The Hot-Towel Shave, the cut-throat shave, the traditional shave, or the Turkish Shave is all more or less the same thing even though they are referred to by different names and titles. They should all basically include the same procedures and stages from start to finish, the same instruments and the same end result! A perfectly shaved smooth face, free from razor burn, cuts or nicks.

Unfortunately though, many barbers do not provide this service in their salons either because they themselves cannot shave a client, or they do not have staff that can do the same. Also, of those that do, they do not all provide this service correctly and have based their shave around the myths generated and associated with old wives tales. Either way, in my opinion, performing a shave incorrectly is equally just as bad as not providing the service in the first place!

Many men do not value the importance of performing a shaving ritual correctly, and most, myself included from time to time fall foul to the vices of these quick fix shaving products that are mass marketed through the media. However, performing a shave correctly should be to the foremost of a man’s mind when he picks up his razor! Let’s be honest, if the products that are being mass marketed with the use of digital imagery, celebrities and multi-million pound advertising programmes actually did the job they claimed, then they wouldn’t need movie stars or sports heroes to endorse them! Most of these commercial products are based around the need to reduce the friction caused by frantic speed shaving – of which most of us are guilty, and therefore have produced products that do nothing more than lubricate the skin.

There is a procedure that must be adhered to when carrying out the Hot-Towel Shave in your salon, and by using this one can reduce client skin irritation and boost the revenue generated by the art of shaving. First off, let’s disperse some of the long running myths surrounding the Hot-Towel Shave. Whatever the client’s normal shaving habits are then the correct procedure to produce the ultimate shave will depend on the length of the beard or bristle. Advising your client to make sure they have a good growth, or not to shave for a week, does nothing more to the outcome of the shave than making it uncomfortable for both you and your client! If a client shaves every morning, or every two mornings then the correct advice to give your client before coming to your salon for the shave is to miss a shave from his normal routine – That’s all! Otherwise, the beard is too long, the soap cannot penetrate through to the skin, and the hair bends underneath the razor.

Another myth is the application of the hot-towel before the shave. The belief that the hot-towel softens the bristle and allows for a smoother shave is nothing more than a myth! Right, at this point I think it is time to get down to the business of performing your shave with a professional approach. The beginning of the shave must be performed with a strict protocol adherence. The client, once comfortably seated should be assessed on the condition of his skin, and the length of the bristle. If the skin has an unusually large number of skin tacks, moles or infection, then the client should be advised that to continue with the procedure would not be in his best interest, and would maybe just benefit better from a hot-towel facial steam or massage treatment if offered. Furthermore, if the bristle is longer than the 3mm (the length of a number 1 blade) then it will need to be pre-trimmed with a clipper such as the Wahl Sterling 2 machine or similar. Bringing the beard/stubble to the 0 position length is best for the ideal shave.

Once this has been completed, the client is ready for shaving. The first thing for the barber to do is to lather up his brush. This should be done by using a Badger Hair Silver Tipped brush and an appropriate shaving soap of professional quality – we recommend the use of ARKO Shaving Sticks. The soap should be applied to the skin by the brush in circular motions; it is not required to pre-wet or lubricates the bristle or skin with any water or product, using a firm grip on the stock of the brush. The face should be covered with a liberal application of the soap, applying extra pressure on the technique around the jaw and chin areas.

The purpose of doing this is paramount to the outcome of the shave and for the smoothness of the procedure for the client. It is the application of the soap and the technique with which it is applied that is the most important part of the preparation! After around three minutes, the barber should work the soap into the bristle with his fingers, also allowing him to determine where he feels that the client will experience discomfort during the shave, (this comes with experience – the more you do this, the more you will develop) and should then note to pay particular attention to that area. Once again, soap up with a vigorous movement with the brush until the bristle is standing proud of the soap. The client is now ready to be shaved.

The shaving technique should be conducted from one side of the client, his right side if the barber is right-handed, left if left-handed. Starting from the lock, the barber should place his free hand, covered with a surgical glove, and stretch the skin in the opposite direction above the blade whilst briskly moving the blade in the downward direction in a smooth, long and confident stroke. (NB. Small, erratic and short strokes can break the skin causing redness and inflammation.) This should be practiced across the side of the face until you reach the edge of the lip and chin.

Once you have completed this stage, then you must shave the neck area. Most men have indifferent and irregular hair growth patterns on their face, so extra care should be exercised here. Shave the neck from the jawline to the near edge of the hair growth, taking extra care not to cross over into the “against the grain” area just yet. If like most men have, the hair at the base of the neck grows upward, then stop shaving at that point and complete the rest of the bared neck area to that mark. The client’s head should then be moved slightly by the barber to face front so that his nose and chin are pointing forward. Pinching the nostrils with the thumb and second finger, whilst using your index finger to gently lift the front of the nose so that the philtrum (dent in lip directly below the nose) is pulled taught, the upper lip must now be shaved from the middle to the shaved side. Once completed the barber should then position the razor for the backhand stroke and shave the opposite side of the upper lip.

