MANual of Style

Comment Spotlight: Hair, Leather Alternatives, How To Shave by Shreyas
19 December, 2009, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Basic Concepts

Today I wanted to expand on some questions raised by readers.

Lukas said: What do you consider to be the best substitute for a leather belt for vegetarians/vegans who don’t use leather?

I’ve thought about this a while, and my suggestion is, for formal occasions try to match color and material with your shoes. Outside of that particular context, do whatever makes you happy.

In general, I’m going to suggest particular materials every now and then, and a good rule of thumb is that if you substitute materials (a waxed canvas overcoat instead of a wool one, for instance), you’re going to end up in a slightly less formal-looking outfit. It’s an unfortunate fact that the most common formal items are made of leather, wool and silk, and I tend to recommend items closer to the formal end of the scale because you can dress them down easily. However, there are lots of good alternatives, like these linen ties from Band of Outsiders or these microfiber and cotton items from Jaan J., who appear to specialize in vegan accessories. You may need to look a little harder to find the stuff you want to wear, but it’s quite possible.

Alexis said: Also, this advice seems pretty heavily geared towards people with straight and wavy hair. What about people with curly hair?

Well, I don’t know a ton about styling curly hair, but I did some reading about haircare.

Evidently, curly hair doesn’t distribute sebum (the natural oils produced by your scalp) as quickly as straighter hair, and Black hair tends to produce less sebum to begin with. This means that the thing you should pay attention to, in order to keep your hair strong and healthy, is to make sure it’s getting enough oil. You should shampoo less often (maybe just once a week) and condition daily, and make sure that if you use a product, it’s oil-based (shea butter cream, olive oil, etc.), so your hair doesn’t become dry and brittle. It also helps to wash your hair with cool water (not uncomfortably so, just cooler than you’d normally shower with), and spritz your hair occasionally to refresh it. The thing to remember is that, honestly, really, really curly hair requires the same care regardless of the color of your skin.

Robb said:I think you glanced over the actually shaving part a little bit.

Shaving is hard to talk about! The texture and sensitivity of your skin and thickness of your hair both affect what the best shaving method is for you. Here are some tips, though:

  • A pre-shave treatment to soften your stubble can help you get a closer shave with less irritation. You can get a specially formulated pre-shave oil, or just use a facial moisturizer. Either way, let it sink in for ten minutes or so before you shave.
  • Lathering up or using a non-lathering shaving cream helps avoid irritation.
  • Washing your face with cool water afterwards will help soothe the skin.
  • Use the minimum number of razor passes you can! Try not to shave opposite to the direction of hair growth; shave across it if shaving with the grain doesn’t cut close enough. Again, this is about avoiding irritation.

Although, honestly, using just a razor and water one time is an educational experience: it forces you to shave more carefully, lets you see what you’re doing, and allows you to really get to know your skin and its needs.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

On the leather belt vs. vegan question – have you considered suspenders?

Comment by John Powell

I think suspenders are neat! If they work for you, great.

They’re not a “basic” for me, which is why I didn’t mention them, but that shouldn’t stop you. Just know that if you wear suspenders every day (which is how often you should wear a belt), you’ll become “that guy who wears suspenders.” If that’s the quirky thing you want to be known for, go for it.

Comment by shreyas

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