Rediscovering the Barbershop

by Brett on May 20, 2008 · 253 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair

Photo by LemonSunrise

For the past few months, I’ve been having my haircut at various barbershops. For most of my life, I went to unisex salons that reeked of perm chemicals and mousse. Every time I’d go, I’d walk away with a bad haircut. On top of that, I always felt out of place. Most of the clients were usually women and a woman was cutting my hair. I’d just go in, sit there silently while the person cut my hair, and leave.

I don’t know why I stopped going to a barbershop. As a child, I went to a barbershop on the main street in my hometown. It was called “The Friendly Barbershop.” I remember being fascinated with all the barber stuff. What I remember most though, was the distinct manliness of the place. Even as a young child, I could sense that a barbershop was a cool hang out for men. Twenty years later, I’m rediscovering the barbershop. You should too.

A Brief History of Barbershops

The 1880′s to the 1940′s were the golden age for barbershops. During this time, men socialized in all male hangouts, and barbershops rivaled saloons in popularity. Visiting the barbershop was a weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men would stop in not only for a haircut and a shave, but also to fraternize with friends and chew the fat.

During this golden age, barbershops were classy places with often stunning surroundings. Marble counters were lined with colorful glass blown tonic bottles. The barber chairs were elaborately carved from oak and walnut, and fitted with fine leather upholstery. Everything from the shaving mugs to the advertising signs were rendered with an artistic flourish. The best shops even had crystal chandeliers hanging from fresco painted ceilings.

Despite this level of luxury, barbershops were homey and inviting. A memorable and heavenly man aroma filled the air. The smell of cherry, wintergreen, apple, and butternut flavored pipe and tobacco smoke mixed with the scent of hair tonics, pomades, oils, and neck powders. These aromas became ingrained in the wood and every cranny of the shop. The moment a man stepped inside, he was enveloped in the warm and welcoming familiarity. He was immediately able to relax, and as soon as the hot lather hit his face, his cares would simply melt away.

The Decline

Photo by Curtis!

The first blow to barbershops came in 1904 when Gillette began mass marketing the safety razor. Their advertisements touted the razor as more economical and convenient than visiting the barbershop. The use of safety razors caught on, and during World War I, the US government issued them along with straight razors to the troops. Having compared the two razors size by side, upon returning home from the front many soldiers discarded both the straight razor and their frequent trips to the barbershop. Going to the barber for a shave became a special occasion instead of a regular habit.

In the decades after WWI, several other factors combined to weaken the place of the barbershop in society. Companies like Sears began selling at-home haircutting kits, and mom began cutting Junior’s and Pop’s hair. Then the Depression hit, and people cut back on discretionary spending like barber shaves. The loss of male lives in the World and Korean wars also shrunk barbers’ pool of clientèle. Then in the 1960′s Beatlemania and the hippie culture seized the country, and hairstyles began to change. Men started to grow their hair longer and shaggier, and their visits to the barber became infrequent or non-existent.

Even when short hair came back into style during the 1980′s, men did not return en masse to the barbershop. Instead, a new type of hairdresser siphoned off the barbers’ former customers: the unisex salon. Places like “SuperCuts” which were neither beauty salons nor barbershops, catered to both men and women. Many states’ licensing boards accelerated this trend by ceasing to issue barber licenses altogether and instead issuing a unisex “cosmetologist” license to all those seeking to enter the hair cutting profession.

Why Every Man Should Go To A Barber Shop

Photo by Curtis!

A barber knows how to cut a man’s hair. If you’re like most men these days, you’re probably going to some unisex chain salon like Supercuts. I used to do it too. Most of the time, I’d walk out of these places with a crappy haircut. Sometimes, my haircut would look decent for the first week or so, but then it would grow out into a horrible bowl.

The problem is that many of the people who work at salons are not trained barbers. They’re cosmetologists. The difference between the two can spell the difference between a dopey-looking haircut and a great one.

A barber is trained to cut with clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are trained to use scissors. Their training is also geared towards catering to women’s hair. They become experts in styling, coloring, and perming- things a man has no need for. That’s why when you ask the cute stylist at SuperCuts to use the number 2 on the clippers, you walk away with a bad haircut. She’s probably not well versed in how to use them. But a barber can employ the clippers with finesse.

It’s a great place to chew the fat with other men. When I went to hair stylists, I hardly ever talked to the woman who cut my hair. I’d chat about my family and theirs and that’s about it. The woman who cut my hair usually ended up chatting it with the other women in the salon, while I sat there awkwardly.

Barbers, on the other hand, are interesting guys with interesting stories to tell. On my visits to the barber shop, I’ve met a retried Army Ranger colonel, a musician who spent 13 years on the road in a jazz band, and a man who is the third generation in his family to take up the profession. Each of them had fascinating stories to share. And I in turn feel at ease to say what’s on my mind. There is conversation about politics, cars, sports, and family. Guys read the newspaper and comment on current events. In between the banter, jokes are told and laughs are had. And everyone is involved: the barbers, the customers getting their haircut, and the customers waiting to get their haircut. Adding to the enjoyment is that a variety of men take part in the conversation; young, old, and middle-aged join in the mix.

I think there’s a good argument that barbershops are among America’s last civic forums Where do people go today just to talk with others in the community? Coffee shops? Every time I go to a coffee shop, people are at their own tables minding their own business. The only other place that I can think of is a bar, but bars are now co-ed instead of being bastions of manliness. Graduate student, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, wrote an article about how discussions in traditionally black barbershops shape political ideas in the African-American community. She noted how political debate in barbershops can be vigorous and engages young and old alike. Unfortunately, white Americans are missing out on this experience. So, if you’re wanting to get your thumb on the pulse of civic life in your community, head over to the barbershop.

You can get a great shave. Many barbershops still give traditional single blade razor shaves. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the pleasures of a great shave at a barber. This past weekend, I went to a barber here in town to get a shave. I reclined in the plush old school barber chairs that had ash trays in the arm rests, a throw back to a time when people could smoke in public places. Then my shave commenced. The barber first wrapped a hot towel around my face. Next, the barber massaged in a lemon based cream to clean out my pores.

After that, several more hot towels were applied. By then, I was feeling nice and relaxed, on the verge of falling asleep relaxed. The barber then massaged in some cocoa butter to soften my beard. Next, the barber brushed a warm lather into my beard that smelled like man and not like that crappy artificial goo you buy in a can. The barber then took a piece of razor sharp metal and scraped my beard off for the closest, best shave I’ve ever had. Allowing another man to hold a razor to your neck is a good way to remind yourself that you’re alive.

To finish it all off, I got another hot towel wrapped on my face along with a final face massage with a soothing vanishing cream. When I stepped out of the shop, I felt like a new man, ready to take on the world.

It’s a great activity to do with your father or son. Men need traditions that can help bond them together. Visiting the barbershop with your father or son is a great tradition to begin in your family. Many men have been going to the same barber all their life and have introduced their sons to the same chair and the same barber. What a great way to bond with the men in your life!

You’ll feel manlier. Every time I go to the barber shop I just feel manlier. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the combination of the smell of hair tonics and the all-man atmosphere. But more so, it’s the awareness of the tradition of barbershops. Barbershops are places of continuity; they don’t change with the shifts in culture. The places and barbers look the same as they did when your dad got his hair cut. It’s a straightforward experience with none of the foofoo accouterments of the modern age. There are no waxings, facials, highlights, or appointments. Just great haircuts and great conversation.

When you walk out of the barber shop with a sharp haircut, you can’t help but feel a bit of manly swagger creep into your step. So next time you spot that familiar red and white striped pole, stop in. You’ll be glad you did.

Looking for a barbershop? Make sure to check out our barbershop locater. If you know of shop, please add it to the map.

{ 250 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shawn K May 20, 2008 at 11:07 pm

You really make me want to visit a barber RIGHT NOW! I can remember visiting one on a rare occasion when I was a kid, but he soon retired. At college, the small town I was in had a barber who came to town twice a week, it really is a manlier place. I am now going to put forth the effort to find a barber who can cut my hair, and hopefully, pull out a straight blade too!

