And To All A Good Night!

December 28, 2010

Sorry it's a little late but I hope everyone is well and having lots of festive fun wherever you are and whatever you celebrate!
(apologies to Paulo Rocker for editing his wonderful illustration!)

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 19th Dec '10

December 19, 2010

Well I had a shave of the week all lined up for this week but then lo and behold I get this wonderful little package in the mail from my friend Randy on B&B. I was so excited to try it I had to give it a go!
Here's the set-up:
- Schick Adjustable Injector
- Injector Blades
- Cremo Cream

I had never tried an injector before and was curious to see what they were all about. I hadn't read too much about them to be honest and so when it arrives I had no clue how to go about loading one. I'm sure plenty of people will laugh at the fact I spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure it out sticking that little metal part of the blade holder into anywhere I thought it could go on the razor and trying to work out which way around it went! The smarter shaver would have just gone on YouTube and found this handy video by Mantic59 but I like a bit of a challenge. Still for those of you curious here's a funny little video showing you how it's done:

So once I had it loaded up, into the bathroom I went. You'll notice them was no brush in my set up and that's because Cremo is a brushless cream. Now again I have no idea if I was using it right or not but I figured I'd just work out this week's shave as I went along! So I took a blob of the Cremo and rubbed it on my leg, thinking it'd burst into lather. It didn't. It was more like spreading a slightly thick lotion onto my wet skin. I was a little unnerved by the lack of visible lather thinking that this essentially translucent thin layer of cream on my skin (was it even really there?) would provide zero protection. I was very wrong. It seemed to provide great protection and my legs felt lovely and smooth and moisturised afterwards. I was very surprised. I had to use quite a bit as I wasn't sure how much was needed or how much was going on as I had nothing to visually compare it too. I might try a little less next time I use this cream. As for the razor. It was GREAT! I almost felt like I was cheating as it was so similar to using a cartridge razor that I didn't even have to think about the shave at all. The "be vigilant" part of my normal routine went out the window and I could daydream away without having to think about angle or pressure.
This is an adjustable razor and I set it to what I believe is the least aggressive setting (the number dial is no longer on the razor so I couldn't tell other than turning it and watching the plate move). I found that my normal long single strokes up the leg weren't really working and instead used shorter multiple "buffing" passed up the leg which is why I felt it was so similar to a shaving with a cartridge. In saying that I didn't have to go over the same areas over and over or anything. Using short strokes and working upwards (against the grain as I always do) I got an incredibly silky smooth and irritation-free shave quickly and without the need for more than a couple of touch ups to get missed areas. Even going over the knee was super-easy, and that's normally one of the tricky areas as any DE woman will tell you (or any straight razor using woman, but they're a rarer breed. You need to set out traps of chocolate and a nice shiny custom made worked frameback razor in order to catch one of these!).

Were the injector blades more readily available I could see this becoming my go-to razor when I'm in a hurry. For now though I'll save the blade and see if I can buy them in bulk somewhere. As always next week will be a new shave for a new week but I can see me returning to this one again very shortly to see how it performs with a more "traditional" lather.

- BE

Shave Of The Fortnight! - 12th Dec '10

December 12, 2010

It's been a hectic two weeks and apologies for being so quiet. I had a funeral to go to and some visitors from Dublin. So, to give myself and my legs a nice treat considering the damage done in the last SOTW I used a nice safe bet for this fortnight to right my shavely wrongs.

Here's the set-up:
- Gentlemen's Best "Signature Series" shaving cream
- Gillette 7 O'clock blades
- Badger brush
- Gillette Super Speed razor 

I love everything about this set up. The brush is great and so reliable regardless of if I'm using a soap or a cream. This cream is also great, it's quite thick and I actually use it like I would a soft soap. I just load my brush in the container and then leg lather. The lather is great and so, so slick with a lovely mild smell that is neither overpowering, nor does it linger on. The lather is easy to create and doesn't require any extra water than normal. Just wet the brush, load the brush and lather onto wet skin and it's the perfect balance. The razor is a great weight and requires no guess work or extra attention in terms of pressure or aggressiveness. And the blades are an old reliable of mine. They are one of the first blades I ever used and they still hold up well against anything I've tried to date. Though I find the yellow 7 O'clocks to possibly be slightly better, I still think the green are consistently of great sharpness and quality. 

I barely even felt this shave, it was nice and smooth and easy and my skin thanks me for it.
This coming week I'll be trying a new soap and a new style of razor and blade so it'll be a complete change of things - wish me luck!

