Mark Herro (also known as Mantic59) is the founder of Sharpologist, which is a community destination for wet shaving and grooming.
His content - which appears on YouTube, his blog, and his podcast - helps both men who are new to traditional shaving as well as those who are more experienced.
In this interview, Mark shares his story on how he became a wet shaving expert, shaving/grooming tips, and more.
*** If you're interested in stepping up your wet shaving game, download your free copy of the "Wet Shaving Toolkit: 21 Resources to Help You Get Started with Wet Shaving." ***
Tell us about your background. What's your story, and how did you end up becoming an expert in shaving?
Mark: I shaved with an electric razor for 30+ years and never much thought about it. Buzz, buzz, zip, zip, done in two minutes. Yeah, it was never a particularly close shave, but I thought that was "normal."
Fast forward to the mid '90s and a serious relationship with a special young lady. One thing she absolutely adored was the feeling of my face just after it was freshly shaven. Unfortunately she could only enjoy caressing my face for a few hours before it would get a bit "sand-papery" again.
We were married in 2002, in Las Vegas (no, Elvis didn't marry us. It was actually quite romantic).
About a year later, we were watching a TV show about things to do in Las Vegas ("hey, we did that on our honeymoon!"), and they mentioned getting an "old-style" barbershop shave at a place called The Art of Shaving at Mandalay Bay. My wife turned to me, arched her eyebrow, and said "Ohhhhhhh, you should try that!" I shrug, and we continued watching the show.
Some months later we're planning what to do for our wedding anniversary and decide to go back to Las Vegas. One morning while we're there she comes to me with a gleam in her eye and says "Don't shave today. I have a special anniversary present for you."
That afternoon we head to Mandalay Bay, where she takes me to The Art of Shaving and has them give me a shave as an anniversary gift.
It was a little freaky at first - I mean here is this stranger hovering over me with a straight-razor - but after a while, it got strangely relaxing, and I enjoyed it. After the barber finished, she pulled off the smock laying on me, and I felt my face.
It was insanely soft and smooth. I'd never felt anything like it before.
My wife had a sparkle in her eye and a huge smile on her face as she ran a finger along my jawline: "Ohhhhhhhh, mama likes!"
I'm sold on this way of shaving: I don't need to shave again for two days, and I'm almost continuously touching my face in amazement.
After I returned home I immediately started surfing the internet, trying to learn more about this way of shaving - and discover that there's little information out there (remember, this is 2004). I eventually discover the MSN Wetshavers forum (long defunct now).
Over the course of the next year I slowly learned (and learned to appreciate - and begin to advocate to my friends) shaving with a brush and traditional lather. I graduated from a Mach3 to a single-blade safety razor to an adjustable safety razor.
And as my own shaving technique matured, I discovered that I could actually offer some advice to "newbies" on the discussion board once in a while.
In the late spring of 2006 a casual comment in a discussion thread on the forum suggested that "someone needs to do a video on how to shave!" The general consensus was that the idea is appealing but probably too difficult to do.
Most everyone thought you really needed to see lather in three dimensions and be able to feel it to truly understand it, and a lot of the background techniques really needed to be shown "in person." It was also felt that the video technology of the day wasn't quite up to the quality that was necessary to properly demonstrate shaving.
But it stirred something inside me. I have a degree in TV/radio broadcasting (the engineering part, not the production part) though I had been out of the industry for many years. But I know the basics of putting together a video and I had just won a Panasonic GS9 camcorder a few months before while attending an convention, so I decided to experiment around a little.
I put together some test footage using Windows Movie Maker, posted it to the newly-popular YouTube, and asked the MSN guys to comment. I got some really good feedback and suddenly it didn't seem so impossible. I deleted the test footage and put up the three part "introductory" series that you still see on the channel.
And the rest, as they say, is history...
What is Sharpologist all about? And what makes it different than the other men's grooming blogs out there?
Mark: The short answer is Sharpologist is about what your father didn't teach you about shaving (and grooming).
I try to have a lot of informational material, tutorials and reviews, and keep it as product-neutral as I can.
There are a lot of men's grooming blogs out there, and a lot of them are very good, but to my knowledge, Sharpologist is the only "professional" (it's my full-time job now) site that is not associated with a business that sells shaving equipment.
What in particular intrigues you the most about shaving?
Mark: I think it's about a sensory experience that I never knew existed until I was exposed to it.
Something about warm, fragrant lather and a clean-tracking razor that provides a close, comfortable shave is very appealing to me.
In your experience, what is the biggest mistake that men make when it comes to shaving?
Mark: I think the biggest mistake that men make about shaving is not taking enough time to do it right. Everyone seems to be rushed and looking for a short cut.
You don't need a lot of time but making sure you take enough time to shave properly will make the experience so much more positive.
If you could give just one shaving (or grooming) tip, what would it be?
Mark: Other than taking enough time? Do everything gently. Especially the razor on the face.
Most people think that pushing down on the razor somehow makes the shave "closer" while the reality is the opposite: shaving with little or no pressure will make the razor work more efficiently.
Most of the modern razor cartridges have a pivot design that can help compensate for too much pressure, but only up to a point.
And what would your one grooming tip be?
Mark: I think once again it goes back to time. Don't try to cut corners to save a minute... do it properly and the results will be much more satisfying.
One of the main focuses of this blog is to help men be, look, and feel dapper quickly and efficiently. Do you have a simple and quick shaving routine that you follow that you can share with our readers?
Mark: If I'm in a super rush to shave, I use a brushless cream out of a tube (avoid anything out of a pressurized can whenever possible: the propellants have a tendency to dry out the skin over the long run) and a single, cross-grain pass (assuming I've shaved the day before).
I usually get the shave that's quite presentable, though without most of the sensory experience I enjoy.
How can our readers learn more about what you're up to and connect with you online?
Mark: Other than Sharpologist? I'm pretty active on Twitter (@mantic59). I do have Facebook but I'm not as active there.
I also browse many of the shaving-related forums but don't post a lot.
And of course my original YouTube channel is still plugging away!
Step Up Your Grooming Game
A big "thank you" to Mark for the interview! If you're interested in learning more about wet shaving, be sure to check out Sharpologist for tutorials and other content, including his free eBook "30 Days to A More Enjoyable Shave."
If you're looking to get started with wet shaving, be sure to download your free copy of the "Wet Shaving Toolkit: 21 Resources to Help You Get Started with Wet Shaving."
Just click on the image below to get access to it: