Mothers take their sons to the barbershop more times than we know. Some are experts, while others are still figuring out how to get the best service. These essential tips can help you.
For mothers with young boys, or those who are not familiar with barbering services, the first time at a barbershop can be intimidating and overwhelming. Over the years, I have mothers who have to take their sons, and in some cases, daughters to the barbershop. Let me dispel the myths that it is just single mothers. It is all mothers who sometimes have to step in, in the demanding role of parenthood. However, many do not know the first thing about what to do or expect. Here are some essential suggestions in picking and navigating the barbershop.
Tip #1 – Make sure your son’s hair is thoroughly washed and free of dirt, dandruff and grease.
Dandruff is a scalp issue that some people have a hard time totally eliminating before their trip to the barber. That is not a problem. Just make sure that most of the flakes are removed in order to ensure a clean cut.
The two biggest issues with boys and teens is grime and grease. Either young men haven’t washed their hair properly, or at all. Or, they have several coats of thick pomade that make it difficult to cut.
It’s important for mothers to make sure your son washes their hair and behind their ears. Boys are active and play hard. It is important that they maintain the utmost hygiene at their visit to the shop.
Waves are manufactured by brushing hair while wet, not pomade.
With sons who have waves in their hair, the biggest mistake I see is that they don’t wash well under the thick curls because they are afraid that the waves will go away. Then when they sit in the chair they request that I cut a certain way, so that I don’t cut out their waves, thus leaving cakes of old product and dirt. Waves don’t disappear, but they will look like clumps of mess if not cleaned.
Also, I cannot count the number of times, young boys who come to the shop with thick coats of pomade many times. This is also an attempt to achieve waves. I used to do it myself as a kid. It was because I thought that was the only way to achieve waves for the babes. I discovered grease does not produce waves, but it is simply washing your hair and brushing while it is wet, and preferably as you are showering.
Tip #2 – Be clear about the type of haircut you want and talk it over in depth with your barber.
Once your hair is cut, there is no turning back. Make sure that the terminology you use is accurate so that you and the barber share the same vision.
One of the biggest ways to explain how short or long you want the hair is by familiarizing yourself with the size clipper guard. This determines how many inches it takes off the hair. When you go to a shop, you’ll hear someone say, “Take 2 off the top and 1 on the sides.” That means you want a clipper guard that keeps ⅛ of an inch on the side and one quarter of an inch on top. Which is a pretty close boys haircut.
If you are unfamiliar with terminologies and looks, go online and research the different styles. Usually mothers ask for a low Caesar cut; however, there are many options for conservative and appropriate styles for young men.
Tip #3 – Mom’s request must always be respected.
If you ask the barber to give your child a Caesar and your son requests a mohawk. If the barber grants the wishes of the kid, then that barber is not the one for you and you really don’t have to pay them. Barbers must always respect the adult and the one who is paying them money. Get your child comfortable before their first professional hair cut.
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Tip #4 – For first time hair cuts, it is beneficial to prep your child before they sit in a barber’s chair.
A couple of times before the trip, sit your child in a chair and act as if you are cutting their hair with clippers or scissors. It helps them feel comfortable with the process because a small child can feel scared and intimidated by the tools used in a barbershop.
Tip #5 – Good healthy treats go a long way.
It is also good to bring a small treat that is low in sugar to calm them and keep them occupied. I put my mother and my first barbers through hell because I was that kid who kicked and screamed. If your child does that, sooner or later, no one will want to take the risk or uncomfortable experience.
Tip #6 – Establish a plan with the barber.
There are times in the shop where the barbers, in particular the male stylists can diffuse the anxiety of the child. Just let the barber know if your child is a screamer or squirmer so that they can deal with it appropriately, and create a plan of action with you.
Tip #7 – If the barber or the shop is unprofessional or uncomfortable, leave immediately.
A barbershop is a masculine space and still much of man’s oasis. With that, there might be some points of view you might not share. But, that also goes for conversations you have heard in hair salons.
Nevertheless, moms must choose an environment that is healthy for the both of you. At the same time, if your son doesn’t like the shop, it might be good to select a barber for whom he feels safe.
Tip #8 – Flirting in front of your son can be disastrous.
If your barber finds you attractive, or you think the barber is dating material, it is a natural human occurrence to want to flirt. I am a happily married man and I advocate for great relationships. However, make sure that the both of you, if you so choose to pursue a relationship, that it remains outside of the shop and far from the ears of your child. It maintains the barber’s professionalism, and it keeps your son from being embarrassed if the relationship doesn’t last.
Tip #9 – Tipping is a customary act in getting cuts.
If your barber does a great job, show him or her some love. Every service in the industry is a customized experience. Each time, a barber adjusts to the situation and uses their expertise to provide the best service. More importantly, tipping establishes a form of respect, and ensures that the barber takes care of your child. Trust me when I say, a stingy parent gets the basics. So, if anything, tip for your kid. They deserve the best.
ABOUT THIS COLUMN: The Grooming Blueprint is a bi-weekly column dedicated to barbers, the barbershop and the clients who create the space. Written by 20-year veteran, Duane Reed, who owned a shop for seven years in Newark, New Jersey, he gives you unadulterated tips and experiences on the grooming industry, products, protocol and trends. The best way to contact Duane is through Linkedin
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