- BE


Baby It's Cold Outside

December 1, 2010

So we've been having an unusual cold snap over here. Normally we'll get a little snow or frost in December but it seems like Mr. Frost is making an early visit and has decided to set up camp for a while. It's hitting -8 at night and right now it's -4. Combine that with the fact that I'm by the coast, and that's some freeztastic conditions right there. However it also looks so pretty! Everything all dusted in white and beautiful morning mists. I took this photo on my way to college a couple of days ago before the snow really hit. It's right around the corner from my house:
So what has this got to do with shaving? Well, as mentioned in my last SOTW, it gets very cold in my bathroom as the window doesn't close properly. I've duct-tapped it up so it's not as bad but it's still chilly and this leads to goosebumps. Shaving + goosebumps =  irritation. I've been itching like crazy all week as a result of the bad shave last week, and while I do think it was the bad blades fault, it being colder than a polar bear's nose in my bathroom sure doesn't help the process. I've been trying to let the skin on my legs settle and stop itching before I shave again. For those of you who are curious, here's a picture of how badly flared up my skin was after the bad shave: ITCHY!

I'm still not sure how to best heat up the bathroom before I shave. I put the heat on 30 mins before I plan on going in there and I take a nice hot shower first but once I step out from under the stream to lather up I can feel the cold (my friends will tell you that I'm always cold. Even in the summer I'm wearing a coat while everyone else is in t-shirts. Right now I'm in my room, with the heat on, wearing a fluffy dressing gown over all of my clothes and my hands still feel like blocks of ice!). Any ideas you readers may have would be greatly appreciated before I doom myself to itchy cold shaves for the winter!

- BE


Shave Of The Week - 28th Nov '10

November 28, 2010

Ouch, ouch, ouch! This week's shave was full of itchiness and irritation!
Here's the set-up:
- Penworks Badger Brush
- 2-piece Gem razor with a lather catcher
- Gem Blades (grrrrr...)
- Prairie Creations Honeysuckle Tallow Shave Soap

The brush, as always was great. I find it performs equally well with soaps as with creams while the B&B LE I used last week is probably more suited to creams given the fact that the bristles are so floppy. This soap is lovely too. A nice mild honeysuckle scent that I love, but that is unfortunately not strong enough for my liking. I can smell it just fine in the tub but when whipping up a lather it's hard to get a hint of it at all. In fact the smell of my conditioner seemed to completely overpower it. Still, it creates a great lather. I find I need to load up quite a bit of it but at the rate I use soaps this should still last me ages even with quite a bit of product being used each time. It's not an overly hard soap either though so it's easy to load up and to add a little bit more to the brush halfway through. It's slick and provides good cushion which I was very grateful for considering the shave I was in for this week!

So onto the razor and the blades. Now this week something went very wrong here. I have it narrowed down to three possible causes, with my strongest suspicion being that the blades are old and aren't sharp enough. I've never used a razor with a lather catcher like this before and indeed it's only the second SE (single edge) razor I've ever used. Having been blown away by my Gem G-Bar I thought this would be amazing but I couldn't have been more wrong.
I think the lather catcher and the set of the blade in the razor could make this quite an aggressive razor to use but I'm not sure. Here's a picture of the blade in the razor so you can see:
The handle screws onto the top of the razor and it's a really lovely piece to hold. It's got a good weight to it but I must have put too much pressure on it for the very first stroke I did because while it felt fine, the minute I lifted the razor and went for the second stroke the red dots of doom began to appear and I had 9 nicks on my first pass (yes I counted just so I could tell you all here!). I took the rest of the shave with much more care and zero pressure and to be honest it was an ok-ish shave but not great.
The second shave I did a few days later I loaded up another blade and off to work I went again. At the start of the second leg (not the same leg as last time) I must have pressed down again because while it glided over the skin, I started to get many red dots appearing again. The blade felt mostly okay but it was hard to tell as I was a little cold (more about that in my next post) and possibly goosebumpy.

So I finish the second shave and put on some lotion this time to try and calm the irritation I could feel flaring up. It was fine for the day but when I got into bed that night - GAH! My legs have never been so irritated and uncomfortable. Every brush of the covers or touch of any fabric off my skin was like sandpaper on sunburn. I eventually had to get out of bed and put on some knee-high socks so that they would form a barrier between my skin and the covers.

Now I put this down to either:
1. the razor is simply too aggressive for me, 
however I've used aggressive razor before and I can normally feel it.
2. the bathroom was too cold and I was shaving over goosebumps
and while this is likely I have shaved in much colder conditions and its never been this bad.
3. the blades (which were gifted to me) were old and had blunted
in my opinion this is at least part of, if not all of the cause I think.

So some day when it's warm again and my legs are feeling brave I'll take out this razor again and pop in a brand new blade and see how it goes. But right now it's -2 degrees outside and my legs are still recovering from the shock. Time to get them a nice cup of tea I think.

