I have a client who recently made his way back to Exodus Barber Shop after a hiatus, due to his relocation away from our general area. He explained to me that he came back because of the quality service he received from us, and that the bus ride was worth it.

The other day he asked me why some barbers “dry shave”, because he had a negative experience with a barber during his absence from Exodus Barber Shop. For the lay person, a “dry shave” is a razor shave that is performed with no moisturizing agent, such as shaving cream, gel, etc.  Honestly, I really didn’t have an answer for him that I could stand behind. I’ve talked to some barbers who employ this tactic on hair, and beard  lines to sharpen them and I had never heard any justification other than that.

The customer told me that it made no sense to him because it was uncomfortable, irritated his sensitive skin,  and the lines were not as sharp as mine anyway (Hey, what can I say!). So I set out to find out the some reasons for this practice. Ironically I realized that at times I use the tactic to sharpen up lines, but only after I’ve shaved them the normal way, and the skin has already been conditioned, but dried naturally. We barbers love those sharp lines (don’t you?)! I polled some tonsorial artists on various online forums.

On Facebook we have “The Barber society”, “Andis Clipper Education”, and “Barberlife 101”. There’s also an excellent forum on the Barber’s social networking site www.barberlife.com (not to be confused with the latter of the Facebook groups.) Note to barbers, and people interested in top quality barbering…don’t sleep on Social Networking Sites! Let me know about some others in the comment section if your aware of any I haven’t mentioned.

Back to subject. Most barbers I corresponded with dry shaved for the same purpose, to sharpen the line.  There’s also an “ash affect”. This is a powdery like line up against the edge of the hair, beard and mustache. Some of the barbers started the shave dry, while others did it just to finish.  Some, however, stated that they’d shave the entire face, and head dry, from start to finish.  One of the premier barbers in the country, Johnn Belt (owner of Premier Clipper company, and Majic Touch hair products) told me he has a particular customer, with sensitive skin, that he dry shaves, because that’s the only way he doesn’t break out. Johnn is adamant that to do this you need sharp blades, and a soft touch.

The beauty of our profession is that at times, there is no definitive right or wrong answer. There are so many variables such as the sensitivity of skin, thickness of hair, sharpness of blades, touch of the Barber etc.  I admit, I tackled this topic with a bit of a negative stance against the dry shave. Personally, besides finishing for that sharp line, I’m not doing it, because of the skin sensitivity issues. However, I’m not hating either. Lubrication helps protect the skin and softens the hair for easier removal. Those Barbers who choose to engage in the practice Dry Shaving must have an extremely high skill level. I will say this, amateurs…don’t try this at home.

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”

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