Champagne & Strawberries Celebratory Shave

April 25, 2011

I finished up college and I am now a trained and qualified barber! I move back to Dublin at the end of the most and the tough search for a barbering job begins. I really, really hope I can get something very soon. I'll also be taking a short course in hot towel shaving so I'm looking forward to that a lot! I had my final assessment on Thursday and I passed it with a distinction which is GREAT as my tutors and the external City & Guilds examiner were really putting me under the microscope. I thought I would be incredibly nervous, and I was waiting around and setting up, but once I started to wash Michael's hair I relaxed and let my training take over and I have to say I gave him the best haircut I've given him to date - and he has pretty tricky hair (receding hairline, very square neckline with all the hair growing to the left there, double crown, wiry sideburns, side parting with a large wave on top... ). My tutor even said she couldn't have done a better job herself so I was very cuffed. 

I didn't have much time to celebrate as I finished up at about 1pm and was due in work for 5pm that night. I went home and relaxed and yes, I even had a celebratory shave! I had yet to try my custom made Queen Charlotte Strawberry Shaving Cream so I though I'd open it up. Now the whole idea for this custom scent had come from an idea I had had a long time ago when I wanted to have a "Champagne and Strawberry" themed shave combining my Champagne Lady Gillette DE razor and a strawberry soap or cream. So I figured what better time to finally give this combo a whirl?
(the rose is from my boyfriend...nawww)
I used my favourite brush (PenWork's Pine Wood Handle Badger Brush), My Champagne Lady Gillette, My custom Strawberry Soap, and a medical Personna DE blade. It was a really nice shave. I won't go into too much of a review here as I've talked about these products and companies before. The blade I had never used before and found it really great. Nice and mild in my LadyG and seemed to just glide over my skin. Not too sharp and never caught or dulled. The lather was lovely and thick, I would have liked the scent to be a bit stronger but you can't get Strawberry EO so it's a FO scent. Still nice though.
I think I'll have to treat myself to this little taste of luxury more often!

The Penultimate Day! (aka: the end is near)

April 20, 2011

Can you believe it?
Tomorrow I walk into that classroom for the last time, carry out one final cut as a trainee, in front of an external examiner over here from England, and walk out a fully qualified barber! I'll have to change my blog header on here!
I'm so nervous. And I perform less than perfectly when I am nervous, but luckily the guy who's hair I am cutting is a lovely, chatty, friendly guy called Michael who's become a regular of mine, and as such; a friend, so that'll help calm those shaking hands some (if nothing else I get along with him too well to want to send him home with one less ear). 
*Big Deep Breath* Tomorrow I go from 'Barber-to-be Eile' to simply 'Barber Eile'. Wish me luck.

- B(tb)E

Razor Bumps and Ingrown Hair

April 19, 2011

I recently completed my final practical written assignment for college (I finish up for good this Thursday - can you believe it?!?), and it was all about facial hair. While doing my research I came across some interesting information about ingrown hairs and razor bumps and the difference between the two so I thought I'd share my findings with you guys. A bit boring for some perhaps, but I hope it helps a few people out there who suffer from these.

There are two types of ingrown hairs: transfollicular penetration and extrafollicular penetration. Transfollicular penetration happens when the hair enters the skin without ever growing above the skin. Extrafollicular penetration occurs when the hair grows above the skin then curls around and re-enters the skin. 
Or, to put it more simply, there are ingrown hairs that get trapped under the skin and there are razor bumps which happen when the hair curls back on itself and back into the skin creating a 'loop' of hair on the surface. The two different types can be seen in the picture below (Sourced from www.dermalife.com)
The technical term for ingrown hair is 'Pseudofolliculitis Barbae' and if left untreated is can become very severe. The problem most often affects the face and front crease of the neck, but can also occur on the back of the neck and the scalp. The skin may become infected with bacteria and, consequently, form bumps over the hair. The subsequent irritation causes the skin to darken, and when severe, permanent scarring may result. Continuing to shave aggravates the problem as the bumps can get cut and bleeding occurs causing the bump to swell more and become more irritated. Some blemishes are solid small bumps and others filled with pus (nice huh?). The irritation of the hair caught under the skin can cause it to itch however it is important not to itch the skin as this will break the skin again hightening the chance of further inflamation. If left untreated these can become infected and form cysts. This can result in scarring , discolouration and severe discomfort.