- BE


Shave Of The Week - 21st Nov '10

November 21, 2010

So thanks this week to Ryan on B&B for helping me pick out this weeks shave. I was looking for something luxurious and feminine and he made all the right choices!
Here's the set-up:
- Mama Bear's Pearberry Shaving Soap
- Badger and Blade Limited Edition 2006 Finest Silvertip Badger Brush
- Wade and Butcher straight with cameo-style scales
- Vintage paddle strop 

Okay while typing this I just realised that the soap is not the scent Ryan suggested for me - sorry Ryan!
Firstly a bit about the brush. I won this as part of a competition on B&B and it came with a matching DE razor. It's a lovely brush and the handle is stunning but this was my first time using it and I just couldn't get a good lather from it. I'm sure this is just due to my inexperience with the brush but it just goes to show how different brushes take different techniques. The bristles are incredibly soft and seem to have no backbone to them at all which I found tricky to get used to . I didn't want to be applying too much pressure but they just smushed down on my leg while I was trying to build the lather. I should note that I leg-lather. This means that I load the brush with soap or cream and then swirl it on my leg, creating my lather directly on my skin. This is opposed to bowl-lathering; where the lather is built in a bowl and then just spread on the skin. I must try bowl lathering with this brush until I get it figured out. I couldn't work out if I was using too little product or too much water. The lather seemed runny and thin yet I've used this soap before and had no problems with it so I'm lead to believe that it's the brush that's causing me problems. I got a poor lather worked up this week but the shave was still fairly close and smooth. Not very cushioned though and I could feel the blade drag a tiny bit in parts.
As for the soap - I love this smell. It's sweet and fruity and sort of like candy but not overly sickly either. The scent doesn't last very long and while, as I mentioned, this soap normally gives me a good lather, this week it just wasn't happening.

The straight is lovely and it is shaaaa-aaarp! It was honed by ShavedZombie (a member on B&B) and this is the sharpest straight I own I think. Wade and Butcher are a well known and well loved make of straight and the quality of the steel is top-notch. Feeling my legs now 12 hours after shaving and they are still smooth with zero hints of stubble. I also love the scales on this straight. Here's a picture that shows some of the detail of the scales as well as the bottom of the brush:
So though the lather was poor the shave was luxurious and contained some wonderful things. Once I have perfected using this brush I think it will become a favourite and maybe it just needs a bit of re-breaking in. I also tried again to shave under my arms with a straight (why I keep trying is beyond me but I guess I'm just a stubborn glutton for punishment!). Anyway I actually got a okayish half-ass job done of it but it's safe to say that shaving under your arm, using your wrong hand, with a large sharp piece of metal is not advised. I got a little nick under there unsurprisingly! Don't try this at home!

- BE


The Magic Hour

November 20, 2010

I've decided to push myself even more with my studies now that my course is finally deviating from the general "hairdressing" lessons. I'm doing more short cuts on the dolly heads and learning new barbering-specific things. It's very exciting and I have a new found energy and passion as each new piece of information is given to me. Like learning a dance step by step, the routine slowly comes together.

Each Thursday we finish class an hour early at 4pm instead of 5pm. However, for the past two Thursdays I've had work in the evening at 6pm. Now I can't get home and back into work in the 2 hours in between 4pm and 6pm, and work is just a short walk away from college, so two weeks ago I asked would they mind if I just stayed in the college practising for an extra hour (as the salon out front would be opened anyway) and leave at 5pm giving me time for food then into work in plenty of time. The tutor said that would be fine and that she'd be hanging on until 5pm anyway. So two Thursdays ago I got a kind of one hour private lesson with my tutor. It was fun being there by myself working away, practising scissors over comb. To be honest, she didn't teach me a huge amount but it was good to just practise and have no real agenda. So last Thursday I did the same thing. The tutor gave me one of the reject dolly heads (the hairdressing girls cut them short but not overly short and then I get them to mess up and do what I want with them) and I just sat there happy as can be. As first I just practised as normal, but then I thought "what the hell", and just started chopping away. I made the hair really short all around high up on the back and sides and left it long on top combed forward into a V-point of hair going down the nose. It was ridiculous and very 80's looking but I really enjoyed just giving it a whirl. In fact when the tutor came back to check on me I got embarrassed as I had gone off on such a tangent but she thought it was great and said that there's a lot of learn from just trying new things. 

So I look forward to hopefully having more of these "magic hours". Time when I can just get an old head and go to town on it for an hour. I'll try to remember to take a picture next time to show you anything weird or wonderful I come up with! As the owner of the place said when she saw my creation - I might just come up with a new hairstyle that ends up on the cover of Time magazine!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 14th Nov '10

November 14, 2010

This SOTW is for a friend of mine on B&B: Telecaster52, who picked out everything for me to use this week.
Here's the set-up (sorry about the bad photo):
- Musgo Real shave cream
- Astra blades 
- Slim Adjustable razor
- Penworks brush

I've used adjustables before in the past, so I'm guessing it is the blades, but on my first shave with this set-up I cut myself a couple of times on the first leg. I had it set at a 3 so I dialled it down to a 2 and it seemed fine after that. Nice sharp blade, but I'd be curious to see if it's too sharp for me in a non-adjustable. The razor is quite top-heavy but easy enough to hold and the weight helps the razor to just glide on the skin.
A problem I've been having lately is the cold weather. The window in my bathroom is a little broken and it's cold, cold, cold outside so my bathroom gets freezing. One thing ladies (or at least traditional shaving ladies) will tell you is that you just can't shave legs that have goosebumps. It gives you horrible irritation. So I've been trying to stuff a towel in the crack and turn on the heat before a shave so as to heat up the room a bit more. Im considering just duct-taping the gap!

