September 30, 2021

Shaving: It’s What Sets Us Apart

man with red beard getting a straight razor shave

Published in BarberEVO magazine.

Barbering is derived from the art of shaving, and it’s a skill that is being lost. Tyrik Jackson knows how to encourage guests into the reclining chair for more customer satisfaction and increased revenue.

A lot of barbers focus on the bread and the butter – haircuts and style. But shaving services are one of the most traditional services that barbers can provide. It is the one thing that separates us from cosmetologists, the use of a straight razor.

The History of Shaving

It’s important to understand the history of shaving, which goes back so far, even into Egyptian times. The priest would get shaved every few days to be purified, that was what the barber’s main role was, to shave them from head to toe to make them clean before they went into the temple.

I’m not suggesting you offer head-to-toe shaves… but if you are not doing shaves, you are missing out on a revenue stream. I know beards have become a popular thing, but there is still a demographic of people who enjoy a traditional shave. The reason they don’t know the shave is available is because it is not being marketed to them in the barbershop. Old school barbers have died out, and then men started going to styling salons to get hair done.

It’s important that we market ourselves appropriately so that we can get that additional revenue. Once the new age barbers came out, most of the focus was on clean fades, great hairstyles and enhancements, leaving out one major component – shaving. The new technology of edgers and electric shavers removed the shaving skillset, as they made shaving quicker and convenient. But quicker and convenient isn’t always the best service. When you are spending time with your guest and giving a better experience then the shaving service becomes something that will separate your shop from many people in your area.

The Elements Of A Great Shave

At our barber school one of the things people ask for a lot is the hot lather shave. The reason is, is that it is a requirement for students to do a hot lather shave to pass their state board examination. When someone is having a haircut and the barber introduces the idea of a hot lather shave, the words ‘hot lather’ really is what intrigues people. If you say… would you like a shave. It is not as exclusive as a hot towel shave, or a hot lather shave. It is usually followed by a statement from guests, saying, ‘Wait, you guys do that?’ It’s a great opportunity to explain what it is we do.

A good shave has four elements. They are:

  • PREPARE: the face, and your equipment for that service. Setting the equipment up is one thing, preparing the face is as important, as it is the foundation of the following experience and of a great shave.
  • LATHER: lather has important properties in it to help soften and swell the hair and prepare it for a smooth shave. If you are not shaving with the proper lather, what happens is you dull your razor, and it becomes an uncomfortable experience.
  • SHAVE IT: there are three types of shave. The 14-stroke method, then the once over. The once over is after you’ve shaved the face in the 14 strokes, then you go across the grain to eliminate any more hairs that are visible or can be felt by touch; and there is a process how they are found and then removed. You wet the face, feel around the face using massage strokes, and that helps you find any hairs you need to eliminate. The third shave is the ‘against the grain’ shave. Taking the blade and going contrary to the hair pattern will give the ultimate and closest shave. It is time-consuming, but the payment for that service is great, because there are not many people who can do it and do it properly.
  • MOISTURIZE: this is where your product sales come in to increase revenue. When you are moisturizing and adding conditioners to nurture the skin you are also giving them a little aromatherapy, it smells good, it feels good, it’s soothing and cooling – that experience they take with them. They say, I like the stuff you put on my face, do you have any for sale? You are adding to your ticket. So, when someone comes in for a haircut at $20-$30, and you have added a shave experience it takes your ticket up to $60, maybe $100, then the retail sale of the moisturizer really helps to increase your income from that one guest.

barber straight razor

It’s important to market shaving services, as that’s what creates the buzz and the demand. If you are not talking about it, no one knows. People aren’t doing so much shaving as they are not as experienced in it, but if they take the time to increase the conversation with guests about the shaving options, it would increase their opportunity to shave… and if you increase the opportunity, the more proficient you will become. If more people visibly see you shave guests, the more intrigued they are about it.

When you lay a client back and drape them and get them ready for the shave, their eyes are closed, the heat from the towel helps them to relax their muscles and their nerves, and it stimulates blood flow. When you begin to shave them, that experience is so relaxing the client sometimes fall asleep. This is not a five-minute service, when done right, it is an additional 20 mins.

It is absolutely worth it financially. You’ve started a conversation that spreads, people are saying, hey, that barbershop does hot lather shaves! You can begin to create offers eg, when a man is getting married, there is an experience where he and his groomsmen go and get shaved as a rite of passage, it becomes an experience, a memorable moment. You can create other marketing opportunities and add revenue, carrying out these additional services for people, particularly if it is a service they can’t get at their usual barbershop.

What Sets Barbers Apart?

We should remember why we are different, and that is because of the use of the straight razor. It used to be conventional razors, made from German steel. Part of the sanitation protocol was that you couldn’t use a conventional razor anymore, and they went to changeable razors, where you can remove the blade, and that is what is being used today. It can be memorable for a lifetime for guests if barbers are doing it the right way. If you are the only barbershop in town that is offering hot lather shaves, that is an experience that people will talk about. We are all trying to find a way of standing out in some form, right?

If you feel like you need to sharpen up your skills (no pun intended!) when it comes to razor shaves, then you can find classes out there from people who do it at a high level. There are some countries that make an effort to market shaving as a high priority. It is worth investing in some education to elevate your skills.

barber with tattoos shaving with a straight razor

It is important to understand barbering history and why barbering and shaving is so important.* If you don’t take the time to understand the history, then you don’t comprehend why we are who we are, and what we do. The razor separates us from everyone else in the industry. It is because of shaving that we are barbers, it is not because of fades, it’s not because of texture, it’s not because of color or highlights, it is because of the razor.

If we understand our origin, we can carve out our future. The traditional shave is an important component of our profession, unfortunately there is so much lost revenue through the lack of service and the retail that compliments it, and as a result, it is slowly fading away.

Begin A Career in Barbering

If giving hot lather shaves, creating amazing fades, and helping people feel amazing about themselves sounds like something you’d love to do, we can teach you how to do it at Premier Barber Institute! We’ve been helping men and women find their passion in barbering for years now and can’t wait to meet you!

Reach out to our school to learn more about our programs, financial aid, admissions process, and more!

* Origin of the Barber

The word barber is derived from the Latin barba, meaning beard. Another word derived from Latin, tonsorial, means the cutting, clipping, or trimming of hair with shears or a razor; it is often used in conjunction with barbering; hence, barbers are sometimes referred to as tonsorial artists.

Archaeological studies reveal that haircutting and styling were practiced in some form as early as the glacial age. The simple but effective elements used then were shaped from sharpened flints, oyster shells or bone.

Many Bibical passages refer to the barber profession. According to Leviticus, Moses (b.1391 BC) he was told by God to command those who had recovered from leprosy to shave all of their body hair as part of a ritual cleansing. Ezekiel referred to an ancient custom when he said: “Take though a barber’s razor and cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard.” Based on these and other biblical references, it has been accepted that barbering was available to the general population during the lifetime of Moses.

A reference to Hadrian, who came into power in 117AD, reflects how trends evolve even today. ‘Clean shaven faces were the trend until Emperor Hadrian became a trendsetter when he grew his beard to hide scars on his chin. This resulted in the populace following his lead, and the beard was again in fashion. Much like what happens with influential people today, sports stars, politicians, actors, they can also dictate facial hair trends.

References taken from: Milady’s Standard Professional Barbering, fifth edition.

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