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mental_floss's Be More Interesting series will teach you new interesting skills. This week, Max Silvestri learns to shave with a straight razor.

(And don't worry--the regular list show will continue on Wednesday!)

Music provided by Scorebuzz Music.
Today we've got master barber, Straight Edge Kevin of Frank's Chop Shop to teach us how to ditch the high-tech cartridge for some throwback manliness.


Max: Hi, Kevin.

Kevin: How you doin'?

Max: I'm doing well. How long have you been cutting hair and shaving faces?

Kevin: Uh, 10 years now.

Max: 10 years! So you've gotten pretty good at it, probably.

Kevin: Yeah, you know, I'm doing all right.

Max: I mean you've got a good shave going on. When I shave, I use one of those, you know when you put a battery in it-

Kevin: A butter knife?

Max: (laughs) Yeah, I use a butter knife. I have to put a battery in it, it vibrates a little, it looks like what they shave with in space. But that's not the best shave I could be getting.

Kevin: Probably not, no.

Max: Why is straight razor shaving better?

Kevin: Having one blade, I can see where the razor's going, where the hair is going.

Max: It's about control, kind of.

Kevin: Control. It's all about control.

Max: Like, there's stuff you do that I probably don't do to my face.

Kevin: 80% of a clean shave is the preparation. A lot of water, they call it a "wet shave" for a reason. Placement, stretching the skin. The reason why you get razor burn is basically because the razor is-

Max: So when I shave like this...

Kevin: Yeah, when you're like this, it's not really helping your face.

Max: But I like to make faces while I'm shaving.

Kevin: Yeah, well.

Max: *makes faces and noises* Shouldn't do that.

Kevin: No, no, no.

Max: That's why it's such a bad shave. Even if we can't teach guys at home to straight razor themselves, we can at least teach them stuff to make a better shave.

Kevin: Of course.


Max: This is like a very nice setup.

Kevin: Thank you. I'ma get you some towels. I'm gonna apply some hot towels, some water, some lather, and get at it.

Max: So you've got one of those old, like the-

Kevin: Yup, it's a badger.

Max: Is a badger hair?

Kevin: Yeah. So basically what it does is adds the lather, water, and lifts the hair off your face.

Max: That's something somebody could have at their own house.

Kevin: You should have one of these.

Max: Oh.

Kevin: If you're gonna shave at home, you should definitely have one of these.

Max: Oh, okay.

Kevin: I'll just the get the face nice and warm, add a little bit of moisture to the face. We'll put a nice, hot towel on there.

Max: And if uh, I doze off, please don't wake me.

Kevin: It's a huge part of the shave that a lot of people overlook.

Max: So is this like, relaxing the hair so that they don't even realize they're about to get ripped out of my face?

Kevin: Exactly. We're not ripping.


Kevin: So this is a good length to kind of start with. We're gonna start here.

Max: Kay.

Kevin: We're gonna come down. We're gonna follow where your hair is growing, and be careful and mindful of your bone structure, okay? Now when you're shaving, everything has to do with stretching the skin. A lot of people overlook that.

Max: *laughs* Like, what do old men do? They have such stretchy faces, how do they get it tight enough to shave?

Kevin: Oh man, you just gotta stretch it right up to their nose.

Max: You put like, a clip on the back of their head or wherever?

Kevin: Yeah, yeah. You just clip it up. Right as we get to your chin here, it kind of swirls this way a little bit.

Max: Ohh.

Kevin: So we're gonna follow it. So we're gonna pinch, stretch, and just get a little bit at a time.

Max: So everyone's face hair goes like, a different direction?

Kevin: Oh yeah.

Max: I wonder if there's people that study like, what it tells you about the person. Depending on how their hair- like, maybe this means I'm really courageous, but not loyal.

Kevin: *laughs*

Max: So if my hair went differently, you might shave up. It's really about-

Kevin: We're going with the grain.

Max: With the grain. Okay.

Kevin: With the grain. So, what a lot of people do it just come psssh, straight down the face.

Max: Yeah.

Kevin: We can't do that.

Max: I notice you do take very short strokes.

Kevin: Very short and precise.


Kevin: We're gonna switch over here, to get this side right here, okay?

Max: Now, a shave like this that's so much closer than a regular shave. How long does this last?

Kevin: It could buy you an extra day or two. Maybe three days depending on your hair growth.

Max: I eat a lot of peanut butter so it grows fast.

Kevin: Oh man. So we're done, pretty much, with this side of the face.

Max: Awesome. I could just go out in public like this.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah. It's just like this.

Max: Perfect.

Kevin: Half and half.


Max: I also noticed you didn't use use a ton of shaving cream.

Kevin: No.

Max: I mean, I look like Santa Claus when I put shaving cream on my face.

Kevin: You don't need a lot. Mostly, it's just creating a barrier. Extra lubricant, other than water.

Max: So an inch deep of shaving cream is not actually helping at all?

Kevin: No. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you should be able to- you have to be able to see the hair. Also, I changed my razor. It is incredibly important to have a sharp razor.

Max: Even if you're using a disposable, change it often.

Kevin: It has to be sharp. Sharp razors don't cut, they shave. You know. So when you get to the bottom of your neck right here, by your Adam's Apple, we're gonna pull it to either side.

Max: Spread that apple.

Kevin: Spread the apple, yup.

Max: That's why I never got the lead in Hello Dolly, that pronounced Adam's Apple.

Kevin: Who got it? Do you remember?

Max: Yeah, she's a jerk.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah. What's she doin' now, right?

Max: Nothing.

Kevin: Exactly!

Max: It was Anne Hathaway actually, she's doing great.


Max: Is this pretty close to what you do in the morning for yourself?

Kevin: Oh, I use an electric razor.

Max: Oh, okay.

Kevin: Yeah.

Max: Perfect. After a precise and proper old-fashioned shave, my face feels refreshed. To refresh the rest of me, there's ice-cold Dos Equis. Until next time, I'm Max Silvestri for Mental Floss and Dos Equis, reminding you to stay interesting.