Although the article did supply some accurate data about straight razor usage, the article went on to caution against doing so with the insulting words, “…But, if truth be told, only the most experienced stylists should be wielding these switchblade-like tools”.
Excuuuuusemeeeeeeeeeeee?! I thought we were licensed professionals, and that was the entire point to an industry publication?
The straight razor is the most basic barbering tool in your kit and you should be using it from day one, and once you have graduated from beauty school you should never touch a guard again. A guard is a crutch for the incompetent.
I became involved in this industry four years ago as a businessman. I had been retained by a 130 unit chain salon to find ways to increase male client counts, among other things. I was told that this would be a formidable task as male salon clients were traditionally disloyal and refused to make appointments.
Whereas I was prepared to concede that by nature males dislike making salon appointments, I could not understand the position that males were disloyal clients. After all I had been going to the same salon for fourteen years in a market where salons were as rare as dots on a Dalmatian.
Several gallons of coffee and a stack of napkin-notes later, (Starbucks), I came to the conclusion that with the passing of the barber shop men had been integrated into a female dominated environment that did not understand much less cater to male needs and wants. The above quoted article is a perfect example of that premise.
Although the article did not specifically make any gender statements, the purposes described for the straight razor were predominantly female in nature. Ironically, although you can do a great female cut without a razor there is simply no way that a male haircut is complete without at least a neckline clean-up with a straight razor. None.
A month later we had Frank DiLeo, (Men’s Hair World Champion), fly in to teach everyone how to use a straight razor. It took exactly two hours to teach the whole class. We then added Pinaud Talc, Bay Rum, and a barber brush to each station, and last but not least we immediately raised prices by 50%.
From that day on no male left the salon without undergoing special treatment which included cleaning up the neckline with a straight razor and finishing it off with Bay Rum and Talc. At an extra charge we also offered a full shave, or a full straight razor hair cut. Our only advertising was word of mouth.
Within one month our male percent jumped from 24% male clients to a staggering 46%. A year later I bought that test salon and still own it today. In just two years we increased the $1,800 per week gross (only 5 chairs) to $4,500 per week, and in those same two years we created eight gold medal champions and three silver. Men who used to cringe at paying $9.95 for a cut to match their hat, (small, cowboy town in Colorado), now don’t blink at paying $40.00.
I know that this was a long story to come to a sharp point, but it had to be told in its entirety to lift this vale of mystique that seems to have surrounded the use of straight razors.
All of our stylists are required to use no guard straight razors from day one, and it usually takes less than 10 minutes to teach the new kids how to do it. It is so easy to teach that I frequently teach how to do it myself, and I am not even a licensed stylist. Now if I can do it, literally anyone can do it.
As far as where this whole mystique about razors began; well for the most part the beauty schools simply forgot how to teach it over time and instead of simply admitting to their folly, many of these schools tell their students that its illegal. We encounter this problem almost monthly, and it does not seem to be restricted to one State or another. Until the beauty schools get their act together we can expect these rumors to persist.
Resist the nay sayers that would have you believe that you are more likely to cut clients or that you may spread AIDS. I see a lot more people cut by shears than I do razor’s.
To date there have only been two slight cuts in the salon, one of which was on me during a training session. Interestingly enough it was my wife who cut me, leading me to speculate that it may not have an accident at all. If you take minimal precautions such as spraying the blade after each use with a good sterilizer, there is virtually no chance of spreading AIDS.
Here’s a tip:
- Need someone to show your crew how to use a straight razor, why not talk to your local barber and see if you can’t hire him or her to teach a class. Start your stylists off with just cleaning up the neckline on male clients. After a few weeks have them clean up the sides with a razor, and finally move on to weight management and texturing. Whatever you do, just do it. You will be surprised how easy it is once you begin.