#939 Hot cream and a straight razor on your neck at the barber shop

Okay, first off, it just feels great. Because really, how often do you get something nice and warm smeared on the back of your neck? Speak up if you’re getting this action somewhere else, because we’re all ears. For me, it’s only when I go to that old-school barber shop — one with the red and white striped pole out in front, the old dog-eared Sports Illustrateds from the 1980s sitting on the table, and no formal system at all for figuring out who’s next in line.

Secondly, how cool is that straight razor blade? Maybe it’s a bit dangerous. Maybe it’s unhygienic. But it sure is a giant blade, is what I’m saying. You have to respect a man who can wield such a mighty and powerful weapon. I mean, scissors I could handle. Sure, if you let me cut your daughter’s hair I’d probably give her a messy faux-hawk by accident, but the point is that scissors don’t scare me. Now, that giant blade is another story. It would take a lot to convince me to slice that thing across a man’s neck for the first time.

Finally, how close is that shave? Dude, it’s like you’ve never had hair on your neck before. Suddenly you’re transformed into a ten-year old boy. And you know, you sort of felt like one anyway, because the barber is generally older than your father and dispenses life advice pretty liberally. Either that or he talks about boxing like in the movies.

The only real problem with the hot shaving cream and a straight razor on your neck is that it’s pretty tough to find these days. Which is sad, since according to the eggheads at Wikipedia, straight razor shaving has been around approximately six thousand more years than any of us. So I say let’s bring it back, folks. Let’s keep demanding that our neck-beards be trimmed with the slice of a nice blade. And then maybe people at barbershop school will line up to learn The Art of the Knife.


33 thoughts on “#939 Hot cream and a straight razor on your neck at the barber shop

  1. I went to a place exactly like that until I was 18 and shipped off to the Marines. Even the Marine Barbers had nothing on my home town barber. He was about 120 years old, he knew my dad before my dad was an adult, and I think he knew everyone else too. The shop smelt old, looked old, and everyone there except me WAS old. As a kid, I felt like I was getting to see the inside of a secret club, where the old men talked about sex, politics, hunting, and fishing all at the same time. It was AWESOME!

    Jerame Clough
    -Next Gen Politics

  2. This is the best and ought to rated higher. A few years ago – okay, more than a few years ago – I was stationed at an airbase in eastern Turkey. Every Saturday my buddies and I would climb on the bus for a trip downtown to the barber shop. (The experience was best if it was the morning after the night before.) They always gave us little cups of hot, strong tea while we were waiting

    First came the hot towels to open the pores. It was considered bad form to scream that the towels were too hot. Then the barber got his cup of shaving soap and lathered it up with a stiff horsehair brush. After he applied the shaving cream, he stropped the straight-razor on a thick leather strap and tested it by shaving his forearm, and then proceeded to the actual shave, which probably lasted a good ten minutes or so. Afterward came another hot towel, followed by a lemon-scented alcohol-based aftershave, which could bring you to tears if he had shaved a little too close. (Again, it was bad form to scream like a little girl.)

    If you needed it, he would then light an alcohol-soaked cotton swab and dab it at your ears to singe any stray hairs growing there.

    It was an amazing experience all around.

    1. Thank you Steve and Neil, for a poignant description; a sentimental journey down memory lane with my dad when I was little…
      and fun game behind the “Peppermint twist which goes like this”:
      “Hippity Hop to the barber shop, to get a stick of candy, one for you and one for me and one for sister Annie…switch to boy, brother Andy…”
      Till now, I’d thought Daddy had been a good boy. hahaha!
      ***Barber shops were combined with the candy store, a long time ago.
      OH, the things to learn on 1000awesomethings.com
      goodbraingym, giggles, and ride. Bless you.

      1. just told this to my husband yesterday when we walked past the barber shop; cool!

  3. I found your hilarious and also useful post because it is linked to my post about shaving with a straight razor — my son does use one — through that wonderful device of “automatically generated” possibly related posts. You don’t have any tags or categories on your posts! You have more than half a million hits, so people must know how to find you. I’ve put you on my blogroll so I’ll never be lost on my way to finding the next amazing thing.

  4. Although getting a straight shave from somebody who knows what they’re doing, it’s also a lovely thing to do for yourself on a daily basis. I’ll never go back to a safety razor or electric shaver again.

