Quickfire hygiene tips from trichologist Tracey Walker
Hopefully you’ve already checked out part. 1 of my interview with former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker. If not, I’d recommend taking a look, as Tracey gives some fascinating insights into the possible infections that can be picked up at a barbershop… as well as genuinely useful information for avoiding them.
Now, though, it’s on to part two, and I wanted to ask Tracey’s opinion on some specific barbershop issues that have been on my mind.
First up: does she think it’s a good idea to use gloves instead of washing hands between cuts?
“I don’t really. There are situations where gloves should be used, but if you’re sitting down for a haircut and somebody comes along all gloved up then you might sit there and wonder what they’re going to do to you!
“Also, I think it’s important that we do touch people’s heads. If there’s the smallest bump or abrasion we may miss it – wearing gloves, you don’t always feel what’s happening.”
This could also make you too complacent about washing hands in general: not a good thing for a barber. Finally, if somebody was infected to the point that you felt you had to use gloves then you shouldn’t cut their hair at all, as you may move the infection around”.
Next up, I asked whether the dusting brush can be an area of concern.
The main issue here would be head lice. Specifically, if you draw headlice out with a comb and then leave the comb next to a dusting brush, then they may migrate to the bristles. The best thing to do is to avoid cutting the hair of anybody who has lice – and if a brush does pick up lice then just get rid of it!
What does a trichologist like Tracey think about industry regulation?
“It’s a difficult one. I think it would be important to try and regulate the industry, and even have inspections. In hair salons the chemicals that are used are so strong, and the blades, the clippers, all the electrical equipment – you have to be trained in these areas”.
Finally, then, what is Tracey’s overall advice to barbershop owners?
“First of all, hairdressers and barbers in my experience are people who care about people. They want to make them look good, give them the latest style, make them feel good. And I feel like looking after your client, you not only give them the best cut you can, but you’ve got to look after their health as well. You have to keep in mind what can happen.
“So just simple little things like remembering to wash your hands between each client – we don’t know what they have, and they may not have anything, but it’s just good practice. And to wash them properly, and to dry them as well.
“Have a couple of barbicide jars, and give your comb a good wash with some detergent – it doesn’t need to be time consuming. So just two simple things there: washing your hands, and making sure that equipment is actually put in the barbicide jar, clean, would go a long way towards making sure that you’re looking after your client in the best possible way.”
A big thank you to Tracey for providing so much useful information – I genuinely think that these tips could make or break a barber shop so definitely put it into practice! And don’t forget to come and find me as instagram, Facebook and YouTube, as that’s where you’ll find more great interviews with industry experts.
It has been a crazy five years for Nergal, (Adam Darski) front man for extreme metal band Behemoth. In addition to releasing a tenth studio album, the much-acclaimed The Satanist, in 2014, the hard-rocking performance artist, singer, and guitarist completed successful bone marrow transplant treatments for leukemia, diagnosed in 2011.
The same year The Satanist was released, Adam somehow fell in love with the barbering lifestyle and decided to invest, opening a shop he named Barberian in his native Poland. Today, Barberian shops are thriving at three locations, two in Warsaw and one in Adam’s hometown of Gdansk. Adam tells me a fourth is on its way in Warsaw later this year.
When I was in Poland recently to interview Stefan Batory, the CEO of the crazy popular online booking app BOOKSY, Stefan recommended Adam as an enthusiastic client. I definitely wanted to know more about Adam’s journey, and he was graciously agreed to a meet-up, despite prepping for a Behemoth summer tour of the US with legendary metal band Slayer.
We chatted at one of the Warsaw Barberian shops, a comfortable, eclectic setting of stressed wood and aged brick accented with gently worn, overstuffed leather furniture. Barber and non-barber related antiques add to the atmosphere, and a (very metal) collection of animal skulls and demons masks cover one wall of bare brick, adding just the right touch of animus.
Trim, wearing a black vest, black slacks and black running shoes, bare-armed Adam was relaxed and quite at home in his comfortable shop.
Larry: Adam, as a black guy from London, I don’t get much exposure to Polish rock stars and celebrities, so tell me about your lifestyle outside of barbering before we talk shop.
Adam: Well, the thing is, you’re a black guy from London, and I’m a black metal guy from Warsaw, so we have something in common (laughter).
I am originally a musician, an artist, so labels like ‘rock star’ and ‘celebrity’ are not really in my dictionary. It is OK to give people a picture of where I am coming from. But I am a stage persona and a performer, an entertainer, and this (shop) is basically my child.
