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  • The Dandy Cat

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that...

Shaving is seen as a chore, a necessary evil; so much so that Lockdown (the original) saw a lot of men choosing to eschew the razor and let their chins run free, until they discovered that growing a beard isn’t as low maintenance as they first thought (but that’s another blog).


But why? When I perform a shave I always get comments about how “wonderful” it was and “how soft the skin feels”. So, I thought I should share some of my expertise and help turn the daily/weekly shave into, if not a ritual, then at least something reasonably pleasant.



Let's start with equipment. What are you using? 

Let me guess….a big brand multi blade and spray foam. 

I’d say 9 out of 10 times this is the answer I get; so it’s no wonder shaving is literally a pain! Let me explain….


More blades = more irritation. 

Every time you pass a blade over your skin it ‘scratches’ the surface, a mild abrasion. Using a multi blade, you increase the abrasion 5 times. And don’t be fooled by those adverts that say your beard hair has learnt ‘duck’ the first 2 blades - hair doesn’t have thoughts, it cannot learn to duck, it's a myth.


Spray Foam. I don’t care if it says moisturising or sensitive, this stuff is full of chemicals and dries the skin out. It’s vile, get rid, end of.


Say hello to my little friend…the Safety Razor.

The double edged ‘safety razor’ as we know it was first produced by Gillette in around 1904 and its design hasn’t changed much since, mainly because it's pretty darn near perfect.

The razor head clamps the blade at the correct angle to remove the hair and the end result is the smoothest shave you may ever have. Once you’ve bought, inherited or been gifted the right razor, it should easily last the rest of your life.

It does take a little bit of practice, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never look back. 

Our razors are made in Solingen, the ‘City of Blades’ in Germany, where they have been renowned for their blade making since Medieval times. 

Their razors are beautifully balanced, sit comfortably in the hand whilst easy to manoeuvre.


Blades

The best blades on the market come from Solingen, as we’ve mentioned, or Japan. Both honed (no pun intended) their skills over the centuries from swordsmithing to razors. It begins with the forging and folding of the steel and that then informs how the steel can be sharpened, without being too nerdy, the end result is a smoother, sharper blade that doesn’t dull as quickly as the inferior ones do. Different blades work better with different beard types but you can easily get 4 - 8 shaves before you need to change it;  which not only saves you money but is a lot less irritation to the skin.


The brush, cream and bowl. Why are these important?


Let’s start with the brush.

The brush not only helps create a light, creamy foam it helps prep the skin and hair for shaving.

The brush helps exfoliate the skin, lifting away dead cells and dirt and ‘lifts’ the hair ready for shaving. 

Unless you have particularly oily skin this amount of exfoliation is enough and it won’t leave little gritty bits on the skin which can get caught causing damage to both your blade and your face.

Traditionally they are made of badger bristle but you can get synthetic brushes too.

The best brushes we’ve found are made by Simpsons, the bristles are hand knotted into the brush so don’t shed, and again, will last for years. You can buy cheaper alternatives but these tend to be glued into the handle and with use will begin to moult. I've found that synthetic brushes aren't quite as good at the job, but it is the more animal friendly option.


Bowl.

The right bowl sits comfortably in the hand allowing you to whip the cream into a thick lather. For this it needs something to add friction and air, this could be bumps, swirls or indentations. Some people whip their cream in their hand or the basin, which will do the job at a push, but its not quite the same, and if we are aiming at making this a pleasurable experience then lets do it properly.


Cream

These can come from a tube or a tub, it matters not. What does matter is how good a lubricant they are for your razor, too oily and the razor won’t get a good grip on the hair, leaving you stubbly; too dry and you’ll get drag and burn.

Many contain too much soap and other chemicals, which strip the skin, leaving it dry and tight.

I have tried LOTS and my favourite by far is the CR Salter range. Predominantly natural ingredients, no synthetic fragrances, leaving the skin soft and moisturised, even on dry, sensitive skin. A little goes a very long way, easy to whip and create just the right amount of slip to let that razor glide smoothly across the skin. And they smell heavenly!


Anything else?

Alum bloc and a good post shave balm.


The Alum bloc is a clever wee beastie and can be used in many ways.

