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How Safe Is Your Face… Part 4

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Craig The Barber

[Note from Mantic59: Continuing the discussion of barber shaves (started from this post), I’ve asked Craig The Barber for his opinions.]
What should a customer expect?  

When a customer requests a shave from me, my goal is to always deliver a close and comfortable shave that’s free of irritation, and high on comfort. The way this is accomplished is by focusing my attention on keeping the face as moist as possible from the beginning of the shave to the end.

I do this by using anywhere from 4-7 hot towels throughout the entire service. Typically I start by cleansing and exfoliating the skin. Then follow with a specifically chosen pre-shave oil. The next step would be 1-2 applications of a shaving cream that blends well with the pre-shave oil for greater moisture and glide, and also calming qualities for the customer.

Shaving steps vary from customer to customer, however I always start with the grain and end by shaving across and spot shaving against, making sure to re-lather whenever a different direction is established.

Because I feel that the post shave is just as important as the 1st two steps, I always use a mixture of water and witch hazel as a splash, followed by an ice old towel to the face. The aftershave balm is the final step for the shaved area, and a moisturizer for the rest of the face is obviously in order. The duration of the service can last anywhere form 30 minutes to an hour depending on the customer and the shave service selected.

As for the general expectations of the customer, they are often very high. But not as high as the pressure I put on myself to deliver a great shaving experience!

What questions should a customer ask before the shave?

Well, I get a lot of first timers asking me if “I’ve ever cut someone?”, but I know that that’s just their nerves talking. So please try not to ask that one. However, two questions that I personally would not be opposed to answering would be: “How many years have you been shaving?” or “Will you be shaving me with a straight-razor or a safety/cartridge razor?”

– The number of years can most of the time give the customer a good idea of the skill level of the barber. However, I’ve personally witnessed barbers with less than a year of experience wield a straight razor with unbelievable precision and skill. So, the best way is to use your judgment after this question has been answered, and always try to ask around for recommendations.

– The use of a straight razor is the #1 difference between a barber and a cosmetologist. It’s a skill learned in barbering school and perfected on the job, or during an apprenticeship. So if a barber shave is being done with anything other than a straight razor, it’s best to know beforehand.

What kinds of information should a customer convey to the barber?

The more skilled a barber becomes in shaving a customer, the easier it is for he/she to recognize certain shaving challenges the customer may have from shaving. With this in mind, having a discussion about skin sensitivities and areas that are prone to irritation is a great way of reassuring the customer, and making sure that he and the barber are on the same page.

What is the attitude of the barber towards shaving a customer?

Well, speaking for myself. I love the art of shaving, and I always look forward to the opportunity to give my new and existing clientele a taste of a timeless barbering tradition.

Are customers disappointed if the barber uses a cartridge razor to do the shave?

If not, they should be. Performing a shave with a cartridge razor not only is a service that can be done at home with ease, and obviously with a lower price tag. But it’s also a misrepresentation of the art of shaving that many barbers take pride in performing.


3 thoughts on “How Safe Is Your Face… Part 4”

  1. Great piece Craig!
    I would only reiterate what most truly ‘professional’ barbers such as Craig would recommend: Don’t accept anything less than a truly professional service from a fully trained and experienced barber and, if you are fortunate enough to find a barber who offers that, stick to AND appreciate them for they are truly a dying breed!

  2. Craig, I agree with everything you are saying… I used to go to Weldon Barber when my friend Blaine started working there. They started doing men’s face shaves and with a Mach 3, sadly I turned down the service because it would cost me 15 bucks for something I could do myself. When Blaine opened his own store Porters he uses a Shavette Feather which is as good as a straight as you can get. He uses 3 hot towels, I can’t imagine using 7 like you do. So find a good barber and stick with them for life.

    1. Steven, thanks for the comment! It’s a great feeling when you have a barber who’s services truly keep you coming back. I agree with you that a good barber is hard to find, but hopefully with the influence of websites like this one, it will start to get easier.

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