Many of us treat barber’s the same as taxi drivers. You just want to get in, try not to make eye-contact or conversation, and get out again. Black barber beard styles.
However, a new study has shown that around 40% of men go to the barber’s mainly for the social side, saying it helps their mood to chat about health and personal issues. Many men, finding it difficult to seek therapy, see the barbershop as therapeutic.
Whether it's an unburdening of your soul or your scalp you're after this weekend, you'll want the best. Here’s some of London's choice cuts.
THE MODERN GENTLEMAN’S SANCTUARY – MAN MADE
Since opening in 2013, this Marylebone grooming sanctum has chopped (and shaved) a uniquely stylish niche for itself in the heart of the capital’s most cuttingly bourgeois district
Name: Dan Gregory, Founder and Creative Director
The idea came about when I was working in King’s Cross a few years ago. There was a gap for a luxury men's grooming salon that could offer exceptional barbering but with the same customer service level you get in a five-star hotel. I found a great location on George Street, and could see there wasn't anything like the idea I had in my head, so I went for it!
The key thing that makes us different is that we will always go above and beyond for our clients. For example, offering out of hour appointments or going to clients’ work place or residence if it makes it easier for them. We’ve also built up a large network of contacts so we can help them get reservations at top London restaurants or hotel rooms. We do all of this, and our barbering, with a calm, well-mannered demeanour.
Part modern barbershop, part old school barbershop – with a hint of a private members club in terms of look and feel
Probably our haircut and finish with traditional wet shave. It's the whole package, which makes you look and feel extremely relaxed and at your best.
THE HIPSTER HEART - CUT & GRIND
Part coffee shop and sometime music venue, Soho’s Cut & Grind sits at barbering’s razor-sharp point. Its employees – invariably tattooed with neatly crafted facial hair – certainly know their way around a cutthroat.
Name: Hari Efthymiades, owner and head barber
We wanted to have this environment where people don’t have to have a haircut. They can come in, grab a coffee, sit down and chill out. It’s the old-school community, but bringing it back in a modern way.
I was brought up in Peckham. I remember coming home from a night out at one o’clock in the morning and all the black barbershops were still open. Everyone was just chilling. That was lost when guys started going to the ladies’ hairdressing salons. Here, on a Friday, Saturday night, the last appointment is at 11pm, the bar’s open downstairs and there are bands or DJs playing music.
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Have you incorporated any old-school touches?
We’re keeping it all very traditional. When you finished your haircut back in the day, they put cologne on your neck. Not Tom Ford or Dsquared2 – it was Old Spice. That’s what we’re using, and the guys love it, because that smell takes them back to their fathers or grandfathers. Also, after our service, everyone gets a hot towel. Times have moved on, but I want to keep that tradition.
Most of the guys coming here are going for a complete re-style. A lot of the very, very short skin fade stuff is in for the younger people. The older guys are leaving the top a lot longer, loose and textured, and with an undercut that you can barely see when it’s combed, but looks striking when it flops down.
THE AUTHENTIC OLD SCHOOL - MOSH BARBERS
It’s easy to spot the regulars at east London’s mosh: they’re the ones patiently sipping on Turkish tea as the newcomers are tended to by a highly skilled team of cutters – and eyebrow threaders
Turkish barbers are the best in the world, because the training back home is the best. You start working at 12 years old, sweeping floors and watching the barbers. I started at 12, but I wasn’t handed a pair of scissors or clippers until I was 14. I spent two years just cleaning.
Everything we do is designed to make you feel fresh and clean at the end of a treatment. We use burning methylated spirit, tapped over the ears to singe off fuzzy baby hairs. After shaves, we use a cleanser to prevent blackheads, then a refreshing hot towel followed by a soothing moisturiser. And I do threading, where I run a length of thread between my teeth and use it to remove the small hairs between the eyebrows or on customers’ cheeks. Very few barbers know this here – I learned it in Turkey.
A lot of our customers are still asking for the Essex-style combover – a high fade and the parting swept over to one side. But now more people are going for longer, swept-back hair on top, like Al Pacino.