2 Daniel Mick May 20, 2008 at 11:07 pm

I lived in India for 6 months a few years ago. The one thing I miss the most is getting shaved at the barber. This “indulgence” (‘the works’ cost a dollar or two) was the highlight of my week, a soothing, refreshing, revitalizing experience I savored in its entirety. Not even a whole body massage compares to the joys of a shave for me. (It happening in a “saloon”, a ubiquitous spelling error in India, was a bonus point!)

3 Sherwin May 20, 2008 at 11:15 pm

I don’t think you need a barber for this experience. My hair cutter is a man who has his own salon and most of his clients are women, but he has a lot of male clients as well. I have been a client of his since I was in the 7th grade. I am now 22. In fact, he cut my hair today and we, as usual, had a great conversation about life. He knows my complicated hair and cuts it well (I do NOT use clippers, and your statement that they are the main tool for cutting men’s hair is something I disagree with).

4 james May 20, 2008 at 11:49 pm

been reading the blog for awhile now, and am loving it…

i too have had this experience of venturing for people to cut my hair and winding up with a crappy cut. Im 28 and cheap when it comes to haircuts. i used to grow up on a reservation where either your mom did it or you walked the mile down the road to the older gentleman that cut your hair for 5 bucks.

So even up to about a year ago i was trying to find someone that would cut it the way i want. i had gone to this barbershop where i had it cut by a nice guy but honestly paying 20 bucks for a haircut seemed outrageous. but honestly it was one of the best cuts i had in so many years.

so now i am using my friends wife as my hair cutter. honestly she is pretty good but i can see going to a barber and paying the extra cash, there is something about getting it done by a guy that takes pride in giving haircuts.

on another note, i always wanted to try a wet shave but haven’t yet. my facial hair doesn’t grow to fast, not like my hair on my head. i shave like maybe 3 times a week. but i do use a 40′s safety razor, since i have sensitive skin and cant stand the plastic razors.

if you don’t use a safety razor you should give it a try sometime.

5 Ryan May 21, 2008 at 12:13 am

There is so much truth in this article. I remember my dad taking me to the local barber as a kid and I still remember the inside of the barbershop. It was just like described above, a very manly place that felt more like a pub than a salon. The barber knew every one of his customers and your business was appreciated. I moved about a year ago to a new apartment the business next to my complex is a barbershop that’s been running for at least the last three decades if not longer and the inside is filled with framed sports page clipping and old sports memorabilia. Since moving here I have gone nowhere else for my haircuts for the very same reasons outlined in the article. It’s been a long time since I have been as happy with my haircuts and the personal service is great. He and his assistant have even offered to trim the troublesome parts of my hair for free if they grow out oddly before my next cut.

The next time I go in I’ll definitely be requesting a shave with my haircut!

6 Marcel May 21, 2008 at 3:07 am

Alas if this advice were universal! Where I grew up in North America, this would have held true. The barbers there were so good at cutting men’s hair! But, having moved to England, I’ve found most that most barber shops are filled with barbers who do not speak English and don’t know how to cut hair. To be honest, the only place to get a good haircut from someone who does speak my language is a female hair salon 20 minutes away from my flat. It doesn’t make me feel terribly manly but neither does looking like a doofus for 3 months.

7 newswede May 21, 2008 at 4:02 am

“A barber is trained to cut with clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are trained to use scissors”

I would say it is the other way around. Real barbers use scissors and blades.

Other than that, I totally agree. Wonderful article, as is this entire weblog.

8 Ryan May 21, 2008 at 4:06 am

Great article and dead on. For years I went to a male “hairdresser” who did a pretty decent job with my hair, but was trained as a cosmetologist. He was well trained in coloring and the latest women’s styles, but like you said, nothing that I needed for my hair. Then about a year ago I visited an old school barber shop and it was great. The barber was friendly and had done a great job of filling his shop with authentic barbershop equipment. He also did a much much better job with my hair and used clippers like you said. After a few visits I decided to try out a shave. It was a bit unnerving that first time knowing that basically a stranger is going to be sliding a straight razor down my neck, but it was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. I almost fell asleep right there in the barber chair! A shave and haircut set me back $15, but I walked out feeling like a million. Every guy who hasn’t should seek out a good old barbershop asap.

9 Matt May 21, 2008 at 4:30 am

Check it out! I have been following the story of Don Hawelywood for a couple of and am completely envious of anyone living in souther California. His barbershops are the epitome of manliness.

http://layrite.com/

On a side note, if you are looking for a great pomade that washes out and smells awesome, do yourself a favor and pick up some of his. You can thank me later.

10 fathersez May 21, 2008 at 4:39 am

When we were kids, we had a travelling barber who would come and cut our hair. Now the only thing that I feel has changed is that we go to him, and he has a fancy chair. The rest is the same. And yes, now I also get a shave.

It’s true about the father and son thing. I look forward to going with my son. He happily follows me now that I don’t make any choices about how his cut should be.

Funny that Daniel mentioned Indian barbers. Almost every barber shop in Malaysia is run by Indians and we regularly get the kind of stuff that he wrote about.

Regards

11 Timo May 21, 2008 at 6:06 am

Hey! I experience the same thing, fathersez. I used to always go to the Indian barber’s, they work very fast too. After a nice cut and shave, some will give you a nice neck cracking.
I have not experienced the small town traveling barber before, since that was during an earlier time. I hear those barbers set up shop under a tree, and there are other hawkers nearby who will sell nice ice-cold treats (nice in the humid/hot Malaysian climate). I wish I was older to experience that, having a manly hair cut in the great outdoors :)

12 Novel May 21, 2008 at 6:22 am

I went to a barber shop until I was 23 and moved away from my college town.
I tried to find a quality barber shop in my new town, but have not been able to. I don’t know if it’s because they’re not out there or I’m not looking hard enough.

13 Dwain May 21, 2008 at 6:40 am

I’ve been going to the same barber shop now for 21 years, from high school to today, and the same guy has owned the place. The Famous Barber Shop in Platte Woods, MO. I would come back from college in Maryville (an hour and a half away) and I’m always glad to be back there. My little boy is coming up on 2 years old and I’m looking forward to making the barber shop a father and son tradition for us.

BTW, my barber uses clippers AND scissors.

14 Matthew May 21, 2008 at 7:04 am

You are NOT kidding about how barbershops are a great tradition for father and son. When I was growing up, my dad and I went to the same barber. I even remember going there by myself after school to get a hair cut, and my dad would just pay the barber on his next visit. I’ve moved a couple of times since then, and started going the supercuts route. I’ve searched for barbers here in town (Tucson), and frequent two of them: one opens at 6 AM, which is perfect for my schedule, and the other is a bit of a drive and well worth it when I can fit it in. To me a barbershop isn’t a “real” barbershop unless they finish the collar-line with warm shaving cream and a straight razor. I don’t grow nearly enough of a beard to justify getting a shave at a barber, so this is the closest thing I have. It’s a wonderful experience. I can’t wait until my son’s old enough to sit still in the barber chair so I can start taking him.

15 Matt Thomas May 21, 2008 at 7:09 am

Hear hear. In my youth, I went to SuperCuts and had my hair cut by women. My haircuts varied wildly in quality; sometimes they were good, other times they were terrible. As I grew older, I began going to barbershops and haven’t looked back. I may not always get a great haircut, but I’ve never gotten a bad one. The place I’ve been going to for the last four years definitely qualifies as a male preserve: pictures of cars on the wall, Playboy magazines among the reading material, all run by one barber who’s been there for decades and does the little things like use a straight razor on your neck hairs at the end of your haircut to finish things off. Not only do I feel more manly going there, but it also feels good to support a local, small business instead of a big chain like SuperCuts.

16 Bryan May 21, 2008 at 7:17 am

In principle, I agree. In reality, I work M-F, 8 to 5 and my barbershop is open M-F, 9 to 5.

When I’m retired, I look forward to the luxury of a real barbershop. Unfortunately, because of their hours, I’m stuck with CostCutters.

17 Eric May 21, 2008 at 7:20 am

Great article. I fondly remember my boyhood barbership. Same place from the age of 6-18, and for many of those years it was a father-son excusion. Over the last decade Ive lived in big cities, where $50 salon haircuts are an option that Ive always ignored, instead opting for the $14 local barber.

