The experts’ guide to great hair

In the sartorial arsenal, a good mane is almost as important as the impeccably cut suit or the Goodyear welted shoe. Maintaining a stylish lid, though, is easier said than done. There’s the chopping, the coiffing and the quiffing: not to mention myriads of haircare tips out there to bear in mind, some better than others. In an effort to untangle the straggly secrets of red carpet hair, we enlisted the counsel of some of the barbering world’s most gifted.

Mike Taylor, founder of the British Barbers’ Association

A proverbial godfather in the British barbering scene, Taylor runs 8 barbershops in the south east, was the first person in the UK to be awarded master craftsman status by the Hair Council, is an ambassador for Bluebeards Revenge and also runs his own academy, Mike Taylor Education. He’s a man with quite some knowhow on what’s what when it comes to your coif.

“Remember, less is more when it comes to styling your hair. Use a small amount of product and add as necessary, applying to hair while still damp. Putting it onto dry hair can make your hair go flat. Set your style in place with a hairdryer on a low heat.

“If you’re thinning on top or have a receding hairline, then opt for a short cut, as this will make it less obvious and ensure that it doesn’t age you. Growing it longer in an attempt to cover a bald patch will only make you look older.”

Richard Marshall, owner of Pall Mall Barbers 

Pall Mall barbers - gentleman's Journal

(Photo: Pall Mall Barbers)

Pall Mall has been keeping the gentlemen of London kempt for 120 years, first taking to task with a pair of scissors in 1896. Mixing some good old school sensibilities with a modern, razor sharp service, Pall Mall now operates four stores across London. Owner Richard Marshall’s top tips for inimitable hair include:

“Finding the right barber is probably the most important step to ensuring you have a great haircut, and making a connection with your barber of choice is essential. Having a great rapport means you can talk about anything, and are happy to put your trust in them and their expert it advice. Regularly visiting a barber for a scissor cuts each month is highly recommended and for short fades to keep sharpe you will need to book in every few weeks.

“Tip your barber well and they remember your name, face and hair for next time. Not only does this motivate them to keep you as a client, it also helps to build that extra special something.

“Use the best products you can get your hands on. Don’t scrimp on a great shampoo and conditioner. And remember that these two products have very different roles, a two-in-one is never a good idea. If you have a style that requires some work to style and shape – then ask your barber for advice on the right styling products, and how to use them. Don’t be afraid to ask. This will guarantee a professional finish to your hair every day.”

Sadik Khalifa, Britain’s best wet shaving barber

Recently anointed as the best in Britain when it comes to the wet shave, Sadik Khalifa, owner of Style Hair Arts in Nuneaton, spent five months in gruelling competition to take the title. Sadik, who’s originally from the poverty stricken village of Bhadeli in Gujarat, India, beat seven other regional winners from across the UK in order to claim his place in the grand final, where he then fended off the best in business to prove a cut above. When it comes to the hair on your head, he suggests:

“After washing your hair, pat it dry with a towel rather than rubbing it rigorously with a towel. Over-zealous drying can lead to breakage, leaving hair looking sparse and unhealthy.

“Avoid over-washing your hair, especially if it’s dry and coarse. This will just dehydrate it further, so you’re better off reducing frequency and adding in a conditioner a couple of times a week.

“Keep your hairdryer on a cool setting to avoid heat damage – or even better, let it dry naturally. The hot setting will frazzle hair, leaving it frizzy and unmanageable.”

textured quiff hairstyle - Hair by Braid Barbers. Photography by Robert Braid via Bluebeards Revenge - gentlemans journal

(Hair by Braid Barbers – Photography by Robert Braid)

Adam Brady, grooming expert at Ruffians

Ruffians REWM - Joe Josland Photography - Gentlemans Journal

(Photo: Joe Josland Photography)

Edinburgh based Ruffians migrated south to the English capital in 2013 with their Covent Garden shop before opening a second London spot in Marylebone at the start of this year. As well as offering one of the best chops, washes and shaves in the city, the Marylebone store is also exhibiting a range of illustrations from the supremely talented Robin Mackney over the summer, not that you needed convincing to pop in. The company’s resident grooming aficionado Adam Brady, lends this advice for improving your ‘do:

“Heat is the best way to create shape in hair. Invest in a blowdryer if you’re looking to achieve more complicated styles, like quiffs or pompadours.”

“Choose your product carefully. Different hair products work for different hair types and lengths to achieve different finishes. Speak to your barber about what will suit your hair best to avoid styling disasters, like clumpy residue, an oily finish, flaking etc. Considering mixing your products too. Sometimes, using two products at the same time may achieve a nicer more effective finish. Experiment!

“The Style. Choose the right style for your face shape. For longer faces, it’s best not to go too short on the sides, or to sweep back the hair; this will further elongate your face. For rounder/square faces, get a short back and sides with texture and more weight on top, so give yourself some sharper angles. There are plenty of examples of how to figure out the best style for your face.”

Stacey McCabe, Scotland’s Best Barber

Like Sadik, Stacey, who runs Jentz Male Grooming, has recently been crowned the best barber north of the border. The competition, sponsored and organised by premium men’s grooming brand The Bluebeards Revenge and the British Barbers’ Association, required Stacey to contend against four rivals live on stage after coming through a public online vote to take the accolade. So what does the country’s best scissorsmith recommend for getting the most out of your mane?

“To maintain healthy hair, it’s important to visit your barber for a cut every 4- 6 weeks – regardless of whether or not you’re trying to grow it longer.

“To ensure that you get the style you want, discuss it with your barber beforehand. If you don’t feel confident explaining what you’d like, then take along a photo for reference. One stored on your phone is fine.

“Check with your stylist that the look you want is actually achievable, and that it will complement your face shape and bone structure. If not, they should be happy to suggest an alternative.

“Invest in a good-quality hairdryer with a nozzle, as well as a vented brush and some decent hair-styling products. I like The Bluebeards Revenge’s Matt Paste and Pomade.”

Side part pomp - Hair by Braid Barbers. Photography by Robert Braid via Bluebeards Revenge - gentlemans journal.jpg

(Hair by Braid Barbers / Photography by Robert Braid)

(Main photo: Joe Josland Photography // Featured photo: Hair by Braid Barbers – Photography by Robert Braid)

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