The secrets of barber Gert Rombouts for a perfect shave

Learning how to shave is a matter of trial and error for most of us. Armed with fatherly advice (or the necessary YouTube videos), it became a daily exercise to avoid cuts, ingrown hairs and annoying rashes. Perhaps that also triggered the revival of the beard a few years ago. (“Although just because you have a beard doesn't mean you shouldn't shave anymore!”, says Gert.) But more about that later…

Since you will shave about 20,000 times in a lifetime, it is best to do it the right way from the start. With inside tips from Haarbazaar Deluxe barber and friend of Looostermans, Gert Rombouts, you will soon achieve a perfect shave without damaging your skin. Even more, you can now fully enjoy that ultimate me-time moment.

Looostermans shearing

Choose the right tools

Let one thing be clear: this article is not about electric shaving. Because, in Gert's words: “Real men shave wet.” When shaving wet, you have the choice between the open blade, the multi-blade razors, Gillette type, or the safety razors.

The open knife is widely known and was often used by the barber. A multi-blade razor contains, as the name suggests, multiple blades, ranging from 3 (Mach 3) to even 5 blades (Fusion 5) . This way, with 1 shaving movement, you not only go over the skin once, but actually 3 to 5 times. A practical alternative when you have less time and things need to go a little faster. Keep in mind that the burden on the skin also increases with the number of blades. You should also rinse a multi-blade razor with warm water more often when shaving because the hairs are more likely to get stuck between the blades.

Such a multi-blade razor can/may be a feast for the eyes, by not using a cheap plastic holder. It is better to choose a more robust chrome holder , with or without combination with wood. These often have a bit more weight, so you automatically apply the correct pressure to the skin. Moreover, it is durable and looks great on your bathroom furniture. Always be aware of your skin type and preferably use long shaving strokes, rather than many short strokes, so as not to burden the skin further and avoid wounds or so-called razor burn.

Looostermans safety razor

A safety razor is reminiscent of times gone by. And that's certainly not a bad thing, because razor technology was perfected a long time ago. This is for the connoisseurs. The men who want to make shaving a moment and who want to emulate the feeling of being at the barber's home (although that is of course never 100% possible, says Gert). Because you only use 1 blade, shaving takes longer. It also requires a certain skill that you have to learn gradually in determining the correct angle at which you place the knife on the skin. Depending on your hair structure and beard growth, you can use the same blade twice before turning it over for the other side. “We should not want to be holier than the Pope. You can easily shave four times with the same blade. 2 times per side.” Always choose a high-quality holder so that you have sufficient grip and there is not too much play on the movement of the knife. As for the knife itself, you need to look for the right sharpness. This can sometimes differ depending on the brand. Blades that are too sharp can damage the top layer of the skin. Gert himself chooses Mühle blades . These are sharp enough and work fine. And also when shaving with a safety razor: choose long strokes instead of short ones.

Good preparation is half the job

A truth that stands as a truism! Or also, attack is the best defense. In other words, to avoid cuts and irritation when shaving, prepare the skin as best as possible for the shave. Shaving without preparation leads to irritated skin and causes pimples and rashes, which means you can no longer enjoy shaving. And that is what shaving should be, a moment to enjoy.

You do this by making the skin and beard pure by mildly cleaning them with lukewarm water. Don't overdo this because shaving itself is a scrub in itself, so you don't want to stress your skin too much.

Extra tip from Gert: before you start soaping, study the skin for imperfections and the direction of growth of your beard hairs so that you know in which direction to shave while shaving.

Soap copiously

Soaping is something you have to spend enough time on, says Gert. It determines the shaving process and must therefore be done properly. The right tools and products are also important here. Use a shaving bowl with a relief on the bottom so that more oxygen can get under the foam and make it fluffier. A brush with real badger hair is absolutely preferred. Badger hair has the property of absorbing water and creating a rich foam. The movement of the hairs against your skin also provides a light scrub and helps to straighten the hairs so that they are easier to shave. Finally, choose a mild shaving soap that moisturizes the skin and hair. This makes the hair thicker and straightens, making shaving easier. A brush with badger hair is slightly more expensive than a brush with synthetic hair, but if you take good care of it, it will also last a very long time.