Ingrown hair can occur from the hair being cut too close to the skin, or cut below the surface of the skin. Multi-blade razors, or over-stretching while shaving, can cause this as the skin is stretched taut and the hair is exposed and is cut below the natural relaxed skin-line. When the skin is then let go of, it pops up over the top of the cut hair trapping it underneath. The hair is no longer able to grow out of the follicle and turns in on itself under the skin. 
Razor bumps unfortunately can occur simply because of the natural curl in the hair. It will grown naturally out of the follicle but will curl and re-penetrate the skin. This problem is worsened by shaving close to the skin as it leaves a sharp cut point on the end of the hair which can pierce back into the skin like a needle. Dark skin tends to have much denser facial hair and it has a natural tendency to curl quite tightly. It is recorded that up to 30-40% of dark skinned gentlemen suffering from this either razor bumps or ingrown hairs (with some websites quoting this figure at closer to 70%)
So what can you do? The first thing to do is to stop shaving close to the skin as the condition will not heal quickly (or often at all) if you keep aggravating it. Letting the hair grow out until the ingrown hair lesions heal is the best treatment for ingrown facial hair. If that isn't an option, perhaps if you have to be clean shaven for work, you can use clippers or scissors to trim the hair 1/8 to ¼ inch above the surface of the skin.  In both cases regular gentle exfoliation can help the condition. . Various products which are like a mild chemical peel can also be used but only in the most severe of cases. Also, if it is just one or two present, the trapped hair can be gently removed with sterilized tweezers. The hair should only be coaxed out from under the skin and not plucked out so as to avoid scarring and possible recurrence.

I hope that helps some folks out there and that's enough of the science talk for now! 
- BE

**UPDATE:** I've done a small add-on blog entry here: Face Mapping Bloggings

Zen Through Shaving

April 10, 2011

A lot can be said in favour of the time it takes to complete to wet shave in the traditional manner, using a brush and single blade. As a society we have become technologically dependant. So rarely do people simply wait for something, alone with just their thoughts in that time. Instead they text, surf, e-mail etc. The beauty of nature and the outdoors has become a less commonly experienced joy for some, as instead, spoon-fed entertainment such as films and tv become the easy option. We no longer go out and look and explore. Instead we switch on or log on and simply recieve, rather than use our mind. But I'm not going to keep preaching. I'm a willing volunteer/victim to all of this input also. 
But sometimes you can claim a little time back.

Last night I had the house to myself so I ran a bath and took the time to just soak and relax and shave. I finding the whole process of lathering and surrounding myself with scents very relaxing but I had recently started to forget to take the time, instead looking for a quicker and easier shave. I know many men who shave using a double edged (DE), single edged (SE) or straight razor, learn to slow down enjoy this time they take each day to simply be by themselves. Some people find this peace and relaxation by doing something such as gardening or dancing. Once the basic techniques become habit then the mind can relax and flow into a rhythm, completing the task at hand, focusing the mind and simplifying our thoughts. Taking a moment to slow down.
This got me thinking about how some cultures use head shaving as a ritual to cleanse, reflect and discover themselves. Some use it as a form of sacrifice. I won't go into all of the details as more information can be found on-line and in books. The culture, particularly of Hindu people in relation to shaving, is fascinating, so here are a few facts:
"Chudakarana Samskara: Head Shaving: This ceremony is performed in the temple for both boys and girls
before the age of four. Hair is seen as an adornment. By shaving the head, the child confronts his or her bare ego. It teaches humbleness and devotion."
Culturally Indian servants shave their heads as a sign of submission to their masters.
Tonsuring (mundan) is an important ceremony in Hindu communities. The first haircut is an important ritual and it is believed that shaving the hair rids the child of his past life's negativity. Some believe that a mundan bestows a long life, a better future and also protects the child from the evil eye.
Click For: Interesting article detailing head shaving ceremony in Thailand with pictures 
Click For: Article about a couple who shave eachother's heads as part of wedding ceremony, even if their families don't understand why.
One person on the forum Badger And Blade recently posted a topic saying how, by wet shaving, he had begun to take his shaving time think of times gone by and he remembered how generous his family had been to others while he was growing up even though they had very little themselves. He realised that as he grew up he had slowly become self focused and this memory, along with seeing how generous and welcome everyone on the forum is, inspired him to improve himself and to become more giving and less selfish.
This is a long post but it's also a lot to think about. So take what you want from it, something big, something small or nothing at all. But I hope it has given you something to reflect upon for a moment, and simply think.
- BE

Product Review: Molton Brown Supershave Olibanum

April 4, 2011

Hello All!
I'm doing this product review after only one use of this product as I really amn't keen on it at all. Normally I'd give my products about 3 full leg shaves to test out but I gave this one a half leg shave and gave up. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but I'm using it according to the directions on the back... it's Molton Brown's Supershave Olibanum (brushless, non-lathering shaving cream):
(image taken from company website)
I don't have a huge amount of experience using brushless shave creams. I like Cremo which I find very easy to use, and the cream I use on my clients' necks in college is brushless and is also lovely. The problem I found with the Molton Brown stuff is that when you rub it on it doesn't lather at all; in fact goes thinner and very translucent so I can't see when it is at all, nor can I see what parts I've shaved and where I might have missed. I can't see it so my mind feels like it's not there. I ended up using quite a bit just to feel like I was putting some on, and at the price this retails for I could see this being impractical. It doesn't seem moisturizing and while my razor glided over my skin, I couldn't feel the cushioning. I see on their website that they also sell a "conditioning" version of this cream - does this mean the one I have doesn't really condition? 
Also I really dislike the smell. It's not that it smells too manly or too much like cologne, but rather it smells very chemically and synthetic. Again this was another reason why I cut my shave short. As with all of my reviews, some people may love this stuff, this is just my opinion. Later Gators!
- BE