Sunday, July 31, 2005

Shaving poetry

Over at the Trinidad & Tobago Express, Tony Deyal is waxing lyrical about shaving.
Ever had one of those mornings when things don't gel and you work yourself into a lather? Life seems like a precarious dance on a razor's Edge and happiness a Blade Runner in a virtual reality nightmare. As you scrape yourself off the primeval ooze of existence even the slightest movement sounds like sound-barrier breaking booms, Mach 3 at least. It feels like someone stumbling through the stubble, the dark shadowy undergrowth. When that happens to me, even my dear wife's attempts at soft-soaping me fail and I get schick to my stomach. Have I lost my cutting edge? Is this a job for Remington steel?
It's an interesting article, especially if you're in the mood for connecting shaving-related terms together in whichever ways might strike one's fancy. And jokes. He's got at least three shaving-related jokes in the article, which is three more than I've encountered anywhere else.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Instead of striking, shave!

According to this Chandigarh Newsline article, Regional Passport Office employees across India are shaving their heads to protest the potential privatization of their jobs.
All the employees of the RPO came out of their office chambers at lunch time and participated in the head-shaving ritual. All the male employees, except those who are Sikhs, got their heads tonsured by a barber in front of the RPO. This kind of protests are being held by employees of all the 27 Passport Offices (POs) and Regional Passport Offices (RPOs) across the country.
It's certainly a lot more creative than picketing, and perhaps it will get them some publicity.

The image of walking into a passport office and finding everyone there shaved bald is an interesting one.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Need reasons?

The Dunner's Stunners blog has a list of 20 reasons to go bald-by-choice, in case you're looking for justification.

Aside from the usual reasons (save on shampoo, save on hairstyling time and money), he's got a few less-often-cited reasons to give it a shot. Check out #10, #15, and #16, for instance.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Headshave as analogy has an article that's not really about headshaving, but it does use shaving as an analogy. For some reason, I found that interesting.
For a long time, I pretended to actually have hair. I cultivated my few remaining strands with love and care. Finally, I looked in the mirror and asked myself: "Who are you fooling?" I grabbed my Gillette disposable, lathered up with Edge and did the only thing that made sense. And now here I am, all these years later, the happiest bald dude this side of Vin Diesel.
Headshaving is common in sports, but I just haven't read an article that used it in quite this way before.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Change is good

Baseball player Chad Tracy knows the benefits of change. According to this story at the Arizona Republic, the first baseman is always seeking out things to change, in order to keep himself fresh.
"Yeah, like shaving my head, or maybe growing a goatee," Tracy said. "It's just something to change things up so I'm not always doing the same things. It can help take your mind off baseball a little bit and take your focus off something so you're not thinking about it all the time."
When I first shaved my head, it was out of a desire to do something, anything, different. It's surprising sometimes, but making a change in one area of your life can lead to improvements in completely unrelated areas of your life too. At the very least, it keeps us from stagnating and getting too complacent with ourselves. Shake things up every once in a while.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Too hot for hair

Michael Patrick Nelson of Long Island Press shares a story about hot weather and an attempted headshave. It seems things have been hot and muggy in Long Island.
The first thing I had to do, I decided, was shave my head. Certainly vanity and personal appearance mean a lot in this world, and one's hairstyle plays a big part in such things, but comfort had become my priority, and comfort began with ridding myself of the Medusa-like locks that were sticking to my forehead and suffocating my scalp.
It's not normally a difficult task to get one's head shaved, but Michael keeps finding people who advise him not to shave.
"Don't do that," said the woman. "You have such nice hair."

I chuckled. "That's what it wants you to think," I said. "But it's not nice at all, believe me. It wants nothing more than to see me dead of heatstroke."
It's an entertaining story. I won't spoil the ending for you, though: give it a read.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Head care tips

The Kansas City Star says, "If you're hairless, don't be careless." With that, they offer some grooming tips for the bald-by-choice.
Before shaving what’s left up top, hit the showers. "The hot water opens up the shafts and softens the hair, which significantly reduces the risk of irritation, cuts and razor burn."


If you get nicks and cuts, tend to your wound, stop shaving for a while and let the stubble grow in.
They also include the reminder to wear sunscreen if you're out and about. Trust me, don't forget the sunscreen; a burned scalp is a real pain to deal with.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

One shaved head = one wish

Matt Betler was going to shave his own head as part of a raffle to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that he had organized for Bombardier. But then he spoke to his father, Bombardier president Ray Bettler.

