Barbershops seem to be opening at the same pace as cafes and bars across North America. Are men finally getting the attention they deserve? Two master barbers talk about the benefits of a straight razor shave and their tips on how to get the best shave at home. What follows are excerpts from our conversations.
Barber & Co is Vancouver’s newest barbershop. In a space shared by a wood-panelled drinking establishment, it’s tucked among Vancouver’s glass high-rise office towers, and does a busy trade with men going between the two worlds. Run by a Londoner, with more than a nod to tradition, the space at once busy and relaxing. We caught up with Ian Daburn in between a straight razor shave appointment, and a meeting about the details of a new barbershop he’s opening on Cambie Street later this week. What follows are excerpts from our conversation.
Grooming a trend
“Over the last few years, there’s just been a huge increase of interest in men’s fashion and style. Magazines, blogs and Pinterest are exploding with images and information.”
“Make sure the face is warm before you begin, whether from a shower or a hot towel. It opens the pores and softens the hair.”
Dollars and scents of barbershops
“That coincided with a shift in hairdressing that came out of the recent recession in London. Rents went up, and hairdressers’ rates went up, and a lot of hairdressing shops were closing. So groups of hairdressers started getting together to open barbershops. Timing-wise, that just happened to coincide with the rise in men’s style.”
“A few years ago, a guy with a beard would just have been scruffy. He’d go to his salon, and there just wasn’t a lot of attention paid to beards or products available. Now almost every guy will ask about grooming for his beard, and there’s a huge interest from guys in beard balms and oils. Many of the formulas are actually very old, often 200 years. Beard oils soften and strengthen a beard, and look after the skin underneath. Now, even the burliest beard is groomed.”
Why get a professional shave
“I think relaxation is the number one thing. A lot of guys have some fear going in, and they can feel a bit vulnerable and nervous when they sit down, or have a lot of questions. But from the moment they get the hot towel on, some even fall asleep.”
Three tips for shaving at home
- “Study the hair growth. Look in the mirror and figure out which direction the hair grows in. The number one source of irritation is shaving against the grain.
- “Warmth. Make sure the face is warm before you begin, whether from a shower or a hot towel. It opens the pores and softens the hair.”
- “Use a badger brush. It exfoliates the skin and helps to lift the hairs up. Plus, the brush stays hot when you mix up the soap, and the hot foam helps warm the hair.”
Ian Daburn is a master barber and a founder of Barber & Co in Vancouver.
Made Man is Chelsea’s sharpest new barbershop, (tucked just around the corner from 7th Avenue, on 23rd Street) where owner Sam Chulpayev has managed to create a clean, modern space that still checks off all the trappings of old-school tonsorial services. Enter Carley Bodden. Besides being the best-dressed barber we’ve met, Carly takes a unique approach to cutting hair – “I’ve always looked at grooming with a fashion eye,” he says. “Jazz serves as a huge inspiration for me, as well. If you look at today’s styles, they’re all coming from that time period.” Below, advice from Carley during an afternoon’s worth of cuts.
“The key to a good shave is moisture. Always. When done right, it’ll keep acne and bumps away.”
Why get a professional shave
“Other than a smooth face, a ‘real’ shave from a barber has lasting benefits.
“Shaving at its best is a relaxation process and there are real benefits to getting a pro shave – it’s more like a skin treatment or a facial. You’ve got all the elements of a spa treatment – a hot towel, aromatherapy, and shaving actually takes off a layer of dead skin… all really good things for your face.
“I think a straight razor shave is the best way to celebrate a professional or personal accomplishment. Instead of going out for that big, expensive drink first, get a shave. Pamper yourself. You’ll feel like a king.”
On trusting your barber
“A lot of guys will come in requesting one thing, and I’ll happily oblige the first time. But as they get more comfortable with me, maybe I’d recommend something that might work a bit better for them. It’s about trust, really.”