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 }

101 kasper January 3, 2009 at 9:03 am

I dream of one day going to such a barber, but doubt I will be able to afford it for a while. However, I can only recommend Mr Toppers if you’re in London as it’s just £6 for a haircut, and you’ll probably get a nice Australian girl doing a pretty decent job. Also, it being more affordable means you can go more often, and I find getting my hair cut on a Monday morning one of the best ways of starting the week…

102 Dwayne Thompson January 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I really enjoy reading information about the growth of the barbering industry and the rich history this industry has contributed to all men, women and children. I am VP of Marketing and Sales for the Official Barbershop Lifestyle Publication called “Against the Grain Magazine” which can be found in your local barbershop all over the country and I must say there has been a refocus on our industry with a great deal of our barbers taking control of the true business behind the barbershop. Our publication has been in circulation since 2005 and we have discovered some exciting inventions, projects and barber art which will bring the barbershop into the 21st century. Stay tuned! It is a great time to be a barber! Go to http://www.againstthegrainmag and subscribe today. See our latest invention by Everette Blaisdale called the Barber Stop at http://www.barberzzone.com
Thanks!

103 Hooty January 11, 2009 at 8:28 am

Aren’t shaves illegal now due to the threat of HIV?

104 C. January 11, 2009 at 11:35 am

I really enjoyed this post. Yes, barber shops used to be very manly places!
I was a barber back in the mid sixties in Oklahoma. My most memorable job was at a shop in Norman, home of OU (Go Sooners!) I worked there for about 2 years or so between ’67 and ’69, and have some wonderful memories. I left Norman on my 21st birthday, but that’s another story.
Our shop was owned by a man named Jack Mock who had been there on “Campus Corner” for over 40 years at that time. He was in his 70′s when I was there and he ran a really old fashioned barber shop, complete with a shoeshine “boy”, an elderly black man whose lips were deformed from always having the stub of a cigar, most of the time unlit, stuck between them, but who kept the shop clean except for the constant, but somewhat pleasant smell of that cigar. Today, the public wouldn’t stand for it, but back then, the world was vastly different. The majority of us smoked, and nobody objected to it.

Being only a half block from the campus, our typical customers were college age young men. Women very rarely even entered the shop, and to have one come in wanting a haircut would have been as foreign to us as anything–it just wasn’t imaginable! If they came in at all, they would be bringing their little boys in for a haircut, or for some other legitimate reason.
Hippies were just making their presence and were the butt of jokes when seen passing by our shop. Of course they didn’t frequent the barber shops at all. Luckily for us, that was still in the days before the “unisex” craze came onto the scene, and nearly all men, young and old alike, came to a regular barber shop.
Conversation in the shop consisted of nearly anything, but a barber could not afford to comment too much one way or the other on topics such as religion or politics. Today, I guess they call that being “politically correct”, but that left a lot of room for everything else.

A haircut consisted of having the customer sit down in the chair, wrapping a thin paper neck strip around his neck and then fastening the chair cloth around his neck with a metal clip. I would always ask, just out of courtesy, how he would want his hair cut but could usually tell by what style he was already wearing. Most would just say they wanted a regular haircut, but everyone was, and is, an individual. I would start out using the clippers and comb for the initial cut, and then finish up using the “shears” (scissors was a bad word!) and finally, maybe the thinnng shears to blend everything in.

At the finish of the haircut, I would shave, with an old time straight razor, what we called the “outline” around the ears and down each side of the neck, sometimes shaving across the neck if it needed it. I carefully tucked a small white cloth towel into the shirt collar which I used to wipe off the remaining lather, when I was through shaving the outline. Before using the razor, I would always give it a slap or two on the “strop” which hung from the side of the chair. Of course, I obtained the lather either with a mug and brush and hot water, or a regular hot lather making machine.

With the outline shaved and all the lather wiped off, I would apply a small amount of aftershave lotion around the ears and neck with my hands, fan it with that towel to dry it, finally, apply a bit of talc to a brush and brush the customers ears and neck and try to get as much loose hair off him as possible.
Between the smell of the smoke, the aftershave, and the talcum powder, the shop had a very unique fragrance that was very masculine, and one which is rarely experienced today.
Removing the chair cloth signaled the end of the hair cut, at which time he’d pay me. When he stepped out of the chair, he felt good!
Haircuts were $1.50 at that time, and I recieved a 75% commission. One was very lucky to give 30 haircuts in a day’s time, usually on a Saturday in most shops, with the weekdays maybe 10 and sometimes less. At this particular location, though, we had an edge. The University of Oklahoma had an ROTC program that all male students, unless exempt, were required to take. It also required an inspection every Tuesday so all the guys in ROTC would come in on Tuesday and get a haircut for drill. That made it seem like having 2 Saturdays, very unusual in the barber business.
I had some nice times there and even met some celebrities, believe it or not. That was in the time of Chuck Fairbanks, head football coach for OU, who came in every other Thursday evening and I’d cut his hair. He was one of the very few who didn’t want to talk about football. As a matter of fact, he didn’t talk about much at all, but he was a nice guy.
I also met Jayne Jayroe, who was Miss America in, I believe, 1967, She brought her husband’s combat boots into the shop to get shined for his ROTC drill inspection.
I also almost met another celebrity one day. He’d been raised there in Norman and was good friends with Jack, my boss. I’d stepped down the sidewalk to a drugstore for a cup of coffee one afternoon and when I got back, Jack told me that James Garner had stuck his head in the back door and said “Hi”. I just missed him by about 5 minutes!
The long hair movement brought about by the hippies changed the barber business and even the men who were not “hippies” per se, could let their hair grow for a month or more, as opposed to getting it cut every week. That, in itself, cut the barber businss by more than half. I eventually got out of that profession and moved to other things that paid better.
The years have sped by since the mid ’60s and I’ve seen many changes in the world–some good and some bad, but I’ll never forget working at Norman on Campus Corner!

105 Alan January 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I’ve been going to the same Barber all my life and would never think of going to a salon. If you’re ever in the NW GA area, stop by the Tunnel Hill Barber Shop, which is ran by 2 brothers (Claude & Raymond). Besides getting a great haircut for $7, you’ll also get a chance to catch up on politics, sports, and even trade pocket knives!

