All Cutz Barber Shop

We put our ALL into your CUTZ for the shear joy of it.

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The Art of Consultation

Okay, sure every barber is taught the value of a good consult prior to beginning a service on a client. It’s part of being a professional. It gets covered in school. We are taught how to do it. Basically the idea is to talk with the client, find out what it is they have in mind for their service, assess your ability to deliver on their request, and from there develop a plan to deliver the desired result. How simple could it be? I mean, the idea isn’t unique to barbering. The same thing happens when you visit a coffee shop or call for a pizza, or when you talk to guy in the hardware store.

Notice I said the hardware store. If you’re talking to someone at the big box home improvement place you’re taking your chances, particularly if they give you a blank stare followed by, “Well, let’s see…” as they read the label to you, just my opinion.

It is a simple concept and most of the time it goes flawlessly. As a matter of fact it usually goes so well so often that it can get taken for granted which is why even experienced professionals sometimes have problems with it, and it can happen for lots of reasons.

I have a friend who has been a barber for more than thirty years who had a customer with a deep Hispanic accent ask him for a Caesar cut, or so he thought.  A Caesar is a low cut similar to a crew cut. He put an appropriate guard on the clipper and ran it over his client’s head and the guy came right out of the chair. “No! No!” he protested.

“What’s the matter? I thought you wanted a Caesar cut.”

“No cleepers! Seezers! Seezers!” the man exclaimed holding up two fingers and making a scissor motion.

cartoon-crew-cut

When there are language barriers, or clients with limited speech, or hearing it obviously pays to be more thorough. One of the times that difficulty in gaining an understanding is less obvious is when the terminology that the client uses is different than what is used locally.

Take the term, low fade for example. When it’s used in our area ‘low’ can refer to the length of the hair left on top of the head whereas in the rest of the country ‘low’ refers specifically to the fade being in the area below the points and no higher than the occipital ridge tapering down to the neck. It has nothing to do with the amount of hair on top of the head.

It wouldn’t be hard to take a client, especially one from out of town a whole lot lower on the top than what they had in mind. I know. I’ve done it.

dscn0016

Handsome man with fashion highlighted hair wearing white shirt doing a haircut for man with brown hair at barber shop.

Both of these styles could be considered a “low fade” depending on your part of the country.

It’s all about communication. As a barber the primary responsibility lies with me but a client that makes themselves  clear can go a long way too, and a picture is worth a thousand words. There have been several times when a customer has pulled up a picture on a cell phone. That, in conjunction with a bit of discussion gives us a clear vision of the cut. Of course, that isn’t always an available option and clients, and barbers, make assumptions which can lead to misunderstanding.

A mirror, a little patience, and a few questions during the service can help guide the barber to the desired result when the client is unsure of either how to describe what they want or when they are just not sure of exactly what it is they want. I’ve done plenty of haircuts that fall into that category. I begin by cutting of what the client is most certain.

“I want it close on the bottom but not too close.”

When I hear that, it’s usually a #1 guard closed but it pays to be conservative, so I might open the guard and leave a bit more hair. I can always close it and make another pass if it’s not short enough.

Once that’s established we discuss the next step using the mirror as a guide, and soon we reach the desired result, so in effect the consultation takes place over the entire length of the service.

I’m not alone in this practice. My partner says, “When I’m not sure of exactly what they want I start with what I know they do want and then I just keep them talking.”

Many times a customer will get in the chair and say, “Cut it just like you did it the last time.”  It helps of course if I can remember exactly what I did last time, and that can be a bit problematic given that it’s probably been the better part of a month since they were last in my chair. During the course of that time I’ve easily done more than one hundred other haircuts. Try as I might I may not be able to recall what I did previously. Generally it takes awhile before customers who become regulars and always get the same cut can just sit down and have the barber do it by rote memory.

Asking for feedback on their last service can prove very valuable too, and some customers need to be asked because they don’t like to complain, or they might simply forget that they found something that they may want to change next time around or something that some other person might want them to change this time around.

I’m talking about wives and girl friends here. Anyone who thinks that the wife doesn’t get to the barber shop has never had a married clientele. We’ve seen wives decide which shop, which barber, and what style their man wears. Physically present or not their opinion matters, and it definitely needs to be accounted for in conversation. If we can’t keep them off the sofa we won’t keep them in the shop.

The last part of a good consultation is concluding it, plainly stated, it’s knowing when to shut up. There is such a thing as overdoing it. An old gentleman with a cane and a balding head is probably not going to be terribly concerned over the nuances of the latest styles and may not have much patience for a barber who wants to discuss his preferences as regards them. I’ve had older clients tell me they’ve gotten out of the chair of barbers who asked too many questions about their service. Conventionality usually governs their preferences and common sense is the rule since thinning and balding limit styling choices.