Naturally antibacterial and antiseptic, it can be gently rubbed over nicks and cuts to stop bleeding without the need for bits of loo roll stuck to your face. 

If you have particularly sensitive skin and are prone to redness, I recommend rubbing it over your damp face prior to lathering up. This creates a mild anesthetic effect and helps stop irritation. It can make lathering up slightly trickier, but not much.

It can also be used to soothe and clear insect bites and as an extremely effective natural deodorant. It is a natural salt crystal, so needs to be allowed to air dry or it will disappear much quicker than you’d like.


Post shave balm; thankfully the days when men using moisturiser was deemed “soft” are nearly behind us. Today the choice of post shave balms is varied, some with added anti-aging ingredients. I recommend finding one with as few chemicals as possible; you’ve just dragged a sharp blade across your face, why chuck harsh chemicals at it? The Mr Masey range is as natural as you can get, so its especially good for sensitive skin; the gentle fragrance is 100% natural and again, a little goes a long way. In fact, the first time I used this on a client I did the usual couple of finger tips worth and ended up rubbing it into my forearms it went so far. I had nice soft arms though!


Other bits…

A shave stand, not only does it keep your razor and brush tidy it stores them correctly so that they can air dry and avoid damage. Plus it looks very smart.


Blade Tin

How to safely dispose of spent blades? Don’t throw them in the bin as guaranteed, someone will end up cutting their finger, and as we try to move towards being a little more environmentally friendly this will help you cut down on waste.

Once your blade is done, pop it into this little tin, simple as that. The blade can’t fall out and once it’s filled (which will take about 18months) you chuck the whole thing in the recycling bin. Safe, responsible, eco.


Invest in yourself, turn shaving into an act of self-care. Right now, I think we need that more than ever. 



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  • The Dandy Cat

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

When you are forced to stop it is often worth taking the time to look around a little before you move on.


Lockdown was a trying time for everyone and for small businesses like us the prospect of losing everything we had built up to that point was a very real threat. It felt like we had no control over the outcomes; it was time to go back to the reasons why we wanted to do this in the first place, and for us that means community.


The Dandy Cat is all about you; your sounds, your style, your spirit. Now more than ever it feels that community is an increasingly important part of everyone's lives. When a nation is forced to remain within a few miles of their home it heightens awareness for everything that is good (and bad) about the places we choose to live. We know this and have always been careful to place community at the heart of everything we do. We wanted The Dandy Cat to be your one stop shop for the discerning gentlemen or lady wanting style and quality. We are passionate about proving that style does not mean being a peacock, or using disposable fashion items, but rather it is about timeless, sustainable choices that will provide you with years of joy.


We research the brands we stock thoroughly. We do not stock products that we have not tested ourselves or that have been pushed on us by sales people. We want all our products to be high quality, free from nasty chemicals and to be either locally produced or so uniquely brilliant that we would be crazy not to stock them. If you look at the products we stock there is not a weak one amongst them, there is also not another to be found in any local shop. This was important to us; be good for the town but don’t take away from the businesses of others.


We are very proud of our suppliers, each one has gone above and beyond to move quality products away from disposable culture. Each company we support understands what we want to achieve. They are a mixture of local small batch producers or larger companies renowned for their expertise and craftsmanship, and both supply us with products that are very special indeed. We go out of our way to source these things so that you don’t have to, and if you live locally to us then you are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of our click and collect, socially distanced, shopping experience, that allows you to order before you travel and then collect your sustainable goodies alongside your less fun, “essentials” shop in town. We want to bring a little bit of elegance back to shopping and make you feel like everything you purchase from us is a treat which you deserve, and believe us, you do deserve it.





During lockdown we have sourced yet more delightful things to enhance your lives and we have been proud to discover how hard our suppliers have been working to assist their local communities and provide support for them in a time of need. Both the Portsmouth Distillery Co. and Corner 53, our gin suppliers, switched at least one of their stills over to manufacture hand sanitiser when the country needed it most and both did this not for profit. We have taken their lead and our own Handy Dandy sanitiser is produced by Portsmouth Distillery Co. with every last penny from each unit sold going to charity.


