Think about shaving as a shared activity

Other Side of 50

 

Shaving one’s face is a fundamental part of being a man. A generation ago, the act of shaving denoted manhood, pride of appearance, cleanliness, neatness and a person in control and well-groomed.

In the U.S., Canada and Europe, about 85 percent of men shave their beards.

Throughout recent history we have been a society where the appearance of the body is seen to reveal the state of mind of an individual—and men often grew beards when they were in crisis.

Ever hear of the playoff beard? This describes the superstitious practice of male athletes not shaving their beards during playoffs. Introduced in the 1980s by ice hockey players participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s become a practice in many sports leagues and among fans as well.

But what can be more intrinsic to the emotional well-being of a man than to be able to shave if he wants to?

My father had a thin mustache and trimmed beard for as far back as I can remember. As a young child I would watch him intently as he shaved. He’d put a little shaving cream on my cheek and give me a razor without a blade so that I could mimic him. It’s still a vivid childhood memory.

As my father’s Parkinson’s worsened, my mother and sister took on the daily ritual of shaving him. It began with washing my father’s face with warm water, adding a splash of Williams Lectric Shave, applying the shaving cream warmed by her hands and waiting a few minutes to let it moisten the beard while they readied the razor.

My father always worried about them nicking him, but given the care they took in the process, that rarely happened. Afterward, a dab of Old Spice and he was set. More than a shower, that daily shave made my father feel like the man he had been.

Recently, I viewed what is arguably one of the most heartwarming commercials I’ve ever seen. In it, a gentleman explains how he and his son have been caring for his father after his stroke.

The video is a promotion for a new razor in development by Gillette. It’s specifically designed to be used by someone shaving the face of another.

According to Gillette, “In the past 100 years, over 4,000 razors have been designed to shave yourself. There have been zero designed with the intent to shave someone else. Until now. Gillette introduces the first razor designed for assisted shaving.”

To learn more about the Gillette TREO Razo, go to gillettetreo.com.

In an era when Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have begun eating into the market share of the leading seller of razors, it’s refreshing to see Gillette focusing on an emerging gap in the market: seniors and other men who need help shaving.

According to Michael Ham, author of “Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double- Edge Way,” those who shave with a double-edge safety razor like it because it’s a pleasurable way to start the day, it provides a structure, a feeling of being squared away and it has the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

As an aside, this book is in its seventh edition, has 42 Amazon customer reviews and an average 4.5- star rating.

How important is this ritual for a man who’s been doing this for, let’s say, the past 70 or 80 years? Lack of physical ability should not deny an older gentleman this time-honored tradition and the feeling he gets from a good shave.

Three cheers for Gillette for attempting to make the world a better place by giving that man in the mirror a clear message that he matters.

Gallagher is a certified senior advisor and president of Senior Concerns, a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and western Los Angeles counties. For more information, visit seniorconcerns.org or email agallagher@seniorconcerns.org.