106 Joe Beardsley January 11, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Great blog!
Grandpa Beardsley, my dad, uncle, cousin, brother, myself, sister, 2 brother-in-laws, my son, and 3 nephews are Barbers! We have 6 shops across America, my son and I work in my shop in the Chicago area. I don’t think there is a better place to get a haircut or shave than at a barber shop! (especially one of ours!)
We offer old fashion services in most of our shops, including specializing in Flat-tops, Fades, and Hot Lather Shaves.
I have old porcelain barber chairs in my shop – AWESOME CHAIRS! I had ordered new barber chairs for another shop of mine and I received five pieces of junk that you pumped up with your foot! I started looking around, and travelled as far as Detroit to buy some REAL CHAIRS! I had one from 1901, it was made from oak and metal, had to sell it to make room for something I didn’t mind using daily…now all my chairs are from around 1920 – 1930. I must say, these chairs are a pleasure to work with, and they are older than ALL my customers! (with the exception of a couple)
Concerning the comments about barbers vs cosmetologists, the difference is training and practice IMHO. When I finished barber college I went to work with my dad, and this is what I heard, ” Son, I am sick of this barber college garbage!” Dad was a perfectionist! I would be finishing a flat-top…dad would be cutting hair next to me and I would hear, ” You aren’t done with that are you?”, I would stammer around a little, and then dad woud command me, “Walk across the room, and look at it from there!”, I’d drag myself, humiliated, to the far side of the barber shop and look at my embarrassed customer…the top of his hair would be nice and flat, but, leaning hard to one side or the other, “Now get back over here and fix it!” I suffered at the hands of my ‘real teacher’ dad until I ‘graduated’ and I bought dad’s shop from him.
This is the difference in the profession today and what is was in its glory years…training. Barbers in training were required to complete nearly a year of formal school, this was tested on the state level – practical test, and a written test. Then three years of serving under a Master Barber was required. Now, the requirements consist of nine months of schooling, and then a written exam on the state level. Afterwards, $25 per year is all that is required till you die. It is little wonder that the profession has lost some of its ‘magic’.
I delve into the ‘wrong’ topics on a daily basis. Politics, religion, and sports are topics that are discussed passionately and rather forcefully! What a job! I LOVE it!
Where else can you visit with people you like (most of them) all day…and, GET PAID FOR IT?! If you would care to know more about AMERICA’S FAMILY OF BARBERS, that’s me and mine…please visit: http://www.beardsleysbarbershop.com

Long live America! …and of course, her Barbers!

107 Garry Peacock January 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Nice site. I have been a barber for 25 years and own 9 shops in the tallahassee area. My web site is http://www.renegadebarbershop.com and here you can register to win money and prizes by playing sport pick’em. We also have live video to our shops. Just say no to the salon.

108 George Nichas January 16, 2009 at 4:20 am

Awesome site!

I have been barbering for over 20 years and own and run The Melbourne Barber Shop down here in Australia, I love my trade and mostly enjoy the many many relationships i have with my loyal clients, so many years now.

Feel free check out my web site.
http://www.melbournebarbershop.com.au

Its good to see folks want to keep the trade going for generations to come.

cheers George

109 joey h. February 13, 2009 at 8:54 pm

hey everyone my name is joey and i have been a barber for about 10 years now… i think this was very well written and made alot of sense… the barber shop is one of the only real traditions america has left besides sports and its fading quick…. theres nothing like the barber shop we have guys that come in everyday to just talk sports of current events … its gr8 and i love it… much respect to all the barbers out there and to the guys and even the women who visit them …. peace and love..joey

110 charles wainscott February 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I am training to be a barber for the same reasons mentioned. The “memories” I have drove trucks coast to coast, Grew up on a ranch served in iraq. I have been around the world and back. Guess what Barbering is the greatest joy i have experianced as far as work goes. I get along with older folks and love to bullshit like the next guy. Also by the way everyone clippers are our best tool and i dont cut ladies hair period. LOL except for my wife

111 Nathan J February 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

I went to a Barber shop with my dad years ago, then my mom started taking me to places like SuperCuts. I eventually just started getting buzz cuts so my mom bought a pair of clippers and began cutting my hair. After I moved out I just cut it myself and have been for the last seven plus years. Picked up straight razor shaving last summer and I like it, but it got me thinking about the whole Barber shop thing. I plan to go get a straight shave from a real barber, for fun and comparison, and I think I might even grow my hair out a little bit to get a haircut while I’m at it. I know I haven’t been to one for probably seventeen years, but the thought of them dieing out seems depressing.

112 alyce February 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I’m a retired Navy Barber of 37 years and still cutting hair at 54 years old. I worked in a barber shop up till the first of the year when I got tired of the unsanitairy condition I was working in. I went to almost every barber shop in the city I live in and their just as dirty as the one I just left, so I went to work cutting hair in a salon, not one of my male customers complained, they love watching the girls coming and going from the tanning beds and their wifes and children are coming in also. My buisness in better then it’s ever been. I will always be a barber where ever I am.

113 leone March 12, 2009 at 9:58 am

my dad wow take me to the barbes

114 erik April 12, 2009 at 8:51 pm

im a barber in nor. cal for the last 13 years.. i took over the shop from the owner who started it 1958.this is my frist time reading ur website.and i have to say u hit it on the nail!!!!! unlike the comment that Sherwin (may 20) wrote he just dosent get it . . .so i would like to thank you for this site. . .the other day the barbers who work for me ask what do i think is going to happen to the trade?now these guy have a total of over 145 years in the trade. . . .. !think of that , how many lives that these man have been part of.?so with a smile i said that we will always have a place in this great country. . .the turely and only place for a man to be just that. . . .so like we like to say at the shop “see u next time ! god willing!!!!

115 Finn April 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm

I think this is an excellent site..I like the rediscovering the barbershop blog..it’s true that when you go to those places like supercuts..they don’t really give what you ask for..I’ll say take it down to a half inch on the sides and an inch on top..they say ok then cut my hair the way they want..anyway great site..especially when the art of manliness is sadly under taught…

116 Timo April 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Love the article. A bit bummed though that your locator features only Judes Barbershops in Grand Rapids, MI. While the atmosphere and people are fine, its a barbershop in name only. Female service providers (as they call them) and scalp massages plus, its a franchise… ugh. In any case my quest begins to find a wicked cool old barbershop here in GR. Added to the locator as soon as i find a manly joint.

117 Edgar May 1, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I couldn’t figure out how to add a barbershop to the locator, so…

I go to Gene’s Barbershop, located at 610 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, California, 93950 (831-375-2335). Gene and his brother Gordy are the barbers, and they’re both old guys well past retirement age who only work mornings. That means they have decades and decades of experience. It’s a man’s hangout; I always feel a little invaded when someone’s wife is in there. Both Gene and Gordy are experienced and talented barbers, but I don’t think they have shaved anyone in ages.

If Gene’s is closed and I need a haircut now, I go to Franco’s Barber Shop, 838 Abrego Street, Monterey, CA 93940 (831-375-8571). Franco started his career in Italy during WWII, so he’s another very experienced and talented barber who does it for the love of it. I think he still offers shaves.

118 tyler May 6, 2009 at 10:23 am

support your INDEPENDENT barbershop!

119 Dustin May 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

I think your article has some truth to it, however I believe the time you speak of is dead. Today, many men (at least younger men, by younger I mean 45 and younger) want more than just a simple Marines haircut. They want color, a style that is flexible, and the 60′s long hair for men fad is kicking in again. I highly suggest men who want a unique cut to go to a stylist, not some chain like SuperCuts but a local salon and pay the $35 to get a nice cut.

I just believe that men are starting to take a huge interest in fashion and looking their best. The rugged, over bearing, manly man phase is over, the metrosexual phase has arrived. I know for some people it sounds kinda gay what I am saying and yes I am gay but look around and notice, there are a ton of straight guys out there that work way harder at looking good than I do. This is just my POV though.

120 stef May 12, 2009 at 12:11 am

i’m a girl and i go to a barber shop for hair cut. odd? no. i so love to have a haircut from a barber than from faggot who doesn’t know how to cut hair. i also love the back massage included in every haircut. :)

121 Jennifer May 19, 2009 at 8:02 am

Hmm.

“There are no waxings, facials, highlights, or appointments. Just great haircuts and great conversation.”

No facials?

“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…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”

That definately sounds like a facial to me, sweetheart. Hot towels and a face masage with lemon cream? Cocoa butter? Vanishing cream? Silly man!