As always I love this brush with it's lovely soft bristles and large comfortable handle. It lathers creams very well and the big knot is great for covering large surface areas like my legs. The cream is nice. It had a pleasant smell that is just like soap but less powdery. It actually smells a little like mild Arko (a shave stick). It provides a good lather though I found it required a bit more work than some other things. It takes a fair bit of water and swirling but once it hits the "sweet spot" the lather is good and cushioning.

Again, the cold bathroom and sharp blade didn't make this the best shave of all time but now bad either. I think this coming week I'll use something with a nice girly smell. Hmmm...

- BE


November 12, 2010

Just a short note to say that I have had to re-enable the verification codes on comments. The word thing that comes up that makes sure you're not a robot.
I've been getting some spam comments so I'm hoping this will stop that. Sorry for the extra trouble added to the genuine comment makers.

- BE

Quick Catch Up

Well I've been really busy the last week so I haven't had any time to blog but I just wanted to write a quick update.
Great news - the tutors in college are really starting to push me into the barbering side of things now and taking my course in that route rather than me just doing everything all the others do (they are all training to be hairdressers).  Up to now it's been fine as it's been general stuff like health and safety and basic blow-drying and straight cuts etc. , but now, while they are all doing pin curls and perms, I'm practising my scissors over comb and necklines. I'm one happy barber!

Also, to make things even better, I got another distinction - the only one in the class! In fact quite a few of the people in the class did very badly so I'm keeping my result quiet, but you guys won't tell will you !?! I am really happy about that as it's my third distinction now so I hope I can keep up the good work. I have another project due next week and a BIG test on the 18th.

Well I'm yawning as I type so it's off to bed for me as I have work experience tomorrow (might have some exciting news about that too in the next few days I hope). But that's enough for now!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 7th Nov '10

November 7, 2010

So it'd be wrong to say this SOTW (Shave Of The Week) is made up but some of my least favourite things, but rather it's made up of things that I don't use very often and prefer less to other types. Mainly I'm talking about using a boar brush instead of badger and a cream instead of a soap.
So here's the set-up:
- Gillette Flare-tip razor replated in rose gold
- Boar brush (not one of the higher end ones admittedly but a good worker)
- "Wilks" blades
- Taylor Of Old Bond Street (commonly referred to as TOBS) Eton College Collection Shave Cream

I'm not a boar kind of gal. Some guys love them as the bristles are stiffer and more exfoliating, but I just can't get used to them no matter how much I try. With badgers I know how much water each of my brushes will hold and therefore how much needs to be added to get a good lather, but boars just don't hold water terribly well so the ratios are all different. Using this brush is fine. I've used it many times before and it does the job but there's not the luxury in it that badger provides in my opinion. 
To top that off I decided to use a cream this week. Again, not something I generally do as I like soaps better and man, I sure picked one MANLY smelling cream to use! I'd never used it before but had picked a few TOBS creams up on uber-sale a while back. The lather itself is good and abundant and the scent is one of the strongest I've found.  'Hurrah' you might think, ' You only just mentioned a few posts ago how you love strong scents!', and indeed while sitting here typing I can still smell it on myself. Which is a bad thing. I smell like I've dosed myself in men's aftershave.  Not entirely replusive aftershave I might add (it's no "sex panther" anyway!) but there's nothing I could even vaguely describe as unisex about the scent. Looking at the back of the tube I get no hints as to what the smell is and my nose isn't trained to pick out the notes in it. However the terms "Eton College" and "gentlemen" do seem to fit the scent well. And I'd rather not choke my work mates by trying to mask it with perfume so I will shortly be going into work smelling like a refined gentleman. Oh joy. At least the lather was nice and heavy and cushioning to use.

Onto the razor. This is one beautiful razor and the picture above doesn't do it justice. It's got a fair bit of weight to it which is a little more than is fully comfortable in my hand but it's still a cinch to use and combined with the wilk blade it gave a close irritation-free shave. In fact combine these two with a badger brush and something that doesn't leave me questioning my gender everytime I close my eyes, and it's be a great set-up!