The barber must now repeat the procedure for the opposite side of the face, from the same position, by gently positioning the client’s head with his nose facing the barber’s abdomen (see photo at the top of the page). The face should now be shaved from the lock by using the backhand stroke. Once this is completed, again gently position the client’s head towards the centre and continue to shave the chin and underneath the bottom lip. Quickly move directly behind the client and shave in an upwards movement the area at the base of the neck going with the grain of the growth. Stage one has been completed.

The skin must now be treated with an Alum Block (Potassium Alum) for a number of reasons. Alum helps to reduce redness and razor burn caused by the friction of shaving, it cleans the pores and the skin surface with its antiseptic properties, it stops any bleeding that may have occurred during the shave, and as it is an astringent as well, it tightens the skin, providing better grip for the razor during the second shave. This procedure is simple, but very, very effective. Wet the gloved hand with warm water and gently moisten the skin. The alum block should also be dipped into warm water (not hot) and then in a gentle buffing motion run across the surface of the skin. Pay particular attention to red areas or bleeds, by moving the alum block in small circular motions until you are satisfied that the alum has penetrated the skin. Use the full surface of the block ends for bleeds and redness, sides for lip, and broad side for main facial area. It is important to not allow the block to dry-out, so continuous wetting with water should be adhered to during the course of the procedure. Once this is finished the block should be dried and returned to its container or box. Remember that for hygienic reasons and to reduce the risk of contamination in your salon of your client, a new block should be used for each shave, with the used block being handed to the client at the end of the shave to take home. Barbers should cost effectively to cover the cost of the block within the price of their shave. Stage two is completed.

Right, at this stage the client needs to be soaped up once again, giving the same attention to the technique as before. This is even more important at this stage as we are now going to conduct the upward shave, or shave against the grain. Some barbers don’t do this, whether it is through fear or uncertainty, I am not sure, however this can be pretty comfortable for the customer if carried out correctly. Once the soaping up procedure has been strictly adhered to, then the client is ready to commence the remainder of the shave. (NB. For barbers who use a microwave for the hot-towel, this is a good time to begin your pre-wetted towel – for the correct temperature, heat on full power for 3.5 minutes in a 700W appliance.)

Standing at the rear of the customer, the barber should change his positioning to the opposite side he/she conducted the first shave. The client’s head should be gently positioned in a backwards motion airing the neck area with his head angled away from the barber. The shave should be conducted for the immediate side first, by placing the heel of the hand at the base of the neck below the blade and stretching the skin to make it taught. The blade can now be moved in long strokes towards the jaw line and until the Adams Apple is reached. Taking extra care, the barber should now shave carefully over the jawline and upwards towards the edge of the lock, completing the complete cheek. Gently position the client’s head to bare the opposite side of the neck, causing the face to be towards your abdomen. Once again repeat the procedure for the opposite side. At this point I find it useful to move the position of the razor stock to between the third and fourth finger as this provides me with more balance and leverage for this stage.

The front of the throat and up to the chin can now be done by repositioning the client’s head to be centred to your body. Be careful when covering the chin area, as this can be tricky and resistance against the razor can cause the blade to tug on the hair; however a confident and firm stroke will usually win through! Once the chin has been completed, you can now shave the underneath of the bottom lip moving through to steadily shave the two sides of the top lip towards the philtrum. Once this is completed, then you are ready to reapply Alum to the skin following carefully the previous procedure.

You are now ready for the towel, which should be just at the right temperature if you followed the guidelines above. Open up the towel fully, landscape, and align the centre of the towel with the chin. Make sure that the bottom edge is level with the base of the neckline and gently wrap around the sides and around the head – making sure to cover all areas except the nostrils. Leave the towel on for around two-three minutes for the best effect. Whilst removing the towel, gently rub the forehead, eyes, ears and remainder of face with the towel, removing any excess soap residue. Discard the towel according to salon policy, and lightly dust the face (shaved area) with some talcum powder. Gently massage this into the face and neck. Talcum powder helps to remove any greasy areas of the skin. Once done, add some moisturiser or after-shave balm – we use Extremely Maxed Out! After Shave Balm which is rich in Aloe Vera and Camomile. Firmly massage into the skin and finish the neck area and cheeks with a gentle slapping motion. This helps to stimulate the nerves in the face and promotes circulation. Work the balm into the face until it becomes tacky to the touch. Add some after-shave spray or lotion and you’re ready to go!



Experimenting with different styles of stringing up and different ways of wrap-locking or tying them on, and the method here is the quickest, best for stability and easiest to de-string when it’s time. That last point is the bane of many a guitar tech’s lives: untying knotted rusty strings that stab you!

The lock-wrap method here will soon become second nature, and if you have three-a-side tuners like a Les Paul you will have to learn it backwards, too, so it locks correctly. Arm yourself with the tools and stash them in your gigbag so you’re always ready for a change.

