This week the Alice Made This team said goodbye to its intern Joe Pendrich. To say thank you for all his hard work, and to send him back to university looking suitably refined, we took him to Murdock’s Barbers on Brewer Street to learn more about their processes and for some well-deserved grooming.
Murdock London is the ‘grooming specialists for gentlemen of good taste’ and provides Made in England colognes, daily essentials and barbershop experiences to offer the discerning man a bit of luxury. With products made from carefully chosen raw ingredients, and delivered with the barbers’ expert knowledge, Brendan Murdock has created enclaves of creativity across the capital to suit the tastes and needs of the men that live and work within it.
As we enter the warm, rich and brass adorned shop on Brewer Street, we meet Sheldon, Joe’s barber for the morning. He begins by consulting with Joe and working out which beard shape will suit his face shape, length and jaw line. The key is to strengthen his features, not cover them.
Sheldon tells us that Joe has quite a square and distinct jaw line so opts for a shape that is short on the sides and underneath, with a touch more length at the front for a sharper finish.
Joe’s beard isn’t that long, so Sheldon begins with an all over facial wash using Murdock’s ‘Cleansing Facial Wash’. This will get the face reading for a shave, removing the dirt from the beard and leaving the skin soft. Extracts of Peppermint reduce sensitivity and Wheat Protein soothes inflamed skin whilst Aloe Vera heals and regenerates cells. The wash gently foams and leaves the face invigorated.
Next, the ‘Pre-Shave Oil’ acts as a skin conditioning treatment when paired with a hot towel. The oil absorbs into the skin, softening the whiskers and preparing the face for the razor’s edge. The all natural combination of Sweet Almond, Bergamot, Orange and Wheat Germ helps moisturise the skin.
Murdock’s ‘Exfoliating Face Scrub’ contains Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil, Pumice and Herbal extracts, lightly exfoliating the T-zone and softly removing dirt from the skin, cleansing deeply and leaving the face replenished and renewed.
2 mins 57 seconds is the golden number here. This is the optimum time for the hot towels to soften the hair, push nutrients into the skin and open up the pores.
Then and only then is it time for the ‘Shaving Cream’. Evening Primrose, Borage, Sunflower, Green Tea and Marshmallow are the clean, honest and natural ingredients that lather up to soften the skin, offering the fresh fragrance of Murdock’s Avalon Cologne.
But what is a craftsman without his tools? Murdock’s ‘Synthetic Shaving Brush’ matches the superior quality of real badger hair, offering the same lathering properties and water retention levels to push water away from the brush and into the hair, softening the whiskers through moisture. Sheldon tells us how the creams and oils are for skin nutrition and shaving protection, whereas the moisture is the key to a precise shave.
As Sheldon shapes Joe’s beard, he tells us how he prefers to shave with the grain rather than against it, preventing irritation, ingrown hairs and taking the hairs off at their roots.
Like in any of our factories, there is a respect for process here. There is an understanding of materials, their properties and their specialities. There is a skill, craft and tradition to be admired and championed. The refinement that goes into every motion and every product is exact.
Sheldon finishes by applying the ‘Hydrating Facial Moisturiser’ to the areas that have just been shaved, using the energising complex of essential vitamins to waken and restore the skin. Sheldon applies a cold towel to see the hydration taking place and examine the pores.
‘Post-Shave Balm’, with extracts of Chamomile and Calendula to keep the skin supple, ‘Repairing Lip Balm’, containing apricot, avocado, cranberry and St John’s Wort to prevent excessive loss of moisture, and ‘Anti-Ageing Eye Serum’, with Cucumber Distillate to soothe tired skin around the eyes, are finally applied to finish the process, leaving Joe relaxed and ready to return to Northumbria.
Whereas the beard trend may be all around us, an expert and precise shave - one with history, knowledge and exacting process - is hard to find. It is important to carefully examine each step - rather than simply going through the motions - to appreciate the technicalities.
Learn more about Murdock here.