The ex-owner, she had this idea to start a barbershop in Warsaw. We started investigating and immediately I fell in love with the whole culture and the way they approach life. It felt very coherent with who I am. I had some money to invest and it was like, this is exactly where I want to channel my energy.
So I came up with the name “Barberian,” which I think is a nice word play.
Larry: The definition of ‘barbarian’ is outside of any one civilization, and outside of the shop, you portray as being in your own dark world, so I think it is “on brand.”
Adam: Yeah, I think there is a nice parallel between Barberian and what I do in my daily life, though this is my daily life as well. So for me, it is all about having different skins or different masks; each one represents different qualities of your personality. Barbers are professionals taking care of men’s health or men’s aesthetic, but it is very artistic, and my spirit is released here more artistically than in a business way.
I am proud of having serious input on the way it looks. The idea came from passion and heart. It is true and you can’t fake this. It is all real, very organic.
Larry: Have you ever visited Shoreditch in London?
Adam: Yes, I went there a couple of months ago and it was amazing! At this corner there was this complex; it was a coffee place and restaurant and in the corner there is a barber shop – don’t know if you know it.
LARRY: Yes, It’s called Sptalfields! It’s got old traditional – looks like a theatre. That’s called Barber Barber.
Adam: Yes, yes, yes! And I approached these guys and one of them went, ‘Are you Nergal? What are you doing here? I’m a big fan!’
Well, I was there because I was interested in the barber shop and the way he was located and the constellation of it. Amazing! So I love this neighborhood. I actually stay at the Ace Hotel every time I go. It is my favorite place there.
Larry: Shoreditch is one of the coolest places in London, and your place has a real Shoreditch feel about it.
Adam: I agree. That is a common vibe that we share.
Larry: Tell me what a client could expect at Barberian.
Adam: There is a relaxed vibe here. There is always rock music, no random radio stuff. The music, the brands of alcohol, it is all coherent, very specified. You enter Barberian and you will be treated as a king!
Bring ladies, your wife – we are not Nazis, not like the whole barber culture you have probably experienced where no woman is allowed – but if you bring your wife, let her sit there, let her have her coffee, or whatever she needs, and let her admire her husband.
Larry: This is getting sexier by the minute!
Adam: (laughs) I remember this couple came and she did all the talking. ‘He needs this, and he needs that,’ and one of us was like, ‘No, lady, calm down! The gentleman knows what he wants. Let him talk. Stay calm, relax, and admire your husband.’
I don’t want to sound chauvinistic, but this is a men’s place, you know? I don’t like to go to a hairdresser, because I get bored. There are spheres, and worlds separated. I think it’s healthy for men to be in a men’s environment, healthy for your brain.
Larry: I noticed you have your own brand of beer.
Adam: I have had Behemoth for 25 years now. We issued five types and it’s Belgian, all craft beers. I’m a fan of the only lager we have, called Phoenix. The beers are issued by a local brewery called Perun.
Any customer gets all this for free. They can chill, have a beer or whisky or really good coffee. I am a big coffee person and this is the best coffee in town! I know it sounds like an advert but I really mean that.
Larry: I’ve spoken to Adam Beek, an important barber at Barber Connect in the UK and he said two things are important in a barber shop; good haircuts and good coffee. If you are lacking either of those then you haven’t got a barbershop.
Adam: Beautiful! Exactly!
Larry: By all accounts Barberian is fully booked. Since you are a brand supporter, I am curious of the role your online system Booksy plays in shop management.
Adam: It makes our work very smooth and much easier, simple as that. We started with the phone calls and walk-in and it was growing, but with Booksy it is very smooth. I wouldn’t go back to the years when we didn’t have that system. I think it’s amazing.
Larry: What kind of problems did you have before online booking?
Adam: It was way more work for us, writing down everything, the receptionist always on the phone. But with Booksy it all happens in the ‘other world,’ basically!
Larry: You recommend it?
Adam (looks into camera): GO FOR IT! (laughs) Seriously, I know the competition, and most of the business is walk-in; they reject systems like Booksy. I respect the old school way, but we wouldn’t do it here, because we use all the tools that are there to make life easier.
Larry: Can you actually cut hair?
Adam: No! But I have a clipper so when I‘m on the road with the band and can’t find a local shop, I need to make sure my beard is trimmed, I like it to look very clean.
