What’s the one thing that sets us, barbers, apart from cosmetologist? Wet shaves and straight razor work. Now, what is wet shaving? In the past, it started with a straight razor and badger brush. Then came the safety razor for more convenience and ease. In the present day, most men use cartridge razors with a little water and soap or aerosol shave gel. As a barber, we want to dig back into our roots of hot towels, straight razors, and hot lather. We’re in a day in age where more men enjoy being pampered and being well groomed. Why not do that, in one of the manliest ways possible? With a cold piece of metal next to your face and throat!
My older clients are always reminiscing how they remember going with their fathers to the barbershop while they got a hot towel, straight razor shave. Why do those have to be old memories and not memories that continue to be made with sons and fathers today!? A straight razor shave is one of the best shaves you can ever have, especially if done right. A straight razor shave is less aggressive than a cartridge razor, will get you a closer shave, will cause less irritation and with the right products will help minimize any issues men tend to have with shaving.
Now you may be asking what is the right steps/components to a great shave. I use the term “right” loosely because we are in an industry full of artist and we all have our own way of doing things but these are things that I have found to enhance my shaving. When shaving, heat, and moisture are two of the most important elements for shaving. The heat we need to open the pores and soften the skin and hair, and moisture is used to further soften the skin and hair along with replacing moisture to the skin which is lost through the process of shaving.
This is how I do my shaves:
- Talk to your clients to make sure how they want the shave and if they have had any issues with shaving in past. Also, make sure to remove any long hairs that are going to be shaved (prevents tugging and irritation)
- Drape your client.
- Start with a hot towel, and apply slight pressure to the towel and face.
- Remove the hot towel and apply a pre-shave on any area that will be shaved
- Apply a warm lather (whether it be with a brush or by hand)
- Shave with the grain or in the direction of the hair growth (when applying the pre-shave this is something you should look for). Make sure you're also keeping the skin taut or stretched.
- Re-apply warm lather and shave against the grain (opposite of the hair growth) for a closer shave
- Apply a cold towel to close the pores and tighten the skin
- Lastly, apply an aftershave (preferably a balm or lotion)
When doing a consultation for a shave we need to keep in mind some of the struggles and concerns men have when it comes to shaving:
This happens when there is too much friction on the skin and a good way to minimize this, is by providing a barrier between the skin and limit the number of blades gliding across the skin. Pre-shave and lather are great for providing this barrier, so never shave on bare skin.
Knicks and Cuts
With having something sharp on the skin it is nearly impossible to completely rid of these but you can do your part to prevent these as much as possible. Your technique is going to have a lot to do with this, never shave in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Also, a pre-shave is a great tool to help lessen these
Ingrowns and Razor Bumps happen when hairs start to grow beneath the skin and cannot continue to grow outside the skin. Moisture is essential for these. Dry skin is hard and prevents these hairs from growing out, so when you moisten the skin it makes it so the hairs can grow out. You also want to remove any other obstructions and you can do so by exfoliating. Make sure you also disinfect the area without drying the skin (Lavender essential oil, Tea tree essential oil, or an aftershave balm/lotion)