Traditional Wet Shaving & More!

Becoming a Barber: Week 5

Hey Shavers,

Finally, the topic I had been waiting for: The Hot Towel Shave! (video) *A traditional barber shave assumes that the barber is right handed and will be standing on the right side of the client. The client’s face is approached as individual 14 areas, where a Freehand, Reverse Freehand, or Backhand razor stroke will be employed to cut the beard. The Freehand stroke (beside client) and Reverse Freehand stroke (behind client) are gliding motions, with the razor, towards the barber; the Backhand stroke (beside client) is a gliding motion, with the razor, away from the barber. The 14 strokes/ares are guidelines but may not be followed exactly, depending on the client’s unique grain pattern, hair density, etc.

There are 2 types of shaves: Once-Over and Close shaving. A Once-Over Shave (1 pass) can be performed with a combination of with-the-grain and across-the-grain strokes, or with-the-grain only. A Close Shave (2 pass) will shave with-the-grain, re-lather, and then shave against-the-grain. A minimum of 2 steam towels are used for either shave. Heavy beards or course hair may require additional steam towels and lather. Lathering should begin at the base of the neck and be worked up to the cheeks to determine hair growth direction (grain).


We discussed the difference between disposable blade straight razors (shavettes) and conventional straight razors, which require honing and stropping. Most likely I’ll use a shavette; I did a test shave on myself using the Daune shavette and was pleased with the ease of use and results. Florida allows the use of conventional straight razors but prohibits shaving brushes and mugs.  I asked my instructor about just using a shave brush to lather product, and he said that using a brush to solely lather a soap or cream should be legal, as long it is removed from the work area and never used on the client or placed back into the lather after the client has been touched; I’ll need to research this. I told him about the advances in synthetic shaving brushes, which theoretically could probably be better sanitized than animal hair brushes; he said I could consider petitioning the state barber board. Another option would be to purchase inexpensive synthetic shaving brushes wholesale and including one with the shave service cost; clients could also bring in their personal shaving brush and have it used on them for a shave service.

We didn’t specifically discuss any recommended shaving products or creams.  The class used Barbasol to practice shaving a balloon, but I used some RazoRock Fine American Blend shave soap. On Saturday, we had to perform our practical demonstration on a fellow classmate. I got paired with Brent, who has a beard; he didn’t want the whole beard removed, but I shaved his cheeks, mustache and soul patch area, and lower neck. I performed a Once-Over shave using my Sanguine shavette and RazoRock Pre-Shave Gel and Proraso Sandalwood shave soap. No nicks or cuts and he claimed it was relaxing to the point of drowsiness. I need more practice and experience, but not bad for my first client shave!

I have 10 more days (2 weeks) in Phase 1 and then get promoted to Phase 2, where I begin servicing the public in our school Barber Zone. Our school issues Andis Envy clippers, but I’m considering getting some Wahl Senior clippers as many students and an instructor have vocalized liking Wahl’s performance better. I’ve used both Andis and Wahl personally, but only their over-the-counter clippers available at Walmart, not any of their professional line.


Until next time, Shave Well!

Handsome Rob (barber in training)
“I’m handsome, and you can be handsome too!”


4 comments on “Becoming a Barber: Week 5

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    July 31, 2014

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  2. Stephan Pire
    March 12, 2015

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