- BE

Pride And Prejudice

November 1, 2010

There's been a thought on my mind for a long time now and last night it came to a bit of a front.
Last Friday, while in the barbers, a customer came in with a few of his friends and they were all getting haircuts. A typical group of "lads", a bit loud and laughing and joking back and forth, very particular about their styles, and teasing each other etc. One of these guys though, I'll call him Mr. Yellow (he was wearing a yellow top), was being a bit more loud and crude than the others. He was in the chair of one of the female barbers and was clearly chatting her up and being quite sleazy about it. The others were teasing him about "oh no, she's ruined your hair, man!" etc. but the barbers all just grinned and bore it, finished the cuts and the guys all paid and left (not until after Mr. Yellow took a seat while waiting for his friend and pulled up his top and began to pick at his bellybutton I might add - ugh!)

Now last night I was googling things about women barbers when I came across a discussion thread on an Irish forum on-line. The thread was all about women barbers, and the guy who started the thread was proposing that men band together and boycott any barber shop that hires female barbers. He felt that women are infiltrating the last place that a "guy can be a guy and shoot the breeze" etc. Now that's fair enough I suppose. I mean, I really respect the traditional atmosphere you found in barbershops years ago, and feel it is part of their unique charm. It's that "feel" that I love about going into old fashioned ones and one of the things that draws me to it as a career. However, I'm in a horrible situation where I want to be part of all of that yet was born with the wrong set of "equipment" for the job if you will... Unfortunately the thread comments went far beyond that point. He, and others, were proposing that all female barbers were bad at their job and the only reason to go to one would be to get an accidental feel or brush of some female "assets". I'm trying to keep things PG rated on here but let's just say those guys weren't quite as considerate as me and to say the comments were sexiest would be putting it mildly. The thread was a good 4 pages long and I ended up reading most of it and feeling quite sick.

You see, I know the ideal barber is seen as a man in his late 50s, with years of experience behind him, good manly stories to tell, and a collection of rare straights out the back of the shop that he'll take out to show to anyone interested. My age and my gender may be a barrier in this job, and one that, previous to considering this carrier, I had never even considered to be an issue before. I even see this sexism in my work experience. Some guys will wait and wait for the male barbers to be free, in fact one guy even said quite simply that he didn't want a woman cutting his hair. It wasn't that one of the guys was his favourite barber, that I'd understand, and in fact he'd never been to the shop before; he simply didn't want a woman to do the job.

Now I don't want anyone to judge me, ever, because of my gender. I don't want people not to come to me because I'm female, nor do I want Mr. Yellow sitting in my chair purely because he's hoping for a quick eyeful or fleeting brush of skin. I find some comfort in the fact that the oldest barbershop in Dublin (80 years and still going strong), The Waldorf , is co-run by a wonderful woman called Linda who is very well respected. 
So what can I do? Well I can take pride in the occupation I've chosen and in order for others to forget about my gender being an issue, I myself must learn to get over my concern about not being a 50 year old man! Oh, and if Mr. Yellow ever does decide to sit in my chair, I'll gladly show him the sharpest straight in my collection!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 31st Oct '10 (Halloween!)

October 31, 2010

It's been a bit quiet on here as I was back home for a couple of days at the start of this week for a friend's birthday. 
I had a great time, ate lots of birthday leftovers, and it made my shave of the week this week extra special. I finally got a chance to use my dinky little Gillette 3-piece travel razor and a couple of samples of The Bomb shaving cream that had been given to me by a member on B&B (not the vendor I might add).

So here was my set-up for this week:
- Gillette 3-piece travel razor with the tin I keep it in
- Badger Brush
- Israeli Super Platinum blades
- The Bomb shaving cream samples in Sage and Menthol

Sorry I don't have a picture of the samples but they were just in tiny clear baggies and I used them up. You can find the product here if you like: Al's Shaving 
The best point about this cream I have to say is that a tiny bit goes a long, long way. I put about a pea-sized amount into my brush and it was enough lather for both legs and underarms and still some to spare! No need to reload my brush between legs. The lather itself is nice and smooth, not as "big/fluffy" as some I've tried, but slick and even, and, while not moisturizing per ce, it's certainly not drying either. The scents are nice too. Scent is normally a huge selling point of this product when mentioned in reviews, and maybe it was because I was using a small sample, I found them pleasant but quite mild, not nearly as strong as I would have hoped for (I like my scents quite strong though). The menthol was nice and refreshing though gave no method feel/tingle to the lather. The sage again was fresh and much lighter than I guessed sage scent would be though I have nothing to compare it to. Much more like the actual plant rather than sage incense.
The blades were good and sharp and easily glided through a full shave with no nicks or cuts. I'd like to try these again in a different razor though to get a better feel for them. Also I'm not sure if these have another name so if you know please leave a comment!

