Shave Off!

Pictures by: 
Ariffin Jamar
Report by: 
Azim Azman

Sultans of Shave - Opened by three friends who decided that they wanted to start an upscale barber while they were still young and energetic, this four-month old establishment bills itself as a space where men can “pamper themselves and network”.
 
The shop itself is tastefully furnished with a plush, custom-made sofa. Owner Lewis Lim, 27, tells TNPS: “We are not only selling a service but we are selling an experience.” Part of that experience is luxury. The shop has four fully swivelling black leather barber chairs. The shaving room is decorated with an industrial theme. The floor is bare concrete with squares of parquet panels. The lower half of the wall is covered in diamond- shaped slick-black tiles. Customers can check out their haircuts on the tall golden-edged mirrors.
 
The “Deluxe Shave” costs $40 and for that price your face gets pampered with a pre-shave oil that helps soften facial hairs and makes the skin much more supple. Eye cream and cotton pads are put over the eyes to help you relax. Even the music is set to a gentle tempo. To further ensure a closer shave, your face is wrapped in a hot towel.
 
The heat softens the bristle and opens the pores giving the blade less to do. The barber employs a straight edge razor with a disposable blade to perform the shave. There is no rush. It is a calm, methodical process. The barber sizes up the skin contours like a sculptor approaching his clay. Post-shave, the pampering continues with a cold towel press and balm.
 
Mr Lim says: “The cold helps to close the pores and gently moisturize the skin. The balm acts as a layer of protection against dust and pollution, moisturising the skin and helping it recover from the shave.” The whole process takes about 45 minutes.
 
Sham Hair Saloon - If you’re looking for a straightforward shave minus the fuss and pampering, then this is the place for you.
 
In a word – colour. A riot of eclectic hues. In fact, if not for the colourful lights you could easily miss the shop, which is just a doorway when seen from the bustling street. 
 
It is a very small operation. Inside, as Bollywood music fills the space, there are two barber chairs, both of which have seen better days. There is very little room to move around. Only three clients can wait at a time. A mix of Hollywood and Bollywood posters adorn the walls of the L-shaped shop. It is not spacious but then you do not come here to lounge.
 
A full shave here certainly is cheap. This is a no-frills place. Get in, get out, job done. It is a high-energy op eration and Mr John rarely stays still. Everything here is about practicality. To apply the shaving cream – the same type that is found on supermarket shelves – he uses a small sponge. “I use this because it’s easier to clean than a normal brush,” says Mr John.
 
For the shave, using a straight razor with disposable blade, Mr John makes short, quick decisive strokes. The pace is quick, but accurate. Mr John approaches each client with the confidence you would expect from someone who has shaved thousands of faces over the past two decades. The skills are there to see. Shave done, Mr John uses a splash of Butterfly Florida Water as aftershave. The experience is completed with a powerful head and neck massage. 
 
It is about 20 minutes, but it is a clean shave. He works to speed and volume.
 
Here are pictures from both Sultans of Shave and Sham Hair Salon.
 
The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on Sunday on November 24, 2013.