    Wanna try? Check out straightrazorplace.com

  5. nextgen08, I think you are one of my alternate personalities. in my hometown, there was a man nicknamed ol ben. he was the oldest man in my town. he gave me a fresh crew cut every month for nine years until i moved to NYC. he had known my great grandfather from the first world war. their fathers were friends in the civil war, and met Abe Lincoln once. he was one of my best friends, and he even let me work there and live in the storage room until i got a job a microsoft. those were the days.

    ps. i live back here now, but ol ben died of hereditary lukeimia four years ago.

  6. My ex-boyfriend went to the old fashioned barber once. It was after Hurricane Charley, and he had been staying on the other coast and then in a shelter. (His mom’s home had been destroyed). He had a thick beard that no razor would touch.

    Dennis was so funny. He said the barber was a little old Italian man. As he was shaving, he asked Dennis, “You gonna be with-a woman tonight?” Dennis said yes, and the barber told him, “Good-a luck to-a you!” =>

  7. There is a chain of barbershops in Colorado and other southwestern states called Floyd’s and they will do this. It is awesome! The also do an amazing massaging shampoo and use this menthol conditioner that makes my head tingle. I wish I could have this experience every morning :(

  8. First thought that came to my mind was Sweeney Todd!! I love that movie…
    I’m a girl so I don’t think I’d be shaving this way at a barber shop..unless they could do legs? …

  9. Glad you had a great experiance! If only more people that enjoyed it posted these. I do about 10 to 15 a week of the Hot Lather Shaves. Very few of us do them still and a good one even farther between. Sweeney Todd hasnt hurt us by the way. When people do them badly or say there illegal do more damage. Thanks for giving a shout out to those of us that do them. From experiance there is nothing like a good shave and a haircut from a barber who cares about his craft and not the next buck. Valentines in Seattle, WA gives a great shave as that is where me as a professional likes to go when im out that way. I hope to soon open up a shop in Jacksonville,Fl as i just moved here from Louisville, Ky.

    Thanks again,
    Farrell Stephens Master Barber

    1. There is also a place in Louisville, Ky to get a great shave called Executive-Spa(mens spa) where i previously worked and trained the barber Cheri(sheree) there on the art of the Straight shave. Check them out if ever in Louisville for a treat.

      Farrell Stephens Master Barber

  10. When I was living in India, I’d go to a tiny, hole-in-the-wall sort of place near my apartment to get haircuts, and every couple of days for a shave. The man there had clearly been doing this his entire life, as his father before him most likely had as well. No one spoke any English, so we quickly developed a ritual, where I would come in, point at my embryonic beard, and he would do the most wonderful shave and massage.

    For about fifty cents. There are very, very few things in my life that can hope to match the value of that man’s shave.

  11. Hey!.. much thanks for the blog post. I was researching the same exact information today and found out about your cool website from Bing. Very cool to see how I was trying to find something and it just showed up.:-)

  12. I’ve been shaving with a straight for over 2 years, and I’d never go back. I get this dose of awesome every morning! :D

  13. I tried to get one from the barber at my uni once as they advertised straight razor wet shaves. The girl who was in there didn’t really speak english though and so just shaved my face with clippers. I bled a lot. I am still yet to find a place I can get a straight razor shave :(

  14. The art of the straight razor shave is, sadly, not being practiced enough. In Toronto Canada there is a place called Truefit and Hill. It is a classic men’s barber shop. Men only. If Don is still there ask for Don. It is not a hair cut and shave, it is spa for your head and brain. You get a classic cut, warm towel wrapped around your face and neck, warm (almost hot!) lather applied with quick swips to the back of your neck and under your sideburns, a fresh new razor blade for the exact shaving and trimming, a full “Sunday wash” followed by a vigorous scalp and shoulder massage.
    This total escape from the daily grind is worth the entire $40 (with tip) that it costs.

  15. I went to a place like that while going to college in the early ’90s. I had never been to a barber that did it. I hear this “WHIIISSSH” sound, warm lather is applied to my sideburns followed by a straight razor.

  16. I go to my barbers to get a wet shave whenever I have a special occasion. there’s something about it that makes me feel like royalty. I suppose it’s more about the pamering and getting you ready for a big night that makes the main difference.

  17. Only one barber ever gave me the warm foam treatment. Not only that, but the guy could give a haircut in under 5 minutes.

  18. I agree Jacqui, it does look like a woman who is doing the shaving.

    Also a question for Alex. Where in the UK do you go for an open razor wet shave? I just can’t seem to find anywhere that does them :-(

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  20. I shave with a straight razor every morning. And all the girls I’ve dated love it. Of course, that may be because the only thing I’m wearing is shaving cream…

    I’d love to one day have a gal that would give me a shave. After lots of practice of course lol. It can be pretty intimate. Just thinking about it get me hot.

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