I must say that the ‘feel’ of the barbershop for me, is more pronounced in the small towns. In the big city, the barbers don’t remember you and the conversation is weak at best. Supercuts, with its loud techno music and robotic-armyesque buzzers is everything my local barber was not. Long live local barbershops and bazooka gum.

18 jostua May 21, 2008 at 7:37 am

The barbershop I’ve been going to recently boasts at being the oldest barbershop in all of Oregon. It’s claim is justified, being that Oregon City is just about the oldest city in Oregon (founded in 1829 and the first well established cities in Oregon Country, rivaling Portland during the establishment of the Oregon Territory, but ultimately losing that battle and becoming a quaint little town overlooking one of the most misused natural wonder in all of Oregon, the Willamette Falls). I love going to this little place for all the same reasons as described above. The current owner took over the business in the early 90′s, but even he thinks he’s been working there since the dawn of time. It’s really great to have this long time connection to Oregon City. I’ve grown up here, but moved to Slovenia for a while, got married, and started building a life there. Now I’m back in Oregon City, and am really coming to appreciate this little town as my hometown. Going to the barbershop is helping to establish this sense of roots, now that I have a home on two continents.

19 James May 21, 2008 at 8:00 am

I went to the same barber, the one my father went to, for the first 25 years of my life. Then my wife and I moved away. By the time we returned to my home town, he had retired. Now I have a desire to take my son to the barbershop. I still remember learning about fishing, politics, hunting, sports, and how to interact with other men when I was a child there. Thanks for the reminder and motivation!

20 racketboy May 21, 2008 at 8:08 am

Great post. I may just consider this option again. My old barber is still around and pretty close to my work. While I may not go every time, it may be nice every now and then. And the shave sounds good. Just reading about make me feel relaxed :)

Keep up the great work!

21 Art Gonzalez May 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

You are so right in that is a great activity to do with your son. Once a month I take my now 12 year old son for both our haircuts and has been like that since he was like 5. We always enjoy the ambience and camaraderie of the place and is a special bonding time for us.

One thing I´ve been foolish not to consider is to have a shave there as well. I am going to try it this Saturday!

Many blessings,

Art Gonzalez
Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

22 Jonathan May 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

I stopped going to a barbershop about 8 years ago. I have yet to find a barber who can cut my hair without butchering it. My hair is wavy and wiry and every barber I go to always looks clueless when they start cutting. The only thing they knew to do with it was a high and tight, which is not what I wanted.
I disagree about the main tool being clippers. I’ll take a person with a comb and scissors any day. Barbers who only use clippers don’t have a clue what they are doing in my opinion.

23 Brett McKay May 21, 2008 at 8:43 am

@Newswede-

“’A barber is trained to cut with clippers, the main tool in cutting a man’s hair. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are trained to use scissorsâ€?’

“I would say it is the other way around. Real barbers use scissors and blades.”

Well that’s what all the barbers told me. Of course they use scissors too. But the point is that a lot guy’s hair needs the clippers, and cosmetologists aren’t good at using them. Cosmetologists never ever use clippers, unless they are cutting a woman’s hair super super short.

@Bryan-Could you go on your lunch break? A shave and a haircut would make for a relaxing hour.

@Johnathan-Yeah barbers may not be for absolutely everyone. They cut hair in a pretty straightforward way, so if your hair is unique likes yours, I can see there might be a problem.

24 Jesse May 21, 2008 at 9:18 am

First time poster, love this one. Started wet shaving, and head into a barbershop for a shave for special occasions. Even if I’m just getting my clipped head re-trimmed, I still feel more comfortable amid the Playboys, car mags, and Wired magazines at the local place. . .

25 Dan May 21, 2008 at 9:30 am

As a red blooded male, I’d rather have some hot chick cut my hair than some guy. They generally do a pretty good job. When you go to a barber, you only interact with another man. When you get a woman to cut your hair, you get to enjoy talking to her.

26 Mark May 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

I have recently had the exact opposite experience. I have always gone to a barber and always been less than impressed with the hair cuts. I have curly hair, and that seems to freak out barbers. To give it a fair shake, I suppose I should shop around a bit.

Recently I went to the salon my wife uses. Not only was the shampooing fantastic, they knew how to cut my hair. They used all sorts of gadgets I had never seen at the barber to make my hair lay properly (curls don’t like to cooperate when they are short).

I have to agree with the shave though. I miss that dearly. I also miss them using the straight razor to clean up the back of my neck after the hair cut. It gave a crisp, clean look to the neck line and felt like a million bucks.

27 Christopher May 21, 2008 at 10:59 am

Loved the write up. I’ve been going to the same barber for 38 years! The father of the guy I currently use gave me my first haircut. It’s a hour drive one-way, so I don’t get in as often as I’d like.

For me, tradition plays a huge roll in where I go. The place where I got my first haircut? They also gave all three of my boys their first haircuts as well. My wife laughs, but this is something my sons can pass on to their sons.

I have a short write up about my barbershop as well as video of son #3′s first haircut, if you’re so inclined. http://www.minnesota-vacation-guide.com/beauty-salon-in-minneapolis.html

Thanks for reminding my why I have my hair cut where I do.

28 Shatt May 21, 2008 at 11:05 am

I doubt a barbershop can properly deal with someone having long hair. Until the day my employer tells me to “cut that crap short” then I’ll be sticking with my hippy hair and salon visits.

29 Alessandro May 21, 2008 at 11:14 am

Hey! You stole my thunder!

I was just about to write a story about barbershops, but you beat me to it. That’s okay… your article makes for a great read.

Growing up, I used to go to the neighborhood barbershop with my father and brother every month. It was a stately shop, with hardwood floors, nicely upholstered chairs, and the smell of pipe tobacco. And it was run by two Italian oldtimers, with whom my father would converse about politics here in the U.S. and back in the old country.

When my parents moved to a different state, there wasn’t a barbershop to be found nearby. Consequently, we started going to SuperCuts… or my mother would cut my hair with a razor kit she bought… at Sears. (Gotta hand it to mom, though. She didn’t do too bad a job.)

Fast-forward past college and grad school…. I moved back to NYC and found a great little neighborhood barbershop, also run by a few old Italian men. I love going there every 3 weeks or so… getting a nice hair cut (with clippers and scissors)… and even an occasional shave. The conversation is great, whether I speak with the barbers in Italian or with the customers in English. And they know how to cut hair — in 5 years, I’ve never walked out with a bad haircut.

I definitely want to create these kinds of memories for my boys.

30 Christopher May 21, 2008 at 11:26 am

Here’s a link I was looking for. I’m not quite sure how to classify this place. High end club/cigar bar? “Barber shop?” Either way, it makes the older barber shops look dated … and cheap.

http://316barberspa.com/

31 Ryan May 21, 2008 at 11:38 am

A small nit pit. A good barber doesn’t “scrape” your beard off. They cut it off. Scraping it off would lead to a bad shave and razor burn.

32 Cameron May 21, 2008 at 11:40 am

I second the idea about barbershops being a great place for discussion. my dad would take my grandpa and me to the barber when i was a kid. the regulars would be there on saturday morning talking about the local politics and sports. I always got a kick out of it. my dad is a ridiculously reserved and quiet guy, he hardly ever says a word. The only times i ever saw him open up and actually talk were at football games and the barbershop.

33 Jersey Todd May 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Great post.

Highly recommend Mike’s Barbershop in Princeton where my son and I go. More of a 21st Century experience w/LCD TV’s at every station, and enough memorabilia to make a sports bar jealous. But my son and I love the staff there and the free donuts….

I remember as a kid going to the Barbershop, and the thing that sticks with me the most is that’s where I first discovered comic books….and the rest was history…

34 Vincent S Rose May 21, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Ahhh so true. I started going to the barber shop on base when i joined the military. Even now as a base employee four years after leaving the serivce I still go to the base barber shop . I have tried salons or unisex places but honestly women can’t cut my hair worth a damn.
they usually send me out looking something like a muppet. So since i like my hair short on the sides and long enough to gel ontop i head over to the baber shop at the exchange for my 6.25 hair cut every two weeks and just look sharp.
Another factor not mentioned in this article is that different races/ethnicities have different hair textures. my hair is thick and full so i need someone who knows how to cut that kind of hair. usually i try to pick a black or phillipino barber because honestly they give the best hair cuts.