The bottom line is that while good communication doesn’t guarantee a great experience for the customer, it can sure go a long way in keeping them from having a bad one.

Styling Tips for Hair Loss

Baldness

We live in a society that prizes youth and vitality. Most men and many women for that matter, as they age experience hair loss, and as barbers, working in the appearance industry we see first-hand how appearance influences behavior. Take for example what happens when someone gets a haircut and then looks in the mirror and sees an improved appearance. Their mood is brighter and their perspective on themselves is elevated. Hair is a large part of appearance and the way it is styled can make a major statement about the person, and that in turn dictates how others treat them.

Baldness affects many kinds of people many kinds of ways for many different reasons and evokes many different responses. Because of time and space we’ll confine ourselves to the most common scenario; that of the middle-aged man whose hair line is receding. According to an article in Web MD the American Hair Loss Association states that two of three men begin experiencing hair loss by age thirty five and by age fifty, eighty five percent have significantly thinning hair. It’s commonly referred to as male pattern baldness. The professional term is androgenic alopecia.

hair loss norwood-hamilton (1)

The long standing stereotype is that a man who is losing his hair is past his prime. Hair loss is sometimes a symptom of illness which is another reason that in years past it’s been viewed as undesirable. Many people think it makes them unattractive but these days that’s a presumptive misperception. Societal attitudes about baldness are being driven more than ever by the strength of the individual. Choosing to go completely bald can be a bold statement. Take any of the following examples and you’ll see what I mean, Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas, Patrick Stewart, Vin Diesel, Avery Brooks, Charles Barkley, Shaq, or Michael Jordan.

Patrick Stewart             Avery-Brooks

Most guys though aren’t looking to make that kind of statement. They just want to gain the best look they can with what hair they have so here’s a few options and guidelines for those who are thinning. Keep in mind that guidelines are general and non specific.

Comb Over

If the hairline is still at or below the forehead and there’s enough coverage to mask the baldness a Comb Over is a good option. Keep in mind that a good Comb Over is one that doesn’t look blindingly obvious from the front.

If this guy looks familiar it’s because he’s a former New York City mayor.

Mayor

Low Cuts

A low cut of some kind, whether a crew cut, a wave cut, or possibly even a flat top depending on growth can be a good option if there’s sparse coverage on the crown. Here’s why. A flat top has the shortest hair over the top of the crown while the hair around the outside is left longer. This is then cut level and creates what is commonly referred to as the “landing strip” or the “horse shoe.” That means that it could be a good choice to minimize the appearance of thinning because the style itself is cut lower where the thinning is taking place.

Flat top

This example shows a guy who hits about a # 3 on the scale above that illustrates the progression of alopecia. His hairline is sliding back on the sides, and if he has a bald spot at the back of the head it’s hidden by the cut.

Other low cut styles like crew cuts and wave cuts can also be tapered to leave the top longer which compensates for thinning because hair that’s finer, and more sparse requires more length to provide the same amount of scalp coverage that thicker more densely packed hair can give. By tapering, an illusion of uniform hair growth can be created, within limits, and thus the baldness is less obvious.

Yeah, Statham rocks it.

Statham

Still, you don’t have to be a star to have it work.

Low even all over

Clean Shaven

Aesthetically speaking the time to look at trading the comb for the razor and going all the way is when a comb over is no longer effective to mask the hair loss or when a low cut can no longer provide a uniform appearance.

Incidentally we’ve conducted an informal poll of some corporate professional women and they prefer that a guy who can’t get a decent comb over should go clean shaven.

This guy might want to consider taking the ladies advice.

combover bad

The style no longer hides the hair loss, and the uniformity is completely gone. That’s partly due to the wave in his hair. Many times as hair thins manageability is more difficult because there’s less hair to hold the remaining hair in place.

Okay in all honesty Shaq is wearing a wig in this photo. Even so, it’s a great example of how going clean shaven can improve appearance.

Shaq in wig                    Shaq clean shaven

Skin Conditioning

It should be obvious that the more skin there is visible the more important it is to take care of it. It’s about exposure, and clean shaven is as exposed as it gets. Protecting your scalp from damage and the sun, and maintaining a healthy appearance is important. Sun screen, moisturizers, and essential oils are needed to prevent dryness and serious cumulative damage especially here in Florida. Those things are the minimum here. Keeping skin supple and really healthy requires a bit more than that, and it doesn’t take much over the course of time to make a difference either good or bad.

