In The Thick Of It

November 28, 2011

When it comes to hair it seems like the mid-ground is sweet spot for most men.
Too much hair, or not enough, and people feel a little hard done by. Now I've discussed thinning hair a little previously but what about thick hair? It can cause just as many problems...Troy Polamalu knows what I mean!:
Thick' hair can actually be more accurately classified by looking at the hair more closely. There are two main types of hair that fall under the general description of 'thick':
- When the individual strands of hair themselves are thick, as is often the case with afro-carribeann hair types, the hair will be hard to manage, hair to style and give direction too and will often feel dry or coarse. 
- If the individual strand are of average to fine thickness, but there are simply a lot of them on the head, then people often use the term 'thick'. However the correct term for this is 'dense' hair. It can have the same problems are thick hair (hard to shape or style etc.) but it's more likely to be in better condition and very strong and healthy. As I like to joke with my customers, "it's not going anywhere anytime soon!".
Some barbers will use a thinning scissors to take some of the weight/thickness out of the hair but it's important that they know what they doing when using these (and you might be surprised at how many will use them willy-nilly!).
Thinning scissors should really be used more commonly to add texture to the hair, and will often be referred to as texturising scissors instead. They can be safely used through the top fifth of the hair, however, if used incorrectly and brought say, half way down the length of the hair or more, then what will happen is that you will end up with the thickness still at the roots, and then whispier bits of hair as the style grows out. If this is done a few haircuts in a row then the top gets wispier and thinner each time and will look very bad. I've done up a diagram to show this progression better:
So what can be done? Well a good barber will know how to use a thinning scissors well, when to use point-cutting and texturizing techniques, and when to use a shaper razor. Not only that, but if you ask, they will be able to explain to you what they are doing.
But take pride in your strong locks! Keep them well groomed; chose short and sharp, an afro, or long (the weight will help bring the hair down rather than out). And if you find a barber who cuts your hair how you like it, well, remember we are cutting a lot more hair than the average head so we won't say no to a tip at the end of our hard work! Your luscious locks will thank you.
- BE


November 21, 2011

I don't know what it is about me but I have an allure I can no longer deny. Maybe it's my welcoming smile, my friendly banter or some invisible pheromone. In fact in both barber college as well as my work now I get a little bit of teasing about it.
(image from www.annetraintor.com )
The truth is I seem to attract some (hopefully) innocent attention from men of a considerable more mature age! I get sweet little gifts of teddy bears and chocolate. I have one client who glances in the window every day on his way to work to see if I'm there (the other barbers tease me by telling my when my “admirer” looked in for me on my days off). But they are harmless. I think they just enjoy the bit of a chat, some attention and, of course, a nice haircut.
I honestly don't care if who sits in my chair be they young, old, short, tall, whatever. I had a transgender client in the other day and had a cool conversation with him about how he loves getting his hair cut short in a barbers and about hormones for vocal changes. I have a girl who comes into me as she has a very short shaved style at the back of her head.
I'm just as happy chatting about 'kids these days' as I am about current fashions or popular TV shows. I don't follow sports but I pick up bits here and there and if you wanna talk I'll gladly listen.
Some clients like to simply sit quietly with no conversation at all. And that's fine too. In fact I've had a few clients fall asleep in the chair they were so calm and relaxed!
But the best thing for me is seeing those faces return. Having my own set of regulars is great and I'm always especially happy to see one of this growing group of people come in the door. I need to work on my memory so I can start recalling exactly how each of them likes their hair (I know just a few my heart by now) but they walk out happy and having them return 6 or 8 weeks later is a true sign of a job well done to me. Put it down to the cut, the chat or a combination of both, whatever this secret I have is I hope I can hold onto it even if I never find out exactly what it is.
So here's to the regulars! Thanks to you for always brightening my day.
- BE  

The Strands Of Time

November 14, 2011

A little riddle for you:
What goes from ear to ear but isn't a smile?
What grows as it's peers disappear?
What is a source of confidence to some yet disgust to others?

