CHARLES FENCOTT of 57 BARBERS in Vivian Road, Sketty knows a thing or two about male grooming. Why not pop in to see him and experience a traditional cut-throat close shave?
Rediscovering the barber shop
“The Man Club”
As well as the cutting of hair, Master Barbers of old performed surgery, leeching, bloodletting and even the extraction of teeth.
Barbers traditionally advertised their medical workings by leaving a bowl of blood in the front window and hanging blood soaked bandages on a pole outside. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I men and women would set their hair using lard, they even had to sleep with cages on their heads to protect them from rats.
Fortunately times have moved on since then, and although there are still a few who are partial to the greasy look we now offer a vast array of products, lotions and potions to keep the rats away. I am going to throw open the door to my domain of the “modern barbershop” and introduce you to the leather and oak scented world of male grooming.
Male grooming has changed; the British barber movement has now come full circle. We are no longer enticed by the fruity smells of hairdressers and their neon displays. Men now want to have a haircut by a barber, in a masculine environment with manly products that they can take home and leave in their bathroom safe in the knowledge that it smells of man, and will therefore not appeal to the females of the household!
That said, I am not implying that there is no longer a place for men in salons, I am just letting you guys know there is a haven where we can now feel safe and relax in familiar surroundings.
The current fashion and trend for men’s hair is reminiscent of the 30s – 50s pomade endued styles of slicked back pompadours (pic 1), low faded executive contours (pic 2), and high and tight quiffed side parts (pic 3). All of these haircuts generally are accompanied by the obligatory beard (of varying lengths) or the clean, close shave, both of which are now huge business and are easily becoming half of our regular trade. Firstly the cut throat shave…
Not only is this an age old tradition that is now being resurrected across the country, but is also the “manliest” way to relax, I mean who doesn’t want a stranger holding a very sharp knife to their throat? Starting with a steaming hot towel wrapped around your face, and not forgetting you are already being cradled in the embrace of a reclining barber’s throne. The hot towel is then removed leaving your face and hair softened and your pores cleansed. Then comes the refreshingly scented lather of shave cream applied with a hot, badger hair, shaving brush that lifts each hair on your face as the lather builds. Now the shave; you’d think this is the scary part, but the number of our customers who
will fall asleep at this point is unbelievable. Your barber will have already consulted with you on your skin type, irritations etc. and established which direction your facial hair grows so to give you the most comfortable shave. Lastly we have the application of the cold towel, this is, in a sense, to shock the skin into tightening back up, awaken the face, and bring you back into the world from your relaxed state. We follow this with a light facial massage using post-shave balms and scents if desired. All of our services come with refreshments or a cold beer on the side.
Now at the other end of the spectrum in all its glory is the BEARD. Beards are huge at the moment and so is the market for beard products. Whether you have a short sharply tailored beard or an ‘Uncle Albert’ style beard there is a range of products for you. Our personal favourites at the moment are the beard oils from the Remedy range which are used to soften the face and beard, prevent dry skin and itching and of course keep you from smelling like a fisherman. I would also advise checking out their beard butter, and moustache wax too.
To surmise from the outside the Barbershop culture may seem at first as an innocuous thread in the fabric of the social tapestry. But properly examined, such an environment can yield many necessary details that can aid in the formation of a strong, masculine identity. Like a layer of paint, glazed in obscurity to grant other colours strength and depth, the barbershop paints a man brighter and deeper. (Al-Assaf – Return of Kings – Why men need to save the barbershop culture.)
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is the medical term for razor rash or shaving burn.
Pogonophobia is the medical term for the fear of beards or people with beards.