Barbering is my business, but also my hobby, my love and my life. I am a huge fan of these guys, but I don’t have ambitions to become a barber. I can do it with my own clipper on me, but that’s about it!
The coolest thing about barbershops is – I visited maybe hundreds of barbershops around the world and I remember each one.
Larry: Yes! There is individual character.
Adam: Exactly! There is individuality and passion and love because barbers are also lovers of barbering; they are there for a reason.
Larry: What advice do you have for other owners who want success?
Adam: Don’t go for success at any cost. If you do what you love and it is just straight from your heart, just perfect it. Eventually success will happen and you will not even notice! You will just be happy and have great clients who appreciate your work.
Since meeting up with the charismatic Sofie Pok in April, I’ve been on high alert for chances to talk with women in barbering. So I was all over the opportunity to meet Manhattan-based Master Barber Cassie Kurtz. Her popular ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ blog is celebrating talented women barbers everywhere, and her budding philanthropy is changing the lives of the less fortunate.
Cassie works out of a shared private studio space called ‘The Master Suite’ in Uptown Manhattan near Columbus Circle. “It’s a prime location for artists who really want to be their own boss,” she tells me in my exclusive interview. “People set their own prices, set their own schedules but still have that feeling of working with a team,” she says.
In other words, it’s a great gig at one of the planet’s best locations, right? So what prompted Cassie to start up ‘Her Chair, His Hair’?
“I thought I needed to do something to better our industry, so I decided: I love to travel, I love to meet new people, I love to write, and I actually like coding,” she says with a laugh.
The result: “I created a platform for women who specialize in men’s hair; they do the beard trims, they do the shaves, and quite frankly they get a lot of pushback.”
From experience, Cassie finds the water can be a little rough for women barbers. She saw the icebergs looming on her very first job.
“Clients were walking in saying, ‘I need a haircut,’ and when the manager said, ‘Cassie is available,’ they would say, ‘Oh, no. I’d rather wait.’ Some of them looked at me like as if I didn’t belong in the same space. That really hurt, and I could only think of how many women must feel discouraged trying to pursue this.”
‘Her Chair, His Hair’ features high-quality video interviews, workplace photos and snappy write-ups about women barbers around the US and in other countries. Last time I visited the site, Cassie was featuring more than a dozen barbers and displaying some amazing cuts, beautifully photographed.
It’s also a supportive space, where barbers find much-needed encouragement and positivity.
From a woman’s perspective, does barbering need to change? “Any woman watching this video will scream out a loud, ‘Yes!’” Cassis replied.
She wants it to start with language. “A lot of women would like to be no longer called ‘female barbers.’ We are barbers, and we happen to be women. I’m not a women’s hair stylist; I’m not even licensed to do women’s color. So when I say I’m a barber, I’m a barber.”
Pricing is also a challenge for Cassie and other women, she said. “Some people think my gender affects my ability to cut hair! Now and then I get a gentleman who walks in and says, ‘Yeah, but you’re a woman. You’re not as experienced with men’s hair. How do you feel capable or qualified to charge this much?’ It just throws me off every single time.”
So which women in barbering inspire Cassie to keep going? She immediately mentions Mariela Perez (Instagram @mariela_the_barber) as a favorite, but hastens to add most of her energy comes from barbers she meets through Her Chair, His Hair.
“Mariela has to fight for everything she has,” Cassie told me “She supports her family and now owns her own house and her own car. She is a spectacular barber. I don’t think she’s given the credit she’s due; she is very talented. You know, I’m an only child taking care of my family, and it gets hard, you know. We’re human. We say, ‘I need a break.’ Then I think of Mariela, and I’m like, ’This is easy!’”
Whenever you feel overworked, I recommend you think of Cassie. Besides her successful business and busy website, she also manages to organize an annual ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ Showcase in NYC.
“I started it because you didn’t see enough women on flyers, as educators, as guest judges at showcases, so I said ‘There’s a need,’ and I want to fulfill it in my own hometown in New York City,” she said.
Finding a good cause proved a great way to rally women barbers, and the Showcase is now readying for its third year. The first year was a funder for breast cancer research, the second year supported domestic violence shelters.
Cassie: “This October we aim to helpThe Door, a safe place for gay and transgendered youth from as young as twelve. If they were kicked out, if they have nowhere to go, if they are beaten up at school and don’t feel safe, The Door is there for them.”
