The Face Shave

The shave is the oldest service provided by barbers. The word barber is derived from the Latin word barba meaning beard. Artifacts such as razors and pictures depicting barbershop scenes have been discovered dating back to thousands of years B.C.
Daily or a few times a week men would go to the barbershop to be shaved before the invention of the safety razor. Today a professional shave is a luxury. Any man can shave himself today so the service must be first class. The correct products and skin preparation along with the technical skill are imperative to going above and beyond the clients expectations.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
  • Identify the correct type of straight razor to use for the most comfortable shave.
  • Identify the four hand positions for holding the straight razor.
  • Identify the fourteen shaving stokes.
  • Identify which straight razor hand positions go with each shaving stroke.
  • Understand the process of preparing the skin for a shave.
  • Understand the purpose of each of the shaving products.
  • Understand the importance of keeping the skin, beard, and shaving cream warm.
  • Demonstrate a straight razor face shave.
Step by Step Guide
  1. Place a towel over the head rest, drape the client, and slowly lean him back. Place 1-2 towels over the clients lower neck and upper chest to keep him clean.
  2. Wrap the face with 1-2 hot towels and let steam for 2 minutes. This will open the pores and soften the beard. When the towels are cooled down slightly press them into the skin for another 1-2 minutes. This will further soften the skin and the beard. (For heavier beards 2 towels will soften the beard better allowing for a more comfortable shave.)
  3. Take off the towels and apply pre-shave oil liberally. When shaving, the natural oil in the skin is scraped away. The pre-shave oil will act as a protective barrier between the skin and the blade. It will also further soften the beard and lubricate the skin. When massage the shaving oil into the skin take your time. The process should be relaxing and feel good. Also, spend a little time lightly massaging against the grain. This will help the beard to stand up higher allowing for a closer more comfortable shave.
  4. Repeat step 3 with a thick moisturizing shave cream. This will soften the beard further, moisturize the skin, and help the blade glide across the skin much easier.
  5. Apply the hot lather over the top of the oil and the cream. This will keep the skin and shaving products warm, keep the beard soft, and keep the beard standing up longer for a smoother, closer shave.
  6. Start section 1. Face the client away from you and use the freehand stroke in a diagonal motion. Grip the head with your thumb at the side burn and stretch the skin tight.  An alternate stretch is to use the palm of your hand on the side burn and push upward to stretch the skin.
  7. Move on to section 2. In this section pay close attention to the direction of the beard growth. A lot of times the beard will be growing away from the chin. In this instance you will need to use the free hand stroke and shave towards you. Grip the skin with your pointer finger on the chin and thumb on the cheek. Shave the area in between your fingers. Re-grip the skin when your fingers start to slide too far apart and the tension is not as firm. If the beard is growing downward or toward the chin use the backhand stroke. Use either your fingers or the palm of your hand to stretch the skin. (Shaving against the grain will cause irritation and razor bumps. This particular area if very susceptible to small nicks from against the grain shaving.)
  8. Shave section 3 under the nose. Grip the ball of the nose pull up and to the left. Make sure the client is relaxed. A lot of times they will want to help you stretch. This will only make it harder. Use the freehand stroke and very gently shave under the nose. The razor should barely touch the skin without any pressure. Just guide the razor toward the lip. Take a few stokes below the nose and on either side of the nose as far as you can comfortably reach. Place your pointer finger below the nose and your thumb at the corner of the mouth. Pull the skin tight and use the same light pressure to finish this side of the mustache area.
  9. Shave section 4. Most of the time the beard will grow downward in this section. Make sure the client’s neck is stretched out pulling the skin tight. Further stretch the skin with your thumb and the palm of your hand. Use the free hand stroke and shave in a downward direction to the midway point of the neck.
  10. Shave section 5. There are two ways you can stretch the skin in this section. If the skin is too slippery grip the bottom of the neck with the towel and pull down or use your pointer finger and thumb to pull the skin tight and shave the area in between with the reverse freehand stroke.
  11. Shave section 6. Face the client toward you. Place your thumb on the side of the nose and your pointer finger at the corner of the mouth and pull the skin tight. Using the lightest pressure possible shave the area in between your fingers.
  12. Shave section 7. Grip the side burn area with your fingers and pull the skin tight. Use the back hand stroke and shave in a diagonal motion.