Looostermans - shaving brushes

Soap liberally and use stroking movements. Use warm water to make the hair sensitive to shaving and to make the razor feel less cold. Remove any pimples or moles with your finger so that you do not take them with you when shaving (otherwise you can easily open them).

Do not soap too superficially. Because, Gert says: “Extensive soaping is three-quarters of the shave.” It thickens the hair and prepares it together with the skin for shaving.

Decide whether you want to shave once or twice

Depending on the intended shaving result, you can choose to shave 1 or 2 times. The latter obviously ensures an even smoother result. (With a multi-blade razor, you move multiple blades over the skin in one movement, so you will in any case shave over your skin several times.) If you choose to shave once, you start with a medium soap thickness. This means that you do not soap too thinly (the shaving foam will run off your face), but also not too thick or stiff (the foam will then dry up too quickly and you will end up with a mask). Then shave with the hair growth, as you determined before soaping. Use long movements. Rinse the knife regularly with warm water. Do not keep shaving endlessly to get a 100% smooth shave because you are actually exfoliating your skin and therefore damaging the skin too much, leading to irritation.

Looostermans - Mühle shaving products

If you choose to shave twice, soap the first time with a thicker shaving emulsion. Furthermore, you do the same as with 1 shave. After the first shave, lather a second time with a thinner shaving soap. The second time you shave against the hair growth. This way you polish, as it were, for a smoother result and you can match or even improve the result of a multi-blade razor. It shaves more intensively, but smoother. Never do this the first time because you will open the skin.

Important side note from Gert: You can never get a perfectly smooth shave. That is an illusion, especially if you want to respect your skin. That should never be the expectation.

Aftercare is vital

Anyone who listens carefully to the women around them has known about it for some time. Aftercare is an essential part of the process! Your wife/skin will thank you. Therefore, clean the skin with cold water or a cold towel. This cold shower causes the pores to contract again and stops tiny bleeding. If there is significant bleeding, use an alum stone to stop the bleeding and immediately disinfect the wound. In this case, after the bleeding has stopped, use a gentler balm to care for your skin.

If there is no irritation, you can use a liquid lotion or aftershave. This is more effective, but also contains more alcohol, which causes it to sting too much on wounds. Spread the balm or lotion well over your hands and spread over your face.

As a surplus, you can finish with talcum powder to dry your face again. But this is not a must.

Clean your shaving bowl, brush and blade thoroughly with warm water and always let your brush hang to dry.

Or go for the ultimate me-time at the barber

Do you really want to go for that ultimate me-time moment, with absolute indulgence? Then a regular visit to the barber is highly recommended. Or as Gert says: “Barber, barber… You should go to Haarbazaar Deluxe!” A similar blade is used here than the safety razor at home, albeit in a different device. Originally, open knives were used, but for hygienic reasons, barbers today use standard chavettes, or disposable knives.

Haarbazaar Deluxe barber Gert Rombouts

Little did you know: the typical barber's pole with the white, red and blue diagonal stripes refers to bloody white bandages, as was typical for all nursing professions of the past. In the past, barbers could also pull teeth or perform bloodletting, after which the bandages were washed and sometimes became tangled in the wind while drying. In the United States, a blue stripe has been added to represent the colors of the American flag. A symbol with history!

But so... you don't go to the barber just for a shave, you go there for the total experience. And experience happens to be something that we attach great importance to at Huis Looostermans. You get an extra wellness feeling by using hot and cold towels. You have the social event there with the whole atmosphere, the music, a drink afterwards. In short, all senses are stimulated. It is a moment for yourself, where no one can disturb you. A real me-time moment !

So welcome to Haarbazaar Deluxe. Gert is also happy to assist you with the necessary tips and tricks to make shaving a success at home. You can discover his selection of shaving products here .

Gert, as a proud beard wearer, also has a lot to say about proper beard care. So stay tuned for part 2 of 'The Secrets of Gert'!