A cut above. Why a good barber matters

When it comes to the current hair trends hitting the male gay scene, the short back and sides is a clear ruler, which is partly attributed to those devilishly handsome Peaky Blinders making it so fashionable, and partly the fact that it just looks so sexy! Even for those who are challenged in the follicle department, sporting the Grant Mitchell look can be effective, keeping it shaved and using a skilled barber.

Moving away from the top of the head, a stylish beard has taken centre stage for many gay and straight men alike. An increasing number of the old-fashioned barbers that we all dreaded as kids are popping back up in a new, more enticing format. Male grooming is becoming a more regular part of life, with many men now having their locks and beards tended once a week to keep the crisp look. Going to the barbers has become as frequent an activity as going to a bar!

Yours truly with the excellent Mike

After several decades of first-hand experience tending hair in the high-end salons, I honestly believe it is worth splashing out on if you have difficult hair, need a restyle or a change of colour. A man’s short back and sides cut, however, can be quite high maintenance and need regular tending. So unless you like going for the cappuccino and head massage, or have money to burn, there are cheaper alternatives available to keep you looking on point costing you the same as a few pints on a night out.

I have personally tried all the top salons, from Sassoon to Toni and Guy, and have never really left the salon feeling happy. After spotting an amazing looking haircut on a handsome fella at the gym, I asked where he had it cut; “Mike the Barbers” he replied. It had never, ever occurred to me to trust my blonde locks to a barber. To be truthful, the horror of recalling my childhood barber experience (I wanted T-rex or Bowie; they saw to it that I looked like I was ready for military service) meant I stayed outside looking in for a while before plucking up the courage to step in.

Mike Deeds, the owner of the barber shop, is a bit of a legend, with most of Earl’s Court gay society being firmly devoted to him, and this devotion is not just because he is muscular and a carbon copy from a Tom of Finland calendar. It is also because he is laid back and  has a charming  personality; he is easy to talk to. Nervously, I explained my worries and the look that I wanted to achieve. There was definitely no pampering at Mike’s, but you could bring your own coffee and he would wash your hair if your required it. Once finished though, it was absolutely the best hair cut I had in years and was a bargain at £12.

Judging by the queue of handsome young men lining up to see him, all of whom seemed to be regulars, you could not be in better hands. Mike told me that the new, short-sharp haircuts are popular, however they need regular shaving to maintain the neat look.

Alan Davis, a 47-year old addiction worker, is a regular in Mike’s barber shop. He told me he gets his hair cut once a week, having a line shaved into the parting; a look that has become popular. Alan said: “It’s only 12 quid a week and I gave up smoking so I feel I am worth it.” He adds that if you look good you feel good it’s just an extension of going to the gym.

Even bald men come to Mike’s regularly for a head shave to give them a clean shiny look.

George Clooney. Why not?

It is also impossible to overlook the increasing presence of the beard. The “daddy beard” has become a huge fashion trend among the male community, giving rise to an increasing number of male beard-grooming products. Clubs such as XXL have seen a huge increase in the macho beard look. The UK gay scene closely mirrors the scene in America, with both cultures embracing the older male. Celebrities have also embraced facial hair, including the heart throbs George Clooney, David Beckham and Michael Fassbender.

What does it take to grow a beard? Mike shares his tips:

1. It is not as simple as ‘let it grow’ – you need to decide on what style and look you want your beard to take.

2. Regular visits to the barber to trim it into shape are essential. Once a week is good.

3. A good protein diet helps your hair grow.

4. Keep your beard and skin moisturised and use a little beard oil.

5. Comb through the beard regularly so all the hair       settles in one direction.

I, like many, am planning to grow my beard for November to raise funds for men living with prostrate and testicular cancer. I can say with confidence that I will be taking my efforts to Mike.

As a former hairdresser, I know it is important to recognise when your hair needs exceed the scope of a barber. If you have your hair coloured, highlighted or bleached, it is better to choose high-end salons like Sassoon, Josh Wood or Toni and Guy in London. But for me, I will definitely be staying with Mike! It is quick, easy, and he gives me a really sharp look.

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