Blade Runner

by | Jun 2021

Johnathan McCastle

Photos: Chris Emeott

Barber knows his stuff — from facial skin to follicles.

After a decade in the industry, professional barber Johnathan McCastle brings skills and experience to his Minnetonka shop, The Top Shave Lounge. Sure, there are the usual perks involved in a traditional shave or haircut experience. Perhaps, your mind immediately jumps to the warm embrace of steamy face towels or a smooth shave from an expertly-handled straight-edge razor.

Johnathan McCastle Working with Customer

But there’s more to the Top Shave experience, including the opportunity to address issues that have hounded men in their skincare routines, and this knowledge isn’t left in the chair after clients leave. “Most men don’t know how to shave,” McCastle says. “When you’re 18 years old, a Gillette razor comes in the mail, and what happens is most people aren’t educated on how to shave, because people don’t feel like it matters, right?”

McCastle says that when first-time clients come to Top Shave, most claim that they don’t have any issues with their facial skin, but that isn’t always the truth of the matter. Once in the chair, clients are often asked about their shaving routines, skin irritations and reactions. “They say, ‘Well, of course, I get irritation right here and here.’ And they just told you they don’t have any problems,” McCastle says.

Top Shave’s scalp therapy and facial treatments aren’t just a matter of indulgence. They’re also a way to get to the root of some of the problems men experience when shaving and caring for their skin. “The goal is to solve the different issues that men are having. That’s what I’m trying to do,” McCastle says. “I had a guy who said, ‘I’ve been shaving for 50 years, and no one’s ever taught me how to do this or that. I got rid of the problems I’ve had my whole life.’”

Before COVID-19 struck, McCastle had planned to take his expertise to educational events at the University of Minnesota and local high schools, but the virus has limited him to offering one-on-one consultations for the time being. “I teach people exactly what their skin type is, so they can shave properly,” he says, explaining that individual shaving techniques are determined by types of hair follicles.

Johnathan McCastle Preparing Shaving Cream

“The best way to shave someone or to shave yourself is with the grain first—in the direction of growth of your hair,” McCastle says.  After that, the next step is determined by hair follicle. If your hair is straight or only slightly curly, your second pass can be against the grain. But, McCastle cautions, if your hair is curly, it’s best to go with the grain twice to avoid irritation.

For those who want to grow their facial hair, McCastle shares a few thoughts on Instagram, “What’s the point in having a great beard if you can’t maintain it?” And for those who join the beard club during No-Shave November (or anytime), “Don’t just grow a beard … make it epic this beard season,” he says.


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