“They’re right down the street from where we’re going to have the (Manhattan) event,” she continued. “They now offer services to immigrant children, so they have a legal department working very hard on multiple cases a day. They also have one or two floors where these kids can learn about cooking or computers. It’s a spectacular and inspiring place.”
And does she have inspiring advice for women either in barbering or thinking of getting into barbering?
“Don’t be afraid!” she told me. “You’ve done scarier things in your life than being a barber.”
“Don’t let people get in your head,” she added. “That’s your space, where you get to cheer yourself on. You are already your biggest critic, and if you let people get in your head, you will never succeed.”
“If you see something wrong with your skills, be honest with yourself and take that class or go to that event and ask that person, ‘How do you get your fade so smooth?’ or ‘How do you get your scissor cuts so clean?’”
“Surround yourself with like-minded individuals whether they are men or women because at the end of the day (critics) are not the ones putting money in your pocket. You are going to be the reason why there is money is in your pocket! There’s no stopping if you do that.”
Obviously, there is no stopping Cassie Kurtz.
I hope you SEE and SHARE the entire interview on my YouTube @larrythebarberman. Then head over to ‘Her Chai, His Hair’ for some serious enlightenment, interesting profiles, and beautiful cuts. It’s a valuable web stop for all barbers, women AND men!
As I ramp up my how-to videos again, I want to jump on a very easy-to-fix problem that frustrates barbers who don’t know how to make this simple repair.
The problem is perceived as a ‘broken switch’ on the Andis T Outliner that is loose, or when flipped to the ‘on’ position, automatically flips back and won’t stay on.
This is almost always fixed by tightening a single screw on the inside of the machine’s housing. That’s what we’ll talk about today.
(To see the demonstration of how to do this on video, head over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman)
You will need two simple tools: a small Phillips screwdriver and a torque screwdriver with a #10 head, which is a simple star-shaped screwdriver head you’ve doubtless seen many times, even if you don’t know its name.
I always advise that you WORK WITH A CORRUGATED MAP OR TOWEL so you have a non-slip place for screws or any other small parts so you don’t lose them.
First, UNPLUG the trimmer! This basic safety step is surprisingly easy to forget.
The UK T Outliner has four screws on the back of the case; the American version has two – one on top and one on the bottom.
Remove the screws and gently fold over the back of the housing. I say ‘gently’ because the wires inside are extremely delicate. Next, lift the main power supply from the base inside of the clipper, and lift out the hooking ring.
Now, turn your attention to the mainly hollow back of the housing, the part you just removed. Bracketed against the bottom with one screw is the switching mechanism giving you all the trouble! Remove that screw and lift off the bracket, then gently ease the switch itself out of the back of the case.
You will see one screw remains in the trimmer housing, and that is the one we are after. You can easily see that the screw is attached to the lever on the outside of the casing. In all probability, this screw is loose, which is causing the flipping, looseness or inability of the lever to hold its position.
Now, just tighten that screw with the torque screwdriver with the #10 head, turning clockwise. Turn over the case and test the lever. You will see it now has a tight feel and will hold its position. See? You did it!
Now, let’s close up shop.
First, we need to put the switch back into the housing. It is REALLY IMPORTANT that you focus carefully and take a few moments to get this right!
On the inside of the housing, above the screw you just tightened, you will see two L-shaped plastic ridges which face each other, and between them two plastic pins. The switch needs to go into the enclosure outlined by the L-shaped ridges, atop the pins, nice and snug.
Next, the bracket. You will notice cutouts on the left and right side of the bracket. They align with the brown and red wires respectively, so place the red wire in place through the left cutout, and hold it with your thumb while you place the right bracket cutout over the brown wire. You have to be a bit dexterous, but when it is aligned correctly, the bracket will click nicely into place.
Now you need to pin the bracket back down, using one screw through the center hole.
As a final test, flip it over and make sure the lever is nice and tight and is making the correct clicking noise. IMPORTANT: If that switch is NOT locked in the housing correctly, the lever will move to the left and right without a sound, and will NOT turn the trimmer on and off!
With the brown and red wires locked in, and the lever behaving appropriately, reach for the hooking ring. This is the first piece going into the other side, or guts, of the casing – where the armature and motor are. Ensuring it is facing downwards, place the ring correctly into notch at the base. Then place the rubber molding that surrounds the main outlet wire snugly into the notch.