  13. Shave section 8. Use the freehand or backhand stroke and shave toward the chin. Use your thumb and the palm of your hand to stretch the skin. Remember to pay close attention to how the beard grows in this area as in section 2. If the beard grows away from the chin you will have to start at the chin and use the freehand stroke to shave away from the chin. (Shaving against the grain will cause irritation and razor bumps. This particular area if very susceptible to small nicks from against the grain shaving.)
  14. Shave section 9. Use the backhand stroke and shave in a downward direction the top portion of the neck. Use your fingers on the cheek and pull the skin upward to stretch. Most of the time, the beard will be growing down in this section. As always make sure to shave with the grain.
  15. Shave section 10.  There are two ways you can stretch the skin in this section. If the skin is slippery grip the bottom of the neck with the towel and pull down. You can also stretch the skin with your pointer finger and thumb by pulling the skin tight and shave the area in between with the reverse freehand stroke.
  16. Shave section 11. Turn the clients head so it is facing upward toward the ceiling. Stretch the skin tight with your thumb and pointer finger and shave the area in between. This area of the skin is not as stretchable as the cheeks and neck. Focus on one small area at a time. Shave across the chin using the freehand stroke towards you. Take a few sections until you work your way down to just below the jaw line.
  17. Shave section 12. Keep the client facing upward toward the ceiling and have him stretch his neck as far as he can and still remain comfortable. Shave the area under the chin to the Adam’s apple using the freehand stroke. Grip the chin with your thumb or palm of the hand. Pull upward to further stretch the neck. An alternative stretch is to use your thumb and pointer finger to stretch the skin and shave in between your fingers. The backhand stroke can also be used with the first strect position. Make sure never to shave against the grain in this area. This is the heaviest part of the beard and will result in extreme irritation and razor burn.
  18. Shave section 13. Use the reverse freehand stroke. Stretch the skin between your thumb and pointer finger and pull the skin to either side of the Adam’s apple. Do your best not to shave over the Adam’s apple. This is the most sensitive part of the neck. If the skin is too slippery you can use the towel to pull downward and to the side on the bottom of the neck.
  19. Shave section 14. Sometimes this area will need to be lathered up again. This is the final step so the shaving cream can sometimes dry up or will have been wiped off with some of the other stretches. Tell the client to relax his face. A lot of time he will want to assist in stretching this area which will make it more difficult. Grip the chin with the palm of your hand and thumb and pull straight down. Using a scooping motion with the reverse freehand stoke shave up toward the lower lip. Sometimes with a heavier beard a slight diagonal with tiny sections will help the beard to come off easier in this area.
  20. Apply a cool towel to the clients face to close the pores. When removing, blot (do not rub) the excess shaving cream off.
  21. Gently massage in an alcohol free moisturizing after shave balm. Lightly rub the balm with the grain of the beard. The idea is to calm and soothe the skin after the shave. Rubbing against the grain will irritate the skin.
  22. Fan the client with the remaining dry towel around his neck. Gently blot the excess balm from the face and lean the client up slowly. The client has been laying down for about a half hour. You do not want to cause them to get dizzy by leaning up too quickly.
REVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. What is the purpose of wrapping the clients face with a hot towel?
  2. What is the next step after the hot towel application?
  3. What purpose does the pre-shave oil serve?
  4. List two benefits of applying warm shaving cream over the pre-shave oil and moisturizing shaving cream.
  5. What straight razor grip is used in section one?
  6. What can be used to help stretch the skin if your fingers are slipping?
  7. What part of your hand besides your fingers can be used to get a better stretch?
  8. What does the cool towel application do to the skin after the shave?
  9. What is the final application to calm and soothe the skin after the shave is complete?

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY
The shave is one of the hardest skills to learn. Building the proper hand dexterity (or feel) for the razor is imperative. There is no margin for error. You must approach the shave with complete confidence to provide the best service for the paying client. We highly recommend performing as many complimentary shaves as possible in a short period of time to hone this skill.

The barber shop shave is a luxury today. The shave must be close and comfortable. It is of the utmost importance to prepare the skin properly to accomplish this. Use the highest quality pre shave products and take your time. Remember, the closest shave is achieved by the proper skin preparation and firmly stretching the skin. The correct tension on the stretches stands the beard up farther allowing for a closer shave. Pressing harder and going over the same area too often will only cause irritation or worse.

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