"Matt was going to shave his head, and he came home and asked me if I wanted to, too," Betler said. "I told him I would do that if he could raise enough money for one wish (for Make-A-Wish Foundation). He asked me how much that was, and I told him $3,400. I figured I was in the clear."

The final total Matt Betler raised was in excess of $3,500.
And thus, a company president shaves his head, and that shaved head equals one wish. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

It's nice to know that a simple haircut can make a big difference in someone's life, sometimes.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A straight razor for charity

If you're near Farmington, Maine, you might want to consider checking this out:
One of the few barbers left in the state skilled in plying the traditional straightedged razor to give a man a close shave is offering her skills to charity.

Jackie Tardif, head barber at Dick's Barber Shop on Broadway in Farmington, said she will be doing a full-face shave -- complete with hot-towel treatment -- with the proceeds, plus tips, to be donated to the Farmington Rotary Club to help the organization's many community service projects. The cost of the shave will be $12.
The event's happening July 29th from 6 to 10 pm at Farmington's annual Moonlight Madness.

There's no mention of shaving heads, but a full straight-razor shave is a rare-enough thing that you might want to take the opportunity and try it out. Why is it so rare?
Tardif learned the skill 36 years ago in barber school, and these days, there are few carrying on the tradition because it isn't being taught any more.

"There are no more barber schools. Back then, when we were in school, we had to do them from day one," she said.
The loss of traditional barbering skills has been noted before, of course. Finding a barber anywhere who will give a straight-razor shave is harder and harder. Fortunately for the people in Farmington, there's at least one that they can go to.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Social statements?

There was a time when a shaved head was often construed as a socio-political statement. It might represent your detachment from the material world (a la Buddhism), it might represent anger and violence (neonazi skinheads), or it might represent something else. That time seems past, as the shaved head has moved into the mainstream and become a fashionable hairstyle.

Not everyone feels that way. Andrew Calcutt of Spiked Culture thinks that shaved heads are a part of something he calls ultimatism. As he describes it, ultimatism is "going all the way all the time, taking what we look like to the nth degree, and not only on exceptional occasions."
If you can only see yourself as a forceful individual if you shave your head like a stormtrooper, it means you cannot really see yourself as a strong character. Lack of self-conviction is then compounded by the patent superficiality of the references being made: of course, I'm not really a stormtrooper; only joking; only me. Today the sight of so many shaven heads bobbing up and down in the tidal wave of commuters coming over London Bridge into the City of London each morning, suggests that the masturbatory mix of frustrated desire and self-mockery which expressed itself in the New Laddism of a decade ago, has now spread to the post-lads and dads among the wider population.
Along with self-mockery, Calcutt thinks that "ultimatism" also represents contempt for others. All in all, a very negative view.

I've certainly never noticed the attitudes he ascribes to "ultimatists" in the people I know who shave their heads, either in person or online. At least, not on any serious scale. I'm sure there are people who have those ideas in mind when they go bald-by-choice, but I'm not sure it's at all common. It screams of over-generalization.

Maybe it makes more sense if you're British?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shaving the CEO

CEO shavedMotivating people by promising to shave your head is so popular now, even business people are doing it. At least, Steve Moles of Microprobe is.
Over a year ago, Moles, 53, president and chief executive officer of Carlsbad-based MicroProbe, which provides products and services to the semiconductor industry, challenged his employees to ship more products than in any other month in the company's 32-year history. In return, he said, he would shave his head.

With a previous single month sales record of about $1.8 million, Moles thought he would be retired by the time the record was broken. However, MicroProbe bested that record in June, shipping more than $2 million worth of products.

True to his word, Moles donned a yellow plastic parka on July 6 as MicroProbe Data Analyst Tom Davis put the electric shaver to his boss's head, much to the delight of the dozens of MicroProbe employees who gathered to watch the ceremony.
Moles has a history of motivating his employees in this manner. A few years ago, he promised he'd do a cartwheel if they met a goal; the cartwheel ended up putting him in crutches. Presumably, he'll fair much better with a shaved head than he did with gymnastics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bases loaded

How do you motivate a team of 12-year-old baseball players to do their very best? If you're Wally Clements, you offer up your hair.
As a challenge to give it their all following a defeat to a Bath County team at the Cal Ripken Baseball Tournament in Mount Sterling recently, Robertson County CRB League President Wally Clements said he would let the team shave his head if it beat the next team.