As we age our skin naturally thins, and as time goes by having a scalp massage or scalp treatment as little as once a month can pay dividends. A massage is great for keeping the adipose (fatty tissue) layer of the skin healthy because massage facilitates even distribution of collagen and increases circulation. The Adipose is the layer of the skin that provides its cushion, fullness, and youthful appearance. Massage also moves lymphatic fluid which supports the health of cells and tissues. That’s even more important when you understand that cancer is caused by a breakdown at the cellular level. What cancer is; is the multiplication of tissue cells that have become abnormal. It stands to reason that the healthier you keep your skin cells the less your chances of developing cancer and the better you’ll look.

The Heart of a Barber Shop

Have you heard the one about the guy who walks into the barber shop, sits down for a haircut and starts telling the barber about his troubles with his son? How about the guy who tells the barber that his daughter just went into the real estate business and he’s concerned about her living on her commission, or the one about the troubled young man who is wondering about a direction for his life? It’s remarkable what people share with us while we they’re getting a service.

It’s the human touch. There’s an intangible of trust that allows people to feel comfortable enough to open up and say what’s on their minds. It’s that human element, handled with warmth and encouragement that adds value to the experience of visiting the barber shop.

Some barber shops these days have added things like pool tables, cigar lounges, and bars. The idea is to create a more complete and enjoyable experience for the client while they wait for services. Adding amusements is great for getting customers to talk with each other. Our shop has made some modest additions, free WI-FI, an ice cream freezer, a chess set, playing cards, and a Cribbage board, nothing fancy but it’s something for folks to pass the time.

Over the course of their history barber shops have long been social gathering places. A visit to the Barber shop was, and still is, a great place to really get a feel for what’s going on in the community because generally there’s a cross section of neighborhood people that come through the door, and amid the relaxing atmosphere they speak openly about their lives.

Our business is grooming, haircuts, shaves, etcetera, but our goal is helping people feel better between the time they come in the door and when they leave again, and a barber is in a rather unique place to do it.

 

The atmosphere of a business, any business, is very important because it either attracts or repels customers, or at any rate, a particular kind of customer. That’s very true in a barber shop, and it extends to the whole customer experience particularly the First, there’s the improvement in appearance that a good service provides. It’s a fact that when people look better they feel better. Second, because we see so many different people it’s not uncommon for us to know somebody who can be of help to someone else. These days it’s called social networking.  Third, being a successful barber, means being good with people and being good to them.  Last, because we do converse with people of every stripe and age, over time we get a pretty broad perspective on living so when we’re asked, many times we can offer some pretty insightful and astute observations for people to consider. We’ve had people in our shop act on suggestions we’ve made, and it’s very rewarding for us when it turns out well. Recently we got an invitation to a high school graduation on account of just that.barbers themselves, and that’s important because barbering takes place on such a personal level. It involves physical touch and the use of implements on the skin that are made to cut, so clients need to have confidence in their barber, and be comfortable with their personality.

Over time some barbers develop into colorful haircutting philosophers, poets, expert conversationalists, or comics because, let’s face it everybody can use a good laugh now and then. As a matter of fact it’s been scientifically proven that laughing is good for you health. It makes you feel better, so does music.

Music speaks to us in a way nothing else can. That’s no secret. Everyone has certain songs that are special to them because they bring back pleasant memories, evoke pleasant emotions, or help us relax. That’s the reason it’s played in barber shops and other places too, and the type of music being played will tell you about the kind of shop it is.

We use our play list, which, could best be described as an eclectic mix of classics, with some lesser known pieces to not only bring enjoyment to the listener but to kick off conversation. You might hear Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul McCartney, Mozart, Herb Alpert, Loretta Lyn, Styx, and Count Basie all in the same visit. Starting a conversation is exactly why barber shops are often filled with bric a brac, (old stuff and collectibles that they put on display).  They are the very definition of conversation pieces.

Sure, you can go to the barber shop and just get a haircut but you shouldn’t short change yourself. There’s a lot more value to a good barber shop than that. Come in, relax. Have a nice cool towel on a hot day. Have a good conversation. Catch up on neighborhood news. Have some ice cream. Have a few good laughs. It’s biblical. The Bible says, “A merry heart maketh good like a medicine.” Why not get your prescription filled?

Oh, by the way, although, we are slowly getting busier we still have excellent availability. If you just walk in you’ll seldom have to wait to get a service especially over the summer months.

A Close Look at a Good Shave

Close Look for a close shave

Shaving passed from the barber shop into the home with the advent of the double edged safety razor back in the 40s and when it did pre-formulated products began to be widely used. Cartridges, and disposable razors followed. The net result was that the art of shaving got left behind.