Have you figured it out yet? How about a little visual clue?
(Image From The Baldy Man TV Show)
Yup, it's the comb-over. A source of despair for many yet, for those gentlemen who chose to sport one, it's a keystone in the pride and confidence they have in their appearance. On a strictly personal note I dislike them as I feel they never solve the problem, however I will gladly cut one if it's what the client wants. However here's the real puzzle... when I talk to men who starting to thin on top or recede they all say how much they dislike comb-overs and how they will just keep it short and tidy and clean on top. So riddle me this: for those gents who have one, did they see a picture of someone with one and think “yup, that's the look for me. My, how natural it looks and what a practical solution”?
I honestly don't understand how someone begins to grow one. In fact I've yet to have a client in my chair who's in the mid-stages of growing one. Would they ask me to keep a it longer as they hope to grow it into a comb-over? Or do they have hair that long all around and one day cut it all short bar a little bit on one side? These questions genuinely baffle me. Perhaps a more experienced barber can shed some light on the matter for me. I certainly would never ask a client! So if you read this I'd love to hear your option on the matter. Just drop me an e-mail or comment below.
- BE

This Little Piggy

November 7, 2011

Aching shoulders, knees, feet and backs are a common complaint amongst barbers. 
We work in an industry in which we are on our feet all day and constantly raising our arms up to work.
During my first week in barber college our German teacher got us all to stand up. She taught us a series of exercises to help loosen our shoulder, arm and wrist muscles and taught us about correct posture while working. At the time most of us did the movements halfheartedly and, dispite her telling us it was one of the best lessons she could teach us, and that it would determine whether we'd be working for the next 10 years or the next 40, I'm sure that we all fell out of practice and rarely did them after that day.
Personally I can only speak for myself and now I'm back in Dublin I do try to do some stretches before and after work. In fact I've started doing Nia classes which has been great for my posture and will be beginning Bikram Yoga this month too. I've been beginning to feel the twinges and really I should have started before this point.
While it's easy enough to pick a class that'll help with our upper half, we often ignore our lower halves and in particular, our feet. I had been wearing these shoes for FAR too long:
When I bought them (many moons ago) they were the most comfortable thing I owned. But, much like growing a millimeter a day, without me noticing they slowly got tighter and tighter and more and more worn down. My pinky toe on my left foot began to get cramped in and turned slightly. It took month and months for this to occur, long after I should have gotten rid of the runners in the first place, and it was only once it began to hurt that I thought I really needed to take action. Being able to stand on my feet comfortably is crucial and yet I kept putting of getting new runners. So after 2 weeks of pain reminding me every day to save my poor soles, I just took the runners and threw them out. I went straight into the city and into a place that a nurse which foot problems had recommended to me. The lady in the shop looked at my feet, measured and pressure them, and explained that my right is a whole size bigger than my left! Not only that but my toes splay out when I walk so the toe-box on most shoes is too narrow for me and thus are cramping my wee little piggy. Then, like some sort of chiropidistic angel, she emerged from the stockroom with a box containing heaven for my feet. Okay, so they are pretty ugly lookin' heaven, but maaaaan, they are comfortable.
I've been wearing these for the last two weeks and already I think my pinky toe has forgiven me enough to be on speaking terms with me again. I no longer feel like I have to rest my feet after work and my posture is a little better too. These shoes came with a hefty price tag but I honestly can't put a price on having foot comfort in my work. I'm learning to listen to my body now so that I can have a long career ahead of me. So tell me; is there anything your body's telling you?
- BE

Move Over For Movember!

November 1, 2011

Remember, Remember, the Bro's of Movember!
Happy Movember everyone! For those of you who don't know what I'm going on about here's a little summary of what Movember is all about:
Each November men from all over the world begin the month with a smooth upper lip and then proceed to grow a stylish (and often hilarious) 'nose neighbour'. Call them what you will: 'crumb catcher', 'tea strainer', the risqué 'thigh tickler', or the simple 'mo', these facial fuzzies abound during November and it's all for a good cause.
People sponsor a 'tache wearer to grow his mighty lip warmer all month and the money raised goes to support research into, and awareness of, prostate cancer. Victims... emmm I mean Participants can set up a profile page on the Movember website and collect donations through that. In 2010 alone Ireland collected €1.6 million for the cause! Many barbershops get involved often holding events at the beginning or end of the month. One of my favourite barbershops of all time, The Waldorf, held quite the shindig and also made this simply wonderful video for Movember. It truly says so much about the art of shaving:
So find a bro' growing a mo' near you and donate! And if any of my readers are participating please send me and e-mail with your finished 'taches and if I get some photos I'll do a little feature at the end of the month. Until then – be it curly or long, grow it full, grow it strong!
- BE