35 Bryan May 21, 2008 at 2:38 pm

See now this has been a weird subject for me. I personally don’t think ti compromises my masculinity but I have hair that goes past my shoulders. I’ll agree that a barber shop is one of the manliest places you can visit but I’ve grown attached to my hair, moreover people (especially the women) seem to like it.

36 Tim Goulah May 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Great article. I live in okinawa Japan and I have been going to the same Barber here for the past 6 years. I found the place near my old apartment and really enjoyed going there for my haircuts & the straight razor shaves. i recently moved and it’s a 45 minute drive out of my way to get to the barber now, but I still go for all my hair cuts. I just went last night in fact for many of the same reasons mentioned above. Every time I go in they know me, we have nice conversations on what’s happening and what we’re all up too. This is especially enjoyable since it’s all in Japanese and I get to show the locals we’re not all bad foreigners here. The best part of all is the straight razor shave. the exhilarating rush of knowing the guy with the blade at your throat could take you out anytime is a bit unsettling but it’s the best shave ever! If done right you won’t have to shave for 2 days because it’s so close, the disposable razors won’t be able to cut the stubble for that long anyway. I recommend everyone to find a local barber and check it out.

37 Joe May 21, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Can’t agree more with this article. Barber shops are a dying breed – some of the last bastions of masculinity left in this increasingly abiguous world we live in. My dad has always taken me to barber shops and not until i starting living on my own did i cease going, mostly because I have a very good friend who is a cosmetologist and cuts our friends’ hair for free. She does a good job, but i still miss walking into that barber shop and getting a trim from someone trained specifically to cut men’s hair, and getting a good conversation out of it as well. As much as i love my friend, my barber has known me longer.

38 Zach May 21, 2008 at 4:12 pm

As the son of a barber I can definitely identify with this article. Growing up in a college town was easy for my father, it gave him plenty of business. He owned and operated a one chair barber shop, about as old school as you can get. Although he doesn’t shave people anymore, he still mainly uses clippers for hair. He knows all of his customers, it’s a really cool place to hang out. Me and my brother grew up and spent the our younger days in his barber shop, since he could watch us there. We met many interesting people, guys used to give us candy and money all the time. He charges $10 dollars for a haircut, $8 with a student I.D. It really is amazing how much people appreciate their barbers. He got everything from free tickets to random gifts. I strongly urge every man to see a barber, trust me it’s worth every penny!

39 Dab May 21, 2008 at 4:23 pm

For Chicagoans, I highly reccomend Sal’s Barbershop in Roscoe Village. Sal has retired, but the shop was sold to a very good barber who still does straight razor shaves and gives great cuts.

40 John May 21, 2008 at 4:47 pm

I completely agree, I’ve gone to the same barbers for the past eleven years, and only changed twice when he was moving shop to a bigger area.

The first place I went some was mass produced ‘supercuts’ lookalike that cut my hair so badly I looked like a freaking meth addict for a week. It stuck up like crazy no matter what I did to it.

The second place I went was another local barber, nice place, nice guy, cut my hair fine. Not great, but it wasn’t bad either.

I returned to my normal one as soon as possible. He knows just how to cut my hair and always makes good small talk while it happens.

41 Mister Man May 21, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I clearly remember what drove me away from a “stylist shop” to a real barber shop.
She said, ” you know coloring will work wonders with hair.”

If you in the Las Vegas area , visit GERARDO’S CLASSIC BARBER SHOP on W, Spring Mountain @ Chinatown area & Alex’s Barber Shop on Sunset right next to the airport. They are the REAL deal on barber shops in Vegas.

42 name May 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Totally disagree most barbers are terrible.
If you work for the governmetn or work in some cubicle and never deal with people getting a bad haircut is fine.
But for must of us who have to deal with people we need to look acceptable so just pay the $35 for a good hair styling at a salon.

43 Rodney Hampton May 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Great story. I guess I didn’t realize how much a barbershop is a part of manly culture.

I’ve never had a guy use a straight razor on my beard, but I have had plenty of experiences where a real barber would whip out the straight razor to trim up the hair on the back of your neck. Once I had the experience of having the razor to my neck by a guy who was an Iraqi and me mentioning that I was in the Army during the first Gulf war. This was post Gulf war I and pre Iraqi invasion. He was all for the invasion. His family back in Iraq was middle class and was looking forward to liberation. At that time, we both agreed that there was a good chance that Iraq could emerge as a stable democracy….Well, that was then and this is now. Still, it was awkward having that blade to my throat. I was definitely uneasy. I walked out of his shop with a free knock off bottle off bottle of Michael Jordan cologne as a Christmas gift from his family to mine. I graciously gave him a very large tip.

When I was a kid I used to get my hair cut by a guy named Bruce Whited in my hometown of Piqua, Ohio. Bruce used to be a speedboat racer and there were pictures from his glory days around the shop. There were also a racy photo entitled “A barber’s dream” of a woman with long hair (and nothing else) covering all the naughty bits and a barber about to go to town with his scissors. To top it off, there was a beer mug shaped like a teat. This was pretty heady stuff for rural Ohio, especially when you roll in the sports on the TV set and the banter between the customers. I still get a haircut from Bruce from time to time when I’m in town. I’m not sure if he’s still cutting hair though, it’s been over a year since I saw him.

There’s a nice little barber shop in downtown DeWitt, Michigan that is mostly a male hangout, although there is one girl who cuts hair there. The place is always packed, so I found another place to get my hair cut. You see, there’s this little known unisex shop run by a guy named Frank Antony in Lansing. Frank is Italian and mostly retired. He only cuts hair on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. He’s given me the best haircut I’ve had in years and it’s a pleasure talking to the guy. I do, however, wish there was an all male hangout that had lots of customers — but not too many — and had the right feel to it.

I would, however, disagree with the slam against female stylists. Occasionally it is nice to get your haircut by a really hot female. It’s a bit sensual.

And for those of you who haven’t had a straight razor cut, do yourself a favor and do it. I bought a straight razor a few months back and use it every weekend (it takes too long to shave that way during the work week). It’s a real pleasure. You learn to do it right pretty quickly, that whole pain aversion thing is wired deep!

44 Vermont_Athiest May 21, 2008 at 5:55 pm

This is why I switched to straight razor shaving a few years ago, them 3,4, and 5 blade razors still can’t compete with a good old fashioned straight razor. shaving has become a choir, just another thing to do on a long list. It’s nice to take your time and just relax and get a nice good close shave.

45 Rob Enderle May 21, 2008 at 6:01 pm

My barber Pietro has been cutting my hair for 28 years and was born in italy and never used a clipper in his life.
Its scissors and a straight blade.
His dad’s barbershop in a small town in Sicily didnt have electricity and neither did his graet-grandfather. Old school means no eletric plugs, hence no clippers.

My father in law had a barber shop for 4 decades, never used a clipper too and he is a straight blade virtuoso as well.

For me, a real barber has to be an expert at the blade, not the electric clipper.

46 Brett May 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Spot on. My dad and I used to go to the same barber shop. Two chairs and two barbers. There was a line of chairs to wait and chat. An old (but color) TVs sat in the corner, always on but volume down, the kind with the ornate wood enclosure that probably weighs 200 pounds. Bass fishing magazines, car magazines, newspapers to read if you weren’t in a talking mood. A haircut was $9, so you could give the guy 10 and say, “keep the change.” And they always went to make change and then thanked you for the tip. They worked those scissors at lightning speed. And when done they’d hot lather your neck and shave it smooth with a straight razor. Only after honing it on a strap, every time, and it didn’t cost extra. Unfortunately I’ve long since moved away, but they’re still open downtown in that southern town.

47 David Wessell May 21, 2008 at 6:18 pm

I just found a barber school in San Diego last week. First time I had been to the town, and it was a highlight of the trip. Not only did I get a shave with a straight, I got them to shave my head with a straight (http://straightrazorplace.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21657) which was a first for me. I’m a longtime Straight Razor user, but I’ve never had my head shaved with one, it was quite an experience.

