The Value Of A Haircut

By Steve Watson
June 3, 2021

The barbershop is so much more than a place to get your hair cut. It's a place to relax, to decompress, to unload the cares of life and sort your head out as well as your hair.

Across the top of our website are the words, “More Than a Haircut”. Why? Because it’s an ethos we’ve pursued and fostered since first opening in 2018. Too many purveyors of haircuts aim solely at getting the maximum number of customers through the chair as possible and with the flashing of clippers and a flurry of scissors you might be lucky to be in the shop 10 minutes.

The results speak for themselves in both the haircut and in feeling treated like one of a field of sheep lined up for a seasonal shearing. There is a place for such places because some men want to be in and out and/or have little interest in the barbershop experience. Of course, the primary purpose of stepping into a barber’s is to get a haircut, but we want it to be more than that. Many men want their barber to take the time to achieve the style they want and also engage in the dynamics and banter of a lively environment.

My own experience of going to the barber’s always left me feeling disappointed. Sitting about waiting for the impersonal command of, “Next”, as the barber shook out the previous customer's hair clippings from the gown, always made me feel just! Castrated conversation rarely, if ever, ventured beyond, “Are you going out tonight?" and I would leave, ashamedly sloping out of the shop without so much of an exchange of goodbye.

With this experience behind me I opened my shop determined to offer much more. A haircut with us will be anything from 40 minutes, depending on the cut. Those booking in for a skin fade coupled with a beard treatment can expect to be in the chair for up to 2 hours. It’s a long time, during which banal, off-the-shelf conversation simply won’t cut it, if you’ll excuse the pun. No, the experience has to be much more.

The Value Of A Haircut

By value I'm referring to what we get out of it rather than what we get for our money. There's value in going for a walk, meeting up with friends, exercising etc, and there's value in getting a haircut - it lifts our spirits and make us feel better.

The importance of engaging with others is something many of us have become aware of over the last year or so. Cooped up inside our homes, away from friends, family and colleagues begins the slow and steady decay of our mental state. We can easily lose the lust for life and atrophy in our solitary state with a dwindling inclination towards socialising. Even as restrictions are lifted, many continue to work from home and lose out on the person-to-person interactions of everyday life.

A haircut can change that by getting you out of the monotonous routine of the same four walls, engaging in conversation with someone different and looking sharper and smarter at the end of it. We can easily find ourselves separating mind from body, somehow slipping into the notion that they are two distinct elements of our being. They're not and one can't exist without the other, rather, they are intrinsically and inseparably linked. Letting go of the physical self affects the mind, and when the mind is dulled we lose the initiative to take care of ourselves. A loop is created where one impacts the other until someone one or something lifts us out of it. A haircut can break into that loop and be the start of an upward state of mind.

There's something holistic about spending half-an-hour or so in the barber chair. It's not easy to articulate what goes on during that short spell of time but something much more occurs than simply walking out with shorter hair than when walking in. The effects of sitting whilst someone cuts your hair or shapes up your beard penetrate to the very soul.  

It's Personal

Your time in the chair is uniquely personal. You might engage in a wider conversation with others in the shop but I can think of very few experiences in life, except when buying a tailored suit or receiving cosmetic surgery, when the thing you have asked for is unique to you.

It Requires Trust

When we take our place in that small private zone of the barber chair we are committing our appearance to the barber. Few of us would willingly allow family or friends to wield clippers, scissors or razors and cut away, yet we place our trust in our barber. Trust is the DNA of relationships and a unique bond is often forged in the fires of a haircut between a customer and their barber.

It's An Opportunity To Talk

Having built trust in regard to your appearance, trust in conversation generally follows. The privacy of the chair and the close contact nature of the service elicits conversation about work, interests, politics, aspirations and life in general. Ideas are shared, business deals are done, knowledge is built...and we feel human again...we feel better. It's not just our hair or beard we place in the trust of our barber, we place our very being there too.

It's A Time To Relax

Occasionally, a customer will arrive on a tight schedule. He's taken the opportunity to get his haircut during lunch time and has to then battle through the traffic to get back to work. Such customers are unlikely to fully relax, but most have time on their side and do take the opportunity to relax. There's little choice in the matter, really. There's hardly the option to walk out mid cut so the mind commits and settles into the time allotted. Once resigned to the chair and the experience of the cut commences the thoughts that once dominated the mind are replaced with new ones. The buzz of the clippers and shearing sound of scissors combined with the tactual nature of a haircut have a magical and soporific quality that induce relaxation.

In summary, getting a haircut is therapy, so if you're wallowing in a slough of despond book in for a haircut.

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Steve Watson
Author and founder of Watson's barber's
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