Now onto the razor. I love this little thing. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to bring it along somewhere and give it a whirl. In saying that, I carry it in my bag wherever I go. I love having it with me, kind of like having the tools of my trade at hand. I have it in a tin I bought years ago that fits it perfectly and I just keep it in my purse the same way some people carry around a lucky charm or memento.
It's small, shiny and surprisingly does the job well. The handle is obviously smaller than my normal liking but the ball-end gives it enough grip and it was much easier to hold and use than I would have thought. Here's more pictures, one of it taken apart and in the tin quite I have some velvet lining in, and one where you can see the tin is as small as a box of matches!
Cute huh?

Here's a picture of my pumkitty to wish you all a Happy Halloween!
- BE

Repeat After Me...

October 22, 2010

In college we are taught things at a fairly fast pace. Each week we learn several new things and, in general, we do our theory on Mondays and Tuesdays and our practical work on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Often to start the day, our tutor will go around everyone's mirror and write a list of tasks for us to work through before lunch (straight cut, box layers etc.) and we just plough on in and work through them. We time them to see if we are picking up speed.
Our mirrors end up looking like this (yup, there's my fingers too!):
When we learn something new we watch the tutor do it and then we go off and try it on the dolly/mannequin heads. We then show the work to the tutor and, if it's the Wed/Thurs tutor, you can bet she'll say "great... this, this and this are wrong. Take it out and do it again." I don't think I could count the number of times I've repeated the same task over and over but you know what? It works. Each time to try something a little differently, or you pick up time, or something else clicks.
Bit by bit it all comes together.


A Nip And Tuck

I've finally figured out how to change the header on my blog - hurrah!
It's not perfect but it's neater, smaller and much more like what I had in mind as my logo is nice and big now. I'm sure I'll be tweaking things for a while yet to come. 
                                                                                           I've also added a links page at the side ->
so go have a look there too for more interesting sites for your browsing pleasure.


Shave Of The Week - 17th Oct '10

October 17, 2010

Here's the set-up:
- Barden straight razor (honed by ShavedZombie)
- Penworks pine wood handle badger brush
- Mama Bear's Northwoods shaving soap
- Vintage paddle strop restored by ShavedZombie on B&B

So, I was so awed by the SE razor last week that I though I'd need to whip out another one of my straights just to remind me that each style of razor has it's merits and not to go running off hand in hand with my GEM into a shave happy future. 
My Barden was one of the straights I sent off to ShavedZombie (a member on Badger and Blade) for honing and this was it's first run since getting it back. Unlike my Red Imp I actually remembered to strop it before use too!
The strop is a vintage paddle strop which SZ gave me as a gift so I'd have something to keep my beauties sharp on. He restored the leather on both sides, numbering each so I'd know which one to start with. Though I have to say the difference in draw between the two sides is very apparent and you can really feel the smoothness of the second side finishing off the blade's edge nicely. It also gives that lovely "shhhing!" noise at the end of the stroke. Because the leather is mounted onto the paddle I don't have to worry about the tension being wrong or curving the leather around the blade and thus blunting the razor more than sharpening it. For those of you interested in learning to strop I recommend checking out this video. It's quite long but very good and informative about all of the basics:

I gave my razor about 15 laps on each side before each shave this week (I could have done more but was eager to shave!). The razor shaved wonderfully smoothly. No nicks or cuts and as easy to manoeuvre around tricky spots like the ankle and back of knee. As always when shaving I had to use both hands which can get a bit tricky, but I avoided amputation!
The lather from the Mama Bears was great. Not as "heavy" as tallow based soaps and a little less moisturising but a nice lather none the less and I love this scent. It's like going for a walk in a pine forest after rainfall. I hate pine car air-fresheners so trust me when I say this is nothing at all like that. It's nicely unisex too which is good as I don't really do for "girly"scents. Also as there is no tallow it doesn't leave the residue that tallow soaps do. Just washed off nice and clean.

As for the brush... well this is my baby. I hadn't used her for a few weeks to give her a rest as she had developed a crack in her handle. Tony in Penworks kindly took her back and restored her and she's now almost as good as new but I still like to give her a break. I love the handle of this brush. If I had my way all my brush handles would be like this. Big enough and heavy too and fits perfectly in the palm in my hand. No sharp corners or bumps or anything. Just smooooooth curves. The knot is soft and large and holds water brilliantly.  I had forgotten how soft it was having used the other one for a while and got a bit surprised to see the bristles bend on my leg. 

So all in all a lovely shave this week. I seem to always get the closest shaves with my straights. My Barden needs to have the pins tightened as they are a bit loose which I don't like, but until I can figure out how to do that I'll make do. Time to oil him up and put him back into storage though as tomorrow's another week!