What you need

  • Fresh strings
  • Decent string cutters
  • Tuner
  • String winder
  • Stumpy flat-headed screwdriver

Step 1

Out with the old and in with the new. Slacken off your old cruddy strings with a winder to save time, chop them with a pair of wire cutters and chuck them in the bin. We religiously coil them up to stop them springing out the bin or pronging us.

Step 2

What good are fresh strings if they’re about to be put on a dirty guitar? You can guarantee that fretboard goop will transfer straight to your spiffy new strings. Brush out dust with a soft paintbrush and give your fretboard a clean. Pamper the fretboard (if it’s rosewood) with some lemon oil while you’re at it for a real treat.

Step 3

This Danelectro U2 has an incredibly simple string mounting system. Strats and Teles pull through the back and Les Pauls through the tailpiece, but make sure that when it’s pulled through it’s settled, too. If the winding of the string near the ball-end is caught, the string will jump through when some real pressure comes into play.

Step 4

Feed the string end through the tuner hole and do your best karate chop at 12th fret! This hair-brained technique will ensure that each string gets the same amount of slack. Why’s that important? So that each string has the same amount of winds wrapped around and therefore the same elasticity when you do a string bend.

Step 5

Before the fiddly thing moves, kink the playing side of the string against the tuner hole – this marks out the length we will use. A small kink will do. With your right karate chop hand, now hold the string and present some tension – this will hold everything tight as we wind.

Step 6

We’re beginning the wrap-lock now so wrap the loose side of the string clockwise back round the tuner and feed it under the kink we just made. Keep the tension with your right hand as you do this. For a left-handed tuner you’ll be wrapping anti-clockwise to follow the same logic.

Step 7

Holding tension with your right hand, bend the loose side of the string up and over the kink with your left hand. This makes a sharp hoop and is the start of our lock. Tug the loose end to assert your dominance and give it a good bend!

Step 8

Let go of the loose tail and wind away; a string winder makes this task a lot faster and easier. Wrap the string under the kink we made earlier. To be clear, the string should be wrapped clockwise around a right-handed tuner. The start is now trapped under the winds of the string, which is where the method gets its reliability from.

Step 9

Do it five more times! Keep tension up with your right hand as that’s the key to making a tight, neat wind. Follow the steps for the left-handed tuners (in our case third, second and first) in a mirror image – at least you have the first few strings as an example. Trim off the ends of the strings.

Step 10

Don’t bother to tune up the strings to pitch yet; we’re going to stretch them in. Stretching strings in just sends the winds home and settles everything down; give it a sensible yank and you’ll hear the pitch drop down. Repeat if you like and you’ll notice the pitch drop less.

Step 11

Carry out a final tune-up, get it up to pitch at last. You will have a small amount of re-tuning to do as the neck bends forwards a little under the pressure of each string – that means the first string you wound will be flat.

Step 12

Bend down the ends of your strings with a larger, flat-headed screwdriver. This stops them from puncturing your fingertips and from scragging your gigbag to pieces, too. The extra kink also adds yet another level of stability to the string wind.



Wash Down With Sugar Soap

If the walls and ceiling are in a good state and you just want to change the colour or freshen it up, you can just wash them down with a sugar soap and water solution. This will remove any dust and grease, and help the new coat of paint to adhere to the wall. Make sure the walls and ceiling dry out completely before you start painting.

Fill any Cracks in Walls

If there are any cracks in the walls, these should be filled. Cracks often appear over time in corners and around windows, and sometimes between the wall and the skirting, so be sure to check over the whole room carefully. See our Filling Cracks Project for help with this.

Mask up Your Skirting

Get some masking tape or decorators tape, and tape all the way around the skirting so that you don’t splash any paint on it. You can also mask around window and door frames.

Light switches and plug sockets can be masked, or just cleaned off with a sponge once you’ve finished painting.

Sand Down any Lumps and Bumps in Walls and Ceilings

If there are any imperfections, lumps or bumps on the wall or ceiling, you will need to sand it down. If you don’t sand the walls before you start, you will only enhance any imperfections and make it look worse.

If there are lots of rough areas, a mouse sander will make the job much easier and quicker for you.

Make sure you finish with a fine grade paper to create a smooth wall ready for painting. Brush down the wall well after sanding to remove any dust, and rub down with a damp cloth for an even better finish.

How do I Sand Down my Ceiling?

To sand ceilings, you can use a piece of sandpaper attached to a pad on a long handle, or get up close using a step-ladder.

Do I Need to Remove Wallpaper Before Painting?

If the walls are currently papered, unless it’s a plain, smooth paper in good condition, you’ll need to strip it off before you start. See our Wallpaper Stripping Project for help with this.

If you have any problems with mould, damp or condensation in the room you are painting, see our Damp and Mould Project for help.