Barber’s Massage, a practice that is getting lost in the practice

Other special massage in the Philippines that has now losing its touch is the barber’s massage. This I believe is due to the losing touch of emerging barbers who are concentrating so much on haircut and don’t care so much about head massage which makes them unique and different from beauty salons whose facial and massage service is much different.

Some barber shops are almost empty because of this one reason – no barber on those places knows how to give the ending touch as conclusion to the service. And when I go for a haircut I always try to find one who can give me the finishing touch. The barbers today are no longer giving this extra as a bonus to their patrons – to at least do a one to two minutes touch. No wonder why until now I still don’t have a permanent barber because until now I still haven’t found one more than just a hair cutter.

When I was a kid, the barber shops were the places where many men spend their times playing Dama(a Filipino board game) and Chess games while news and current events of what was happening are being discussed and shared. And one of those barber shops was located in the corner next to the high school where I attended.

So, during our break time, we go to the barber shop to spend the time watching the people playing board games. While watching the games, I also had the privilege to watch the barbers do their trade and one of it is doing a fast massage to their customers after giving a meticulous haircut as the finishing touch; however, a more thorough massage which includes the face, head and shoulders, and other service to relax the face and body will be given when the patron like what was given to him and when they have money will always ask for the barber to give a complete service. The massage usually lasted 20 minutes on the face and head, and 45 minutes when a body-work also given.

I was so fascinated on how the barbers give head and facial massage to their customers. I said to myself before that when I will have money to afford the fee, and old enough so that they will grant my request, I will experience such treatment. However, as I have mentioned, I can’t find one today (here in Baguio City) skilled enough to give barber’s massage. The techniques are different and not relaxing, and what’s more upsetting is they don’t have the heart in giving it. The touch and delivery of their techniques are not warm and lack of care and sensitivity.

That’s why, I am trying to remember the techniques and write it down so that it can be learned by newbie barbers.

The emergence of many beauty salons fiercely competed against the barbershops, however, this is not the reason why barbershops are not doing well, but because like I have said they forgot one of the basics of haircut – the quick finishing touches.

I know cannot give the 100% picture of one experience when actually getting the service, but let me just try to show some of the basics I observe while watching barbers doing their stuff.

Techniques:

Before starting the massage, a hot water where a face towel is submerge must be ready. This is needed to warmth the customers face. Head:

1. Massage the face, nose-bridge, with the fingers and thumbs. From the chin to the hairlines for 1 minute.

2. Apply warm cloth on the face. Make sure to cover the chin to the forehead leaving a space on the nostrils to breathe. Wait for at least 3-5 minutes, changing the towel if needed when it loses its warmth.

3. While waiting for the warm cloth to relax the face and loses its warmth, apply calculated finger hacking starting on the middle of the forehead inline of the nose going down to the crown of the head. Do the procedure 3x.

The technique is done by putting the fingers and thumbs closed together in a prayer like manner, and then spread them to make spaces in between. Strike the head with the small fingers slightly and let the rests of the fingers go down over the little fingers creating clucking sounds. The force of the hack depends on the weight of the fingers striking the top of the little fingers.

4. Now remove the towels from the face. Pour some special cologne to the hands, rub them together then apply it to the face like in step one, massage the face for at least 2 minutes.

5. From there, use the fleshy tips of the fingers to massage the scalp beginning from the hairlines to the crown of the head. Just let the fingers walk over the scalp without lifting. Moving the scalp over the skull bone.

For under the head, cradle it with one hand from the back of the neck, and using one hand to hold the head as support, and then let the other hand massage the neck and the back of the head.

6. After massaging the head, don’t forget that the ears are also part of the head; so, give the earlobes light pressure by pinching them between the thumb and forefinger. End with slight tugs.

7. One of the favorites of customers is the neck manipulation. The barber slightly turns the head on one side to make crackling sounds and then repeat it on the other side.

It is done by turning the head on one side(say, to the right). Right hand holding the chin, and left hand is holding the back of the head and tries to move it slightly back and forth until the head and neck are moving without any sign of resistance, then, suddenly, the right hand pulls it slightly more to make a twist towards the shoulder and then release it. The move usually produces crackling sounds. If no sounds were heard, then probably the neck was not relaxed or the joints need more working to make the joints loose. Or the joint are probably tight from long heavy work and stress, so, practitioners are warned not to force the issue. One has to master the technique in order to discern whether the neck’s tightness is cause by stress and work, or just a fear from the receiver.

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