Classic Cuts: NYC Barbershops
by Jeremy Lehrer, 01/30/2013
Courtesy, The New York Shaving Company, Midtown
The New York Shaving Company
202B Elizabeth St., 212-334-9495, Lower East Side, Manhattan
146 E. 49th St., 212-644-1888, Midtown East, Manhattan
The family-run New York Shaving Company offers a sublime shaving experience. It starts with the application of a pre-shave oil (a mix of essential and castor oils), then a hot towel wrap, followed by an initial application of shaving cream. The barber then shaves the face with the grain, puts on another hot towel, removes it and applies more shaving cream, then shaves against the grain (or not, if the customer has sensitive skin). The "Ultimate Shave" adds an application of clay powders and essential oils—made fresh—to soothe and cleanse the skin.
The shop has been on the Lower East Side for five years, where the intentionally small space has only two chairs, ensuring that the ambience remains intimate and customers can be taken care of with the utmost attention. A recently opened Midtown location is more spacious, with two chairs and two shoeshine chairs.
Though the shave might be the initial attraction, the barbers here are also skillful hair stylists. Another draw are the company's own locally made shaving products—including shaving creams, oils and aftershave balms—which are free of sulfates, parabens, preservatives and detergents. The house-branded shaving paraphernalia includes a variety of razors and shaving sets, and customers who buy a straight razor are treated to a free shave and a shaving lesson. The shop, like many of its brethren, offers complimentary whiskey or wine, and the music—big bands, standards and the ilk—fits the store's ethos. Manager Mike Curcio observes, "Shaving shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right."