A few years ago I wrote an article for my column in Professional Hairdresser magazine about the decline of the art of wet shaving in UK barbershops. One major factor was that men that had become quite proficient at shaving at home and the demand for the service had waned because of it. Another reason, was the skill was not being taught in colleges throughout the 80s and early 90s, partly due to the fact of the AIDS epidemic. Learning establishments were concerned about cross infection and the legal implications of contamination. So, they stopped teaching the skill altogether.
However, in the last 10 years I have personally seen a massive explosion of barbers actively training in the art of wet shaving. As you may or may not know I am the Principle of The Foss Academy, teaching elite barbering methods based in Mayfair. I have seen a massive growth in, individuals signing up to master the craft. But as more and more people learn and practice the art there is an age old debate that rages in barbershops up and down the land.... to glove or not to glove, that is the question?
First, let us contemplate the argument against gloves. When speaking to most barbers and especially barbers that have been shaving for a very long time they cannot get used to the idea of using gloves. They state the loss of sensation and slippery texture. I guess there are some valid points here. I was taught shaving when gloves were not part of the hairdressing/barbering standards. But, I saw the value in retraining myself to use this item as a part of the high standards of hygiene associated with good quality barbering. The fact is, when shaving, a barber cannot guarantee the impact of the razor on the skin especially on new clients. An experienced barber who shaves will not cut clients or shave without any blood spots but nothing in life is guaranteed (only death and taxes). Health and Safety should be paramount within our service if we are deemed to be professional.
It is important for us as professionals to take every precaution to protect ourselves and our clients from any blood-borne diseases or infections. In fact, wearing gloves dramatically reduces the risks of blood-borne diseases. Tattoo artists and dentists do not choose whether they want to wear gloves or not. Should we?
There are no laws in place that state that you have to wear gloves when shaving. Nor will shaving without gloves invalidate your liability insurance. But good health and hygiene it's a part of the hairdressing/barbering standards and every professional should maintain the highest standards for our craft.
• Wear gloves that are a size smaller than your hand. Tight fitting gloves are much better for the feel and sensation.
• Purchase gloves that have textured fingertips.
The debate rages on.
If you want to learn more about shaving why not check out The Foss Academy on YouTube for free tutorials.