The barber pole – the twist of red, white and blue outside most traditional barbershops – allude to their bloody beginnings. The barber has been around for over 5,000 years but he has not always been the man responsible for your fresh fade or that soothing hot lather rinse.
Way back when, barbers moonlighted as dentists or even performed minor surgeries. If you were in possession of sharp blades, you were expected to multi-task. Think Sweeney Todd was just a musical? Think again.
The colors on the barber pole – red and white, signify blood and bandages. The blue is said to represent veins. Thankfully, the event of hospitals (and occupational health and safety) means that the only thing that man wielding the razor near your head is going to give you is a clean shave.
The word “barber” derives from the Latin word “beard”. Barbers are traditionally men, and so are their clients. In comparison to the barbers’ bloody beginnings, hair stylists date back to the Elizabethan era. They provided hair services to women, and the only severing that they go to do was working with complex wigs.
Given the rise of the upscale barbershop in the recent years, the distinction between the two haircutters is a little vague. However, barbers are typically trained to cut shorter, more traditional haircuts for men. If you want something like a side swept brush up, and colour? See your hair stylist. They generally have more experience cutting and styling longer hair.
Barbers tend to be limited to clipper cuts, while stylists can do both scissor based cuts as well as clipper cuts. They also recommend products that can help you achieve the look you want. That being said, if you want a hot lather face shave, you can only get that at the barbershop.
You’ve booked yourself with one of our amazing barbers. Now what? It’s important to learn some basic terminology so that you can get your perfect cut every time.
How Short? Did you want an inch of the top or just half an inch off the sides? Let your barber know. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution. Cut off a bit at first, and you can always go shorter.
Taper / Fade The terms are almost interchangeable. They mean that your hair length gradually shortens in length from the top of your head down to the nape of your neck. It is achieved with clippers with varying lengths.
Neckline You may not be able to see it, but the person standing behind you will. There are three basic choices: blocked, rounded and tapered. A blocked neckline is a straight line across the natural neckline. It can give off the appearance of a wider neck but can quickly. You will have to touch up frequently.
A rounded neckline is similar to the blocked, minus the corners. It also requires frequent touch ups. The tapered neckline follows the natural neckline, and gradually ‘fades’. It does not require touch ups.
Side burns Unless you’re into mutton chops, you can ask your barber to trim and thin out your sideburns.
The Buzz Cut Back to basics. It is a short, buzzed haircut which is also known as the military cut. There are several types of buzz cuts, defined by the blade attached to the clippers. Get a super short buzz cut (#1) or go for something longer (#4).
The Crew Cut Similar to the buzz cut but it tapers on the side and back of the head. The top is either clipped evenly or so that the front is slightly longer than the back.
The Businessman This is a simple taper haircut with the top left up to 2 inches long.
Caesar Cut The top is cut to about an inch longer than the rest of your hair so you are left with a slight fringe on the forehead.
Fade Cut This is a simple taper on the sides and the back, where the hair is clipped in such as way that it gradually ‘fades’ into the skin.
The Comb Over Fade A variation of the fade consists of longer hair on top of the head, which is combed over into a side part or slicked back, depending on your preference. The hair on the back and the sides fades.
High and Tight Another variation of the fade cut, it keeps the sides and back as short as you are comfortable with. The top of the hair is about an inch and a half long with blunt edges. It requires little maintenance.
The Undercut The hair on the sides and back is clipped short with the same blade number (no taper), and the hair on top is left longer. It can be swept, slicked and style. It can be as dramatic or subtle as you like, depending on contrast between your sides and the top.