122 Bruce Williamson May 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Not exactly accurate. What did happen to the barber shops in was the fact that many barbers did not bother to learn the new hairstyles. They didn’t keep up with the fashion or trends. Yes barbers know how to cut men’s hair but only one way.

So, I did go to the unisex places to get my hair cut and they listened and cut it exactly how I wanted it.

Now I got to a barber shop simply because it is cheaper and I just get a buzz.

The main difference between barbers and hair stylists is that barbers are licensed to use a razor. Stylists cannot put a razor to the skin. A stylist can never give you a shave or clean up the hairline using a razor.

123 Tony June 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Today I end up visitng a local BarberShop in my Neighbor Hood,he has been in business for 18 years here and when I walked in it was sort of sad.I was the only person there.I told him what i wanted I sat down right away.We bullshitted for a while I fixed his TV since he was on rabbit ears and had no clue on how to use that damn converter box..

I too have been guilty of going to the great clips and Super Cuts.During my High school years I only went to a barber but he was an old man and passed away so i stopped going.I was stubborn and only wanted to use that One barber.

As soon as that hot Lather hit the back of my neck and my ears I remembered Why i went to a barbershop.I will make sure I go back on a regular basis.If he was open sunday i would go back for a shave.

124 club penguin June 15, 2009 at 11:42 pm

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.

125 John AW June 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

I followed your advice and went to a barbershop. Jesus, were you right! See , I sport a low rockabilly pomp, quite retro-like, and I was tired of crappy cuts performed by young “cosmetologists”. As you said, most times the cut was crap, and the rare times when it wasn’t, one week later it turned out horrible.

Indeed, the barber did an amazing job and I’ve had quite possibly the best cut in many, many years. What I’m amazed is the legion of details that you wrote that I came to identify as the session went on: the old comfortable chairs with ashtrays incorporated to the amr rests, the thousand different bottles and containers, the scent…

And the most amazing thing is: it was all so true despite the fact I live in Spain! Now I’m always going to barbers and recommend it to all my friends. Congratulations and thanx!

126 Bob Abuie June 18, 2009 at 6:13 am

Not to purposely ruin the feeling of “manliness” here in regards to the nostalgia of
the barber shop but personally I’d rather be in a roomful of women whilst one of them ( preferably the large breasted hair professional) leans me back (face up) into the hairwashing sink and proceeds to massage my scalp with warm water and lovely smelling shampoo. Ocassionally leaning close enough to cut off my air supply and yet providing comfort. I don’t think “Gus the barber” would do well at this stage of the hair cutting process ( unless you like to feel manly by going to the guy trained to cut a “man’s” hair. After “she” washes my hair she puts a warm moist towel over my face ( I guess so I don’t go into shock from the breasts leaving to quickly ) . She then proceeds to cut my hair and run her fingers through it tugging gently and cutting sections. Every now and then she leans in close and something soft touches my ear or my elbow and I smell perfume. By this time I don’t care how I look when it’s all over ( And IF I’m wearing my hair short LIKE A MAN it can’t be screwed up anyway!) . My hair cutting professional LADY doesn’t have to be a young sweet thing; she may be 40 something or 60 something but the experience is well worth the $50.00 and tip. THAT, is manly fellas!

127 Bradley W. June 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Absolutely. As a young man, I absolutely appreciate a real barbershop.

I got my haircuts from a “SuperCuts” type place as a young teenager, and they were _terrible_! Most of those stylists couldn’t manage a decent cut even if I told them how I wanted it (2-3″ at the top, squared off in back, no sideburns).

I now go to the same barber that almost all the men in my family have used, and I’ve never once had a bad cut. Sit down, tell him what I want, and 10-15 minutes later, it’s perfect.

128 Bob Abuie June 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Not to purposely ruin the feeling of “manliness” here in regards to the nostalgia of
the barber shop but personally I’d rather be in a roomful of women whilst one of them ( preferably the large breasted hair professional) leans me back (face up) into the hairwashing sink and proceeds to massage my scalp with warm water and lovely smelling shampoo. Ocassionally leaning close enough to cut off my air supply and yet providing comfort. I don’t think “Gus the barber” would do well at this stage of the hair cutting process ( unless you like to feel manly by going to the guy trained to cut a “man’s” hair. After “she” washes my hair she puts a warm moist towel over my face ( I guess so I don’t go into shock from the breasts leaving to quickly ) . She then proceeds to cut my hair and run her fingers through it tugging gently and cutting sections. Every now and then she leans in close and something soft touches my ear or my elbow and I smell perfume. By this time I don’t care how I look when it’s all over ( And IF I’m wearing my hair short LIKE A MAN it can’t be screwed up anyway!) . My hair cutting professional LADY doesn’t have to be a young sweet thing; she may be 40 something or 60 something but the experience is well worth the $50.00 and tip. THAT, is manly fellas!

129 Mike H June 29, 2009 at 8:53 am

I can certainly appreciate the environment of a barbershop, nothing like sitting with the guys and being able to speak your mind. I used to visit one before I relocated to another city, but now I can’t seem to locate one that gives a decent cut… perhaps it’s a matter of skill not being picked up by the younger barbers, but many times I’ll leave with a helluva painful rash on my neck at the hairline – seems like they’re ham-fisted when it comes to the trimmers, or maybe the trimmers aren’t clean..? The women that cut my hair seem to do a better job, and I don’t mind seeing some of the cute gals at the place I go to :-)

130 Scott Ferrell June 30, 2009 at 4:45 am

I was raised in Cleveland Ohio by a southern mother and father. My mother never set foot in a barbershop, she was brought up to believe that it was “not done” for a lady to enter a barbershop, she might hear words that a lady should not hear. My father took me to a local shop and it was great. I am lucky to find a real shop near me. It has the smells, the barber is a 70 year old guy from Italy, he plays opera. It has the old orange leather and chrome chairs and beat up tile floor. I have been going for five years and have never seen a woman in the shop, A great place to be.

131 Bob Abuie July 8, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Read Bob Abuie’s article… ya fruitcakes!

132 Browser Games July 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I think your article has some truth to it, however I believe the time you speak of is dead. Today, many men (at least younger men, by younger I mean 45 and younger) want more than just a simple Marines haircut. They want color, a style that is flexible, and the 60’s long hair for men fad is kicking in again. I highly suggest men who want a unique cut to go to a stylist, not some chain like SuperCuts but a local salon and pay the $35 to get a nice cut.

133 Mike July 17, 2009 at 12:11 am

When I was a kid I used to always love to get a haircut. The main reason why is because the barber’s buzzers always used to tickle my neck. It used to feel good. How come they do not tickle anymore? I even bought my own timmer. When I trim my neck it hurts.

I was concerned if other men may do this. I know it sounds wierd, but I have a hairy neck that when I get a haircut, after a few days when the neck hairs grow in just a little, i rub my thumb up my neck and the neck hairs tickles under my thumbnail and it actually feels good and soothing. To do this though I have to keep my thumbnails a little long to guide the neck hairs in. Does anyone else do this, or am i the only wierd one? It looks retarded at first but it feels good

134 nextar July 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

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;

135 Tom Harbold September 1, 2009 at 9:36 pm

“Allowing another man to hold a razor to your neck is a good way to remind yourself that you’re alive… When I stepped out of the shop, I felt like a new man, ready to take on the world…. 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.”

You’re not kidding! I went to my usual barber shop – Cal Bloom’s Barber Shoppe, in Westminster, MD – for a pre-new-job haircut, and having just read this and a few related articles, decided to ask Cal for a straight-razor shave: my first ever, in 43, almost 44 years of life. I walked out of there feeling good, with a definite spring in my step! This may have been my first “real” shave, but it won’t be my last.

