What it's like to: Be a Shave Doctor

Mark Sproston is on a mission to convert more men to the traditional wet shave.

After many years perfecting the art form, he now trains barbers and hairdressers from across the globe.

Mark, who has become known as The Shave Doctor, wants to encourage men to treat themselves to a professional shave every time they go for a haircut.

"If you go back to the history of barbers, we were called barber surgeons.We would also perform dentistry and we would shave the patient.

"Over the years the shaving part has been forgotten by most of the industry. What I want to do is to bring it back to the barber shop environment so men can walk into the barber shop or salon and have a hair cut and have a shave," he says.

As well as ensuring they learn the traditional techniques brought up to modern standards, Mark, who has shaved more than 60,000 chins in the barber chair, also helps his students to understand different hair and skin types and the science behind shaving.

He says many men have never been taught how to shave properly and have to learn as they go with mixed results.

"Dads don't teach their sons how to shave any more so they just pick up a razor and there are a lot of single mother who won't be able to teach their sons to shave because they don't apart from their legs.

"A lot of young boys and men will give up wet shaving within the first six weeks of trying it due to shaving irritation, Many will clipper it back to stubble and not wet shave again for five or six years," explains Mark, whose shaving academy is in Rugeley.

Although beards had made a comeback in recent years, a growing number of men are now wanting to sport the clean-cut look and are seeking out a professional shave.

As a result, Mark has found that his shaving courses have been in great demand among people working in the barbering industry wanting to offer the service.

"The young men want a clean shave look or a goatee look with a clean neck," he says.

Mark began delivering his two-day Shavedoctor professional wet shave courses in 2007, with students getting to shave 10 models, and since then has travelled all over the world.

His deep knowledge and expertise has been in demand from some of the world's leading skincare and shavecare companies including L'Oreal, King of Shaves, Elemis and well-known razor brands.

He has also developed his own range of skin care and shaving products made up of a face scrub, shave gel oil, shaving cream, cooling gel and 'moisturazor'.

Mark and his team had been getting ready to relaunch them when the Government lockdown was introduced and were forced to re-think their plans when the company producing them needed to concentrate on keeping up with the demand for hand sanitiser.

"The company had to cease all of the cosmetics production to make the hand sanitiser that was in demand all over the world.

"My brain went into survival mode and was thinking how we could support our customer base so we launched our range of hand sanitiser gel," he tells Weekend.

Mark, who lives in Stafford, had to put his training academy courses on hold but he is hoping to restart them, with social distancing measures in place, next month depending on government advice.

They will be in two parts with the theory session completed at home before a full-day practical session, with seven models, covering full shaves, beard shaping and head shaves.

The training courses allow Mark to share his passion for shaving and he still gets a buzz from teaching his students.

"The passion for what I have studied and researched for so many years comes out in my courses. My enthusiasm rubs off on my customers and they go off with enthusiasm and that rubs off on their clients," he says.

Earlier this year, Mark was named as West Midlands Sole Trader of the Year by the Federation of Small Businesses and had been due the national awards, but they have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

"I'm delighted to have won this award because the competition in the category was extremely strong so I didn't really expect to win it. To have recognition shown from the FSB for what I have achieved so far is just incredibly rewarding," says Mark, who attended the awards with his wife Geraldine.

Mark has also become the men’s shaving and skincare advice ambassador for the cancer support charity Look Good Feel Better.

He has been offering his expertise in workshops for men focusing on skin issues, sun care, hygiene and shaving techniques during cancer treatment.

The shave guru attended his first workshop at Derby County's Pride Park stadium earlier this year and is taking part in virtual sessions.

Mark says they not only offer physical benefits but can also boost participants' mental health as they get to meet other men going through similar treatment and make new friends.

He has also filmed a video helping men who struggle getting a good close shave. "Some of these men are in their 60s - we're never too old too learn," says Mark.

He believes the workshops are a great idea especially when many people are realising the benefits of feeling good as well as looking good.

"Helping men at such an emotional and vulnerable time and having them come out feeling better is very rewarding," he adds.

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