Dangers of straight shaves at the barber shop

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by vinniel, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. I read a post rearding straigt shaving in Michigan recently and working in the medical field i though i would write a post regarding the risk. The issue of HIV/Aids was brought up but I will explain some facts. In my opinion barber shops must sanitize straights after every use. Most will be concerned about the obvious and most attention grabbing disease HIV. HIV is a very weak disease when exposed to air living only for an extremely short period in a droplet of blood when exposed to air. Of greater concern is the hepatitis family of diseases which has been found to live for weeks in a droplet of blood. So while most of us areconcerned with HIV transmission from a blade this is actually a much smaller risk than hepatitis due to their ability to survive when exposed to air. Obviously this does not mean that we should not be concerned just simply stating that the chances of contracting hpatitis is far greater than HIV in this particular case. Either way it is best to ensure that the barber uses a fresh blade even when doing the back of your neck as many will repeatedly use a blade until it is dull and throw it out. I have sat waiting for my turn and watched the barber use a blade twice before getting to me at which point i kindly asked that he pull out a new blade for me.
  2. I am sure they are sterilized. There is Ballistol, alcohol , any virus dies in 40+ *C temp, so yeah I would not be very concerned with HIV.
    Did I mention that a barber is usually a pro and cutting is probably vary rare.
  3. That is true however no matter how good a barber is not everyones face or neck is perfectly smooth skin and if there are bumps especially around the neck a little blood is not uncommon because of the raised area. And I wrote those because i have witness barbers use a razor put it down then use it on the next customer so they are not all sanitizing them. Even if using the handles that you slide a disposable blade in the handle should be sanitized as well.
  4. Just think about this for a minute - would you want your dentist or doctor to use an instrument on a patient and then in the next few minutes use the exact same instrument on your treatment without running it through an autoclave?

    Not me - I have sat through too many OSHA training sessions for that....
  5. definitely not but it happens and if someone is not paying attention or assuming they may use a new or sterilized blade they could well be shaved with a dirty blade. I'm just writing about this so that people pay more attention to what a barber does. Have you seen them sterilize the clippers? NO and even clippers (electric) can draw some blood in certain areas when the heads are not lined up exactly right. But I'm just trying to raise awarness thats all.
  6. Just to clarify,

    Vinnie, your saying that some barbers, but not all, don't sterilize their razors at all before moving to the next customer.

    Yes, that is definitely a problem. I don't think they're supposed to do that. My barber dunks his in barbicide in between customers, and it sits there for about 20 minutes. So I feel pretty safe.
  7. Our barber's clippers reside under ultra violet light when they're not in use.

    - Chris
  8. Yes Leighton thats exactly what I'm trying to bring up that you have to watch the practices that some barbers use. Even when they use the disposable blades are they sanitizing the the rest of the instrument? ive seen instances where they don't and i walk out.
  9. Those must be the the barbers who work part time at the Veterans Administration Medical Facilities.

    By the way ever go behind the scenes at a restaurant and seen what goes on in the back? If you did you'd never eat out again.
  10. I totally agree that one should keep an eye out for barbers who don't follow safe sterilization methods. As a barber student I cam tell you that those rules are usually enforced by law. If you suspect someone of not following those laws, ask them to explain how they keep tools sterile. After that, if you're not satisfied, you should contact your state's barber board/ licensing authority so that the matter may be investigated thouroughly, which will be done.
  11. Hello,

    I'm new here, I owned a barber shop in suburban Dallas, but closed it because I couldn't find licensed barbers to work in it. Plus, the building flooded a couple of times (not a whole lot of fun). I think I'd rather be just a barber instead of a barber shop owner.

    The reason I opened my own shop was because (to make a long story short) I couldn't find a sanitary place to work in. Of particular concern to me was the problem with used razor blades. Barbers will use the same razor blade (shavettes) over and over until you plead with them to put in a new one. Of course, we have sanitizers and disinfectants available to us. Sometimes barbers will use them, but that really makes little difference, because few of our disinfectants are effective against the Hepatitis viruses (A, B, and C). And the only time that our disinfectants actually do kill hepatitis is when we use the disinfectants according to the manufacturer's label directions.
    Nobody does this.

    It's taken me a while to wade through all the federal and state rules and laws and looking at CDC and FDA and EPA and FTC websites to finally figure everything out.

    Here's the upshot of everything --
    NEVER let a barber shave you with a razor blade that has been used on someone else. ABSOLUTELY INSIST on a shiny new razor blade. They only cost us 10 cents for a good Personna to $1 for a Feather blade for the Feather Artist shavettes.

    Here's how everything works . . .

    If a barber does a neck or face shave on a customer in the USA, there's about a 2% chance that the customer has some form of contagious bloodborne disease. HIV is fragile and easy to kill, but the one to watch out for is Hepatitis.