You are now ready to put the casing together again. The trick here is to make sure the wires are NOT OVER THE MOTOR before you close, so use your screwdriver to gently tuck the red wire down the side of the armature where the brown wire is, making sure the brown wire is not over the hook.
When everything is neatly packaged, you are ready to fit the two bits of casing together again. Simply line up the grooves where they fit. WATCH OUT! Sometimes the wires will pop out. Gently use the screwdriver to pop them back in. Now, hold the back down with fingers and thumb and turn it over gently.
You can now put in all your screws. Start with one corner and tighten, then move to a diagonal corner to tighten another. That gives you the freedom to release the tension of your finger and thumb holding it down.
And there you go! You’ll hear that lever merrily clicking and now actually holding its position. Plug it in, turn it on, and you are back to having a great time being a great barber!
I’ve got many more of these useful videos on the way, so please subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel to see them all PLUS my amazing and inspiring interviews with successful and famous barbers all over the UK and the world.
How to use hair clippers – some barbers wield them like they are fanciful weapons, making it look deceptively simple. The fact of it is, most industry professionals will tell you that how to use hair clippers properly is to experiment with each and to find what works best for you. Ultimately, this is the best advice. However, for those who are getting started out, this can also be advice that can waste time or prove detrimental.
Fortunately, when it comes to how to use hair clippers, there is a simple and effective resource available right here. Experts in the clipper and barbering industry have come together to offer a powerful foundation for beginners and professionals alike. Each lesson in these educational DVDs shows step-by-step how to achieve fantastic cuts, styles and how to best use the equipment of choice; it is a resource that ever barber needs.
There are plenty of ways to style hair but, as any professional should wonder, is there a way out there to learn how to style hair the right way? Many industry leaders will tell curious students or those continuing their education that how to style hair the right way is between their own, unique brand and what their clients are looking for – no matter what, the style is reflected in the skill and the brand of the barber. But what if you haven’t gotten down the skills to reach that level of style you feel should represent your brand?
The easy answer is: look no further! A DVD series and books are now available via my shop that offer lessons for anyone asking how to style hair. These easy-to-follow lessons build a foundation for those looking to up their skills or are just getting started and then walk you through each cut, style and technique and guarantee that, with a bit of practice, you will be cutting and styling the right way in no time.
Styling is already a staple of barbering, but men’s hair styling is something that many are finding is becoming more and more complex. For mens hair styling tips that are able to keep up with the more complicated demands from the fashion industry, the advice you need should come from those on the forefront of both fashion and barbering.
That is why I am glad to announce that I have been given a chance to host an educational series of DVDs and books that offer more than just mens hair styling tips – they offer an entire refresher course and up the ante on a platform to work from as well as the skills you can learn in the comfort of your own home.
Hair advice can swing wildly in how it is presented and how useful it actually is – professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts are all happy to give their own viewpoints when it comes to tips on hair cutting, styling and general hair advice. Any education is worthwhile – however, those in the industry are more likely to want their advice and education coming from real professionals versus someone guessing.
If you want the best in hair advice, there’s absolutely no better source than here!
The educational resources that I have been given the fantastic opportunity to host a series of educational DVDs that offer more than just basic hair advice that many of you are used to – they offer the education that barbers, hairdressers and stylists all can utilize, no matter their level of expertise.
There are a lot of hair clippers out on the market and plenty of debate on how best to use hair clippers. For those who are getting started or professionals looking to expand their arsenal of clippers, understanding how best to work with each one is vital to success. Each clipper comes with their own benefits and downsides, whether it be efficiency, power, durability or speed, it is best to know which tools are right for you.
So, if you are one of the many wondering how best to use hair clippers – stop worrying! I am proud to be host to an educational series of DVDs and books from two large industry names. Not only will they shed light on hair cutting, styling and an excellent platforms to operate from, but there will be little mystery left when it comes to how best to use hair clippers – the professionals thought ahead!
In order to get good at ones’ craft, it is an understated fact that the proper techniques have to be learned and practiced. Hair cutting techniques are especially important for those in the industry, as the ever present changes make the basics even more valuable. For those among us that need to brush up on our skills or are looking to get hair cutting techniques down pat, there is a solid example of them, done right, right here.
The educational materials I have the pleasure to host offer a range of DVDs and books that make the basics of hair cutting techniques, styling and even social media for barbers especially easy to learn. Each lesson has been crafted with the learner in mind, poised for any question that they might have pre-emptively. If you’re looking for a solid framework or a catch-up on the basics, you need look no further!