"They not only beat the team, they knocked Winchester out of the tournament with a 3-2 win," said Clements.
If you're in or around Maysville, Kentucky, you can even see the shaving done, as it'll be open to the public.
"After the coach pitch game is over, about 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, the team will get to shave my head, on the pitching mound, at the Lions Club Park," said Clements.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shaving inflation

Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star has something to say about the price of razor blades:
I’ve got to shave. And you know what that means. I’ve got to get a second job.

I’ve run out of Gillette Mach3Turbo razorblades.

Maybe I could pawn my wedding ring.

Oh yeah, these blades are expensive. I have no idea how I got on this crazy Mach3 train. Maybe it’s the enhanced microfins that precede the blade and gently smooth down my skin so the blades shave evenly and effortlessly. Maybe it’s the patented anti-friction technology that reduces the cutting force. Maybe it’s the open cartridge architecture that makes rinsing and cleaning the blade easier than ever. Maybe it’s the indicator lubricating strip, also patented - this razor has more patents than General Electric.

Maybe I’m just a sucker.
It's an observation made by many shavers during their trips to the supermarket. Modern cartridge razors keep getting more and more expensive. Mr. Posnanski points out that he can't even get the cartridges off the shelf; you take a ticket to the front to get your blades. That's because they're expensive and small, so they're heavily shop-lifted.

What's a poor shaver to do? You can always try making your blades last longer. There are two ways of doing this that I'm aware of.

You can get cryogenically-tempered razor blades online. These blades are put into a machine that makes them extremely cold, which (apparently) does something to the structure of the metal and makes them harder. I've tried them before, and they definitely lasted longer than the regular blades I had used before and after. Comments I've gotten from others appear to confirm that.

Alternately (or in combination), you can store your blades in oil. Wet-storage systems keep air off of the blades, reducing the dulling that occurs due to oxidation. As an added bonus, the oil adds a bit of lubrication when you're shaving. I tested the RazorMax system (back when it was called EdgeSaver), and had good results, which are also confirmed by many other comments I've read online. Some people just stick the razor in a cup with some mineral oil covering the blade, which works just as well.

It's always a good idea to avoid the hype when possible. For instance, instead of the Mach3Turbo cartridges that Mr. Posnanski buys, I tend to stick with the regular Mach3 cartridges. I don't get any improvement with the Turbo blades, so they're not worth the extra couple of bucks. That goes doubly for the M3Power blades. All 3 cartridges work with all 3 handles, so even if you like the vibration feature of the M3Power, you can use regular Mach3 blades.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Shave to the music

Schick's launching Quattro for Women, and it's doing it to music.
Each of the more than 150,000 packages of Schick(R) Quattro(R) for Women(TM) razors -- on store shelves beginning in July 2005 -- will include a code allowing access to five free downloads.


The promotion, featured on in-store displays and product packaging, is the first between Schick and Universal Music Enterprises, which represents the world's largest music catalog.
Somehow, shaving and music have never connected in my mind, but in the dog-eat-dog world of razor sales, I guess the big shaving companies have to pull out all of the stops.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Mother and son shaved

From the Times-Tribune, we get the story of Shannon McKeel, a woman who shaved her head at a recent Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society.
Shannon McKeel’s hair is about a quarter of an inch long this week. That’s about a quarter of an inch longer than on June 5 and a good deal shorter than on June 4.

Shannon, 36, of White Mills, Wayne County, is not a cancer survivor, but she wants to make sure more people are. Shaving her head was Shannon’s way - for this year - to make a difference.
It's pretty common these days to know someone who is suffering with cancer, and Shannon is no exception.
Shannon’s mom, Patricia McKeel, passed away of cancer in 1999. Her mother was a strong woman who quickly moved away from hiding hair loss from treatment under hats, Shannon said. "I’m proud of it," she said of her shaved head. "I don’t hide it at all - if I did it to wear wig or wear a hat, what good would it be?"
The family connections to this event go both ways, too.
Shannon’s 9-year-old son and relay walking partner, Walker Day, had his head shaved about a week before the relay.
I imagine that the pair of them made for a cute couple. Shannon managed to raise over $6000 for the Relay for Life, which is excellent.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

St. Balrick's in July

We've talked about St. Baldrick's day before (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). It's a great head-shaving charity event that normally takes place around St. Patrick's day, but can be run at any time. Though I've read plenty of St. Baldrick's stories, none of them involved tattooing a leprechaun onto the scalp of any of the participants. At least, not until I read about Bonnie Otillo of Hyde Park.
Bonnie Otillo didn't get her last haircut and tattoo to be fashionable.