Thanks
David

48 klaus_kinski May 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm

i live in nyc, i would think that i could find a barber shop like the idyllic ones you describe, but they all seem to advertise fades, skin fades and buzz cuts.

i am nigh positive that most barbershops, at least in this city, are not to be trusted unless (as stated above) you work for the gov’t.

my last haircut was from a girl in a williamsburg salon who tried to give me her boyfriend’s haircut, which i didn’t want, but she was very understanding and creative with the style i wanted.

do not go to a barbershop in the nyc unless you want something that the least interesting kids in high school had. or a ceasar.

49 Best Credit Card Offers May 21, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Mannn….i love my barber….I tryed to go visit him today but he was on vacation. BIG NO NO. This is the part that I hate. I went to my backup but he wasent opend on time. So i went to another barber whom I never been to. My buddy said he cuts good hair, but it wasent the same. Finding a good barber is hard VERYYY hard. BARBERS ROCK!

50 John Todd May 21, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Outstanding post!

I too used to go to a barber shop when I was a kid… Bert’s Barber Shop in beautiful rural Rio Linda, California. Alas, Bert retired and moved away, and I had to settle for the Klip Joint for years. I’ve been searching for a good barber for soem time now, with little success. It seems most of them are now $5 Vietnamese hack joints, or located in ethnically polarized areas.

I’m still looking though… looking for the place that smells like Pinaud Clubman powder, has a subscription to Field and Stream, and has the college football game on the 20″ tv in the corner.

51 patrick May 21, 2008 at 7:07 pm

I agree, barbershops are bastions of manliness. I have had one too many ‘cosmetologists’ butcher my hair with a clippers. I’m fortunate enough to have a good, old fashioned barber shop within 5 miles, where I can get a shave and a haircut for about $12. Ya can’t beat that. The toughest decision at the barbershop is usually whether it’ll be the #1, or the #00.

52 Gort May 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I agree wholeheartedly — barbershops are one of the few remaining strongholds of manliness, aside from auto parts stores and the hometown hardware store. I tried the “unisex” salons a few times in the early 80s, but as described in the post, they frequently butchered my hair. After many, many haircuts in my life, I can say without a trace of doubt that no one can cut a man’s hair like a barber.

Good barbers are truly artists with the clippers. And, IMO, the worst barber that I’ve ever been to STILL gave me a better haircut than the “stylists” that I tried out a few times.

To Sherwin:

To address your statement —

“I do NOT use clippers, and your statement that they are the main tool for cutting men’s hair is something I disagree with”.

I certainly respect your preference — it’s your hair. However, given your stated age, that would put your birth sometime during the height of the “unisex” salon. I would wager that the odds of you having experienced a real barber are small.

I’ve lived a few more years than you have. After many, many haircuts at a barbershops across the land, as well as weekly haircuts during my time in the military, I believe that can safely say that the clippers and comb are most certainly the main weapons in the barber’s arsenal — the scissors come out only for the final clean-up and errant nose/eyebrow hairs — and then, only if necessary.

53 Matt Ryan May 21, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Some truly great words. I go to the Hair Cuttery and I hate it. I get a different person all the time. If you live in Chicago there is a real reasonable barber in Lincoln Park on Clark directly North of Fullerton Avenue. It’s called Lloyd’s he’s a younger 35 year old guy loves blues music and has a subscription to Playboy…and you don’t even have to feel shy about reading it.

54 gus May 21, 2008 at 9:47 pm

screw the barber, go flowbee!

55 Hangly May 21, 2008 at 10:13 pm

So true. I lived in Japan way out in the sticks where there was still a mom&pop barber shop. They were old, and so was the clientele. They weren’t overly chatty, not with me, but they made up for it with quality of service.

The whole process took an hour. Whip, lather, spread; scalding-hot towels; wipe, lather, spread, shave. They shaved my whole face, even my forehead, not just the part where the whiskers are, with a blade sharp enough to split protons.

I went to them almost every week for a few months, until they suddenly closed down. They were the last of their kind in that area. I went to the “stylist” with the colored Kenny Loggins hair, but he had a bad attitude and the service wasn’t nearly as good. Oh well.

56 Jim Dennard May 22, 2008 at 4:35 am

I love barber shops as well. I’ve gone to one my whole life. I’ve been cut a few times by stylists but the cuts always looked funky. My barber always makes sure that he’s done what I want him to do before I get out of the chair. Straight razors, the scents from the creams and balms, and interesting conversations are just a few of the things I would greatly miss by not going to a barber shop.

57 Phil May 22, 2008 at 5:17 am

Barber shops are a no-brainer. At my local barber shop, I get a great cut, and the shave is awesome. I don’t know why dudes waste their time anywhere else. Some of the best customer service you’ll ever get is at a top barber shop.

58 liss May 22, 2008 at 9:21 am

I know I’m a woman, I don’t go to barbershops, I have no desire to go to a barbershop but I’m converted to the idea – for men. You made me want to go sit on a bench outside a barbershop with a snack and a girlfriend to watch all the men reaffirmed in their manliness walk out of the joint.

Nice work.

59 Mike Boscoe May 22, 2008 at 9:53 am

Barbershops are the gayest ever since they took out penthouse magazines. I would rather get advice on my hair from a young attractive woman than some old slob. Do you like you grandpa rubbing your head? If want manly go to strip club or a massage parlor, now that’s manly!

60 PastorEd May 22, 2008 at 10:04 am

Lord, what memories…

Both my father and grandfather were career Army, and short hair was the rule of the day in my home. I honestly had a terrible relationship with my dad (alcohol had his attention far more than I ever did), but one of the few cherished memories I have as a boy was going to the barbershop with Dad.

Alas, I have three daughters… it looks like the father/son barbershop thing is not for me. However, you’ve inspired me to go look up my local barber, and get a great shave while I’m waiting the next 15 years for a grandson…

61 cash wild May 22, 2008 at 10:15 am

forget barber shops, hair cuts cost too much, shaving yourself is way better.

62 kd May 22, 2008 at 11:41 am

rolling over to larry’s and getting the business when you walked in about this or that and then getting the full on treatment from the old guys who would just hang there – all the italians – whatta place.

fuck yeah, the barbershop!

63 cubistcat May 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

Man, you’ve brought back a flood of memories. When i was little, every Friday was the day my grandparents went to get their hair fixed, and if it was summertime and i was out of school, i usually went with them (like i had a choice, lol).

Grandma went to a beauty salon on the town square corner, while Grandpa went into the barber shop diagonally across the street. Benny the Barber–a man older than the hills–he’d cut Grandpa’s, Dad’s, and my hair. Grandpa and Benny could talk all day, if it weren’t for Grandma’s impatient foot-tapping on the sidewalk outside of her beauty parlor.

Benny’s shop was narrow, cluttered. It smelled of hair tonic, comb and brush sterilizing fluids, stale tobacco smoke. The main lighting was from the front windows, the incandescent bulbs barely lit the rest of the shop. The floor was dingy and dirty, with a faint black-and-white tile pattern underneath what must have been 60 years of scuff marks, mud and whatever else came inside there. The chrome-framed barber chairs and matching waiting seats were all cushioned with that slippery green vinyl that was popular back in the 40s or 50s, and most had gray duct-tape patching-over in their well-worn areas. A couple of small metal desk fans were usually kept on.

Despite the debauchery appearance of this place, yea, i liked going in there. Grandpa’s long gone, but i’ll always remember our friday afternoon visits to Benny the Barber.

64 Michael May 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for the post – Certainly made me want to get to a barber shop for my next cut. I grew up going to our neighborhood barber in Libertyville, IL. They’re still there, still cutting like they have for decades.

When we lived in Celebration, FL, I used to go to Carr’s Barber Shop, which hearkened back to the roots of barbering. I never tried their full shave service, but the atmosphere was great, and the haircut wasn’t too bad either.

Since moving to Atlanta, I’ve been using a male stylist at a local salon, but need to check out area barbers, if there are any.

