Updated: Mar 2, 2021
We are first and foremost barbers. Not hairdressers….barbers! What’s the difference? While it is true that some gents do have longer hair, and we do accommodate them, barbers tend to specialise in shorter haircuts. From skin fades to slick backs, from pompadours to French crops, from crew cuts to mullets, there is a vast range of gents hairstyles to choose from.
However, not only do we cut gents’ hair, the biggest difference between a barber and a hairdresser is that we deal with facial hair. We tame and groom the wildest of beards, curate the finest moustaches and, the bit we enjoy most – we shave!! That doesn’t just mean shaving a beard completely off. The most impressive beards involve shaving some parts of the facial hair to create a distinctive shape. That may be on the throat, the cheeks, around the jaw line and sometimes below the bottom lip.
Then of course there is the time-honoured tradition of the hot towel shave. Some purists would argue that you are not a real barber if you don’t provide shaving services. Is there really a more masculine image than a man having a shave with hot towels and a ‘cut throat’ razor, also known as a straight razor? It really is an affordable indulgence, especially when compared to the price of ladies’ hair and beauty treatments, and any man who has had a shave at the barbers will tell you that it makes you ‘walk tall’ as you leave the barbershop. There is something about the creamy lather, the hot towels and the feeling of trusting someone else to hold a razor sharp blade to your throat and shave your facial hair off.
Each barbershop and, sometimes within a shop, each barber, will have their own little routines. At Philip Nicholas, we offer two different hot towel shaves – the Express Shave and the Luxury Hot Towel
Shave. The Express Shave is perfect as a regular or even a one-off treat. Firstly we trim any lengthy facial hair down to stubble, cleanse your face and then apply pre-shave oil. Then comes a hot towel which not only softens the remaining hair, it also opens the pores and encourages hair to stand erect, revealing more of the stubble than if we were to shave your face cold. Next, we apply a warm lather and shave in the direction of growth. We are not finished when the face has been shaved! A cold towel is applied to close the pores, preventing infection, and sooth the skin. We then apply toner which again, tightens the skins surface, preventing infection and making it feel smoother and more youthful. Finally, we do a mini-facial, massaging the toner into the face and then applying post-shave balm around the shaved area and continuing to massage this in.
The Luxury Hot Towel Shave involves the same steps but is more designed for special occasions or tougher beards, as it gets that little bit closer. After the first pass of the razor, another hot towel is applied and we shave the face again, this time against the direction of growth, until your face is (in the vast majority of cases) as smooth as a baby’s bum!!