136 Samuel September 21, 2009 at 11:34 pm

I remember my first visits to a real barber, in the sleepy town of Campbell, Ca. It was the 70′s and things seemed easier and seamless, and oddly enough innocent. Of course, this perspective is of a pre-adolescent precocious boy, living in a predominately white middle class neighborhood. Though we were Sephardic Jews, and people couldn’t tell if we were ‘”Mexican”, Greek, or Iranian. We were treated with dignity for the most part, especially when we clarified that we were not “Mexican”.
The Sephardim:
Sepharadim, are Jews who lived in Spain for hundreds of years under Islamic rule prior to the discovery of what eventually would be called America. The culture of what was to be called Andalusian Islam, helped to promote religious humanism along with peaceful ethnic interaction with (Christians, Jews and Moslem’s) of which the world since has hardly known. The Andalucian Jews in particular, are recognized by scholars of that period, as being instrumental in translating works of great importance which helped in the development of European culture emerge from the dark ages. Our lingua franca, is Spanish with an admixture of Hebrew and Arabic, known as Ladino, but to the untrained ears and culturally ignorant it sounds like “Mexican”. (a language class of its own)
A note about the Spanish Language:
The Spanish language prior to the 1950′s or the mass immigration of Mexican working class families in California, was a regal language that at one time had the same status that English enjoys today. Somehow, the Spanish language fell into disgrace in North America, and it became associated with an “dirty immigrant” language by which common gardeners communicate with each other. My proud mother never let go of her heritage and her devotion to the Ladino language, much to my chagrin and embarrassment. As you can imagine, for a boy wanting to “fit in” the seventies in California, those sunny days were wrought with with a quiet prejudice associating anyone who could be considered “Mexican”, by default with all those who communicated in Spanish with their families. In retrospect, I have embraced my mother tongue pridefully, and have worked out my indifference to it, a stigma no doubt I developed while growing up in sleepy, California.
The local Barber shop:
Although I don’t remember my first haircut, a relish my first haircut in Campbell. It was a little shop located by the Winchester Hardware Store, another place that I enjoyed going to with my pop. He dropped me off at the barbers while he went shopping at the hardware store. I was left there for my first time facing what seemed to me a bear of a man, wearing what I could Identify was a “crew cut”. I knew the type of haircut because I was a devoted follower of, Gomer Pyle, USMC and his haircut was just like Sgt Carter’s, Gomer’s arch nemesis.
That type of haircut was what I desired, in my young mind it was sharp, but my parents talked me out of it, and I went with a less aggressive looking cut. In the end, years later, I won that fashion battle, as I ended up enlisting in the Marines, and I got my wish to have a very cool looking crew cut. I guess Gomer Pyle USMC made an indelible impression on my childhood.
The shop itself as I remembered was decorated banally, with an amalgamation of military knick knacks, pin up girls, and licence plates. It smelled like most typical barber shops, a mixture of baby powder, cheap after shave, and before it became uncool, cigarette smoke, yet I loved it there. For one, I was allowed to read the playboy magazines, as we all know we don’t really read them, and that was a rite of passage for any young precocious boy. The other treat, was the war stories that the men shared with each other. Typically the shop attracted the some young men who had fought in Vietnam, and I felt lucky sitting in on some of the conversations, that these men shared with each other. For a young boy who watched Gomer Pyle and played soldiers, it was fascinating being there listening to these stories while getting a good haircut.
That was my barber shop growing up in the 70′s it was a place were I was introduced to some of the puzzles of manhood, while walking out looking good.
Since then, I have had a fascination with barber shops but because of my busy lifestyle and constant moving, I have not had the privileged of finding one that captures the “feel” of that one barber shop on Winchester Avenue…Although I’m still searching for one, this time not only for myself, but for my four boys.

Samuel de Lemos

137 Joe S September 28, 2009 at 11:58 pm

I used to go to a barbershop like many as a child but found my local barber only had about three haircuts. When you get to be around 18, the “number 2′s” don’t quite cut it as far as an actual style goes. People went to Unisex places as I have now because of my point earlier, old school barbers don’t evolve. If you get a bad haircut and complain, you are viewed as a queer or sissy. I would love to have a competent barber cut my hair and not take 8.5 minutes. I may search for one in town again after reading this article. I hate to see them go but not at the cost of looking like the last 20 guys that went before you…

138 library_goon October 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I used to go to a barber shop when I lived in Baltimore – (the Beatnik Barber Shop). I loved it! Not only did they serve coffee there, but they would also use a straight razor to shave your neck hair. It’s one of the things I miss about living there.

139 Lillien October 15, 2009 at 11:17 pm

There is something nostalgic about barber shops. I think of the age on innocence and is a way to go back into the past. It is more personal

140 Justin Yahara October 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

My name is Justin Yahara and I just opened my own barbershop in central Jersey. The name of the shop is Swagger. I have a great bunch of guy who are great barbers. Were young and energetic and look forward to servicing anyone who may come our way. We are your family/neighborhood barbershop. We support our local sports teams and the rest of our community. We do the best flatop in the land along with fades, high and tights, tape up’s, and plain regular cuts. You bring the hair and we cut it! We use the straigt razor. We take care of our customers. Let us earn your business.

141 Jordan November 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I usually go to women stylists as opposed to the run of the mill cosmetologist. The thing about it, is that I’m particular about my hair, as any man should be within reason. When I go to the barber shop, a lot of the barbers are older and they just don’t keep up with new trends and techniques as well as the girls (having a pretty woman run your fingers through your hair ain’t too bad either). A lot of them have a repertoire of a bout 4 cuts it seems. Hell sometimes you go in there, and all they say is, “So what number you want?” I’m currently overseas, and I’ve yet to find any real American style barber shops, but when I get home I’ll be on the look out. I let one younger guy cut my hair once though, I thought he’d be up on his stuff while keeping that traditional barber feel… no, $30 and one of the goofiest haircuts later, I regretted it badly. Guess one of the worst things about finding a good barber is that it’s trial and error, and I know that I don’t want to take too many risks getting a bad haircut.

142 Alex Campbell December 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Awesome article!! Every young man should read this article to really understand why they should got to the barbershop.
http://www.alexccampbell.com

143 Tom Phillips January 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

Barber shops are great. I’ve been going to the same one for the last 12 years, and before that at a different shop under the same ownership. I get the same cut and quality each time, my barber long ago stopped asking how I like my hair. My son has joined me in going for the last eight years and we both look forward to going and having a great time.

144 Short Hair January 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Boy, does this hit home. There are almost no barber shops left. Today, you have one of two choices: (1) SuperCuts, or (2) a hair salon run by women. I love women, especially in bed, but they don’t know how to cut a man’s hair. Recently, an old barber died, and a woman bought his shop. I asked for a #2 clipper cut, and she virtually refused. She kept saying that if she cut it too short, she couldn’t put the hairs back on. She insisted on starting with a #4, then did a #3. Only, it was a woman’s haircut. What a drag.

