The Grooming Artist News Roundup: September 2016

News-Roundup-Sep-2016

Starting September is like pushing the reset button. Summer’s over, the kids are back in school, and a brand new season of men’s fashion and grooming products tempts our bank accounts. The Sharpologist’s Jay Harrell actually tries out one of these trendy grooming products – the very hip Harry’s razors, and gives an honest assessment and comparison with safety razors.

A man who most definitely prefers safety razors is Malcom Harris of The New York Times, who ditched his Gillette Fusion out of frustration, purchased a Merkur 23C, and never looked back.

If you are a straight razor devotee yourself, make sure to take a gander at our guide to caring for a leather strop. It’ll keep your strop in excellent working condition as well as increase its longevity.

Finally, we are giving summer a due sendoff with Labor Day recipes.

Enjoy!

Over at the Sharpologist, Jay Harrell tries out Harry’s razors and gives his take on the Gillette competitor. (Sharpologist)

Fall and winter are coming, and so will those party invitations. The Gentleman’s Gazette not only deciphers dress codes, but also gives you tips on how to look for cues in case no dress code is indicated. (Gentleman’s Gazette)

Labor Day is the last big hurrah before summer ends. Saying goodbye to summer won’t be so sad, however, with these finger-licking good recipes perfect for a relaxing outdoor BBQ. (Food Network)

2016 has taken a lot of great talents from us, most recently Gene Wilder. Here, New York Times’ Wesley Morris waxes on Wilder’s career and brilliant comedic timing. (The New York Times)

Also from The New York Times: a Letter of Recommendation for safety razors. (The New York Times)

Keep your strop working well and long with our leather strop care tips. (Grooming Artist)

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How to Care for a Leather Strop

RoyalShave Red Latigo Leather Strop

A straight razor just can’t do its job without a strop. Made from horsehide or cowhide, strops come ready to use, but a bit of maintenance will keep them in perfect shape to align your razor’s edge for that balance of sharpness and comfort on your skin.

An effective strop will realign the blade’s edge for a more precise cut, as well as remove microscopic pieces of metal that could otherwise cut your skin.

Keep reading for our best tips on how to care for your leather strop.

General strop care tips:

  • Always hang your strop to maintain the strop’s shape and to prevent stiffness.
  • If you have a strop composed of one leather strop and a twin mesh or linen strop, use the linen or mesh strop first, then proceed with the leather strop. But whether you use the linen or mesh component is your choice – only the leather component is absolutely necessary.
  • Always strop before you shave and never after. Stropping before a shave aligns the blade and gets it in good form, whereas stropping after a shave means making microscopic breaks in the cutting edge (the cutting edge becomes slightly bent after a shave).

William’s Mug Shaving Soap

To care for a new strop:

To be clear, you don’t need to break in a strop before using it. You can start using a strop right after you get it.

But should you wish to increase the draw, rub a small amount of neatsfoot oil into the strop. Other good options include mink oil, William’s Shaving Soap, and leather conditioner. Start small – only use a little bit to start and let it absorb completely. You may repeat the treatment until you’re satisfied with the outcome. If your strop is particularly dry, you should add more; if it’s too oily, simply wipe off the excess with a cloth.

You can also warm the strop with the palm of your hand, which will coat the leather with natural oils to keep it strong and supple. Do this on its own or follow it up by loading the strop with neatsfoot oil, mink oil, or William’s Shaving Soap.

What to do if your strop feels stiff:

If your strop is stiff, you’ll notice it makes a slight scratching noise when you glide your razor over it. Usually, stiffness is caused by lack of use and age – the longer a strop sits there, the more dust it’ll accumulate.

Resist the urge to roll the strop in an attempt to loosen it up – this will only cause wrinkles and tears in the strop, rendering it useless.

The best thing to do is simply to condition your strop. Rub your hands on both sides, and apply one of the oils mentioned above if the strop still feels stiff. Repeat this process every time before you strop your razor.

Another method is to clean your strop with saddle soap and a soft bristle brush or sponge.  After scrubbing the leather clean, wipe off the excess and let dry.

For more on strops, check out our post on the different types of strops available and the characteristics of each one.

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V’s Barbershop

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We were lucky enough to get an interview with the master behind V’s Barbershop, Jim CEO and Founder, V’s Barbershop shared with us his experience owning a barbershop.

1. Where are you located?

We were founded and still headquartered in Phoenix, AZ.  We currently have 20 V’s opened in 9 states.

2. When did you start this business?

1999

3. When did you realize you wanted to be a barber?

I am not a barber.  However, I realized in 1998 that I could not find an authentic, upscale barbershop anywhere in the United States, so I started V’s.

4. Describe a few steps you took to become a barber.

We get asked all the time on the best way to become a barber.  We suggest that they research barber schools in their area and make sure that the school they choose has a good reputation and is well thought of by the state Barber Board for graduating well trained barbers.  We also suggest that if they do not like to communicate with others then not to bother with barber school.  Lastly, we have found that those with artistic ability make the best barbers, so we always ask if they can draw and if they can, we encourage them to look into barbering as a profession.