Most men these days haven’t actually been taught how to shave. They know how to open a can of shave cream, and pull a blade over their beard but many don’t understand shaving well. Consequently many have poor results and bad experiences when it just isn’t necessary. Shaving has just become something they have to do rather than a uniquely masculine experience they can enjoy.

What happens when you shave?

It sounds like an extremely elementary question with the obvious answer being that hair is cut and removed from the surface of the skin. True enough but, if it was really just that straight forward then why is it that so many suffer so much discomfort as a result?

It seems like such a simple process but there’s more going on than what appears on the surface. The hair itself is more than what you see above the skin. It’s actually an appendage of the skin with a blood supply that feeds the hair bulb which is responsible for growth. It also has nerves and muscles attached to it. That’s right. Hair is alive below the surface of your skin.

It’s important to understand that because shaving is as much about your skin as it is about your hair. Actually, it’s more about the skin than the hair so it pays to understand what’s really going on when you lather up and pick up a razor.

As you can see from the diagram, your skin is organized in layers.

anatomy-of-the-skin

 

Since the purpose of this article is to help you get a great shave we need to start where a great shave needs to begin, at the bottom.

The Adipose layer is the fat layer and it’s where the larger blood vessels are that supply the skin’s other structures. It also houses the fat cells that make all the “cottage cheese” that, women worry about. That “cottage cheese” is actually an abnormality associated with aging, and it figures into your shave. Here’s why. It’s caused by the collagen and elastin fibers being distributed unevenly. As the skin’s elastic net develops weak spots over time it sags, and the more fat cells there are the more prevalent the appearance of the “cottage cheese”. The bags under the eyes, jowls, and loose sagging skin are all the result of collagen loss and uneven elastin distribution. They can be alleviated with massage and good skin care. Tight toned skin is easier and safer to shave, and a facial once a month can help provide that because massage increases the circulation and helps tone the adipose tissue keeping elastin fibers evenly distributed.

Facial Melvin

A facial also helps by exfoliation because it removes dead loose skin cells from the Stratum Corneum which is the top layer of the skin, reducing bacteria caught under dead skin cells and facilitating a smoother less irritating shave.

Alright, it’s time for that shave. The very best time for a shave is right out of the shower. Make sure your skin is clean. Use a mild cleanser, warm water, and a washcloth, or a luffa to help exfoliate. Rub gently in a circular motion, don’t scrub, and then rinse clean.

One of the most important elements in enjoying a comfortable shave is lubrication. Today we have all kinds of gels and things that aid in lubricating the blade including those little glycol strips built into the cartridge razors. Pre shave oils also provide a layer of lubrication and are becoming popular again with the resurgent interest in wet shaving.

Shave oil

If you’re going to use shaving oil now is the time to apply it. Put a few drops in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, and then rub your face to cover it thinly and evenly, and then let it set for a minute or so prior to lathering up. You can wash your hands while it sets. For more information on shave oil visit http://www.shaving101.com/index.php/shaving-faqs/86-how-do-you-use-preshave-oil.html

It’s time for a nice hot wet towel.

Hot towel

As it sits on your skin for a few minutes here’s what’s happening. Your circulation increases. Your skin reddens as the heat opens up the blood vessels. Your skin softens and becomes smoother as the Erector Pili which are the tiny little muscles that give you goose bumps and make your hair stand up relax from the moisture and the heat. Additional lubrication is poured onto your skin from your sebaceous glands, and you sweat which helps control some pathogens because of its salt and slightly acidic pH of around 5.0. The hair softens because the pH of the water at 7.0 causes the hair to swell and opens the cuticle that covers the hair shaft making it easier to cut.

Okay, on with the lather. Put it on and wait about 20 to 30 seconds so that the beard softens further. As a matter of fact if you have a tough beard you may want to reapply the hot towel on top of the lather, hold it for about 30 seconds to a minute, and then re-lather. Shaving lather is made to help soften the beard and hold whiskers upright so that they can be shaved cleanly. That is its main purpose but there are many different kinds of shaving lathers and gels and they differ greatly in formulations and quality which means of course that your personal experience with them can differ greatly as well.

Because of that fact it doesn’t pay to just get what you think will be the cheapest shave. Remember, the guys that make the cheapest stuff are usually interested in the biggest profit, and most of the popular premixed foams and gels that you can buy at the local drug store are not good at providing enough lubrication for a non irritating shave. If you think that’s wrong, I got one word for you, BUMPS.