145 T. Brewer January 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Excellent article! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am a forth generation barber/stylist and female. (Barbers can be women too)! I grew up in a barber shop so I understand how important it is to give guys the atmosphere they feel comfortable in while getting a haircut. I am licensed to cut women, of course, but most of my clients are men. I don’t do expose my male clients to any chemical services in my barber shop. Reason being, it makes most men uncomfortable. Doesn’t make the women happy, but there are plenty of salons they can go to for those services. I work hard to offer men the best of both worlds. A traditional old fashioned barber shop with an experienced barber who knows all the newest styles and techniques as well. I take a lot of pride in my work and I want my customers to be happy and refer me to their friends. I do agree with the author, clippers are the key to a professional looking cut on a man. Scissors are a must as well, but the base is the clipper. The scissor cannot match the finished edge of a clipper in the hands of a professional barber. I can understand why a cosmetologist would disagree with that statement, but facts are facts. There are no substitutes for a good barber who knows how to handle a pair of clippers and good set of scissors! Thank you so much for your article.

146 Short Hair January 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Why are traditional male barber shops almost extinct? (1) They don’t bring in enough money to support a family in today’s world; (2) undercut by the SuperCuts chains, and (3) people today think any male barber is a “hair stylist” and thus is gay.

147 NN March 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Just a quick correction to what is otherwise a very interesting post; Dr. Harris-Lacewell is actually not a graduate student, but a professor. In fact, while the article to which you link does mention that her observations of black barbershop culture began when she was a graduate student, it also (in the same sentence) refers to her as an “assistant professor in political science.” It may seem pedantic to come back and correct a nearly-two-year-old post, but as a grad student myself, I can tell you – the difference is a big deal.

(Incidentally, the book she wrote – not an article – is called Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and it’s a fantastic read.)

148 Thomas March 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm

In response to Rodney Hampton’s post:

I also got my regular cuts at Bruce Whited’s Barber Shop an Ash Street in Piqua, Ohio. I can’t say enough good about Bruce. An awsome person and a gentleman. And yes, that experience has kept me in the “Barber Shop”. I’ll sit at Henry’s or Phil’s for up to an hour and a half waiting for a cut. Some days the wait can go longer. But its worth it. Bruce, I hope to get a cut from you again one day soon!

149 John March 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

There is a very cool new barbershop in Charlotte, NC if anyone is in the area. The Barber shop’s theme is beer, sports & music. http://www.cutbarbershop.com $18 cuts & some really good barbers. They do the old school face shaves, but have a new cool atmosphere. They also serve beer!

150 Kana Sasaki March 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Dear Manlyman,
I am a reporter for the Japanese newspaper, The NY Japion, a Japanese language newspaper, published in NY area (www.ejapion.com). I am currently working on a feature story about barbershops in NYC. I would like to contact you to get a live comment from you as to why men should go to a bargershop and what’s so manly about barbershop. I know it’s explained in your website, but I need to hear it from you as a credible comment for my story. My deadline is March 26th.
Would you please email me back when you get this message? We will take it from there. Thank you.
Kana Sasaki

151 Charlie April 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Also don’t forget that those unisex salons and Supercuts are full of homosexuals.

152 Jason April 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I’ve only had three good barbers in my life – while growing up in Bedford, Virginia, Mr. Frank Farris (R.I.P.), Mr. Adams in Richmond, Virginia, and Tony in Silverlake, California. Mr. Adams in Richmond is a great barber, with an awesome shop, and Tony, an Armenian man, is the best barber in L.A. – (He told me that he started losing customers when the Beatles came out, as well.)

153 Stephen April 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Used to live in Malvern, Arkansas for a while, and hands down, the best place to get a shave and a haircut was a small, hole-in-the-wall barber shop owned by a fellow nicknamed One-Eyed Diff. No idea why he was called such, he just was. Happened upon this place by chance. Needed a haircut, saw the pole, walked in not knowing what to expect. Signs from the ’40s and ’50s covered the walls, as did some taxidermy. Diff was sitting in his chair chatting with another man who was talking animatedly about something they read in the paper. He saw me, immediately got up and told me to sit down. I didn’t have to tell him anything; he just cut. He knew exactly what he was doing, and I walked out of there with the closest shave and best haircut I have ever experienced. All for five bucks. When I tried to give him a tip, he just chuckled and said, “I do this for fun, son. Keep your money.” If anyone heads down that direction, highly suggest looking him up. Well worth your time, well worth your money, and you’ll definitely come away feeling excellent

154 Club Penguin April 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Yeah, going to a barber shop in the shaggy 70s wasn’t cool.

155 Zach April 20, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I love my local barbershop here in Gainesville. It was built in the early 60s, and it has every conceivable form of sports memorabilia to go with the cheap and nice haircut. That being said, we had a Roosters barbershop in my hometown and I greatly miss it. Roosters is actually a chain, but each franchised store prides itself on recreating a local barbershop – the walls are covered in man stuff, the magazines are cars and sports, the TVs always on sports, and there is always cold beer or coke available for free while you wait. The shave is just like the article describes, and all products (shampoo, shaving cream, pomade, etc) are man scented. If you have a Roosters nearby, I would greatly recommend going there.

156 Ivan April 22, 2010 at 10:39 am

I’ve been getting my haircut every Friday since I was about 13 years old (I’m 28 now). Nothing feels better than getting a fresh straight razor shave before the weekend. Men who have long hair and scraggly beards are not real men.

157 Tom April 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Unfortunately I’ve got to disagree with you on the barber cut vs. the salon cut. At least in my part of the country (Houston). The barbers I’ve let “try” to cut my hair have done nothing but give me a “Leave It to Beaver” style. Despite my telling them what I want, they persist in cutting to whatever mood suits them. Unless you are going for a flat top or a buzz the last thing you want is for your hair person to do is pull out the clippers. Scissors and razor are the mark of a true pro. I can cut my own hair with a clipper, why would I pay someone to do that. I’m sure there are some true pro’s out there in the barber field but I’ve yet to find one.

158 Vic April 29, 2010 at 1:04 am

Every word you write is true! Barbershops are great. It was a great time to take my youngest son to the little two-chair shop in the small town where we lived. My wife thought I was teaching him something awful and tried to sneak him out to her beauty shop while I was at work. Never could make her understand the male experience.

Even as a late teenager, i used to get a Saturday afternoon barber shop shave in preparation for a date.

What a great bunch of memories you just brought me.

159 Cliff Porter May 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I have tried both and there is something special about a barber, I will miss Phil my barber for the last 15 years when he passes. He has become a friend…a dear friend.

160 Will May 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I have two sons. One is 16, the other is almost 14. The older one likes his hair longer, and his mother takes him to a salon for a haircut. The younger one prefers a Marine fade (a “High and Tight,” or so it’s called). He and I go to Bob’s Barber Shop in Bloomingdale, NJ about every 3-4 weeks.

It’s wonderful to listen to my son (who’s been going there on Saturday mornings since he’s 11) chatting it up with men in their 30s and 40s about this, that and the other thing. He’s learned so much about being a man just by sitting in that barber shop once a month. I only wish my older son could have that experience. Maybe someday.

