that its purpose seems to be to convince you that you need to buy at least three $20 bottles of shaving product, a new razor, and a $150 badger brush.
The salesperson leapt into action immediately, upselling me from a Traditional Shave (30 min., $35) to a Royal Shave (45 min., $55). I would be tempted to say that the Royal Shave is the man’s mani-pedi, but literally that isn’t true, since my nails are still in terrible shape. Still, it’s a spa experience, with hot and cold towels, an after-shave mask, and lots of aromatherapy. It’s very relaxing in its way, though that depends on how comfortable you are with strangers running a large razor over your face.
Having experienced it, I can vouch for the “closeness” of a straight razor shave, and the bonus time you get before you need to shave again. But to a large extent, the closeness has to do with being shaved twice–once with the grain, once against–which takes longer than you’d normally take, and holds out the prospect of increased skin irritation if you don’t lather up twice, as well. It feels, to me, more like a weekend experience for one thing, and, at the price, something of an occasional outing. “Make it a Vegas tradition,” my barber Carlos told me, which would involve making Vegas a tradition, so we’ll table that for now.
I did come away impressed with the use of a pre-shave oil, if you have sensitive skin (for which, I’m told, their Lavender line is particularly suited). If you’re interested in baring your neck locally, there’s a Bellevue Art of Shaving location, and I do recommend it at least once, since it’s good to talk with a barber about your shaving habits. You learn things.
On the Seattle side of the lake, for straight razor shaves, you have your choice of the Weldon Barbershop downtown ($50, book online), the 5th Avenue Barbershop ($50, by appointment Tuesday through Sunday), and the WAC, if you are a member or know one who’ll walk you in ($30, appointment recommended but walk-ins welcome). In Greenwood, there’s Valentine’s ($65, 60 min., appointment only). Surprisingly, Capelli’s Gentlemen’s Barbershop does not offer straight razor shaves. Oslo’s on Queen Anne used to, but they are closed. Know anyone else? Let us know in the comments.