65 settingitstraight May 22, 2008 at 2:03 pm

There are also now men’s salons, with sports on and free beer and cigars, or at least we do in Portland OR. I just went there today, actually, as part of my b-day present:

http://www.hairmgrooming.com/

It feels a little frilly, but it’s a nice change from my normal barber.

66 Greg May 22, 2008 at 2:27 pm

While I can’t say I have every been to a barbershop I think I would like to try one. I agree I have never received a fantastic haircut at SuperCuts. I think another big problem is trying to find some one who speaks English and can understand what you are asking for. However I don’t want to bash all Cosmetologists some of them do use the correct tools for the job but its real hard to find a good one!

67 Andre May 22, 2008 at 3:02 pm

When I was living in Sacramento I used to frequent a barber who was a nutcase. He was militant christan who always reaked of an old spice type of smell. His customers were mostly cops. He had newspaper clippings of 2nd admendment stories all over his shop. One time while discussing that topic he gave a general warning about what would happen to anyone who came into his shop with ill intentions. He then pulled, from it seemed thin air, a FREEKIN 12 guage shotgun and aimed it at the door. “BLAM-O! is what I believe he said. Another time he was arguing with a customer about politics and then shoved a bible in my lap and made me read a couple of passages to back up his point. Now I disagreed with most of his politics (we only agreed on the 2nd admendment) but every time I needed a haircut I was there. I also happened to have gotten the best haircuts of my life. Best shop ever!

68 chasen May 22, 2008 at 3:23 pm

I am officially inspired. I have for years been going to local joints for the standard snip snip haircut… I would like my manhood back in a world full of pussified men… this is a start. Thank you ArtofManliness!

69 Mark May 22, 2008 at 8:55 pm

I went home last Thanksgiving to visit my Dad in Spring TX, and visited his barber, Eli. He’s an ex-Marine and a long-time friend of my father. For most of my adult life I’d been to stylists, and had never really tried a barber. But on this occasion I thought I’d give it a try. I got one of the best haircuts I’d ever had, and a straight-razor trim along the collar line. It was a great experience.

When I got back to San Diego, I spotted an article in the local paper about a barber whose shop was just 3 blocks away.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080418/news_1mc18rbbarb.html

Rick gives a great haircut and the conversation’s always great. I’m definitely a convert to barbershops.

70 jackmo May 23, 2008 at 5:58 am

Hi,

I’ve read your blog for a while and really enjoy it, keep up the great work!

In this case I have to say I respectfully disagree though, you say:
“The problem is that many of the people who work at salons are not trained barbers.”

Are you totally discounting the training required to be a qualified hairdresser? Have you done any research into what is taught in hairdresser / salon school? I’ve been to both barbers and hairdressers and have experienced bad haircuts from both; however I’d have to say I’ve rarely had a stylish haircut from a barber.

I know this is stereotyping, but consider the average demographic of a barber and a hairdresser. Barbers would more lean towards a middle-aged man, the hairdresser a young woman who is potentially passionate or at least interested about her work and style.

I am a big supporter of ‘manliness’ but out of the two sexes lets be honest; women have the edge on us when it comes to fashion sense, style, general grooming and appearance. It has always been so.

Sure it might be a more ‘manly experience’ going to a barber, but do you honestly believe that:

1. a trained hairdresser won’t know how to cut a mans hair
2. an oldschool barber would have a better sense of what modern society considers stylish then a young qualified hairdresser that has studied her (or his) craft and obtained a qualification

Regards,
Jack

71 evan mathews May 23, 2008 at 6:04 am

Layrite is pretty cool Matt. It looks as if it has some Old Skool influence but that’s not bad. In the Midwest, you can find more shops now than in the last 15 years. I’d rather go to a shop enjoy the atmosphere and talk to men than go to a foo foo salon. Man, got so sick of those places.

72 Matt May 23, 2008 at 6:53 pm

My mom started taking my brother and I to a barbershop when we were little and it became a lifelong habit.

I’ve never gotten a shave there but it is standard procedure to finish a haircut by applying a little hot lather around the back of the ears and to the back of the neck. Then the barber takes a straight razor and cleans up the line of the hair around back.

It might be embarassing to ask the girl at SuperCuts to shave your neck for you.

73 Bill May 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm

I am usually a very quite person and never enjoyed talking to strangers in barber shops. This usually led to barbers not liking me. I had one barber that I had used for over a year get testy with me because I always tell a barber how I want my hair cut every time I sit down in the chair. To not do so has always ended with my eventually getting the wrong haircut meant for one of his other frequent customers. After his testy reply, I decided to try cutting my own hair. I had read a book several years before on how to do it. It came out quite well with the exception of a ridge along the right side due to a natural wave I have there. By adjusting the angle of the cut on that side, I was able to smooth the ridge out. I have been cutting my own hair for around 25 years now. You have to build a hand mirror stand to see to cut the back. I modified a tall lamp stand for this. Other than that, it might take a few cuts to be able to comfortably limber up to cut the back. I usually cut the front top and sides on one day and finish the back the next. Probably a good idea to read a book on cutting hair before trying. You also don’t have to cut your hair as often because you can get away with simply trimming around the ears and back neck line once a week. I usually don’t actually cut my hair more than every two months.

74 James May 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I decided to change barbers once because of a bad hair cut. I had seen another barber shop nearby in another strip mall and went there. Upon approaching the shop, I noticed that he had some peculiar looking writing along the bottom of his window. It looked to me like cult or devil worship writing. I went in and was able to get immediate service because no one else was there. The shop was really stark inside and I remember noticing a old wooden wall in the back with a somewhat unpainted dilapidated old door. Because of the devil insignia on the window, I somewhat got the hebie gebies. I could just imagine the freaky back door flying open and someone dressed as the grim reaper heading for me with his cycle. It was too bad because the barber was really very nice and gave me a great haircut. I decided to never go back though, too much chance of maybe ending up being used for a sacrifice.

75 I Am An Evil Taco May 24, 2008 at 5:54 pm

This is a great post. I grew up going to real barber shops, but stopped a few years back. I have dreadlocks, so a haircut isn’t really happening, but I’ve got what appears to be an old school barber right down the street. I should go for a shave.

76 arkanabar t'verrick ilarsadin May 25, 2008 at 8:44 am

For many years, I always went to whoever was closest, generally a salon. Precise instructions usually sufficed to get me the haircut I wanted. I then found a home where I stayed for many years, with a barber shop a mere mile away. I’d walk over to get my cut, and I only ever had to tell the guy once how I liked it done. I never had to tell the other barber, she remembered from the time I told the guy who owned the place. (And yes, she was a barber, not a stylist or cosmetolegist.)

The place was loaded with antique golf paraphenalia. While I never liked golf, the place clearly was one that provided personal and professional service to men, and had from the time when it was widely acknowledged that men and women are different. I think that is what marks all of the beloved barbershops described in the comments: that they reflect a culture which believes that men are not women, that they neither like to nor should be treated the same as women, and most important of all, make no effort to attract a clientele of women.

As Robert A. Heinlien said (via Lazarus Long), any time women insist on being treated the same as men, they are getting the dirty end of the stick. Women deserve to be treated very well, but that’s hardly the same thing as treating them the same as men.

The ONLY reason I do not regularly patronize the local barbershop is that having short hair would make my wife unhappy.

@jackmo: Have you researched the licensing requirements for barbers? Have you asked members of both professions the ratio of women to men in their clientele? As I said, women can and often will do excellent work cutting men’s hair, but I think it’s reasonable to say that a man is likely to have more empathy for how other men like to look and be served than women — especially since the differences between men and women are greatest in neurology and neurochemistry.

77 Bustardy May 25, 2008 at 9:24 am

Great article. It reminded me that when I was a preschooler, my father explained to me that a small inflation is good and necesary – by using a barbershop as an example. He said: As technologies develop, those that produce will sell more and more goods every year, but a barber can only make a certain number a haircuts per hour. So, as everyone is getting welthier, the barber will need to raise the price of his services, and things like that will cause small inflation.