You can learn about them at Wikipedia.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudofolliculitis_barbae

Pseudofolliculitis barbae, is a medical term for persistent irritation caused by shaving. It is particularly problematic in areas of curly hair growth where the skin is sensitive but that doesn’t mean that only guys with curly hair can get bumps, and it doesn’t mean that just because your beard is curly that you have to put up with them.

Shaving is a violent experience for the skin.

Shave

When you use a razor the top two layers of the skin are excoriated. It gets scraped as the blade moves over the top of it. The hair that’s been cut has been severed at its thickest circumference and left with a sharp edge at its top. This is where the myth comes from that if you shave the beard comes back tougher, grows faster and is more coarse. It just seems that way because short hair feels coarser than longer hair. If it’s curly it wants to bend right into the skin that you just irritated by scraping over the top of it while shaving. Now you have many sharp edged little whiskers poking themselves into your irritated skin and what does irritated skin do? It swells. Ta! Da! BUMPS!

What’s needed after you shave and before you bump up is something soothing, cooling, hydrating, and preferably antibacterial. Here are a few suggestions.

Aloe vera gel or juice (aloe barbadenis) is soothing and cooling to the skin. It’s known to have rapid cell regeneration properties; good for wounds, rashes, burns, and all skin issues. Anti-bacterial, anti fungal, anti-allergy, and anti-inflamatory.

Castor oil (ricunus communis)  a humectant (promotes the retention of water) which is very good for very dry or chapped skin. Gets rid of warts and prevents scars.  Castor oil as a poultice is known to dissolve cysts and growths, enhance the thymus gland which supports the immune system. Helps with various cutaneous (skin) issues such as ring worm and itching.

Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) keeps the skin smooth without making it greasy. Rich in antioxidants and is antibacterial.

Jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis) is considered a liquid wax. It’s known as our “skin twin.” Great for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, non-oily but yet very softening to the skin. Great for those with sensitive skin. This is not a NUT OIL, and is excellent for all skin types.

Some people have oily skin, and it may seem counterintuitive to put an oil on skin that is naturally oily but, many of these oils are light and they absorb into the skin very quickly so they are very different than the oil that your skin naturally produces, and one of these, Aloe Vera, is not an oil at all.

You can check out more about them at http://www.wayoflifematters.com/carrier-oils.html

You can also learn about essential oils at http://www.bulkapothecary.com

Okay, time to use that razor. Whatever your choice is for a blade make sure it’s sharp. Don’t apply a lot of pressure. It only increases the chance of injury and irritation.

Typically after shaving many guys reach for alcohol. What’s most popular in our area is Wintergreen infused alcohol. That’s because wintergreen, (pictured below), is good at soothing skin and enhancing healing, and alcohol is an antibacterial. All of that is good.

Wintergreen berry

What’s bad is that alcohol cools the skin very quickly, and it dries it out. It causes the pores to close and as the skin tightens it contracts around those razor sharpened whiskers which may now be trapped and could be being pushed, by growth, point first into your flesh.

As you may know from reading our previous newsletters, we’re happy to tell dirty little secrets. Here’s one. Most over the counter after shave and bump products that you purchase at the local drug store are suspect when it comes to being effective. Why? Take a look at the label. Most of them contain alcohol as an ingredient because it is an effective antibacterial. It’s also an inexpensive ingredient with which to fill a bottle. It’s also widely accepted by the consumer because they’re familiar with it, and they can “feel it working” so they think it’s effective, and it is. It’s also effective at getting you to put money in the manufacturer’s pocket.

If you’d rather have a name brand product instead of using a natural oil or gel a good place to find them is to check out magazines such as Mens Fitness online and read their reviews for shaving products and moisturizers. There are some very good ones. We use some of them in our shop. It’s important that you have a formulation specifically for men because men actually have thicker skin than women and it takes more active ingredients for male skin products to be effective.

Here are a few thoughts in closing. Shaving is an art and as such it takes practice, and patience to develop technique.

Shaving time...

Shaving time…

It stands to reason that the more you learn about it and the better your information, the more intelligent the choices are that you make. Wet shaving is being rediscovered and not just by the guys. There was a story in the news recently about how facial shaving is one of the beauty secrets of even some of the women in Hollywood.

Lady shaving

Shaving is personal. It’s as personal as your face, and every bit as unique as your preferences, and tastes. It’s completely unreasonable to assume that what works for one should work for all.

If you’re not sure of what will work for you, stop by the shop. Let’s talk about what products you have been using and the way you do it. You might want to test some of the products we have during a shave to see if they work for you before you buy them.

straight razor shave

You don’t have to settle for a second rate shave, or an experience that leaves your skin in distress. You can, instead make the effort to educate yourself and make better choices in products and practices and enjoy shaving, and by all means feel free to pass your new found knowledge along.