Wild and wacky places to get a shave around the world

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If you’re going to vanquish all that hard-earned growth, at least make it a bit special. Instead of saying goodbye to your moustache in your dank single-lightbulb bedsit while your neighbours scream-argue through the walls, let us inspire you with a few unexpected shaving suggestions from around the world.

Southampton Airport photo Southampton Airport supported Movember with the world’s biggest mo on the ground - 250m wide! (Image credit: UAViate)
Southampton Airport photo Southampton Airport supported Movember with the world’s biggest mo on the ground – 250m wide! (Image credit: UAViate)

Turkey

Possibly the most famous country when it comes to barbering, Turkey’s techniques are copied around the globe. First off, the Turkish shave needs to be done with one of those worringly-named cut-throat razors.

If that wasn’t perilous enough, then your face gets flecked with a small flame which catches all those tiny hairs the razor couldn’t quite catch.

Thankfully, there’s a whole-head massage at the end, the barber’s way of saying that despite all those instruments of torture, he loves you really.

When in Turkey itself, the most famous spot for getting a shave may well be the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, while elsewhere in the city one local barber will give you the works in exchange for your recycling.

Our recommendation is to head southeast to the middle of Turkey where the glorious views of Cappadocia really cement that fresh-face feeling.

Vietnam

Vietnam has a long tradition of street barbering. Ever since French colonists brought in the fashion of keeping hair short in the late 19th century, the Vietnamese have had a keen coiffuring tradition.

Due to the hot climate, a lot of everyday Vietnamese life happens on the streets – while there are plenty of indoor salons, many people enjoy getting a shave or haircut on the side of the road while the wind breezes past along with a hundred scooters.

England

London, a city that’s a veritable sea of beards, offers plenty of options when it comes to barbershops, including a salon by Stuart Phillips, the barber who regular gives haircuts to the Sultan of Brunei. We’re not advocating spending thousands, but if you’re looking to get rid of your Movember fluff with a little decadence, you might want to saunter down to Trumper’s, where the mahogany everywhere will make you feel all Phileas Fogg and you can even join their shaving school. Another posh option for your monocled eye is The Refinery, a place that guarantees sophistication will remain wafting around your chin long after you’ve left the premises.

Individual booths at Trumper's, so you don't have to mix with the riff raff. Photo: Herry Lawford
Individual booths at Trumper’s, so you don’t have to mix with the riff raff. Photo: Herry Lawford

Of course, that’s all fine and dandy, but the most famous hair chopper associated with London is Sweeney Todd, the mythical “Demon Barber of Fleet Street” who supposedly had his barbershop / abattoir / pie-ingredient production room next to St Dunstan’s in the early 19th century. If you go to Fleet Street for a shave these days, it may not be quite as dangerous, but do expect to pay terrifying prices.

If the Sweeney Todd story is true, all the goriness happened here... "Hen and Chickens Court" off Fleet Street. Photo: Pip R. Lagenta
If the Sweeney Todd story is true, all the goriness happened here… “Hen and Chickens Court” off Fleet Street. Photo: Pip R. Lagenta

Getting away from all the decadence and horror of London, up in Merseyside you’ll find Gallaghers, a pub in Birkenhead that’s actually a barber’s. A couple bought the run-down pub in 2010 as a location to start their barbershop and cunningly combined the two businesses to make it an award-winning community hub. Nobody seems to mind the queues for the barber chair when they can just prop up at the bar while they wait.

Los Angeles

The Psychic Barber exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum ended just shy of the end of Movember, but we simply had to tell you about it.

As the name implies, the show features barbers who use their apparently psychic gifts to sort your head out and then give you a barnet appropriate to their insights.

We’re not entirely sure what that means – perhaps if they say you’ll fall in love with a tall dark stranger, they give you an adorable black beehive on your noggin.

Either way, the cuts are done in the middle of a gallery in front of other visitors, so our psychic reading is that you’re probably a bit of an exhibitionist if you end up in their barber chair.

New Zealand

While you’re getting a shave, half of you are probably going to get a trim too out of sheer laziness. You’re in the barber chair already, so why not? But the short back and sides takes a backseat at My Fathers Barber in Christchurch where the barber Matt Brown spends most of his day carving peoples likenesses into the people’s locks. His huge cult following has led Matt to tour the USA teaching his skills.

New York

With about nine million male residents, there are a lot of chins that need trimming in NYC. But life is fast in the city that never sleeps, so there’s a bit of a boom in barbershops that double as hotspots to be seen at. The John Allan’s network of salons offer the full hair works along with pool tables and beers. If you buy an annual membership, they will even let you keep your own booze in their mini-bar. If you want a full bar with an actual bartender mixing cocktails, head to Martial Vivot and get a shave alongside the celebs that frequent this ultra-sleek barbershop. (These places never get too out of hand though – one barbershop in Florida actually got shut down for also being a strip club.)

South Africa

The oldest barbershop in Cape Town opened over a hundred years ago and is still run by the same family. In the fast evolving area of Woodstock, you can get a glimpse of the genuinely retro where Alfreda’s Hairdressers will cut your hair and shave you without the use of any electric razors, all in the midst of a decor that harks back to a hundred years ago.

They claim they can do any style, so you can get a new-school do while in old-school surroundings. You may even catch a film crew there – the authenticity is popular with movie and TV location managers.

  On the completely other side of the spectrum, the Metroman barbershop just north of Johannesburg is home to a bitcoin ATM machine – you can even follow it on Twitter. Cryptocurrencies aren’t the first thing most people associate with male grooming, but hey, this is the 21st century and it’s here to confuse us.

Township barbers can be found all over South Africa, where the cutting of hair and stubble can bring communities together. Photo: David Rosen
Township barbers can be found all over South Africa, where the cutting of hair and stubble can bring communities together. Photo: David Rosen

Australia

Australia is enthusiastic when it comes to barber culture. There are plenty of swish and retro barbershops cutting the hairy mustard from Darwin to Melbourne – we especially like the Man Cave Barbershop just south of Sydney, mainly because of the brutally honest name.

The World’s Greatest Shave takes place in March every year in support of fighting leukaemia. We wonder if it could take off around the world in the same way?

And finally…

China, Sichuan Province

Some people shave bodily parts other than the face. Pretty much anywhere there’s hair, it’s fair game for the chop. But in the Sichuan province of China, hairy skin takes a backseat to the local service of eyeball scraping. Taking the same razor used for shaving chins, some speciality barbers will apply it to your eyeball for a few extra yuan. Apparently, that terrifyingly clean feeling is totally worth the years of nightmares and therapy.

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(Feature image: William)

Wild and wacky places to get a shave around the world was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Adam Zulawski