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Best Barber Tools: Best Barbering Razors, Cutthroats and Blades

Barber Hacks is a blog that will make you a better barber. We are THE barbering blog that you want to follow to fully realize your potential. In this series of posts we are covering the equipment that true barbers use. Today we’re talking shaving equipment.

Disclaimer: I provide links to Amazon to products that I believe in. Feel free to purchase these products from the links that I provide. You will not be charged extra, but it will provide me with a small percentage of profits. Thank you.

What I Don’t Want
What do you use when it comes to taking down a beard in one fell swoop? Or when you’re lining someone up with just a blade? It doesn’t seem like a complicated question, but there are a lot of people that are making money off of the barbering community with cheap plastic razor handles. Hell, I’ve bought a couple of them for something like 40 dollars a piece, and I’m here to let you know that there are more options out there, sturdier ones that will help your barbering game. Conversely, I’ve bought a high-end Irving Barber handle that looked like it was exactly what I needed and it ended up having problems with blades slipping out of the handle. I can’t have blades slipping out when I’m shaving, I can’t risk cutting someone. Irving Barber’s customer service was great and they replaced the part that seemed to be malfunctioning, but I never went back to using it out of fear that it would slip again.

Anatomy of a Straight Razor
Straight Razors all have the same anatomy, but there are subtle differences between a traditional cutthroat and a disposable blade one. Most disposable blade razors have a much shorter blade than a traditional one, but there are some exceptions to this, as I will get into a little later.

Knowing how to hold a razor is something that everyone should know, your thumb goes under the shank, and your first 3 fingers go above it while your pinky rests on the tang. For beginners, use three fingers, even if it feels uncomfortable (I started using 2), it allows you more stability and control of the blade.

I believe that there are certain things that a barber razor should have, and a decent weight is one of those things. I know that each barber learns differently, but if the razor has a little weight to it feels more substantial, and you can feel it slide along the face easier.

The Main Objective
The main objective when shaving a face, is to allow the blade to take the hair off of the face. As a barber you are facilitating the blade’s path as it comes in contact with the skin and choosing what is left on the face and what is taken off. There is no pushing or pulling, no dragging of the blade, you are gliding it over the skin at an angle that allows the blade to cut the hair without causing any damage to the skin.

Two Different Handles
I use two different handles for different tasks.

The Parker SRX

The first handle I use is a Parker SRX Barber Razor. It is fully stainless steel and has a clip mechanism that keeps the blade fully in place without movement. It has the desired weight that I like, is easy to clean and gets the job done. After shaving with it I can easily pop out the blade, wipe the handle, wash it, disinfect it with clippercide, and hang it on the edge of my barbicide. The clip is heavy duty and in over a year of using it hasn’t become loose or sagged. The pivot of the blade has loosened a tiny bit, but is still very serviceable. This handle is everything that I want for edging a beard and neck, and lining up the haircut. I use it for every haircut that I do, and it looks as good as the first day that I purchased it.

The Feather Professional Artists Club SS
To shave a face completely I use a Feather Professional Artist Club SS handle. This handle is as close to a real cutthroat as you can get. You can use the tip and the heel of the blade effortlessly, and execute an amazing shave with absolutely no worries about blade movement, while covering as much ground on the face a possible with a longer blade than you can fit into a Parker. The blades for this handle come in a dispenser that allows you to fit the blade completely into the handle without touching it, making it less likely for you to transfer something that may be on your hands onto their face (always wash your hands before a shave, during a shave, and after a shave). The company offers different blades for a variety of shaves, a regular blade, a thicker blade for coarse facial hair, a blade with guards for beginners, and one for sensitive skin. I use the regular blades and they provide a complete shave with two or three passes without changing the blade. The handle of the blade is made of thick plastic that has a wonderful weight to it. The balance of this handle is amazing, and feels incredible in hand. The part of the handle that holds the blade it made of metal that feels coated in something to achieve a better grip, and when you are cleaning the blade after, comes apart easily in hand so that you can clean the interior of it. This handle is above and beyond anything else I have seen when it comes to classic straight razor shaves and I believe it to be the industry standard.

There will be a constant discussion about what blades to use in these shavettes (barber razors, razor handles) and there are plenty of options to choose from. I know that there are dozens of brands that I’ve never tried and even more brands that I don’t even know about. I won’t go too far into the niche brands, but will stick to what I know and will suggest the brands that I like and why I like them.

