Whether you have an lustrous head of hair that catches the wind like a child's kite, or are a little more patchy on top like a potholed roadway, hopefully you've found a barbershop that fits your styling needs. What was once simply a profession where a barber would slap on the smock and "lower one's ears," has turned into a place where men can get all their grooming needs met - ranging from a cut, to a shave, to the taming of wild eyebrows.
If there is one city that best represents the mesh point between old-school barbering techniques and the new-school institutions we call barbershops, it's undoubtedly London.
Lauded for their ability to turn a dirt bag into a gentlemen, and actually reengineer that aesthetic thanks to today's shifting grooming trends, London continues to lead the charge.
As our resident grooming guru, Alex Harris, reminds us, "Picking the right barbershop is as important as picking the right haircut. You need to find a scissorsmith who shares your values. Ideally, opt for someone who has similar hair to you, as they'll truly understand your plight if, say, you suffer from thinning hair at the temples, or unruly curls. A barber will be a good representation of the barbershop, too, so even if your guy moves town, you can fall back on one of his erstwhile colleagues as they'll be cut from similar cloth."
If you find yourself in London and in need of a cut, or call the city home and need a change of pace, look no further than these five shops.
Sharps Barber and Shop
Sharps doesn't like to use the word "grooming." They think it's too stuffy and doesn't reflect what they like to refer to as "prep" when it comes to providing a range of services for the modern man.
Those that enter the space will notice oak finishes, old-school checkerboard floors, bright tiles and Takara Belmont Apollo barber chairs which are an update of the classic 1961 model. Additionally, all beverages like coffee, tea, water, and beer are “on the house” and served by a professional troupe of baristas working on top-notch equipment.
With cuts ranging from £16.50 GBP for a buzz, to £3 GBP0 for a traditional cut, Sharps also provides beard trims for £16.50 GBP and straight-razor shaves for £35 GBP.
Boasting two additional locations in London on Islington and Covent Garden, Sharps also has a U.S. presence after entering the New York City barbering fray after opening in the lobby at the Le Parker Meridien Hotel in 2011.
Neighborhood: Covent Garden
Ruffians was founded in Edinburgh’s West End in 2012 and quickly earned acclaim for its professionalism and execution - solidified by winning Best Independent Newcomer at the British Hairdressing Business Awards, and Best New Salon and Best Designed Salon in the UK at the prestigious Creative Head industry awards.
In 2013, Ruffians opened up a location in London's Covent Garden in a space that was once an Australian supermarket. The store's attributes fit that of the original Edinburgh shop thanks to the exposed brick walls, wooden floorboards, blue Takara Belmont barber chairs and solid oak benches.
A proper consultation, shampoo and condition, scalp massage, cut, finish, and styling will run a person £50 GBP while a straight razor shave will cost the same.
Pall Mall Barbers
With three barbershops in Central London – Westminster, Trafalgar Square and Fitzrovia - Pall Mall Barber's scissorsmiths have over 300 years of collective barbering experience between them.
The decor of the shop reflects a time of yesteryear - featuring all-wood paneling and lean over sinks - and is completed with a tried-and-true barber's pole out front.
Haircuts range from £17-£45 GBP while shaving prices go from £15- £45 GBP.
As a special perk, Pall Mall Barbers also features shaving lessons for men wanting to understand the intricacies and delicate touch needed to use a straight razor.
Neville Barber mixes old-world charm with modern treatments which feature all-natural shaving, hair, body and skincare products and is part of a largest conglomerate of amenities united underneath the "Barber & Parlour" banner which is an all-day hangout (from the people behind the Soho House) in Shoreditch where attendees can eat, drink and be pampered from head-to-toe.
Aesthetically, those that step foot inside the shop will notice earthly tones, checkered floors, industrial lighting and Koken Company barber chairs which originate from St. Louis.
Haircuts vary from £20-£42.50 GBP while shaves will run a person between £12-£35 GBP.
For those wanting the most decadent package, the "luxury groom" includes shampoo, haircut with traditional wet shave or beard shape followed by Neville groom facial with manicure or shoe shine.
Tommy Guns has been a West End institution since it first opened its doors in 1994 and easily transitions between classic cuts and more intricate rituals like coloring or specialty, vintage styling.
Like other shops mentioned, it has a vintage feel which is achieved with mirrored exterior glass, tile floors and vintage barber chairs which date back to the 1920s. Additionally, it is a unisex shop which makes pampering a group activity rather than just a solo endeavor.
Men's haircuts start at £15 GBP and go as high as £47 GBP.
For more grooming concerns, check out our weekly Groom Service column.