161 MJ May 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I can’t phathom getting my haircut anywhere that refers to itself as a ‘salon’. For me, salon conjures images of rows of hair dryer machines, natsy egg smelling aromas, and gaggling gossipy women complaining about this or that while Gerald, Gustoff, and Philip tend to curling irons, teasing combs, and debating on whether Maddam would look better as an Autumn Sunrise or a Chocolate Truffle. You can just feel ones manhood being zapped from yourones precious bodily fluids as you sit in those stupid salon chairs and being caped in plastic with little flowers on it. Oooo,

No, for me I want my hair cut in a place that speaks 100% MAN. Not girly man, but MAN. I also do not want my hair cut by a barberette. No offense ladies, and I know there are many excellent skilled women barbers, but I just don’t feel as comfortable having a women cut my hair as opposed to one of the guys. With women barbers, The small talk tends to be overly superficial – How’ve you been? Planning any trips? Do you work around here? Jeez – this is a barbershop not a bar. I may want to talk about sports, or about tearing down my transmission, or complaining about those stupid ass politicians, or other various guys specific things, that I dare say, typically women have no clue, let alone are interested in. Going to a barbershop is more than just going somewhere to get a haircut. It’s a place to go to be with other guys, meet friends, meet new friends, and just for 20-30 minutes be a guy without some dame breathing down your neck, or some crying kid tugging at your leg, or anything else that you normally deal with. Women goe to Spas for much the same reason.

Men who do not have the opportunity to experience becoming part of a barbershop community are really missing out. The next time you go to Supercuts, SportsClips, or god forbid a salon, consider that.

I know there are some places where there is a shortage of good barbershops. But I just wanted to point out that is not the case in the Chicago area. In fact, there appears to be a resurgence. There’s even a new Barber School open up right in the downtown of Chicago. There are a few shops in the Chicago area that I would recommend:

First and foremost is Joe’s Barbershop 2641 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago IL . Joe Sr has been cutting hair at this location for 40 years, and the tradition continues with his son Joe Jr. Great for vintage and modern cuts. They also do hot lather shaves. A traditional shop with an up beat attitude. And they sell LAYRTIE pomade. They even have SUNDAY hours.

Second is The Belmont Barbershop 2328 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago IL. Another real barbershop that also does basic regular cuts and some vintage 50s cuts, and hot lather shaves. Only downside is they require appts and parking is terrible. In my book, a barbershop should be strictly walk-in first come first served. They get very upset if you are late.

Third is Esquire Barbershop 22 W St Charles Rd, Lombard IL. Another traditional barbershop that takes walkins. A modern interior and vibe, but these guys do awesome traditional barbering.

Finally is Slims Barbershop in 77 E Woodstock St, Crystal Lake, IL. Slim started out at the famous Model Barbershop in Chicago, then started his own shop in Crystal Lake. Slim does excellent military type haircuts, fades and other urban styles, and of course regular cuts. Recently remodeled his shop, but the haircuts are still traditional. Good attitude and good traditional barbering. Walkins welcome.

Another cool thing is all the above, with the exception of the Esquire, have a presense on the Internet – myspace, facebook, or their own sites. Most do have reviews on YELP.

There are many more, but I know of these either from personal experience or from friends.

162 MJ May 18, 2010 at 3:40 am

After reading my post, I felt I needed to make a quick followup before what I said about women barbers is misunderstood. I’ve seen posts by women barbers here and elsewhere who appear to be genuinely committed to good barbering and not looking to transform the barbershop into a salon de couiffer or whatever. I respect that. I imagine a barbershop run by skilled women would, in its own way, be very appealing place to go – I know on a level, I could see myself going there as an indulgent treat, but I just don’t think my mind would be where it should be in such a case. Now, I can only speak for myself and it is just my opinion that I feel more comfortable getting a haircut from Benny rather than Betty. I’m afraid having Betty thouroughly shampoo my hair and meticulous cut my hair would be pure and utter agony and ecstasy, so I won’t go there. Instead, I can spend time with Benny, get a great haircut, and talk about guy things – maybe even talk about how hot Betty is.

163 Steve May 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm

My dad was a barber back in the 50s to the early 70s. The Beetles and hippies started putting him out of business, but it was the unisex salons that really took their toll in the late 70s.

I was amazing finding this website and this article. I love the premise – every man should go to a barbershop for haircuts. I also think the best haircut for an adult male is the classic businessman cut – off the ears, off the collar, and parted on the side just like on TV’s Mad Men. This classic has always been around and It’s nice seeing it have a new burst of popularity.

I hadn’t thought of it for years, but the idea of the haircut being finished with some hair slicking product is something that was just done when a man went for a haircut back in the day. Hair Tonic, Brycreem, Wildroot and Pomades were kept on the counter, and the barber knew what you used, and if he didn’t, he’s just simply ask “wet or dry”. If you said “wet”, 9 times out of 10 you’d get a thourough dowsing of hair tonic depending on the barber. Others would serve up brylcreem which in those days was dispense from a pump jar at the barber shop. In my dad’s shop, I don’t recall many men ever leaving the shop “dry”. Regardless of what was used, a man left the shop looking clean, neat and and on top of the world and barbers like my dad, took pride in that.

As for styles, almost without exception unless one was balding, you didn’t need to give the barber a lenghty explanation of what you wanted. In fact, if you just asked for a trim you would end up leaving with a businessman cut regardless how unkept it was when you came in. Oh, there were plenty of crewcuts (the term buzzcut didn’t exist then), flattops, pomps, and other variations, but dad’s most popular was the regular businessman cut.

Great memories and interesting article and comments.

164 Lucky May 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm

It is awesome so many men wanting to keep the nostalgic art of barbering going. I am a barber and its nice to have a place where men can be men.
To hell with political correctness

165 bseen June 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm

For the past 15 years now i have been working as a licensed professional barber,and i must say your article is dead on. I love my job. The relationships i have build over the past 15 years have been priceless. Today i cut a young mans hair for his wedding and what made it special was not the fact that i have been there on the journey with this kid since his first day of highschool,his senior prom ,when he left for college,when he told me he met a special girl,or this moment in the present. What was special was that after college he moved away from the area to start his new life and wherever he lives im pretty sure theres some over exagerated unisex supercut type structure that gets him through the month but for the special occasions for his proudest moment thus far he came back to share it with us “The Barbershop”

166 Mike July 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

i am a barber and shop owner and totally agree with the fact that barbers and Cosmos are completely different. There might be some cosmos that have drifted into the art of barbering and vice versa, but the thought process is completely different. I recently hired a male cosmo in my barbershop to help with the flow of walkin traffic and let me tell you, It is probably the worst thing I have ever done. This cosmo “haircutter” hasnt the slightest idea with what a barbershop is truly about. He doesnt talk to the clients, which make them feel really uncomfortable, He has repeatedly been told by clients to take their hair”lower” as if they didnt ask for it in the beginning. He tells them his version of what he thinks about their hair instead of just doing the job. Sometimes this guy will use the razor comb(in which others in the shop
do too.) but sellit to the customers as the best way to cut their hair(because he isnt proficient in clipper cutting) instead of doing the job. I mean really Ive been in this business for a very long time and have never seen such nonsense in just a short little time as I have with this stylist. I will never hire another cosmo again. Professionalism must be taught differently to cosmos. This experience has really made me wonder what is being taught in the field of cosmetology? Is it taught by cosmos that they are better than barbers? we are part of
a simliar but very different profession. This cosmo is definately on thin ice, cause Ive had so many complaints from people, I hate to be mean but he doesnt have a clue.

167 George July 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

First, it’s great to happen on this fine web site.

