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There’s a lot of trust involved when it comes to sitting down in an unknown barber’s chair and literally leaving your image in the hands of someone strange whose skill hasn’t been tried or tested first-hand. But trust is earned and you’ll never know what wonders he can work if you don’t say a silent prayer, have faith in his ability (because, well, he still has a job) and then leave the rest up to fate. We spoke to expert barber, Ken Biddle at Barnet Fair barber shop who shared self-care advice and insight into how to find the right barber for you!
In your opinion, why should every man have their grooming done in a barber shop?
Barbers train in men’s hair only. When you go through hairdresser school, men’s hair is a short module. Hairdressers are not trained in shaving and most of the time, they don’t view men’s hair as a priority because the money is in “ladies services” – not really the truth! Barber shops have increased in popularity. These are places where you can visit and expect to be welcomed, and feel comfortable. There are no Fair Lady or Garden and Home magazines. We serve whiskey and beer, talk trash, listen to music and have a good time.
What advice would you give to men who are searching for the ideal long-term barber/client match?
Look for someone who you feel you’d like to spend time with, and during your service get chatting to find your similarities. If you’ve visited any of our branches, then you know you are in professional hands so don’t try to guide us through your cut because you will just ruin it for yourself. If you get stuck on what to talk about then ask us about hair (we love talking about hair!), then just let the conversation flow. Soon it will move on to sport, movies, games, beer… We are all different.
What are the tell-tale signs of an experienced barber?
They are in complete control at all times; control of the service, the conversation, the pace at which they deliver the service. They will remember conversations from previous services, most patrons’ names and things they talked about. You can see that they are just having a good time. Also, they are always booked, always busy.
In your opinion, why is a professional barbers’ service worth the price?
Professional barbers invest in professional equipment, ongoing education and we are technically skilled to do the right haircut to suit that particular person.
What are the current styling trends? In your opinion, should clients follow trends or not, and why?
At the moment, the current trends still lean on skin fades and cropped fringes. I think it’s good to follow trends. At first, they challenge your confidence but ultimately build character.
What styling trends can we expect to see in 2019?
We will see an emergence of the modern MOD cut. They will be a medium to long cut with softer ends and hopefully, a flair of personalised creativity.
What personal-care product should every man use at home?
Without a doubt, every man should use some kind of skin moisturiser and an aftershave like The London Grooming Company aftershave balm and skin moisturiser
What skincare and beard-care advice do you recommend to your clients?
Use a hairdryer to rough-dry the skin after every wash. Trapped water will dehydrate the skin and cause itching and flaking. Apart from a quality beard moisturiser, don’t over-do it with beard products.
What’s the one golden technical shaving/styling tip that you want your clients to know and practice?
When it comes to styling, every guy should learn to use a hairdryer and the correct way to apply styling products. With shaving, always used a pre-shave product to provide a protective layer between the skin and the blade. I use The London Grooming Company beard conditioner as it softens the hair.
In your opinion, what are some of the most common personal grooming mistakes men make? What should they do instead?
They don’t apply products correctly and therefore use too much product. Look out for The London Grooming Company guide to styling (coming soon).
Which products from The London Grooming Company range do you use and recommend, and why?
I use the beard shampoo and conditioner as well as the aftershave balm and skin moisturiser. Since I’m a bald, bearded man, these are my ideal products. I will recommend these to all guys, and when it comes to hair products, it really depends on the hair type and desired look that the client wants. I used to favour the pomade but to be honest they are all great if used correctly.
Why should a man sport a beard? What does it say about him?
Hahahaha! Having a beard is great but it’s not a lazy man’s game. Beards require a lot of maintenance even to keep them looking like it’s just a rough-up and go. A beard will show a man has patience and determination, that he is not lazy, and that he has excellent table manners.
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