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State Street Barbers Review

So as I mentioned in an earlier thread, I went to State Street Barbers for a straight shave today. Below is an overly done review.

The place was really cool. The inside was well furnished, clean, and and some shaving gear scattered around. We were immediately greeted and asked if we were there for shaves (3 of us had an appointment) and also immediately offered a beer (Amstel or Sam Adams). First off, the beer was perfect. I mean it was at that cold temperature that makes it go down like a soda and just hit the spot. This immediately gained many points for the place.

The only things that were suspect was the lack of strops at the stations and the age of the barbers (all were very young and had a lot of stubble

The cost of a shave was 30 bucks and that includes a back massage (by a hand machine) and a icy cold beer. For 55 dollars you can get a haircut and a shave. They also had packages which let you get 3 cuts and 3 shaves over time, or even a 1 haircut per month for a year package (plus 10 percent off products in the store).

So I was eagerly awaiting the preshave prep of hot towels sitting on my face, relaxing me while the barber prepared a clump of hot lather for my face. Instead I got a towel run under moderately hot water left on my face for about thirty seconds. It did feel good but was not on long enough to really soak into my face nor relax me that much. Then a thin layer of preshave oil of some sort was put on followed by a very small amount of shave cream. The shave cream was not of any gourmet variety as far as I could tell.

The Shave
The barbers all used a strange method of shaving. Instead of strokes with the blade, they used it almost like tweezers. They picked at a very small area for a while almost like they were digging out the hairs. It was not really uncomfortable but I knew I wasn't getting a great shave. After finishing up the shave I got a towel soaked in cold water followed by some after shave that smelled liked proraso pre shave cream but felt like a hit to the face with a shovel. My face was burning and I could see on the cold towel that it was bloody. Only after my shave when I felt my face did I notice that not only was there more stubble than even a terrible shave would leave, but my face was cut in several places and I had a terrible case of razor burn. My friends didn't get the cuts that I did, but they did not get close shaves either. Any given shave of mine with a DE is MUCH closer and less irritating. My friends who use M3's also get better shaves than we achieved there.

Post Shave
After the shave we got about 30 seconds of a vibrating pad on our backs which did feel good but was far too little. One of my friends had opted for a haircut and he said he would go back there for a haircut because the hair washing process used two shampoos and left him smelling great. The guy he had clearly knew how to cut hair, but clearly none of them knew how to shave.

I honestly can't recommend this place for a shave. If it was just me, maybe it could have been a bad barber but all three of us got terrible shaves. Also I was very dissapointed by the prep as I was expecting a lot more hot towel treatment. I am not too angry that the guy chopped up my face, but I feel for 30 bucks that even if I don't get a bbs shave I should have a relaxing and enjoyable prep and a shave that doesn't hurt afterwards. Next time I'm going to look for an old italian guy with a strop on his chair or go to AOS for a shave. If you are in the Boston area and think you wouldn't mind paying for a 30 dollar haircut, this place may be for you. Or, since soon they'll be carrying AOS products it might be worth getting the 300 dollar 1/month haircut package with 10% discount on products package. In any case, avoid the shave.
Too bad the shave wasn't worth it. $30 haircut isn't too bad. I'm a little limited mobility wise (don't own a car) and thus I have to stay around my place for a haircut and about $40 is the going price for me.
Thanks for the great review, sorry you did not have a better experience with the shave though.
John - thanks for the warning (I mean review).

You're obviously a better person than I am - I would have been very PO'ed if I went to someone who held themselves out as a professional barber, paid them 30 bones - and then proceeded to give me a lousy shave and slice me up.

Sounds like these guys have no business offering a straight shave - hope this doesn't turn you off the experience and that you give it a go with someone who knows what they're doing.
I will definitely try another pro shave some time. I'm considering writing an email to the barber shop and letting them know about the experience.
Thanks for going before, brave soul...

Reminds me of my rule of thumb: Don't get a haircut if the barber isn't named Sal, unless your barber WORKS with a guy named Sal. (Marks also make good barbers, for some reason).


Sorry you got cut up. Your experience is, unfortunately, pretty much par for the course. Shaving another man's face is clearly a relatively difficult thing to do--and at any rate, a swiftly disappearing art.

To be fair, a good shave requires some type of feedback, which is difficult to receive if you aren't shaving your own face.

Still, there's no excuse for charging someone $30 to cause them pain. I mean, if you're married you can stay home for that.:tongue: :tongue: :tongue:

I'd say to give it another shot when you find a different place that offers shaves--Boston should have at least 1 old time barber shop somewhere in the city?!?
Yeah, I'm either going to wait til I find an AOS, or look for an old italian guy who looks like he's been shaving people for forty years.

Like I said, I don't mind if the shave isn't that close as long as I get a really good feeling prep that is relaxing a shave that doesn't leave me bleeding. But I was mostly peeved about the 30 seconds of hot towel and non-lubricating, thin layer of shave cream.

Ah well
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