5. How would you deal with a customer who didn’t know what they wanted? 

We train our barbers at V’s to make sure that they and the patron fully understand the cut before they begin.  Since we are not a “quick cut” or “chop shop”, we always take as much time as is needed to fully understand the patron’s wishes.

6. Are woman allowed in your barbershop? 

Yes, and we have many come in with their sons and wait while his hair is cut.  Kids are a big part of any successful barbershop and we do our best to make sure that not only do we give our kids our best effort, but also try to make sure that his mom enjoys he wait as well.

7. What are some of your accomplishments as a Barber? 

We have won literally hundreds of awards through the years.  I am most proud of being named “Best Barbershop” by Phoenix Magazine 10 times.  This is “the” list to be named to in Phoenix and we have fortunate to have been named so many times.

8. Who are some of your favorite barbers? 

We have well over 100 barbers throughout all of our shops and many are my favorites.  We employ some of the best barbers in the United States and I am proud that any of them can cut my hair.  We also perform over 20,000 shaves a year at V’s and with kind of volume and experience, I would put the V’s barbers up against anyone in the world at straight-edge shaving.

9. What do you believe makes a quality hairstyle, cut and groom? 

Attention to detail and the ability to execute the patron’s desire.  In the end, all barbers are the same – the ones that care the most, make the most.

10. What makes your barbershop different to others? 

V’s started the resurgence of the authentic barbershop in 1999.  Almost all of the shops that have popped up since have been influenced by our attention to detail, execution and success.  Throughout our existence, we have been well served by never straying from the authenticity of our shops, services or mission.

11. Where do you get your inspiration? 

Going to the barbershop with my dad when I was a kid and then bringing my son to the barbershop when he was young.

12. What advice do you have for aspiring barbers? 

Learn that cleanliness, sanitary practice, quality services and saying thank you are key to success.  Also, the successful barber realizes that the other barbers in the shop have rent to pay and mouths to feed, so encouraging their success will lead to a better functioning shop and more money for all.

13. Explain what a barbershop means to you. 

It is a community place for guys where a little show is put on every day and the experience stays with you after you leave the shop.

14. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?  

www.vbarbershop.com  

Facebook

Google V’s Barbershop.

V’s Barbershop Locations

44 43 15 The-Works-(2)

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Tips & Facts: Razor Sharpening

slumiGood honing and good stropping are both absolutely necessary for a good straight razor shave. In order to get a clean and sharp razor blade we start off with honing which sharpens your razor. Then we move onto the stropping. The strop doesn’t sharpen the edge of the razor at all, but simply aligns the edge keeping the very thin metal all pointing in the same direction.

Types of hones:

Natural: Natural sharpening stones can be a lot more difficult to come across due to the inconsistency of their origin. Because they are quarried (mined) from the earth, it becomes more difficult to find an ideal shape or texture in the stone. The use of natural stones require using slurry stones to create a slurry (paste-like consistency) to sharpen the razor. A natural sharpening stone is often less aggressive and consequently gives the razor a smoother shave.

Synthetic: Manmade stones offer the consistency that natural stones can not. Often made of a ceramic base for leverage and abrasive powder to form grits, the stone are carefully constructed and often give a sharper, crisper edge. The grits follow a number system which allows for customers to select the level of coarseness they prefer.

 

HR_430-501-12_naniwa-super-stone-sharpening

 

Naniwa 12,000 Grit Super Stone in Stand

 

Types of strops:

The types of sharpening strops depend on how they are set and the method used while stropping.

Hanging – These are the only style strops that need to be attached to an immovable object which holds the strop stable while stropping. They often have a hook or loop which affixes to an object and a loop or handle at the opposite end of the strop to hold it steady while stropping. These are the most common sharpening strops.

 

HR_430-003-00_30-degree-italian-latigo-leather-strop

 

30 Degree Thin Latigo Natural Leather Strop with Handle, 3″

 

Paddle/Loom – Paddle/Loom strops are relatively uncommon, but are convenient for travelers. The leather strop is affixed to a paddle with an extended handle. These types of strops are as equally as effective as hanging strops, but can be harder to use due to their average size and angle at which the strop must be performed.

 

HR-430-036-00-bison-paddle-strop-case002_2Bison Paddle Strop Razor Case

Types of Materials used:

Materials: Most strops are comprised of a leather component and a reverse fabric component. The fabric aspect is used to thoroughly clean the razor before using the leather component to actually realign the blade’s edge. There are very many different leathers and fabrics used for razor stropping, below are among the most common:

  • Latigo – Typically, this refers to a special process used to treat cowhide leather during the tanning process. It is generally treated with aluminum salts/oil and leaves the strop slightly flexible, oily and strong.
  • Russian Leather (Juchten) – Russian leather is also comprised of cowhide leather, but has been treated with birch oil during it’s tanning process. The birch oil gives the leather a distinct texture, smell and reddish color. The Russian Leather strop requires less time to break in and even allows for a gentle bare hand massage to prepare it for stropping
  • Fabric – The most common materials used to clean the strop are cottonlinen and hemp.

Take a look at the diagram below from Gentleman’s Shop to see how you strop and what direction you move the blade.
sharpen

 

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