78 Dan May 25, 2008 at 9:57 am

Awesome read. When I was a kiddo dad used to take me to “Buck’s” about five miles down the road, was built into an old house, one half was a salon for the ladies, run by Buck’s wife, in a completely separate room was the barbershop run by Buck. We used that place until Buck died, and were stuck using the “stylist” style shops. I don’t remember much of the old haircuts, but I never did care for going to the “supermegacrappycuts” places. The line gets drawn when going for a haircut turns into a sales presentation on why you should buy such and such brand $30 shampoo, the $20 conditioner, etc etc etc. When I was in college I spent my summers out in New Mexico and got re-acquainted with the old style barbershop, forgot what it was all about until I had the chance to go to a real one again. I’ve moved across the country twice now in the last 4 years, and a real barbershop is number 2 on the list of things I have to find in the new neighborhood. I now drive by six or seven megasupercrappycuts stores on the way to the barber I use, but its worth the drive. Nice to talk deer hunting during deer season, racing during racing season, celebrate births and baptisms of patrons kids and grandkids, share the memories of someone that has passed on, cuss and cuss some more about politics, and more or less insure that enough bull is shot to last for another 2 weeks.

Every rare occasion I end up having to use a crappycuts, and hate it, but I’m out of town a LOT, and sometimes my only days home are on the traditional Sunday-Monday barbershop’s closed days. I feel almost dirty coming out of there with my chemically laced scalp, clipper “shaved” neck, hair clippings everywhere (a hair dryer does NOT blow it all away!) and a complete dearth of conversation. Almost feels like I’m cheating my barber when I have to do that. Glad I’m home on Tuesday this week.

79 Riss May 26, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I Totally agree! I am a 4th generation barber and love it! When a woman walks thru that door and asks for a haircut, “I tell her the beauty shop is down the street”! I get many laughs, But hey their are 50 different salons on every corner of a city block. I was trained the barber way and if you guy’s think for one minute that beauty and barber are the same let me give you a quick lesson: Barbers can use clippers like their is no tomorow. When you know you have a real Barber you will see those nice set of clippers with a BLADE not a guard (those plastic things that hairstylist use to place over their clippers because they can’t freehand it). A barber can do the whole haircut with his clippers and never use scissors.He can get the same effect with clippers, not to mention the fact in a barber shop you don’t even have to ask for a taper in the back. You go into a beauty shop and no matter what you ask for you get a BLOCK!
Then when it is all over you get that real nice straight neck razor shave ( with a straight razor not a bic) Only a Barber can give a straight razor shave, and I give them all: NECK shave, FACE shave, HEAD shave!
BUT HERE’S THE KICKER ALL YOU GENTLEMEN: I’M A 30′SOMETHING FEMALE. Yes, A real Barber!
V/R
CATT

80 Granata May 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Thanks to this article, I found a barber on my side of town that did shaves. I went from shaggy long and bearded to short and clean shaven. Feels great and my face smells awesome. Thanks for the tip!

81 Roger June 6, 2008 at 2:56 am

I just went to a place just like Supercuts yesterday because the chick has cut my hair since I was in elementary school,
she always fucks it up and cuts my hair horribly like its a number 2 all over and instead of stopping at where my head contours from the sides to the top she cuts like an inch in, so i have long hair in the middle of my head and short all over its like a hair cut you would expect a 7yr old to have.
Jesus i was stewing about this I really was, so I went online to see if I could find anyone who thought that women shouldn’t cut hair for men and I found this article.
‘ Amen’, makes sense I’m never going back to a unisex I don’t care even if i go to a barber who fucks my hair up I would rather take pride in knowing that I’m doing my part to restoring an industry that never should have left us.
I myself have never been to a Barber shop never had an old man to take me only a mother so thus the reason why I always went to a unisex hair salon,
I sincerely Thank you for writing this article, mark my words for now ons the only place this guy is Going for a hair cut is his local “Barber Shop”.

82 david June 13, 2008 at 1:49 pm

the barber shop is great but it’s hard to get a good haircut there anymore; its usually some middle aged or older guy who pulls out the clippers and the next thing you know you’re in the marines with a high and tight; most of the unisex salons are awful with women who seem clueless, badly trained and pissed to be dealing with a man; this must be why you see a lot of guys with shaved heads

83 Streamfinder June 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm

I just took my 7 year old son to a barber shop. It was the 1st time either of us went to one. Not only was it right down the street from where we live, but it was THE BEST HAIRCUT I EVER HAD. I am not exaggerating.

Never again to a stylist.

Man on!

84 Kevin Conder July 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

In my experience, local barbershops are about the same as chain hair salons. They both use electric clippers instead of scissors. They usually charge the same price. It’s just that an old guy is cutting your hair rather than a young lady.

I think the type of barbershops that you talk about are an endangered species. One barbershop I went to even cut women’s hair. If I have a date or a job interview, I’d rather go to a hair stylist.

85 Brenda Barrett July 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

You are so correct! How about a female barber? Well that’s me @ Jack’s barbershop. I am a real barber for real people and can shave with a razor. You and all your fans should come check out my shop @ the city Market , you will step back in time when you walk through my door, minus the old man I am a Real Barber! Don’t be shy give me a try! 25 years experience! Hope to see you All soon! 317-423-0550

86 adam July 16, 2008 at 6:39 am

Your artical is pretty much right on. Your veiws on cosmetologist and barbers are a little off. I am licensed in both, and the only difference between them is the shaving. And the truth is that only 2% of the population would even let you get close to then with a straight razor. The straight razor its self has disposible blades in the modern world. To say that cosmetologist are not competent in the use of clippers is a lie, and the same with barbers not being able to use shears.

We are in this business to make money, and what we dont know we cannot get paid for. Anyone trying to make it in this business should have a well rounded knowledge in all areas having to do with hair. And with these MEN complaining about $20 services, mybe it make more sense finnacially to do womens hair?

So remember that when your looking around for a old time barber to cut your hair for $5. He left to do your wife’s for $40, and she dosent bitch about it!

If your wondering why i have both lisences, it’s because i own a barber shop. And what makes money, is cute girls cuting hair. So i have a babers lisence so i can put up a barber pole.

87 Seena July 18, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Hi,
I am a “straight” female and I get my hair cut at the best barber here in Brooklyn New York. I emphasize “straight” ,,, just because I keep my hair so short doesn’t mean that I am not staight.

Any way, there is nothing like a short hair cut from a barber. The “hair stylists” don’t know how to blend or fade properly. I don’t have a fade, but I love to watch the barber work.

I currently go to the barber every 2 weeks, I suppose after the summer I will extend the time due to letting it grown in a bit fuller. My older son now uses the same barber and he is very satisfied,

I have been using ny barber for nearly 16 years, When he first came to this country from Russia he harldy knew any English. Now he speaks English and he knows a little Italian and Spansh!

So ladies, don’t be afraid to go to the barber if you want a great clean and even hair cut.

Enjoy!

88 RICK FENGLER August 4, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I AM SO GLAD I FOUND YOUR WEB SITE WITH REGARDS TO MENS HAIRCUTS AND HAVING IT DONE BY A REAL BARBER IN A REAL BARBER SHOP!!! wHEN I WAS A CHILD I USED TO BE SOMEWHAT AFRAID TO GO TO THE BARBER SHOP FOR A HAIRCUT (OF COARSE I GREW UP IN THE SIXTIES AND WANTED TO GROW MY HAIR LON AND DID) AFTER I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE SAID TO ME FOR NO REASON WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CUT YOUR HAIR ? (HIS HAIR WAS ALWAYS SHORT AND NEAT AND MINE WAS PAST MY SHOULDERS IN LENGTH, WE WERE GOOD FRIENDS AND I ALWAYS MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT HIS SHORT HAIR AND THE FACT THAT HIS PARENTS WERE STRICK AND WOULD NEVER CONSIDER ANYTHING LONG ENOUGH TO EVEN TOUCH HIS EAR,ANYWAY HIS QUESTION TO ME WAS “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET A HAIRCUT?” AND TO MY SURPRISE I SAID “TOMORROW”, HE JUST LAUGHED AND THAT WAS THE END OF IT, WELL THE FOLLOWING DAY I KNEW I HAD TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH WHAT I HAD SAID AND PROCEEDED TO CHECK OUT A COUPLE OF LOCAL BARBERSHOPS AND NOT HAVING TO MUCH TIME BEFORE I HAD TO BE AT WORK, I REMEMBER WALKING BY A SHOP AND SEEING THE BARBER SITTING IN THE BARBERS CHAIR AND I JUST WALKED IN AND HE STOOD UP IAND POLITLY GESTERED ME TO HAVE A SEAT, I WAS SHAKING AND AS HE PUT THE CAPE ON ME AND STARTED COMBING MY LONG HAIR OUT HE ASKED HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT TODAY AND I COULD N AND WENT AND HAD A ANOTHEROT SAY A THING HE WAS WELL AWARE OF MY SITUATION (I WAS SO AFRAID I COULD NOT BELEAVE IT) WELL WHAT HE DID WAS GRABED A COUPLE OF MAGAZINES AND BEGAN TO SHOW ME DIFFERENT STLYES TO CONSIDER WITCH MADE ME RELAXE SOMEWHAT THEN THE NEXT THING I REMEMBER WAS HIM SHOWING ME IN THE MIRROR AND I ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD CUT IT SHORTER, AND HE DID AND I THINK THAT DAY I BECAME A MAN! AFTER A WEEK OF SCOUTING OTHER SHOPS I WENT AND HAD ANOTHER HAIRCUT AND WENT SHORTER WITH THIS ONE . IT MADE AND STILL DOES MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A MAN WHEN I SEARCH FOR THE ONE MAN BARBERSHOP WITH AN OLOER BARBER, THESE ARE THE ONLY BARBERS I FEEL THAT GIVE THE TRUE SERVICE… THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR WEB SITE!!