Our wash bags, belts and wallets are all made from recycled leather and fire hose by Elvis and Kresse who donate thousands each year to support many charities through the sales of these products. Mr. Masey’s Emporium of Beards who hand make and supply all our colognes and beard oils are a company founded on giving back and supporting local communities. Not only do they help at local food banks but they also support youth development and environmental causes both of which are very close to our core principles at The Dandy Cat. Even our humble face masks are charitable. Each one is manufactured out of off cuts from the luxury silk industry (yes these are those same masks you saw in Liberty), sold for no profit and support key charities today. Our charming supplier of the best hats in Britain, Sussex Tweed, have also moved part of their production line to producing face masks, so if you fancy a linen look, they can provide you with a mask to match your hat.


What we want to prove is that being elegant, being stylish and being smart is not only achievable at a reasonable cost, but it is also easy to do sustainably.


We began our story with an aim to bring accessible style to the local community and after pausing to look around, we realise that through our partners we are helping to do so much more. As we move into the forced re-birth of The Dandy Cat we want to thank everyone who has supported us through thick and thin (yes, this does mean you) and invite you all to continue to be part of our wonderful community of Dandy Cats, and we promise you all, it will only get better.


Want to know more about our Dandy suppliers? Click these links:


https://mr-masey.co.uk/


https://www.elvisandkresse.com/


https://www.theportsmouthdistillery.com/


https://www.cornerfiftythree.co.uk/

https://www.sussextweed.co.uk/


  • The Dandy Cat


When we first considered opening a Gentlemen’s emporium, long before we had any real plans as to how we should go about making our ideas reality, we knew we wanted there to be three elements that made our place different; sounds, style and spirit. These three elements were so important to us that a lot further down the line we embedded them in our logo, a decision that has caused much debate amongst those that stop to read the sign.


“What does that mean?”


“What sort of a business are you?”


“Your logo says literally nothing about what you do!”


The last one is my favourite, but that one has already been covered in a previous post.


We thought we should take time to break down the whys of our three elements over the next few posts and perhaps expand them into separate blog sections as time goes on, but then again, seeing as these posts are few and far between, we may get distracted and try a different approach. Whatever the future holds, today we thought we should start with “Sounds”.


We love music. Those who have been in the shop will know we delight in playing little known mid-century gems alongside bona fide classics from a variety of genres. Our heart is in rock and roll, jazz and blues alongside ska, soul and reggae, but to be honest no genre will go un-listened. Whilst we are not in love with all genres, we truly believe that there is something good to be found in every type of music if you listen hard enough, but who really listens these days?


When we told people our idea to play this varied selection of music in the shop and allow those in the chair to choose the music we played, we were told it was ridiculous. One person even went so far as to suggest that we would drive people from the shop because no one likes the music we listen to.


When we went further and told them that we were only going to play vinyl, they thought we were mad. Even our friends and supplier of our sounds “Vinyl Matters” thought the idea was a bit of a stretch for most people. We dug our heels in though. Vinyl is to our ears the best way to appreciate music and has the added pleasure of being ever so slightly theatrical. The dilemma of choosing the album, the delicate removal of the disc from its sleeve and the gentle placing of it on the platter; the slow, weighted drop of the needle, the first crackle of the precious disc and finally, after a slightly too long pause, the blast of the music.


What we have discovered is that everyone shares the love of this. Young or old there is either a sense of wonder at how sound can come from a big, black disc, or a nostalgic memory of a time before streaming, when you had to make an effort to hear music.


We are not vinyl purists with an amp and player that cost more than your car, we have a very modest set up, but we do love the way that vinyl makes you listen. The musicians and producers spent months choosing the order in which you should listen to their music, vinyl reminds you of that painstakingly curated journey.


I have lost count of the amount of times I have explained the process of putting on a record to someone under 20, or how many times the vinyl has introduced those in the shop to new music or classic albums. We don’t sell the music, but we do celebrate it.


The vinyl "sounds" were there right at the beginning of the idea for The Dandy Cat, and they continue to bring joy today. You choose the album, we play it. You can even bring in your own record to put on the player, we enjoy it when you do, after all, we want to hear new sounds too.


“Your shop makes me want to dance” was a quote from a recent customer, and very often we do.


The plan is to offer up a few of our favourite records in this blog, so look out for some shonky, half remembered reviews later in the year but until then, just drop in and take a look or a listen to our selection.

© The Dandy Cat Ltd.