The Tallow Chandlers Prize

December 22, 2011

'The tallow what?' you say? Is this something to do with the ingredients of shaving soap?
Alas no, but it is something MUCH more exciting...

Yesterday I came home to a letter lying on my bed. I opened it up to discover that I have won a prestigious 
Tallow Chandlers Prize for Excelling in Gaining my City & Guilds Barbering Diploma!!! 
At first I though it was some sort of joke or junk mail but it turns out all to be true! My tutor back in college nominated me and I won! It's a huge honour to receive this award and, from what I can tell, only somewhere between 4 to 6 prizes are given out in the hairdressing and beauty therapy sector each year from all of the nominees across both the UK and Ireland. The nominees are both tutors and students who excelling in gaining or teaching the City & Guilds qualifications.

So next February I get to go to London with two family members, and my tutor, to an awards luncheon in the magnificent Tallow Chandlers Hall (photo below). I'll get a medal, a framed certificate and a cheque!:
(Photo from www.tallowchandlers.org)
It looks like something out of Harry Potter! The whole building is gorgeous and has a deep history. The original building is believed to have been the Governor's Palace from which all of Britain was ruled. In 1476 the Tallow Chandlers bought the building. However when a fire broke out in 1666 the whole building burnt down (not surprising due to the high levels of tallow, candles, soap etc. in there!). The current hall dates back to 1672 and it's where 30+ of the 108 Worshipful Companies (which are kind of like Guilds) hold their Court Meetings.

So I'll have to get dolled up to the nines and my best smile in place for the countless photos I'm sure my dad will take. I'll no doubt have a blog post about it too once it's all done and dusted, but for now I'll be walking around with a big smile on my face. I feel really proud of myself and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Happy Holidays Indeed!
- BE

Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2011

Well what a crazy year it's been. This'll be the last post until after Christmas so I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year. I know your numbers are few but each visit makes me smile so thank you all agus go raibh míle maith agat!
No matter where the holiday season takes you, or what you do, I hope you have a joyful and peaceful one.
- BE

Face Mapping For Shaving

December 14, 2011

My most frequently visited page here on my blog is this one: Razor Bumps and Ingrown Hairs
The sheer volume of traffic to it shows me that it seems to be a very common problem with little information on the internet about the difference, and how to treat them. So I wanted to make this short add-on entry about face mapping in the hopes that it will help some people.
Irritation and ingrown hairs can often be caused by cutting the hair too closely and/or in the wrong direction. Though it's often touted as being the only way to get a 'really' baby-butt smooth shave, shaving against the grain (A.T.G.)(ie. the direction the hair grows in) isn't suitable for everyone. Some people have strong skin and fine hair so they can take this shaving direction, but others will have coarse hair, or thin skin, and ATG is just too harsh.
Often young men learn to shave by going out, buying a razor, and just giving it a go. But really every man, whether he's new to shaving or doing it all his life, should take the time to map their face before next putting blade to skin.
A facial map takes the key areas of the skin and breaks them down into sections. Print one off, then go through each section and run your hand along the hair to find out which direction the hair grows in. There are so many ways! Some grow all left to right, some men grow hair down the cheeks but up the neck. Some even have swirls like you have at the crown of your hair on your head! Just because the left check grows straight down doesn't mean the right side will.
To help you do this, and get to know your face better (and to remember each time you shave!) there is a fantastic application online here: Interactive Facial Hair Mapping
For anyone having trouble loading the link above the map looks link this: 
So take the time and get to know your face. Find out what works... maybe you just need two with the grain passes' when shaving? Maybe one pass 'with' and one 'across'? Or maybe you can take the full 'with, across and against'? Some men, no matter how hard they try, will find that an electric shaver will be the only way to have a comfortable shave and that's fine too.
Either way your face is your own and only you can find out. Good preparation of the skin before you shave, finding products and a razor or blade that suits you, and providing good aftercare to your skin will have you looking your best. Remember that a day's worth of irritated skin is not worth suffering through for two hours of extra closeness! 
- BE

Grease Is The Word

December 5, 2011

Yeeeah... not that kind of grease I'm afraid. But oh how I wish it was...
By and large I don't mind a client coming in with a bit of product in his hair, especially if it's light enough to be brushed out. Heck, I don't even mind if he comes in with enough pomade to drown a hamster in in there once he'll let me wash it out first! But I have two pet peeves... the first being people who want a dry cut with a lot of product in their hair. Not only is this bad for my tools, gumming up my scissors and clippers, but the hair also simply won't cut as well. In a way I feel this is a type of karma. I'll explain this to a client, and if he still insists on just a dry cut... well, it's not my fault that your haircut isn't as good as it could be. The hair clumps together, will slip on the scissors edge sometimes, and won't part correctly when I comb and section it. You wouldn't go in for a hot towel shave and cover my hands and razor in chicken fat before letting me bring a blade near your face now would you?!?

But by far, my second peeve is worse. And if you've a sensitive stomach maybe skip the rest!
People with greasy hair. Now I mean reeeaaallly greasy 'haven't-washed-in-a-month-or-two' hair. You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm sad to say not. I really wish I was! I've had clients actually tell me they only wash it every month or so as if that were the normal thing to do. I've had clients who's hair I've sprayed down only for the water to run straight off. I've had to pick out leaves stuck in the hair, try and comb through matted sections and when you 'dry' the hair it still looks soaking wet. These clients are scarce but they are there. It's unpleasant to handle this kind of hair but it's the SMELL that's the worst. It doesn't smell like dirt or anything per ce... it's a unique smell of grease, sebum and natural oils. But old grease, sebum and oils *shudder*. It's very distinctive and grows stronger as I comb the hair, releasing a fresh batch of oil onto the old and heightening the smell. Now you can tell me all you want about how it's good for the hair to 'self cleanse' with it's own oils but if I have to touch it and smell it then I want it to be clean. If you hair makes me gag, and I've had that happen on occasion, then I'm going to want you out of my chair asap. So the cut will be quick and will be minimal. Ask any barber to tell you honestly and they will say the same. I've worked with one barber who was pregnant and she literally couldn't stomach it sometimes, and when she could, she'd have to wear gloves. Now I know that would be embarrassing for the client, to have their barber wearing plastic gloves, and I've yet to get that far luckily, but could you blame us? I don't want to give the impression I work in a low-class barbershop. I actually work in a very nice one and you'd be surprised the types of gents who seem to forget about the top 5% of themselves when washing! So please... either wash your own hair thoroughly or pay the extra bit for us to introduce your follicles to detergent and don't ask for just a dry cut! If you are concerned about the SLS and chemicals in shampoos then look around and find some natural shampoos in your local health store. Your barber will be happy to use your own shampoo if you bring it in.
Be clean and glorious - not as if you lost a fight with a turkey baster!
- BE