Tony Lawton started shaving when he was 14, before he had a single hair on his face. It was a matter of coolness. A matter of manly. A matter of stopping the bleeding with toilet paper.
Now 41, the actor from Roxborough has a shaving routine. It's always after the shower, with a four-blade razor. He fills up a basin with hot water and shaves with the grain - except for the spot right under the chin.
"The hardest spot is under the left nostril," he said. "There are two or three hairs that sprout there and the blade won't reach them."
This Sunday, Father's Day, dads across the country will be trying out their new electric razors - and possibly some pre-shave oil, hot-foam dispensers, and after-shave lotion. Shaving, once an old-fashioned, five-minutes-in-the-morning, learn-from-your-father practice, has gone high-tech.
Almost 90 percent of men over the age of 15 shave in the United States; most of them with a blade and razor, according to Gillette. And as more men become aware of skin care, from wrinkles to sun damage, companies are addressing those issues through the (ever-decreasing) space between the blades.
Shaving, with all its traditions, is the new hot skin-care market. A study by Mintel International Group shows that sales of men's skin-care products - from upscale shaving foams to manly moisturizers - was expected to grow to $34 million in 2008, up from $22 million just three years ago.
Businesses are definitely taking notice. From producing new disposable razors with three, four, five blades, blades that vibrate and blades with moisturizing strips, to developing new high-end shaving creams, lotions and oils.
Kiehl's now sells a "Dopp kit" - basically a shaving kit including face wash, shave cream, scrub soap and moisturizer. There's also a little hand lotion to soothe those chapped hands after being in all that hot water.
"Men are attracted to clean, refreshing textures and scents," said Clyde Johnson, director of Education and Events at Kiehl's. "So we include ingredients like peppermint oil in our Facial Fuel Lotion and lip balm."
Johnson said that there's a bit of a learning curve with the products. For example, using the company's shave cream requires a paper-thin layer of cream over clean, damp skin instead of a sundae topping of thick white fluff.
Most men learn simply by watching their fathers and brothers. But there definitely is a right way and a wrong way to shave, say barbers, dermatologists and every-day practitioners.
"Most guys don't prepare their face at all," said Michael Sgarra, a co-owner and barber at Shaving Grace in Exton, which offers beer on tap, a pool table, and professional shaves and haircuts (way more than two bits.) "Some are dry-shaving in the shower. Some just use soap. It's pretty horrible."
At Sgarra's shop, the process begins with a series of hot towels to open the pores and soften the hair. Then they put on a pre-shave oil, another series of hot towels, hot foam and shave twice.
He said that demand for professional shaves is growing, and men feel more comfortable buying and using products.
Brandon Steiger, 32, of Thorndale started going to Shaving Grace about four years ago for regular haircuts. Now he has a "Gold Card," which allows him to get a haircut every month and a shave every other month.
"My wife says I'm getting 'a facial,' " said Steiger, who owns an Internet consulting firm. "I wouldn't really call it that."
The professional treatment has infiltrated the way Steiger shaves at home. Now he has two shaving styles; an everyday shave, and a special client meeting/night-out-with-the-wife ritual that involves pre-shave oil, shaving twice, a cold compress to close the pores, and after-shave lotion.
Jason Lee, an associate professor of dermatology and cutaneous biology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said most of the shaving problems he sees are patients having allergic reactions to the preservatives or colognes in products, or they have a problem with razor bumps.
He recommends letting the skin settle for 20 minutes after waking, and rubbing dead skin off with soap and hot water. The blade should be new, and, depending on how coarse the hair, changed every week. For some patients, he recommends an electric shaver. Those with a lot of inflamed follicles might be better off just letting it grow out.
And if using a razor, the number of blades does matter, Lee said. The latest razors, such as the Gillette Fusion, have five blades.
"The idea is that each blade lifts the hair up a little bit and cuts it closer to the skin," he said.
Steiger said he can't wait until he can pass on the lessons he's learned to his son, Wesley, now 21 months.