Astra Superior Platinum
These blades are my everyday, every client blade. Beards, lineups, they’ve got a good edge and are comfortable on all skin types. I use these in my everyday shave and I have quite sensitive skin and they leave my skin feeling amazing.

Feather Platinum Coated Edge
If you’re not going to buy an actual Feather holder and still want a Feather shave, these blades are for you. These blades demand respect as they are some of the sharpest blades on the market, but if you have coarse hair and need to take off a beard in one pass, these are the blades that you want. Let these glide and they will give you a beautiful shave.

Shaving with a Brush and a Bowl
In many places it is illegal to use a brush and a bowl to apply shaving cream, but I still like to hand whip my shaving cream and apply it with a brush. I use a Parker synthetic bristle brush with a plastic handle and wash the brush afterwards before soaking it in Barbicide and blow drying the bristles afterwards with a blow dryer to dry them completely. I keep two brushes on hand and if I have to do back-to-back shaves I will use the other brush. I am using a stainless steel bowl to mix the shaving cream in, and this is the container that I use to sterilize everything in after.

I use Proraso’s green line of shaving products, because I feel like this product line is evergreen. I’m sure the formula has changed over and over, but I use and enjoy their pre-shave and their tubes of shaving cream. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel as though a shave should have a little nostalgia attached. I like to apply lather onto the face after the first towel of the first pass and after the second towel as well. I find that this creates a nice lather and makes the customer feel as though you are going the extra mile.

 Shaving with Gel
Yes, I enjoy using Elegance gel, as I’ve become accustomed to how it feels on the face. If you happen to have a towel warmer on hand that isn’t too warm, or has adjustable temperature, you can pop your tube of Elegance inside and get a beautiful temperature from the gel, making applying it that much more luxurious for your clients. I generally use gel for the lip line, the chin and the neck when I lining up a beard, while I dry shave the cheeks (if the hair is super coarse than I will use a little). I find that when you dry shave the cheek you get a much better line, with gel you can push a little of the line down without seeing it perfectly.

Lather Machines
If you want to provide an extra sense of luxury to your daily services and hot latherizer is pure pleasure for your customer, and a way to ensure perfect sanitation with your lat.  There are many types out there, but Campbell’s Lather King and Lather Time Professional Lather Machine are the industry standards.  Disclaimer: I have worked in shops with both models (although the Lather King was an older generation) and have been quite happy with both. 

Shaving Oil
I like to apply a shave oil or pre-shave prior to shaving, although I don’t have any specific brand that I use. Experiment and find one that you like, it allows the blade to glide smoother on the skin and adds an extra point of luxury into the shave.

Using a hand massager on your clients does put them in a state of deep relaxation. Adding a massage to your customer’s face and shoulders while the hot towels soften their facial hair will put a smile on their face. I find that the type of client that likes a full straight razor shave wants to be pampered and is willing to spend the money on themselves to do it. Create a premium shave package if you don’t offer one, and don’t be afraid to charge them for it. If they don’t want it, they won’t buy it. But with the option, you’ll be sure that someone will choose it, and you’ll be there to provide the service and reap the rewards.

Facial Steamer

Another luxury item for a shave is a facial steamer. If you want something in the barbershop that will get people asking about straight razor shaves, something that shows you are going the step above other barbershops, this is one of those items. Imagine that you take your steamer out and start it up, you drop a couple drops of essential oil onto it, and start it up with your client laying back in luxury. Soon the steam starts misting out of the machine, keeping your lather nice and moist, keeping that facial hair soft and supple and allowing you to shave easier, while making it look like you are providing a service that is above and beyond what other barber shops offer. This may not be the first item on your list to purchase for your barber shop, but it should be one that you buy eventually. Also, this machine makes facials that much better as well.

Hot Towel Holder

Every barber shop should have a hot towel holder (or sinks at every station that have super hot water coming from the tap) if you are going to provide any type of shave. I prefer a black one, as I find that the white ones can turn off white after owning them for awhile. If you can find a black one with UV sanitation, get it, because sanitation is key in a great shave.

Blade Disposal Container
You need one of these so that you’re not littering blades all over you barbershop floor. Think about the children.

Every little bit
As a barber you don’t have to own every item on this list, the ones you should own are pretty obvious (a razor handle for sure), but these are items that you should be familiar with for shaving. If you have any suggestions or think I’ve missed something let me know. Leave a comment below, or email me.

I appreciate you reading. I’m doing one of these every week, so bookmark the link and come back for more information.


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