The mother of two had her head shaved and a small, bald leprechaun tattooed on the back of her head as the latest of her ongoing efforts to support children's cancer research and awareness.

Otillo, who has never known a child cancer patient personally, said she has become involved in helping children she has come to know through other groups such as Make a Child Smile and Hugs and Hope.


Otillo said women raise the most money because it is far less common to see one without hair.
St. Baldrick's events continue to raise money for childhood cancer research. It's a great cause, and it's great to see people so devoted to it.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Protecting the dome

Florida's Gainsville Sun reminds us to protect our skin from the ravages of the sun's rays.
Aulisio points to the latest trend in men - sporting a "chrome dome" look, particularly in the summer - as just another incidence of skin cancer waiting to happen.

"A lot of guys are shaving their scalp, while others are balding and may play golf or go fishing without protecting their head," Aulisio explained. They are running the risk of developing skin cancers on the scalp.

"There's no sun tolerance built up, and the skin will burn even more easily," he warned.
More than half of people newly diagnosed with melanomas are men, and it's common for men to develop melanomas on their scalp. It's easy to prevent skin cancer, though: if you're out in the sun, use sunscreen, and cover up. Avoid being out in the mid-day sun if you can avoid it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Doing the 'do

The Herald & Review of Decatur, Illinois has some comments about the trend towards bald-by-choice.
There are economic advantages to the 'do, Bill Deetz said. "I probably haven't gone to a barber in five years," he said. "It's a lot cheaper."

Deetz said he was surprised how a bald head feels. "It felt really strange," Deetz recalls. "Believe it or not, it feels a lot different than the skin anywhere else on you. My skin almost felt like rubber on the top of my head."

It's a lower-maintenance look, said Roy Winings of Decatur. "I don't have to wash my hair," Winings said. "I don't have to worry about it blowing when I'm on my motorcycle."

Many find the Kojak look sexy. "You cannot believe how many women come up and want to rub your head," Danny Hoult said.
The article also has brief comments about the history of headshaving, and lots of quotes from Illinois locals about why they shaved.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Miami style tips

The Miami Herald offers some style tips for taking care of a shaved dome, from Dr. Julio Gallo, medical director at The Miami Institute for Age Management & Intervention.

Some of them are pretty standard, but definitely worth repeating. Like tip #1:
As hassle-free as the style appears, those who go close-shaven should take special precautions, especially in Miami, where the risk for sun damage is much higher,'' Gallo says. Your first line of defense should be sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 applied liberally and often, regardless of how dark you are.
Some of the tips aren't likely to appeal to the budget-conscious among us, like this part of tip #4:
For high-maintenance types, Gallo recommends ridding yourself of skin imperfections with microdermabrasion, a ''mild sandblasting,'' ($150 a treatment for one hour). Zap persistent ingrown stragglers forever with laser hair removal (from $300-$400).
It's always good to see shaving advice and tips in the mainstream media. A lot of folks don't know much about shaving, and endure more discomfort than they need to endure.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Stretching the shaving ritual

The New York Times has an article about the expansion of products in the men's shaving market (registration required). In a market that was once just about razors and shaving cream (and maybe some alcohol-based aftershave), there are now pre-shave oils, razor bump healers, soothing aftershave balms, and skin toners.
For the past few weeks Mr. Ragaza, a magazine editor in Manhattan, has been stretching out his shaving ritual to almost 10 minutes. He starts by moisturizing with a citrus-scented preshave oil, then applies a frothy swirl of foaming shaving cream with a badger-hair brush. Then, after shaving as usual, he gives himself a final soothing pat with after-shave lotion.
Apparently, the shaving products industry is hoping to adjust consumer expectations among male shavers, and convince them to think about it not just as shaving, but skin care. This isn't an easy sell to men, as we typically don't pay much attention to our skin (according to the article, men spent $22 million on skin care last year, while women spent $6.7 billion).
"It's easier to upgrade a consumer than to convert him or get him to start doing something new like skincare," said Eric Malka, a founder and president of the Art of Shaving. His company makes a four-step shaving system and a line of soaps, scrubs, masks, moisturizers, eye gels and lip balms for men.
I know that more of the guys I communicate with about shaving are using multiple products and taking care of their skin better than they used to. It's not too hard to understand: we're looking for a comfortable shave, and some of these products really do contribute to an easier, less irritating experience.