How Do You Choose a Barber?

Choosing a barber is serious business. Yes, you must select someone who can make you look presentable. But you also have to trust them enough to let them hold a razor to your throat. There are few professions that require that level of intimacy and trust. Only dentists or doctors get this much access to your personal space.

There are a lot of barbers and hairdressers in Helsinki. (I think there are half a dozen in our block alone; who knows how they all manage to turn a profit.) A number of them cater primarily to men and many look fairly similar: the decor of a men’s barber shop typically has something retro or vintage about it, some rock’n’roll items and a cheeky attitude. When you have seen a few, you start to recognize the modern copy-paste capitalist mechanics behind the aesthetic.

I do not want to sound cynical, because I like the fact that we have these shops around Helsinki. Some have a genuine and thought-out aesthetic that really works. Your choice should primarily come down to what the people in the shop are like and whether or not you feel comfortable in their company. My rule of thumb is that your barber should be friendly, but not too friendly. They should listen to your wishes, but also let you know if they think your idea is no good. In other words, you should look for someone with the necessary skills and enough of an edge to tell you when they really, truly know better.

Come to think of it, choosing the right barber is probably more important than choosing your dentist. You will probably (and hopefully) see your barber much more often than your dentist, after all. So take your time and choose wisely.

I go to Dick Johnson, because I learned most of the above from them.

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