Ignore the naysayers’ cries of “peak beard”. Not since the 1970s has facial hair experienced such, well, prominence. Patrick Bateman’s morning regime has given way to a less psychopathic approach in the bathroom and even in the rarefied world of finance, beards are a buy. That is, so long as they’re the kind of well-groomed facial hair that marks you out as a man of equal care. Not hints at a downtime spent felling trees.
While a beard trimmer and a steady hand will get you so far, for a follicular advantage you need to enlist the experts. Fortunately, as men’s faces have sprouted, so have those doyens of the straight edge, the traditional barber.
Unless your morning shave is served with a glass of whisky (and we sincerely hope it’s not), these should be your new favourite spots to treat your beard, and yourself.
Barber Barber, Manchester
Owner Johnny Shanahan isn’t shy about standing his ground, having unapologetically banned women from any of his premises. It doesn’t seem to have hurt business, though. That’s probably because Barber Barber is a purveyor of the kind of hyper-traditional gents styling that the fairer sex have little need for, with salons in Manchester and Liverpool offering beard-sculpting and cut-throat shaves.
Expect glossy dark wood floors, tattoo prints on the wall, old-school red leather barber’s chairs and service from barbers who look like they belong in a rockabilly band.
Address: 3 Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BH
Price: £25 (for a traditional cut-throat shave, with hot towels)
Best for: basking in your beardsome masculinity
Despite just three short years on the scene, Ruffians’ mantelpiece is already groaning with best barbers awards. That’s thanks to a combination of old-school style – their Edinburgh and London salons boast sumptuous leather chairs and enamel front wash sinks, finished with natural wood panelling and subway tiling – and modern service.
Expect to sit down over coffee (or a slug of single malt) with your stylist to discuss your needs, and ensure you leave with a pocketful of their superb products, which are all-natural and never tested on animals.
Address: 23 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4QS
Best for: bespoke styling from beautiful people
Jack The Clipper, London
If you can get over the ‘East End geezer’ branding – any idea what “Lemon squash and a Sandy Lyle” is rhyming slang for? – then Jack the Clipper will serve your beard well.
Despite the London vibe, the shaves hail from further afield; the brand was founded by a family of Turkish master barbers, who maintain the apprenticeship scheme that long died out on these shores. Which translates as modern cuts and styles with traditional flourishes, like a lick of flame post-shave to singe off your errant ear hairs.
Address: 4 Toynbee St, London, E1 7NE
Best for: Bidding temporary adieu to your facial hair
Sheffield’s Savills offer an admirably comprehensive grooming experience. Not only is their salon authentic – all subway tiles, hardwood floors and traditional barber’s chairs – but the service continues below your beard line as well.
The barbers has teamed up with Savile Row tailor John Lancaster to offer a bespoke suiting service from within the salon, with two- and three-pieces cut in an homage to former heavyweight champion ‘Gentleman Jim’ Corbett. It’s like getting a tidy-up in a very well-dressed time machine.
Address: 114-118 Devonshire St, Sheffield S3 7SF
Best for: Embracing your inner bootlegger
Bar the shave menu, retro doesn’t get much look-in at Barberology. Veering away from the vintage-inspired salons, this grooming haven instead leans toward the clean-cheeked urbanite, rather than returning woodsman.
That’s not to say there’s no traditional elements here: cut-throat shaves are still on the menu, as well as a popular Turkish shave and facial hair-shaping. Make sure to check out their own products and, of course, indulge in a glass of complimentary rum.
Address: 1 Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham B18 6JE
Best for: getting yourself in black tie condition