April 21 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 30, 2013
It was once the essential part of any man’s routine: going to the barber shop for a cut-throat shave.
But the pace of modern life has seen a decline for the traditional barber’s tool, with many men favouring beard trimmers instead.
Not to mention a man’s secret desire to replicate Hollywood actor Colin Farrell’s fire-catching stubble. No? Just me then.
One Romford shaver, Shakhrukh Raupov, from Euclase Barbers in South Street, is trying to make a difference to Havering’s perception of the cut-throat shave.
The 31-year-old, who lives in near-by North Street, may even win an award or two for his efforts.
Mr Raupov has been barbering since he was 11 back in his native Uzbekistan - and performed his first cut-throat shave three years later. “I was nervous at the time,” he recalls.
Nineteen years on, he has been shortlisted for the South East Best Wet Shaving Barber regional title in February.
If successful he will go onto compete in the British final, set to be held in Wales later in the year.
Mr Raupov seems mystified when I tell him that this is only my second cut-throat shave ever. (My first had been in Morocco after hitch-hiking through Europe, the visit to the barber shop was an absolute necessity after sleeping rough for three weeks).
According to statistics, provided by research from the British Barbers’ Association and shaving brand The Bluebeards Revenge, the traditional shave is on the rise.
Men in Britain, on average, are now visiting their barber for a cut-throat shave once a fortnight.
And in the south-east of England 38 per cent of barber shops now offer the ‘closer’ shave.
Mr Raupov says, too, that all age groups – both young and old - pop into Euclase for a shave.
He has kindly offered me the chance to sample his skill with a blade to show me why.
The shave, costing £9 – a fair way off the national average of £17, is 22 minutes of bliss.
The care and attention to each stroke is not too dissimilar from a bespoke hairdressing salon you would expect to find in central London.
It is unsurprising when you consider Mr Raupov shaves himself with a cut-throat razor using just a mirror and a steady hand.
“You have to train on a balloon, because if you start using soap on people’s faces you can cut them,” he says, through pursed lips of concentration as he shaves me.
He later admits – with the blade away from my jugular vein this time – as a child he practised on his family.
I quip his apprenticeship must have taken some time waiting for each family member to grow a beard. I soon remember he is the man with the blade.
Mr Raupov applies lemon stone to my face which helps him grip the skin to avoid injury. “You have to stretch the skin all the time,” he says.
After he finishes he applies cologne and cream to ensure hygiene is kept while the skin’s pores are open. I feel like a new man.
So what of his chances in February when he takes on 14 other barbers for the south-east title?
I ask his brother Shukhrat, 26, who works alongside Mr Raupov in Euclase.
He said: “I myself want to go to a competition but I do not want to go against Shakhrukh – he is too good.”