89 doc steptic August 25, 2008 at 8:38 pm

show me where they are and i will find them = so that my face may be as smooth as my butt ;on my first birthdat

90 Samantha August 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Hello men, I was wondering after reading this article if a regular joe would be okay with women barbers. I’ve wanted to be a barber for quite awhile, not a hair dresser from a salon, but I’m beginning to think men would rather have a man cut their hair. I always wanted to open up my own barbershop, with cuts and shaves for men, even a shoeshine area, but being that they’re would be only women barbers I’m wondering if I should just settle for owning a salon.

91 Andrew Vargas September 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm

About 6 years ago a barbershop opened up in my neighborhood (luckily within short walking distance from my house) and I couldn’t be more grateful. All of the barber chairs are antique barber chairs from the early 20th century, and the only women there are moms chaperoning their sons. Just last week a gentleman walked in there because he couldn’t get an appointment with his stylist at a the salon. He walked out so unbelievably impressed with the job they did he said ” I think I found myself a new barber” and gave the barber a hearty handshake and a sizeable tip. Thank god for barbershops.

92 cInDy September 12, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Hey i read your article and let me say wow …….the way you speak about barbershops reminds me why i chose to be a barber ……. and just to let you know a real barber knows how to use both shears and clippers ……..and can give a great haircut using both …. as for the razor i love the feeling of knowing i can design a mens beard and not slice his throat i love cutting mens hair and i think girl barbers are great 2 because we specialize in mens hair and we now what were doing where not just the cute girls trying to just cut hair we know what a men is suppose to look like and what they expect from us as if we knew what we were doing just as a guy barber =)

93 Barry October 7, 2008 at 10:37 am

I agree, barbers are great. And never miss a chance to visit a barber when out of the country. Nothing beats getting a cut in the back of some ancient stone building hidden in a no-name village on some mediterranean island by an old guy who you can’t communicate verbally with. However, I must admit I haven’t been to a barber in 10 years because I cut my own hair. Flowbee all the way!

94 jack the clipper October 8, 2008 at 5:48 pm

I have been a barber for 29 years
my father was a barber for 58 years
if you are having trouble finding a barbershop near you it is probably because most barbers do not make enough money to be located in a prominent location
try looking in the phone book because most barber shops are in out of the way places……
and to those of you who visit your local barber i have a fews tips for you
show up with clean hair
styled the way you normally wear your hair (if you have let your hair get so long that you can not style it right , Shame on you )
talk to the barber about your hair and what you expect it to look like and we will probably have a suggestion or two based on your facial shape or head shape or hairline density or so on……….
in short, we are trained to analyze and recommend what is most suited to enhance your assets and de-emphasize your unflattering features
hair grows about one half inch per month so try to get a haircut every month……
and if you can’t make it …..send the money……!
thank you

95 Mark October 11, 2008 at 12:48 pm

I never thought about it before, but after reading your article, I know exactly what you mean when you say going to a barbershop feels more manly than going to a salon. when I was little, my mom would take me to the local barbershop for haircuts and I absolutely hated it. As I got older I stopped going to barbershops altogether and my mom started cutting my hair at home. When got to be high school age, I started going to a ‘stylist’ – I was sporting the feathered center parted hair that most guys had at the time. I didn’t have as much a dislike for going to the salon as I remembered the barbershop, so I continued to go exclusively to salons up thru my Sophomore year in college. Then, while I was out hanging with a friend, he pulls me along as he wants to stop in a barbershop for a haircut. This was in the 80s when short hair was making a comback & he wanted to get an “Ollie North Haircut” which was all the rage. When i stepped in the shop, it was nothing like I remember. I got a haircut and it was the best haircut I every had. I then realized my dislike for the barbershop was mostly from going with my mom – kinda like being the odd-man (boy) out among a community of men, only to be there with his ‘mommy’. Since then, I have not step foot in a salon. When I look back, I think I was feeling more out of place at the salons – I hated that perm smell, and all these gaggly women. I find it much more relaxing and at easy in a barber chair at a barbershop getting a haircut from a MALE barber. I don’t consider myself sexist when it comes to most things, but when it comes to haircuts, I really prefer it be done by a guy who knows how to use a razor and clippers right. I’ve had only mediocre haircuts at salons, and it seems like cosmotologist have no clue how to properly use clippers.

So, I am totally understanding what you are saying. The Barbershop is like a sacred sanctuary for guys. Where else is it just a matter of course to wait for a haircut with the mix of reading materials from Playboy to Popular Mechanics to Time to The Wallstreet Journal to Car and Driver. Occassionally there will be the copy of People, but you won’t find Better Homes and Gardens on the selection.

Yes, the barbershop is a manly place.

96 Shannon October 17, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Do you know of one in the Tulsa area?

97 John Barry November 20, 2008 at 2:12 pm

loved all the comments! I too miss the oldtime barbershop and the way they used those “oster” clippers.I’m in Connecticut and there isn’t ONE “barber school”I have also inquired in New York. I don’t know if any of you have noticed(i sure have);that every man;boy;woman and girl(if she has short hair)has the SAME rounded OR square look in the back of the neck(nape)! That gentleman is because these stupid schools are not teaching their students that for “most” men/boys they like the clean tapered look in the back–finished with that great neck shave!

98 Manny Padron November 26, 2008 at 8:48 pm

I own a Barbershop ans Have been a barber for 13 years.
Im actually your Traditional Barber meets big city Looks. If you could imagine a barber from the 50′s mixed with a New York City Stylist.
I am One of a kind never formulated before in the sense that no one else does the work I do… from a Hot towel shave, to the newest mens hairstyle. I am a “Fusion Barber”, I invented the style and the term itself.
I invite you to Visit our website to learn more…
http://www.Msubstance.com
If your in the Nyc/NJ area you have to come and get a haircut at
Manny’s Professional Grooming.
God Bless

99 jay December 29, 2008 at 5:58 am

i’m in love with my barber. i’ve been going to him for a year
now. that’s what i get for going to the manly-man barber.
i wasn’t even into him when i first met him. and then
all of the conversation and banter and politicking etc…
it’s crazy, like i just…

today was the first day i went in to see him, just to say hi
and not to get a cut.

i’m going to save up and buy him some clippers for his
birthday.

he’s straight and i’m gay, but oh well. shit happens.

100 Phil December 30, 2008 at 7:52 am

If you are ever in the Reading, PA area (the shop is actually in Wyomissing, PA) come visit Anthony’s Barbers…we’ve been around since 1888 and in the same building since 1959. A real old-fashioned shop…still do plenty of straight razor shaves, and we have one barber there that has been barbering for 65 years, since he was 7 years old in Italy. Another has been in the shop for 49 years.

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