With beards back in fashion and sharper hair cuts all the rage, barber shops have been springing up in many countries including the UK and USA.
The popularity of barber shops took a dive across the USA from 1992 to 2012 before a sudden change in 2013.
Now there is a boom. While state licensing boards make tracking the numbers difficult, the National Association of Barber Boards of America estimate the growth at roughly 10% every couple of years with the art of barbering now the fastest-growing profession.
More about barbers and the barber shops
In previous times, barbers (known as barber surgeons) also performed surgery and dentistry. Fortunately, with the development of safety razors and the decreasing prevalence of beards, most barbers changed to specializing in cutting men's scalp hair as opposed to facial hair.
Up until the mid to late 1960s, a man used to get a haircut every couple weeks. Then hair styles grew longer and hair cuts were less frequent. Now once again, men are more interested in grooming and pampering themselves.
At the same time, beards are back in fashion
once more and the barber can ensure that, instead of looking shaggy, the beard can look suave.
One type of barber on the rise is the Turkish barber. This traditional form is a bit different. The hairs of the ears and nose are carefully burnt off - and a cut throat razor and hot towel are used for a close shave.
Looking after your beard
Ideally, you will have a friendly barber shop on hand to help you keep your beard in tip top condition.
But, in between visits, you can help by looking after your beard with these tips:
- When starting to let your beard grow, just stop shaving – completely – for at least the first 4 weeks before making any attempt to shape or sculpt. During this crucial growing period and beyond, keep the skin beneath free of dead cells and any grime with a decent face scrub. This is a good way to prevent ingrown hairs forming while the beard develops.
- After four weeks, you can start shaping the beard. First, define a “neck line” along the bottom of your beard around the neck. This is probably best done by a professional barber or stylist. Try to find one who has a lot of experience in beard styling. Once in a while, go back to your barber for a “spruce up” as they can often see bits you can’t and give it a nice symmetrical shaping.
- Second is the “cheek line”, the upper limit of the beard on the cheeks. This is best left natural. Unless your beard appears to commence just below your eyes, you will probably find you are better off not shaving or sculpting the beard on your cheeks.
If you find the whole “beard growing thing” a bit tough, give yourself a minimum of six weeks’ growth before making a decision to give up.
- Invest in a beard trimmer and learn how to use it. Not difficult and it will help give even, uniform results. Choose a beard trimmer with a pop-up trimming attachment so you can keep the whiskers away from the edge of your top lip. The edges can be tidied up with a regular razor or a special beard razor.
- Pat your beard gently dry with a towel.
- Finally treat with H-Beard Oil. Twice a day, place several drops in the palm of your hand and massage gently into your beard before running your fingers through the hair to coat it evenly. This allows the oil to be absorbed quickly, delivering deep hydration and moisturizing your facial hair while leaving the hair soft and nourished without feeling oily or greasy. Facial hair can cause skin dryness so it is essential to add a safe skin treatment to counteract this.
The barber's pole and the barber shop quartet
This is a traditional sign to indicate a barber shop and featuring red and white spiraling stripes.
It is a symbol from the time when barbers used to perform medical procedures with the white and red stripes representing bandages and blood while the blue stripes represent veins.
In the USA, the blue stripe is also sometimes used to match the flag.
Many of us are aware of the "barber shop quartet" which was a style of singing which originated in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a hybrid of both black and white expressive cultural forms at the time. The African-American influence is sometimes overlooked, although these quartets had a very formative role in the development of this style of singing.
Although the popularity of the style faded in the 1920s, it was revived in the mid-20th century with help from the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (founded in 1938).