    Time for some vocabulary --
    FIFRA - Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act -- the federal law that gives the FDA jurisdiction to regulated sterilizers and antiseptics, and the EPA jurisdiction over disinfectants.
    AOAC - American Organization of Agricultural Chemists -- They test new disinfectants and sterilants to see if they actually work.
    Sterilizer/sterilant -- Kills 100% of germs on an item. Steam Autoclaves, hot air sterilizers, gluteraldehyde (stuff your dentist uses).
    Disinfectant - Kills many microbes, but not spores, on items. Might kill bacteria but not viruses, or vice-versa. Read the label to find out.
    FDA - approves all sterilizers
    EPA - registers all disinfectants (look for the EPA-registration number on the label)
    Terminal Sterilant - The product or process used to reprocess something before it can contact your "Normally sterile tissue or blood"

    Every barbershop disinfectant is labeled, "Not for use as a Terminal Sterilant . . . " if it also makes a claim that it can be used to pre-clean an item before being sterilized with something else (most do). This means that the product in the bottle will leave someone else's "bloodborne pathogens" on the edge of the razor that could end up in you. All the barber needs to do is nick or abrade your skin, and Presto! you've just entered the Hepatitis ABC lottery.

    To avoid this, your barber needs to
    1) replace the razor blade after every customer (there's a whole section of federal law covering this under the 1992 OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Safety Standard), or
    2) or else STERILIZE the blade in an autoclave or hot air sterilizer (all sterilizers must be FDA-approved, because UV sanitizers found in some barber shops cannot pass any AOAC tests, and they do not sterilize or disinfect anything).

    Simply soaking it in Barbicide won't work. Using an aerosol disinfectant won't work. Some of the spray disinfectants work only on the HIV virus and nothing else (See my product review for H-42 disinfectant on Amazon), but thanks to quirks in labeling law, you'd never know it just from looking at the label.

    I've been wrangling with the Texas barber regulators for the past few years trying to get them to tighten up the state sanitation rules. If you've ever tried to get a government agency to do anything different, you'll understand why progress is slow. Every state employee is authorized to say "No." Not a single one of them is authorized to say "Yes."
    A lady in Fort Worth, Texas, died in 2006 from bacteria infection after getting a pedicure. One of the problems was the cosmetologist evidently used unsanitary stuff. Well, the TV news broadcast the story, and lots of other people said, "I got infections from pedicures & etc," and scandal and pandemonium ensued. The Texas Legislature changed some of its rules so that now all metal manicure & pedicure tools have to be sterilized (however, efforts are underway right now to eliminate that requirement). But, the rules still say it's ok to use dirty pumice stones, which is what evidently caused the dead lady's cut and started the infection which led to her death.
    Essentially, the Texas Barber and Cosmetology regulators do not understand FIFRA, the AOAC, and how their state agency fits in with the FDA, EPA, etc etc etc to keep the razor blades that barbers use (and re-use) on your skin.
    And I'm trying to enlighten them. I can't tell if I'm making any headway with the State regulators or not.

    As far as your razors at home, it's not a problem. You shouldn't share razors with anyone, just as you shouldn't share toothbrushes. As long as you're shaving with a razor that's got only your germs on it, you'll be fine.
    If you buy a used razor, well you could sterilize it by heating it in your oven at 340 degrees F for a few hours. Or run it through a pressure cooker on top of your stove. If you're on good terms with your dentist, you could ask him to sterilize it in his liquid sterilizer. Or, if you wanna go cheap and you have lots of time, you could get a pellet of paraformaldehyde (sold by barber/cosmetology supply houses) and put your razor in an airtight container with the pellet, and let it sit for a month or two (probably won't take that long), and then since the vapors produced are very unhealthy, open the box outside in a good breeze, and let it air out.

    Anyway . . . I had my website up for my barbershop when it was open, but now that It's closed down, I'm using it as a source of information (with lots of references) for the Texas State Barber regulators. Y'all can check it out if you like.
    If any of y'all live in Texas and would like our state barber sanitation rules to conform to Federal standards (FDA, EPA, FIFRA) instead of being just a mish-mash of uninformed opinion that spread infection, let your people in Austin know.

    There's lots more, but this is the general gist. I'll be happy to answer any of y'all's questions. And since I'm a barber and not a certified microbiologist, I'll post the weblinks to FDA/EPA/CDC links that I get my information from.

    Best to y'all,
    --David King

    PS--since I don't know if I can actually post my website on here, I will mention that I have a Youtube video (do a youtube searck for Kingbarber). My oration skills are not very good, so bear through it until you get to the weblink.

    # >:cool:
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  12. Interesting perspective. Couple of questions:
    1) Given the information that you cite, how much of a problem with bloodborne disease transmission is actually known to exist from barbering, and
    2) Short of getting that pallet of paraformaldehyde, I take it that you believe that buying/selling straights is not such a good idea, right?
  13. Blood borne diseases thread... take 2.
  14. Uh huh... It's ok though.
  15. ur scaring me more, i am very paranoid as it is... i always asked my barber to replace the blade when he used a shavette, which he always did.
  16. Has anyone here ever gotten their hep shots or anything like that? It would seem not. The whole reason to get those shots is to protect against the virus'. But to each their own.
  17. Yup...got my Hep A & B shots.
  18. Hep A&B, as far as I know there is no vaccine for C.
  20. I think this is the most salient point. Consider how many men there are in the world getting haircuts/shaves/clipped at barbers. Now think how often we hear of men getting infections at barbers, I can't think of one instance.

    Frankly I think I'd be more at risk in hospital given the prevalence of bacteria with super resistance than I would be at the barbers.

    I just think we need to keep some sense of perspective with these things. Death comes for us all eventually, I'm not prepared to live like Howard Hughes in his later years.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011

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