The art of barbering
by Contributed - Story: 73681
Apr 11, 2012 / 5:00 am
Apr 11, 2012 / 5:00 am
Up until recently I allowed this past experience to really taint the image of who a Barber is, and what they stand for. My own perceived reality focused only on the speed and uniformity of the looks that exit the barbershop. This narrow scope of understanding limited me in observing the true art and structure that exists within men’s barbering and the methods behind the techniques.
In cosmetology school the majority of our focus is generally in women’s shapes. Feminine shapes are often more rounded and soft to enhance the beauty of a woman. What most stylists are unaware of, is that men’s bone composition, skull shape, hair and hairlines are completely different then a woman’s. Barbers are so intuitive when they work that often the reasons ‘why’ aren’t discussed - an end result is simply delivered.
Despite the lack of knowledge we faced in the past, the men’s market is the fastest growing in terms of self care. Guys are taking more time to look good and create further awareness around first impressions. Here are some important points before you ask your stylist for a ‘number two guard’ and get another cookie cutter haircut.
The skull: Something you probably never think about - and you shouldn’t have to. Your overall look should be determined by head shape and any imperfections you want to correct (flat crown, narrow face etc). Biologically guy’s skulls are more bumpy and uneven then females (I blame the cavemen) so adjusting the style to your individual head is important.
Hairline: I’m going to say this right up front. Recession of hairlines exist in 95% of the male demographic. Testosterone effects hair growth and sometimes it will fall out. Personally, I had to be honest with myself here and understand that it’s a fact of life. Leaving stringy, tufts of hair over a bald spot is only a safety blanket for yourself. The secret to fuller looking hair: cut it shorter in the area you have the most hair and slightly longer in the direct area of recession.
Density and Texture: Every head of hair is unique, so no one single haircut will ever work on every person. To do so, is simply plunking a hat on your head that is designed for mass market. Your growth patterns (cowlicks), texture (fine, thick, unruly) and desired finished effect can be created within the cut. Haircuts need to be technically correct and visually perfect. No one’s complete package is perfect and your haircut should be designed with density and texture in mind.
Shears vs Clippers: I personally only use scissors to cut men’s hair. My reasoning is that the grow out is a lot smoother (because you are only cutting with two blunt blades) and it gives a hand made effect- although it takes a lot longer. Some of my colleagues create magic with clipper over comb which a lot of classic Barbers do too. Either way is correct, however using guards is something you could do in the comfort of your own home with a Barber-in-a-box from the department store. Handmade is always better than machine made - right?
When we examine the current influence of the 1930’s and war times of the 1940’s it is apparent why men’s demands are elevated. Classic side partings, clean faded lines and overall shorter looks are a sign of the times. Barbering creates the framework within all of these looks because of its precise and masculine, square structure. It is interesting to me how hair fashion can be a reflection of social issues that once were during past times and could be repeating themselves in modern day: hence the re-emergence of styles.
My passion for men’s Barbering has been ignited with an appreciation and understanding of a tradition that has been silently passed down from generation to generation. I guess my judgement and past beliefs that I formed as a 5-year-old may have been slightly jaded - although, Grandma’s haircuts were still my favourite.
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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