Holding The Baby

October 15, 2010

The shop is busy and we see a wide variety of people coming in. Already I can recognise a few regulars that I see each Friday and I like greeting them with a familiar hello and finding out how their week as been. Though I'm not doing the cutting or shaving, I like to feel part of things and try to see what extra I can do other than sweeping the hair and getting tea and coffee and the like.
Occasionally people will come in and have their kids with them. We have a few toys around and, if it's not too busy, I'll take the time to play with the kid/s. I have fun and I like children, but I also want the parent to be relaxed in the chair. I want them to not have to worry where their kid might be and if they can hear him/her laughing and playing with me, well, I hope that they can sit back and enjoy the service a little better. 
Today we had a man in with his 5 month old daughter in a portable baby rocker. She was as cute as a button and friendly and smiley. When I offered him tea I cooed over her a little and she was full of gummy, tooth-less smiles. He was getting a hot towel shave and, for a while, she lay in her rocker up on the counter gazing in interest at the lady covering putting on towels and lathering up her daddy. However, about half way through that shave another man came in with his son who was about 4. The little boy did NOT want to get his hair cut and the poor thing was quite traumatised and terrified about the whole thing. The barber and his dad were trying to calm him, and though I offered him toys to play with, his was at a level of hysteria that only a 4 year old boy can get into. They all just wanted to get though the cut as quickly as possible so I didn't intrude.
The little baby girl could hear the boy crying and screaming across the shop floor and she was getting a little antsy at the noise. In between towels her dad looked up at her and he tried to get her to smile and, while she wasn't upset exactly, she was clearly bothered by the sounds of the upset boy. So I offered to pick her up and walk around with her.  She was happy enough in my arms, looking around the shop and out the window at the cars etc. I hummed and sung a little to her to try and give her a more soothing noise to listen too (though how soothing my singing is is a question for debate!) I made sure to regularly bring her close by her father so she could see him and, while in his earshot, to say things like "awwww, you like the mirror? Good girl!" so that he could tell she was okay and calm without having to move his head to look at her. 

Now I don't want to be the babysitter or anything like that but I feel while I'm there I should add to the customer service experience in some way, and I can only hope that by doing things like that that I am helping. Mind you, I don't want to be so good at it that they leave the shop and I'm left holding the baby!


Rattle And Hum

I was in the barbershop again today doing my day of work experience when a thought that I've had numerous times before popped into my head - I love the sound of the electric clippers. 
There's something about that gentle hum that comforts me and makes me feel almost cosy. That, combined with the scent of bay rum in the air, the banter between the barbers causing laughter to sound across the shop floor, the extra air of confidence in a satisfied customer's walk as they leave the shop, the wafts of steam coming off a hot towel... all of these things make me happy to be on my way into this profession.

The gentle hum of the clippers also reminds me of the hum of a tattoo gun (another sound I find appealing). I'll admit there's a bit of a rockabilly side to me that has a soft spot for barbershops that are attached to tattoo studios. They seem to go hand in hand somehow. Of course this doesn't suit every style of barbershop, but when it's done right it seems to be a symbiotic relationship.

I like how you can hear when the clipper needs a touch more oil. Heck, I even like the sudden buzz it makes when the blade guard is a little loose. Call me odd if you will but it's the soothing sound of a trades-person at work. And someday that'll be me.

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 10th Oct '10 (10/10/10!)

October 10, 2010

Shave of the week time for 10/10/10!
Here's the set-up:
- A GEM G-Bar SE (single edge) razor
- GEM SE blade
- Dr Harris & Co. 'Arlington' Shave Stick
- Badger Brush

So this was my first ever shave with a SE razor and I have to say I might just be a convert. It was incredibly smooth and easy. I was a bit worried that the blade wouldn't last for one whole shave (two full legs and both underarms) but I needn't have worried as it stayed nice and sharp with no drag at any point. With a DE you have both sides of the blade to use during a shave so my thinking was that this would essentially be like using half a DE. I was wrong. A SE blade acts like something that's between half a DE blade and a straight razor. It's a bit thicker and sturdier and, as far as I can tell so far, gets a smidge closer too than a DE, but not as close as I can get with a straight. The lather was caught nicely and rinsed away clearer than I find when using a DE. It didn't seem to get inside the razor or caught in any nooks or crannies.
The lather itself was nice. Shave sticks are easy to use, just rub them on the skin and then swirl your brush around. For good measure I gave the brush a swirl on the stick too just to load it a bit more. The scent is fine though nothing that particularly calls to me. It lathered easily and gave a good lasting lather.

I'll have to try this SE with another soap later on to see if I can make this an even better shave but I'm very, very happy with this. A good balance of nice and close with super easy to use.

- BE


And The Results Are In...

October 5, 2010

Woo-Hoo indeed!
Nearly everyone got distinctions and I'm still thrilled with this and thrilled for everyone else too! Our health and safety project is due this Thursday so I'm off to type, type, type. I just wanted to share the good news!

