During a recent trip to Vegas, we passed by Mandalay Bay‘s The Art of Shaving, which offers traditional, barbershop style shaves. I’d never been shaved by a barber, so I was intrigued. I ended up making an appointment for the next day.
It was…an experience. It started with the waiting area, which was very old world, lots of bookcases and overstuffed chairs and dark wood. The business end of the shop was classic barbershop, on the other hand, all reclining chairs and mirrors and white tile.
When my name was called, I sat down and my barber immediately went to work, preparing me as if for a haircut. She put a gown on me, then took a hot towel out of the steamer and wrapped it around my face and neck, to open my pores. It felt amazing.
While I simmered, she ran her straight razor over a strop a few times, pulled out a badger hair brush, and prepared an initial coat of shaving oil, for lubrication, followed with a thin coat of lavendar shaving cream. (Not gel, mind you. Cream.)
She then grabbed the straight razor and started in. She worked slowly, roughly following the grain and the natural course my pores followed across my face. She’d pull a small section of my skin taught, make a few short, curt strokes, then move on to the next section. She overlapped sections often, but kept the razor from touching the same skin more than once or twice.
When she was done with that first pass over my face, she applied another hot towel and repeated the process on my neck. After that, she started all over again, the second pass consisting of even smaller strokes against the grain. She explained that this allowed her to cut the hair literally underneath the skin. The razor’s hone, oil, and extremely light pressure prevented irritation and ingrown hairs.
After that came a wipe and yet more towels, this time cold to close the pores and keep out oil and dirt. She finished with an after-shave balm, a light moisturizer, and a quick razor swipe at my neck, which always needs cleaning up.
The whole process took 45 minutes, start to finish, and it was well worth it. If the average guy was forced to to undergo a spa treatment, this is what he would choose. It was classy, masculine, and very functional, every part clearly intended to provide the best possible shave. It felt good too, but that was an afterthought at best.
In short, I really enjoyed it. I don’t plan to do it often, but I’d fully recommend it as an occasional indulgence!