Last week (and 3-7 lbs of turkey flesh and gravy ago), our resident grooming contributor, Colonel Cator Sparks, walked us through the hardware that every guy must own. The highly decorated soldier that he is, the Colonel knows the benefits of preparation and wanted to give you all a chance to demand such items as presents from your friends and family in the upcoming gifting season. In this installment, Cator would like you to do yourself a favor and learn how to shave once and for all. It is, as they say, the gift that keeps on giving.

O.K. dudes, I know we all think we know how to shave because we've been mauling our faces each morning for the past however many years. But, please, go look in the mirror. You see that massive red rash on your neck? That means you haven't mastered the shave just yet. In fact, you're maybe not even close. We asked Eric Malka founder of skincare line and 39 standalone boutiques, The Art of Shaving, to give us a little break down. Now I know this is the 'ideal' shave he has drawn up (and the accessories are pretty tony) but I swear that badger brush is one of the best investments around. I've had mine for eight years and it's still got plenty of life left.

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Colonel Cator: Eric, please break down what you've dubbed 'The Art of Shaving'.

Eric Malka: O.K., there are four steps to achieving the perfect shave. First, cleanse the skin with hot water then use a pre-shave oil to protect skin while softening the beard or stubble.

Colonel Cator: Right. So it's dual purpose.

Eric Malka: Yes, secondly, use a glycerin-based shaving cream or soap with a shaving brush made of badger hair. The brush helps generate a warm rich lather, and softens and lifts the beard from the face.

Third, shave with the grain first.

Colonel Cator: In the direction of hair growth.

Eric Malka: First shave in that direction but for an even closer shave, re-lather and shave lightly across or against the grain.

Colonel Cator: The operative word being "lightly" so as to avoid shredding your face.

Eric Malka: Right. And, finally step four: moisturize with an after-shave balm or gel to soothe and refresh the skin. (Col. Note: You can use some of that moisturizer we talked about in previous posts, too)

Kit

Colonel Cator: What would you say to anyone who complains that there are four whole steps to the process?

Eric Malka: The process might seem lenthy at first, but once guys incorporate these steps into their daily grooming routine and discover it takes under four minutes, they're true believers.

Colonel Cator: What tools should every man have for "The Perfect Shave"?

Eric Malka: Every guy should own a shave brush, preferably one made from badger hair. As mentioned, a shave brush provides a lather while softening and lifting the beard but a shave brush also gently exfoliates the skin, so when you shave, nothing comes between a guy's face and his razor.

Colonel Cator: What's the final word, should we shave in the shower?

Eric Malka: It's best to always shave after or during a hot shower, never before. If you don't have time for a shower, you can prepare for your shave by using hot water from the sink to open the pores and cleanse the skin. (Col. Note: Dudes, it's time to buy a mirror for the shower! More on that later...)

Colonel Cator: Are there any suggestions for ethnic skin and hair textures?

Eric Malk: Some men can be prone to ingrown hairs and if you have them moisturize the affected area with an ingrown hair night cream at bed time, this will heal the hairs faster. Do not pluck the hair out of the affected area with your fingers. Pull the hair out with tweezers, then shave with the grain. This will train the hair to grow in one direction.

Shaving Cream 2

Colonel Cator: Any parting words of wisdom?

Eric Malka: Yes, use better shaving creams like Art of Shaving, eshave and Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Shave Cream that aren't packed with alcohol (Col. Note: it dries your skin out like Patrick Bateman says!). And they moisturize heaps better than Barbasol.

Shaving Cream

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