Thank GOD for barbershops. When I became a volunteer firefighter a few years back, I had to finally get a real haircut, I played for years in “rock” bands. I ask the guy’s at the fire station where they go, and they said “Redman’s”. Just the name said something. Eddie, the current owner, said his father started the shop after doing military service cuts since WWII. Man, talking about a real barbershop. Old time girl posters, Marlin Monroe stuff, model cars/hot rods, old WWII posters, old newspaper articles, the good magazines, and everything else that should be there, it was a literal museum – you could spend a day looking at everything. And of course the smells that I missed over the years. Sure brought back old memories. The conversation is always good too…

Prior to that, I went to an old looking “barber pole shop” once only to find it full of cosmo’s trying to act like barbers. Keep the clippers and the hot shave! To Eddie Redman and all barbers out there: keep up the good work… we men are still out there and need you.

168 craig July 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

i went to a unisex salon once or twice in my life but it’s been a barber most of the time. Before the two retired I went to one ran by two older men who would give me a penny for the bubble gum machine. Nowadays I go to a different one who is also retiring soon. He let me know though that he has a replacement and the business will stay in the same place so it’ sgreat peace of mind. I despise the idea of not going to a barber. It’s just awkward for me to go anywhere else.

169 Savonarola July 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

I stopped goin when the old Italian barber in town died. The new guy charged me twice as much just beause he used a blow-dryer. Get real.

170 Safety Razor July 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

My barber, David, charges $15 and only takes cash. He’s been doing this for 20 years. I’ve tried many places some charging over three times the price but David knows how to do it right. There is a lot to be said for tradition.

171 JimmyV July 12, 2010 at 9:24 pm

My son and I have been going to the same barber for over 10 years. Chris in Hamilton, NJ. In addition to having a professional hair cut (not a blown dry style) it’s become a great tradition between us. Now that my son is away at college, when he’s home we make the time to get our hair cut together at the barber shop.

172 EverydayJoe July 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Great Web-Site. I would like nothing more than to see more traditional Barber Shops come back.. I own a Barber Shop in Brownsburg, IN called EVERYDAY JOE’S BARBER & STYLE SHOP http://www.everydayjoestyle.com …. Keep posting

173 Ephraim July 29, 2010 at 9:02 am

I have had exactly the same experience as the author. Good haircuts as a kid at Sal’s Barbershop, then years and years of crap at salons, the most recent being the $35 junk haircuts by little girls who know nothing about cutting hair. Then finally trying to the shop on the main street of my town (also incidentally a Sal’s Barbershop) and getting a excellent, reasonably priced ($14 before tip) cut. I just wonder why I did try them soon.

174 Gerd Muller October 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

I am training to be a barber for the same reasons mentioned. The “memories” I have drove trucks coast to coast, Grew up on a ranch served in iraq. I have been around the world and back. Guess what Barbering is the greatest joy i have experianced as far as work goes. I get along with older folks and love to bullshit like the next guy. Also by the way everyone clippers are our best tool and i dont cut ladies hair period. LOL except for my wife

175 Kevin Villaseñor October 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I would love to be able to have a regular barbershop to visit every week but unfortunately I live in a small town in Southern Indiana and our only barbershop is run by roughly 2-4 ancient old men. They would not be able to cut my hair the way I would want it. They would have no idea what texture is or even layers. They run the clippers through your hair and you’re on your way out. That is no way to get a haircut unless you’re ALSO a 99 year old man.

176 Wil October 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

If it were possible, I would transport any Turkish barber shop to the states. For $7.50, and a reasonable tip, you will discover what a barber shop can be. A meticulous hair cut, trimmed eye brows and nose hairs. They burn any errant ear hairs away with an alcohol infused cotton ball. Then you receive a quick post-cut hair rinse. For an extra $2 the barber will slather your face with warm suds and give you a close shave with a straight razor, and applies a touch of after shave. All of this is finished off with a neck, shoulder, and head message.

177 Brent November 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

Late in Life Career change for me. 45 years old and decided to go to Barber school. Had always thought about it as a young man but took a different path. Due to some medical problems i had to leave my job u had for almost 30 years and decided to try barbering after talking to my barber for about an hour I enrolled the next tuesday. LOVE IT!, I now own my shop and have 2 other Barbers. We do offer the hot lather shaves love to do flat tops and fades things you cant get at a unisex shop that you would be proud to wear outside. We also are the only Barber Shop who will do a shave for a reasonable price…Of the other 2 shops within 10 miles one charges 25 dollars ( we do a shave and cut for 30) and the other shop wont do shaves at all. We might be a lil low on our price but it does bring em in and they come back regularly. 30 dollars is better than no dollars to me. we have tried to go with the old school shop look from the 50′s and 60′s. Still not complete with the “LOOK” but making progress.

178 Brent November 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hooty Its still legal in the county we live in although it is a thing of the past face shaves are done in my shop… The barber school no longer teaches the art of shaving I..had to learn on my own starting with necks and progressing to faces over a couple of years) We do great shave foe a reasonable price which brings em back for more….

179 Andrew November 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm

When I lived in Athens, GA, there was a barbershop that had the same old-school chairs with ash trays and you sat facing a mirror. That was my first barbershop- Mr. Haircut. Excellent place, oozed manliness. They even blew compressed air on you neck/clothes to remove the errant clippings, giving the place the sounds of an auto-shop.

That was also where I had my first neck shave. I have very fine hair, and sometimes clippers still leave peach-fuzz on the back of my neck, making my haircut look crappy in about 4 days. The neck shave completely takes care of that.

Since then I’ve moved to the Northeast, and finally found a good barber. I desperately missed the neck shave for those few months.

180 SD November 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

I went to a Barber shop with my dad years ago, then my mom started taking me to places like SuperCuts. I eventually just started getting buzz cuts so my mom bought a pair of clippers and began cutting my hair. After I moved out I just cut it myself and have been for the last seven plus years. Picked up straight razor shaving last summer and I like it, but it got me thinking about the whole Barber shop thing. I plan to go get a straight shave from a real barber, for fun and comparison, and I think I might even grow my hair out a little bit to get a haircut while I’m at it. I know I haven’t been to one for probably seventeen years, but the thought of them dieing out seems depressing

181 Chad December 3, 2012 at 10:43 am

Minus the straight razor shave, I have found myself doing the exact same thing. I always went to the same barbershop with my dad when I was growing up, but when I moved out of state, I had a girl I worked with (who was going to cosmetology school) cut my hair for cheap, so I continued going to her. But, as her clientele grew, the quality suffered and for the past few months I have found myself looking forward to going to the city barbershop downtown. It’s a great atmosphere. There’s something very nostalgic about it. I feel like I’ve found my manliness again! Thank you for sharing this article. I hope much more men find their way into the manly “haven” of their local barbershop!

P.S. Don’t let the art of Barbering die, go to your local barbershop!!!

182 Michael Kamagra December 8, 2012 at 5:26 am

I am training to be a barber for the same reasons mentioned. The “memories” I have drove trucks coast to coast, Grew up on a ranch served in Iraq. I have been around the world and back. Guess what Barbering is the greatest joy i have experienced as far as work goes. I get along with older folks and love to bullshit like the next guy. Also by the way everyone clippers are our best tool and i don’t cut ladies hair period. LOL except for my wife

183 Pete December 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I remember going to “Gene’s” in Mt. Olive, AL while I was in high school. My folks had always taken me to salons or the chain hair place for my haircuts, so my experience at the barbershop was new. I had never gotten a haircut followed by a shave and had never experienced the community that can be found at a barbershop. I have never set foot in a salon since. Now I buzz my own hair, but should I wish to have it cut professionally, you’ll find me at the barbershop.