“I live six miles away but I’ve been travelling to see Mosh for the last 12 years. He won’t let you off the seat until he knows you’re satisfied. I’m not Turkish, but I love this style of barber’s. It’s more of a grooming centre than a straight-up hairdresser. And it’s a nicer, cleaner finish.” Faisal, 35, Redbridge
THE NEW LAD ON THE BLOCK - RUFFIANS
With its sharp cuts, branded products and, um, own-label pale ale, Ruffians has become a draw for both homegrown hipsters and trend-tracking tourists. its founders pride themselves on its atmosphere as much as its expertise
Name: Denis Robinson, senior barber
Have you noticed a growing interest in barbering?
Hugely – especially in the last five years. I started doing hair in 1992 when I was 14, and that coincided with the launch of unisex salons. Most guys didn’t want one of the four standard cuts barbers tended to offer, so it started to die out.
Guys like the fact that they can come to a traditional barbershop – not a women’s hair salon – and not be assaulted by the smells of ammonia hair colour and people having manicures. There’s a sense of it being a boys’ club; they enjoy that.
Absolutely. You need nerves of steel to use a cutthroat razor around someone’s carotid. I once cut George Bush Sr’s hair. At the end, I pulled out my razor – I see these secret service agents freeze, and one of them reaches for his gun. Taking a cutthroat to the neck of the former leader of the free world apparently makes people nervous.
Not anything, it’s going more mainstream. About 20% of our business is made up of looking after facial hair. But it is changing: we’re seeing more types of beard; more ‘maintained’, as opposed to the unkempt hipster look. And lots more full ‘taches.
THE SOUL OF THE COMMUNITY - KLASSIQUE
In newly gentrified Brixton, Klassique stands as a proud reminder of the district’s Afro-Caribbean heritage. You may not be offered a cool craft ale, but you will enjoy a warm welcome from its familiar roster of barbers.
Klassique has been here for about 11 years now, and I’ve been here for most of that time. It has changed over the years – there’s a mixture of people coming: black, white, Syrian, all different races. Brixton is
a different place these days.
Why do people keep coming back to Klassique?
It’s not about haircuts per se, it’s about getting to know each other. Have a drink, have a laugh – that’s the main thing. Friendly barbers and a friendly atmosphere is what it’s all about. People feel safe here. We just try to run it to the best of our ability.
Every hairstyle, it comes and it go. Like the Mohawk – it’s dying out at the moment, but a few months ago it was a thing. Now everybody wants the high top. Some of the other barbers do a lot of patterns, but I’m not really the pattern type. I’m more classic.
Customer feedback: “I got my first haircut here when I was a boy and I’ve been coming back ever since. When I was a child I wanted patterns and designs, whereas now it’s a low fade. As I’ve got older my style’s changed, but they’ve always adapted to that. Often it’s
the same people you see in hanging around here, so it’s a familiar setting every time you come. Everyone makes you feel welcome.” Ainsley, 21, Brixton
THE OLD MASTER: TRUEFITT & HILL
It's been 211 years since Messrs Truefitt and Hill first opened their doors, their St James’s Street shop lives on as the country’s oldest extant barber. today it bears a Royal Warrant from the Duke of Edinburgh (Well, it is his local)
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There’s a movement, especially among younger gentlemen, toward genuine things. They don’t want a barbershop that opened two weeks ago, they want something original. We have gentlemen who have been coming here every week for 40 years for their shaves, but we’ve also had a huge influx of younger clientele coming in for treatments.
Since 1805, our client list has been a Who’s Who of British history – Charles Dickens wrote about us in his novels. But we’re careful to ensure we balance our sense of heritage with what gentlemen require in the modern day. We keep track of all the runway styles, but we maintain traditional skills and our history.
How does that heritage manifest itself?
For shaves we use cutthroat razors and handmade badger hair brushes that hold much more water than synthetic ones – very important for a close, smooth shave. And we still use our patented CAR Cream, developed by the RAC for
Mr Truefitt and Mr Hill around 1900 when convertibles first came into style, so that gentlemen could arrive at
a dinner party without their hair looking like a windswept mess. A lot of our products have fun stories behind them. They’ve been developed over the years to meet gentlemen’s ever-changing needs.
I would say the most popular ones are still the conservative ones. Not too short, scissor-cut above the ear, often with a side parting. The more traditional clients prefer natural-looking hair, but many of them use our tonic lotions and oils. We cater for all types.