Can you handle a close shave?

A perfect shave

Steve Salecich of Grand Royal Barbers explains how to achieve the perfect shave.

How long can you go without doing it? Does once every two or three days suffice, or do you find that you need to do it in the morning and then again before the end of the day?

Shaving is something most men would like to get away with doing as infrequently as possible. Although the result is satisfying, the process and the time it takes can be enough to make you want to give it away. I'm sure the rise of the beard owes as much to the inherent laziness of the average man as it does to claims of street cred or style.

Many men work in an office environment that demands a clean-shaven face - at all times, in some cases. “I keep an electric shaver in my drawer that I use just before meetings,” says one smart young twenty-something who works in the law. “The five o'clock shadow is usually obvious by 3. I can't keep up with it.”

A colleague in a not-so-smart executive environment (the media) says he shaves every morning so he doesn't look like an old (and disposable) git with his whitening bristles (for the record, he's in his 40s and as of this week is yet to be offered a redundancy package).

These workplace protocols and manoeuvres have helped spur growth in a complementary industry. The barber shop is back. Many are still handing over the readies to young stylists for flattering salon cuts, but also seeking the traditional male barber for the old-fashioned cut-throat razor shave.

Craig Meggs has seen business grow week-on-week since The Barber Shop opened in the sumptuous surrounds of Canberra's QT Hotel. “Once someone's had a proper razor shave there's no going back,” Meggs says. “There is no closer shave. It can last two days longer than the shave you give yourself at home.”

It is also pampering. I eased back - right back - in a traditional barber's chair and my lower face was wrapped in hot damp towels before the process began. Craig had to tell me to relax once or twice - I was, after all, exposing my throat to a blade wielded by a stranger (albeit an amiable and sharply dressed Englishman) - but once I did, it was a relaxing process. The shaving cream smelt of sandalwood, the moisturiser was massaged in just so, and the aftershave was suitably bracing.

Craig also cleaned up my sideburns, neck and eyebrows. It took about 20 minutes all up. My skin felt remarkably soft and I felt incredibly clean. Now I really know what the term “clean shaven” means.

It's not only Canberra's government and diplomat types heading to the QT for one of Craig's professional shaves, but also the unbesuited and less securely employed – to wit, public servants, journos and students. It seems to be a phenomenon in all the big cities. Upmarket barber shops are opening, and the ones that have been forever are enjoying a resurgence. Men are learning the benefits of a good, clean shave.

Have you bared your throat to the razor? Was it worth the time and money versus your own work at home?