- BE


First Exam Completed

October 4, 2010

Just a short note and a preemptive woo-hoo!
I completed my first exam in class today based on the Health and Safety subjects we studied last week. I think I did pretty ok. I hope to get my result in the next day or two so I'll let you all know.
It counts as part of my final grade so *fingers crossed*!

- BE

Shave Of The Week - 4th Oct '10

It's that time again... (though I'm a day late - sorry guys, I had a guest over for the weekend! ... I say this as if you would even notice!)...
It's my Shave Of The Week just gone - Hurrah!
Here's the set up:
  • Badger Brush
  • Shark Blades
  • Queen Charlotte Key Lime Soap
  • Champagne Lady Gillette Razor

You might recognize the blades and the soap from my "80 Shaves" post last week. 
I had tried the blades before and liked them and was keen to try the soap based on some great reviews I had heard, and I have to say the hype is very much justified.

I own quite a few shaving creams and soaps and I can see this one very quickly becoming one of my favourites. The scent is lovely and fresh and not too sickly sweet or overbearing. A perfect lime scent in my opinion. It's packed full of good ingredients like tallow, olive oil, glycerin, kaolin clay so it produces tons of very slick rich lather very easily and the scent just bursts out. Very moisturizing and protecting and gives great slickness and is also paraben free which is always a good thing. I would even say it is probably the easiest thing I have ever lathered (more so than Arko, Cella or LaToja). 
This soap is handmade by a member on B&B and as I like to support independent shops (though I must mention I have zero affiliation to the seller) here is a link to his website: http://www.queencharlottesoaps.com/ - give it a look!

The blades were good and gave a comfortable shave, though I'll have to try them when I have a little more time. My shaves this week were a bit rushed due to having a test to study for, and a guest visiting, but even while rushing I got no irritation and only two tiny nicks due to my own carelessness.

The brush was great as always and stood up well to one bad fall into the bath (did I mention that the soap gives lots of slippy lather as well as me being a butterfingers?!?).

As for the razor... she's my pet. I love her so and she was the first DE (double edge) razor I owned. I love the colour of her and she's the perfect level of aggressiveness for me. I can use her as fast now as I ever could my old cartridge monster of a thing, though I like to take my time and enjoy my shave now.

So there you have it. I have yet to pick my set up for this week but it'll be tough moving away from Queen Charlotte having only just gotten acquainted with her majesty. Maybe using a straight again will ease the separation anxiety!

- BE


The Price We Pay

September 30, 2010

I'm such a butterfingers at times. I must have dropped my combs and clips I don't know how many times in the past two weeks, but you just pick them up and keep going (of course if I was working on an actually human I'd sterilise them first).
But today I did something stupid. It was a complete accident, but I dropped my hairdryer - badly. After the drop it made an awful noise when switched on and something inside it rattled where there was no rattling before. Sometime like that is a serious safety hazard (this week we've been doing health and safety in class) so I had to put a big "Do Not Use" sticker on it and will have to buy a new one.
A good hairdryer is pricey enough, anywhere from €70 upwards. At the moment that is money I can not comfortably afford to spend but I need the dryer for the course so - ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I was chatting to the other girls in my course a bit about funds, fees etc. and it seems we're all in the same boat. We all had to take out loans to do this course. Hairdressing/barbering colleges here are privately run colleges and thus the fees are substantial and no government aid or support is available. We are all paying to be here because we want to be here. And it shows. We work hard and the course is intense. Of course it's natural that some will work harder than others and maybe some will find out only after it's all done that this isn't their path in life. Who knows?

For me, I truly want to be here.
I want to learn and I will struggle through the things I find hard to do. This is something that doesn't come easily for me but as I've gotten older I've pushed myself more and more to keep going at the things I want to do but that I'm not good at, or am slow to pick up, or am afraid of. When I was younger I wanted to be good at everything I did. I wanted to be really good, the best, and I was far too hard on myself. I was interested in so, so many things and wanted to be amazing at them all, all at once, and if I wasn't I would be disheartened at myself.
Over the years though I'd learnt not to be so hard on myself. To accept that I will be better at some things than others. To accept that there will nearly always be someone out there who's better than me and learns it faster. To know that and to still pursue the things I love.  I will work at them and not let them get the better of me.  I just take them one by one now instead of all together. For the most part I am more focused, and though something like my dryer breaking this morning can still get me down, I try to brush it off and just keep on keeping on.

Right now I'm finding sectioning work hard. I found it hard on day one and I still find it hard. It's when you run your finger along the scalp to separate the hair and create neat, clean partings/sectionings. It's something so simple and seems to come so naturally to everyone else in my class. It reminds me of when I used to do ju-jitsu and how, even as I got more advanced, I still couldn't do a straight tumble.

So I'll work harder at it. And if that doesn't work I'll work harder again. I'm giving up a lot to be here so I gotta work hard. And you know what Sectionings? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of my life - you will be mine!

- BE