Ask a Barber

January 23, 2020 9:23 am

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“Just a little off the top.”

If only the world of men’s grooming were still so simple. These days, questions abound, from hair loss to beard care to (gasp) pedicures, there’s an ever-expanding world to navigate, and a fella could be forgiven for needing a bit of expert help.

And thus we bring you Ask a Barber, in which our friends at Chicago’s newly opened Goodman’s Barber Lounge answer the internet’s most pressing men’s grooming queries. 

These are gents who not only know what they’re talking about, but (perhaps more importantly) are also just generally obsessed with the idea of churching up their fellow man. “Our credo is that barbering is so much more than a haircut — if done correctly it’s a type of therapy that brings happiness and emotional wellness to clients,” says founder Brian Burke. “You’re not going to find another shop where the barbers are as skilled, knowledgeable and overall passionate about their craft — what ultimately sets them apart from other barbers.”

If you find yourself in the Chi-Town area, we highly recommend stopping by for a cut/shave/chat. Until then, we’ve got Master Barber Rami Natour on the line and taking calls.

Goodman's Master Barber Rami Natour
Your expert: Goodman’s Master Barber Rami Natour

How often should men wash their hair?

Men should wash their hair every other day — washing daily can create overactive oil glands which can cause buildup and hair loss.

How often should a guy be getting a haircut?

The general rule of thumb is the longer the hair, the less maintenance needed. Typically, close fades should be touched up weekly, mid-size cuts every three weeks, gentleman cuts every four weeks.

My hair is thinning — aside from taking drugs, what can I do about it?

Thinning/balding can be caused by several issues, including overactive oil glands, stress, genetics, etc. Depending on the cause, there are a few things you can do: make sure to provide your scalp a healthy environment by using the right cleaning and styling products (such as Nioxin), never sleep with product in your hair and keep a consistent schedule with your barber to prevent dead ends from spreading all the way down to the root.

What’s a common mistake guys make when choosing a hairstyle?

We see a lot of the industry as cookie cutter, the majority of guys have had the same haircut for years because it’s easy and use some product they just picked off the shelf. And that’s what we’re trying to change — each client deserves a customized groom that fits their lifestyle to be at the top of their grooming game.

The most common mistake I see is men choosing a part that goes against their swirl or cowlick, which will cause the hair to lay incorrectly. Another common mistake is growing out the top of the head when experiencing hair loss or thinning — it looks much cleaner to keep it shorter on top and even shorter on the sides with thinning hair.

What hairstyles do you think will be big in 2020?

Combovers are huge (Ed. note: not that combover, don’t worry): part going down from cowlick pushed to the side, with the front part pushed back. A second cut that is being requested more frequently is a short messy look: short clipper cut on the sides, approx. 2 inches length on top, throw product in and mess it around.

Goodman's barber Rami Natour executing a proper combover
Rami executing the acceptable version of the combover

Any styles that should be officially canceled?

Graphics are #1 on the list of styles to go, also any extreme shock-value cuts.

What are things to keep in mind when discussing a new hairstyle with my barber? I.e., how best to manage that conversation for optimal results?

It’s very important to let your barber know that you’re trying something new and inform him of any personal specifics you tend to notice: hair popping up, not laying right, etc. Also, be aware that it’s very common for a new haircut not to feel completely comfortable immediately. You need to train your hair — if you have been combing in one direction for years and is now being combed in the opposite direction, it will take some time for the hair to be trained to lay comfortably.

What are common mistakes guys make in terms of styling their own hair once it’s cut? I.e., it looks great when the barber does it post-cut, but I have trouble re-creating it at home.

Expect your hair to look better when it’s styled by a barber, it’s what they do! The barber knows exactly how wet or dry the hair should be when applying a particular product. Barbers also know how to lay the hair according to their swirl/cowlick, while guys at home tend to revert back to combing how they’re used to. But the best way to replicate at home is to ask your barber for tips. An educated barber will give you a few pointers, e.g., where to start your part, how dry or damp your hair should be when applying product and a few other tricks.

What hair/skin products should be avoided at all costs?

Gel products that are too thick to comb through are generally bad for your hair, as they don’t allow the scalp to breathe. The thickest product you should put in your hair should be pomade (e.g., IV Gents Grooming Pomade), which holds really thick but is soft enough to comb. Also avoid anything with a lot of alcohol — always read the ingredient label! Finally, anything with PVP should be washed out before bed — it tends to clog pores, which could lead to balding/thinning.

What is a scalp treatment and why should I care about it?

A scalp treatment helps circulate blood to ensure healthy hair growth, and helps regulate dryness and oiliness of the scalp, preventing psoriasis and dandruff. Goodman’s scalp treatments start off with a hot towel on the scalp to open the pores, then a high protein cholesterol gets massaged in the head for 15 minutes, which is then followed by the application of an exfoliant scalp treatment with tea tree oil. The hair and scalp are then dried, followed by the application of an intense mud treatment that invigorates the scalp while adding body to the hair. This is then applied throughout the whole scalp. Once dried, it’s rinsed out. The hair is then blow dried leaving much softer, moisturized, luscious hair.

Goodman's Barber Lounge has partnered with Hall Madden
Goodman’s has also partnered with custom clothiers Hall Madden in the event you need a suit to go with your new ‘do

What’s the best way to prevent wrinkles?

Weekly facials! Also some simple things to do at home: wash your face with just cold water daily, then apply quality products, e.g., Jack Black Double Duty Moisturizer, Proraso Aftershave Balm and Lotion and Jack Black Grape Seed Serum.

What’s the best way to prevent razor burn/bumps?

Properly prepare your skin for your shave — hot towels, pre-shave oils, hot lather, etc. (all of which open up your pores). Also shaving with the grain will reduce chances of razor burns and bumps dramatically. The best option is to have this done by your barber. A Goodman’s shave includes the aforementioned steps and to ensure going with the grain, the barber follows 14 shave strokes, resulting in the ultimate smooth shave.

How can I prevent/manage ingrown facial hairs?

In addition to the above, applying tea tree oil helps to open the pores to reduce and treat ingrown hairs.

What’s the best way to get rid of dark circles/bags under my eyes?

Good sleep and, again, routine facials. Also, there are some easy things you can do at home that will make a drastic difference — apply a solid product toner, such as Jack Black, and cucumber slices (on the eyes) to greatly reduce bags. It’s not just a trick in the movies!

What are common mistakes guys make when growing a beard?

Bringing down the line on the cheekbone too far — keep it as naturally high as possible with a clean edge. Also, a beard requires maintenance. Shampoo/condition once a week with special beard shampoo/conditioners (the sulfate ingredient is lower in these vs. hair products) and apply beard balms or oils daily to keep it moisturized. The longer the hair is, the drier the skin underneath, so these will all help you grow a healthy beard and reduce itchiness and irritation.

What’s a common misconception about finger/toenail care for men?

That it’s only for women — most guys are too embarrassed to ask about the service or don’t even think about how beneficial it is for men.

Ok, so how often should I get a pedicure?

At least once a month — this prevents ingrown nails, foot fungus, bunions and a bunch of other unpleasant stuff. A Goodman’s pedicure includes a thorough foot and leg massage, which are great stress relievers.