184 Colin December 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

I’ve been going to the same barber my entire life, I’ve had my hair cut elsewhere maybe a grand total of 5 times. SuperCuts and even other more mainstream barbershops just can’t compare. Sure he doesn’t do the best job but I’d feel out of place anywhere else.

185 Shane December 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Try The Yankee Clipper, in Chandler, AZ. I go there whenever I can. It’s owned by a woman, but it is an old time barbershop. I love going there and having Larry cut my hair.All the barbers there are great though. It’s usually pretty busy too, which is a good sign. Cash only.
I just went to a salon and ended up having to fix it after I got home.

186 MrEdifus January 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm

There’s an old-fashioned barbershop run by an old black man in my downtown area. I’ll be stopping there next time I need a haircut. Once I’ve gotten one there I’ll add his shop to the Barbershop Locator. I just want to have all of the information and have experienced the shop first.

187 David January 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I had my hair cut at a Supercuts earlier today, and it was exactly the experience written here! I knew I should have checked AoM before I left the house.

188 George January 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I go to Reynoldsburg Center Barber Shop just off East Main Street. Five Chairs, no waiting and every bit the Manly Independent Barber Shop. You can tell that the Barber Chairs are old as they have ashtrays in the arms. You can’t get a shave anymore (Ohio Law) but I always get a great haircut there no matter who cuts it. They all know how to cut my hair. The wall is filled with Ohio State Football Photos and the TV is usually tuned to Speed, Fuel or a Sports Channel. I just added it to the Barber Shop Guide here.

189 Mike Vozzelli January 25, 2013 at 8:00 am

I am a 3rd Gereration Barber in Cherry Hill, NJ.
I have been in this location for 30 years.
The Shop is attached to my home.
Open every day, except Sundays.
Looks Good
1901 Berlin Rd.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Tel: 856 354 0154
I would like to get posted on your site.
What a remarkable prresentation you have done here!
Thank you.
Mike

190 Thomas February 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Unfortunately Barber shops are no longer men only spaces. Now they have women cutting hair too. For years I went to a barber who had a table in the back corner of the shop with a bottle of wiskey and every man took a shot when he arrived. He also had magazines you could not read at home. It all ended when he hired a women “stylist”. Sad day for us guys.

191 John February 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I remember my father taking me to the Barber when I was a little kid, and I heard some of the funniest stories I can remember and I always enjoyed the straight razor on the back of the neck. It’s hard to find a real Barbershop in my area anymore. I never usually get the haircut I ask for by some younger guys, they always want to give me a “lineup” hip hop style haircut and never use the razor anymore. If I go to supercuts I get an old chinese lady who gives me a bad haircut, and if I go to a real barbershop I get a “jersey shore” reject trying to tell me about his ab workout and giving me a sh*t haircut!

192 John Thorp February 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Right after the summer of 1968 at the ripe age of 18 started my life long love of Barbering. It started in the U.S.Navy on board the Air Craft Carrier, U.S.S. Bonne Homme Richard whose namesake was from the warship that Johnm Paul Jones made the cry heard around the world; “I have not yet began to fight”!
Those formative days were great working in the enlisted mans Barber Shop with six Master Barbers to take care of the 2,500 enlisted men in the ships crew. One other Barber took care of the Officers and another took care of the Chiefs.
Every Barber had a clip board with sign up sheets where you could sign up for your appointment up to two weeks in advance for your own 15 minutes space.
That translated into 32 haircuts for an 8 hour shift. In reality though with the number of guys getting it all clipped off the very real average for all of us was 50 cuts a day.
I am a blest man to have had such wonderful foundational training.
I have had my own shop in Homestead, Florida for 17 years called “Great Cuts By John”.
My shop is one of the last holdouts of the truly mans atmosphere in every sense of the term.
Its a truly sad state where world wide so many men have turned their back on one of the things that makes in part being a man something of worth and value. Instead selling out to the dainty atmosphere of women that have entered into was once an exclusivey great mans enviroment.
But alas, I digress, look how many men have slipped over into what used to be an exclusively womens atmosphere.
At any rate in order to maintain the vestage of yesteryear I havent hired any women and pray I will never be forced into doing so.
What higher standard could a real man ask for than to go to a real Barber Shop where every real man should be going in the first place?
It also gives you the most excellent of bragging rights when you can make the statement, “I go to a real Barber Shop”.
Men shouldnt allow their wives to take their sons to a beauty salon. It opens up the possibility of that boy becoming a sissy.
Am I wrong in feeling this way?
The bottom line is, be a real man and go to a real Barber Shop!

193 Dale Melchin February 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Brett, just wanted to drop by and tell you I took your advice on this post. I tell you what! Going to a barbershop was the best experience I’ve had. Very manly.

I’m going to be posting about my experience on 3/3 if you want to stop by and look. No, I’m not spamming, I just give more detail there than on here. Thanks again Brett!

194 Breandan February 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

When I have a good experience at a barber it’s great. Unfortunately they’re usually disappointing. In Manhattan it seems like the barbers know one single haircut. No matter what I request I get what I call the “standard New York haircut”. I can say keep the top long or keep it short and the result will be the same. The old barbers have moved out and a new wave has moved in. If you have curly hair they cut it as short as possible because they can’t cut it any other way. Sometimes I’ll just cut my hair myself to prevent the disappointment.

195 R.L. February 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

THIS MAKES ME FEEL VERY GOOD AS I AM A THIRD GENERATION BARBER. USING THE CLIPPERS AND COMB AND YES, SCISSORS TOO. I ENJOY WORKING WITH MEN AND BOYS AND MAKING THEM FEEL LIKE ONE.

196 Liam March 3, 2013 at 6:23 am

Makes a really good point in the article, helping to forge bonds with fathers and sons. I’ve gone to the same barber to get my hair cut since my very first haircut, and my dad has gone to him since he moved to my hometown nearly 40 years ago, and has never gone anywhere else for a haircut. He’s one of the best barbers I can think of, always gives a great haircut and if you’re into horseracing he gives a few tips to the regulars!

197 Darrel Mischke March 27, 2013 at 9:16 pm

I have been a Barber in the same town (Gowrie Ia.) and in the same shop for 43 years. What a wonderful profession. I have built a good relationship with many clients over the years and would change nothing. My job does not seem like work and I have always looked forward to going to work. I will soon be 67 years old and have not slowed down yet. I still have a wonderful business. I deeply enjoyed the above story and am greatefull to the people who wrote it.

198 Ameet April 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

The guys at the local barbershop always have strange stories to share and most of them were shared by other customers to them. And they often have their own unique view points of whatever is happening around them ,,, they are even stranger and sometimes funny.

199 John Tiger June 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

There is some truth to this… but I live in Edinburgh and have had some seriously awful haircuts from local barbers. I had to get through three bad barbers to find one that I now use regularly. Even those guys employed an assistant barber who royally fucked up my hair once. I prefer barbers who realy are no-nonsense. Not into shaving spirals into people’s skulls or turning your cranium into sputnik’s daughter, just having a decent, regular haircut and shave. The best barber I’ve found recently is the young chap in Cockermouth, Cumbria who recently opened Main Street Barbers. Totally genuine guy, good to chat with and good at what he does. It’s not all about service and extras and coming out smelling like jif, it’s about having a good sit down and getting your god damn hair cut by a guy who you can respect and get on with.

200 Francine June 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I’ve been doing some research on shaving mugs vs. moustache cups for a class I teach. I can’t remember having such a good time researching a topic!

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