Everything You Need to Know About Offering Wet Shaves as a Barber



If you have found that you want to offer a suite of services that includes more than just haircuts, you’ve probably already considered adding wet shaves to the menu. The classic face shave is definitely on the short list of traditional barber service that’s been revitalizing the modern barbershop.

Although many men shave at home, getting the close, clean, practiced shave that a barber can provide is an extra luxury that many clients will be more than willing to pay a little extra for.

Every man considers a good shave to be among the finer things in life, right up with there with aged scotch and hand rolled Cubans. A proper shave at a barbershop is an experience all it’s own and a relaxing way to achieve a refined, clean appearance. You can even incorporate scents or essential oils for a luxurious twist on the classic “shave and a haircut.”

With practice and a small investment in a quality hot towel steamer available through any specialty tonsorial supplier, you can establish yourself as a go-to barber and keep your clients coming back for those special occasions or even as part of their daily routine.

Your standard barber program curriculum would have included courses on shaving—how to prep the facial area, how to produce the cleanest shave, and how to incorporate hot towels to prepare the skin. However, if you’d like to really refine the art of the shave, you might consider enrolling in courses or workshops intended for licensed barbers.

These advanced courses are available on many barbering topics, including shaving, and are available through barbering academies throughout the country.

How to Properly Perform a Face Shave

Traditionally, barbers use a straight razor or shavette (a straight razor-like handle with disposable, replaceable blades) for face shaves, as it’s the sharpest tool in the kit and produces an exceptionally close and clean shave. Most states still allow the use of these types of razors in lieu of the modern safety razor—your state barbering and cosmetology board will be able to tell you if this practice is allowed in your state

Because of sanitary concerns, if you use a non-disposable razor, you’ll need to sanitize and disinfect it in-between each shave.

Applying a hot towel before the shave – You’ll start the shave with a moist hot towel fresh from the steaming appliance, applying it to your client’s face such that the nose is exposed to allow for unencumbered breathing. The hot water will open up the pores, soften the hair, and prepare the skin for shaving, and as a bonus, it’s also a relaxing element that will create an experience for your client.

Preparing the whiskers – Depending on how long your client’s beard is, you may have to spend extra time prepping the beard to soften the hair and loosen the skin. If the beard needs extra preparation, you can work beard oil into the hair with your fingers and apply multiple hot towels to get the hair and skin as soft and pliable as possible.

Applying the shaving product – After the skin and hair are ready to be shaved, you’ll lather the shaving cream or gel in a bowl with water and your fingers. You’ll then apply the lathered cream or gel over the prepped face, and then apply another hot towel.

Beginning the shave – Using a straight razor or high quality disposable, you’ll shave the beard along the grain, moving the razor in the same direction the hair grows. This ensures the cleanest possible shave while minimizing razor burn.

Applying a hot towel after the shave – After you’ve cleaned up the cut hair, you’ll apply another hot towel. Some barbers recommend following this up with a cold towel, which will close up the pores and leave the skin looking fresh and tight.

Creating a Luxury Experience

Some men come to barbers looking for a classic experience. Many men have been visiting barbers for a shave for years as a standard part of their grooming routine.

However, other men, especially the younger demographic, may seek out a professional shave to enjoy a luxury experience they simply can’t get at home.

One way to meet this expectation is to add essential oils to your hot towels. Some common options include:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree oil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Sandalwood
  • Geranium
  • Basil
  • Frankincense
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Lemongrass
  • Cypress

Many men prefer the scents of eucalyptus, sandalwood or tea tree oil as they offer a rich fragrance similar to many popular men’s colognes on the market.

Some barbers even use Vicks VapoRub for its soothing scent and nasal-clearing powers.

You’ll apply the essential oil while the towel is still dry (you’ll only need a few drops, because the oils are highly concentrated) and then heat it in your towel steamer. When you apply it to your clients’ face, the essential oil will emanate a relaxing scent and soak into the skin.

Choosing the Right Shaving Creams and Oils

Another important element of the shave experience that you’ll be offering clients is the assurance of high quality shaving creams and gels. At home, your client probably uses an over-the-counter drugstore brand. However, you can treat their skin with high-quality shaving creams and gels that include natural ingredients and that are much better for sensitive skin.

Some highly-rated brands of shaving creams and gels include:

  • Acca Kappa
  • Anthony Logistics
  • The Art of Shaving
  • Baxter of California
  • Billy Jealousy
  • Bluebeard Revenge
  • Castle Forbes
  • Caswell Massey
  • Crown Shaving
  • Dovo
  • R. Harris
  • Edwin Jagger
  • Geo F.
  • Gentleman’s Tonic

You can also incorporate a pre-shave oil to help the skin stay soft and prevent razor burn. You’ll apply the pre shave oil to the hot towel and press it against the skin before beginning the shave.

Pre-shave oil can incorporate essential oils, but it will also soften the skin and make it easier to shave. Some high-quality brands include:

  • American Crew
  • Taylor of Old Bond Street
  • Art of Shaving
  • Badger Navigator
  • Anthony Logistics
  • Shave Secret

If you choose to use a shavette as opposed to a traditional straight razor, it’s important to use the best brands on the market to create the best possible shave for your clients. Some of the most popular brands include:

  • Shavette (like Kleenex, this is the brand name originally responsible for making this the commonly used term)
  • Parker
  • Dovo
  • Feather
  • Utopia Care

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