Barber Colleges
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        So where's the shop with the red and white pole? Everyone blames the decline in clip joints on the Beatles and long hair. Maybe so, but everywhere I look now I see short hair. But somehow during the North- South game Megacuts scored a touchdown and stomped the Barber College into the ground. Our team got spanked, and the once proud Barber College had to close her doors. Everywhere the same thing happened as big, swanky salons lured young, hairy guys away from the tried and true red white and blue of the barber pole.

      In some states, the Megacuts lobby, with its legion of city slicker lawyers, managed to combine barbering and cosmetology, so now innocent guys who just wanted to be barbers also had to do nails. Basic barbering took a back seat to mastering salon skills, and in many places, that bastion of the barber shop, the shave, went the way of the buffalo. A sad story to bring a tear to the eyes of well- groomed guys everywhere. Or foment in their breasts a revolution.

       We do not support home barbering for the usual reason: to save money. If there's a red and white pole near you, home in on it. Cut the cable, give up video games, eat at home but support the barber shop. No mom, don't spruce up junior in the kitchen - he needs the camaraderie of the great, good place -- the barber shop. 




For more barber shop history, see the Reading Room
The Vanishing American
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        But there's no shop like that around here, you say. Well, that's the time to go to "Supplies" and get a Wahl clipper. And that Mach III would be good for touch ups. If you do patronize a shop, hone up your home skills between visits. At least get down the oil change. Who to practice on? Maybe your neighbor's ready to do the time warp,  lose his locks and take a turn in the chair. Short hair isn't for everyone, but Grunge music is dead, and many guys are ready to trade in the mop- top for a different idea of Nirvana.

       Post- war grooming differed from the "dry look" of the 'sixties, introduced for the mop- top and longer mod styles. The "helmet hair" of the 'seventies, rigid as fiberglass, was occasioned by the advent of the hot comb and blow dryer. In retrospect, this latter look could only have come about because the fashion police were off duty. The general idea seemed to be, if  fiberglass is good for my Corvette, think what it will do for men's grooming.

      Re-enter the Wet Look and just in time. With wet grooming, the shampoo is basically an oil change. The formula is: Slick, Soap, Slick. For post-war G.I.s, this meant daily slicking with a weekly barber shop shampoo, but it works just as well for the modern man, who may shower three times a day: morning, gym, and before turning in. The Vitalis bottle reads: "Apply Vitalis liquid to dry hair any time of the day... Use a little extra after shampooing." Brylcreem advises, "Use Brylcreem after shampooing to put back the life and shine shampooing takes out." It's a no-brainer.

       The directions for Sandal's SDR Shampoo read, "Apply shampoo before wetting hair. Massage until shampoo has been worked into hair and scalp. Apply water and work into a rich, foamy lather." The label for Sandahl's "Hair Care" brand "Perfect" Tonic read, "Massage scalp with 'Perfect' daily, also before and after each shampoo." A guy would perform the daily scalp massage at home, but the weekly shampoo was the province of the barber.

       With the advent of the daily shower, grooming duties flip flopped. A guy washed his hair daily or at the gym, and the scalp massage and tonic was left to the barber. Concentrate shampoos were developed for home and gym use, since a guy pre-rinsed in the shower. Some guys opted for the "dry look," and skipped the post- shower Vitalis or Brylcreem. Who needed all that stuff with a daily shower? But hair spray and other dry grooming products, along with blow drying, dried the scalp and dulled the hair. Without resistance from hair cream or tonic, many guys overwashed their hair, leading to dry, itchy scalp, often mistaken for dandruff. Guys switched to high priced dandruff shampoos, and added post- shower conditioner to repair their damaged hair.

    Shampoo, conditioner, heat-shield spray to protect from the blow dryer, styling gel. Now a guy needed a locker full of stuff for post- shower grooming. He made fewer trips to the red and white pole, if he went at all, taking on tonsorial duties at home or the gym, or leaving them to "experts" at salons. The once- thriving tonics counters of barber shops were morphed into product- dominated salons. Finally someone combined shampoo and conditioner in one product, the most popular being Pert, and marketed it to guys as the perfect companion for the gym, although most guys followed with post- Pert styling gel and grooming. Chagrined barbers might note that things were almost as simple as they had been in the days of the wet look.

    When guys rediscovered barber shops and short hair, they also found they didn't need their blow dryers, conditioners and styling gel, just Brylcreem or Vitalis and shampoo. Many guys also found the benefits of a shop "super shampoo" and tonic treatment to be superior to the home version and made the regular trek to the red and white pole to put their heads in the hands of a master barber.


barber college.



        An ad for "The Hair Care Twins" in a publication for barbers delivers this one- two punch. The "Hair Care Twins" were the dynamic duo of Hair Care brand Perfect Tonic and Dandruff Shampoo. "Suggest a Super Shampoo every week with Perfect Tonic treatments in between," advised the ad. Tonic directions read: "Massage scalp with 'Perfect' daily, also before and after each shampoo." If customers didn't like the results, the company would refund the savvy barber the cost of the "Hair Care Twins."

        Shampoos in Barbershps were liquid, applied directly  to dry hair before adding water. Most shampoos today are concentrates, and applied after a head- drenching shower. Because of this, you can cut any shampoo one to one with water, resulting in two bottles of barber shop- style shampoo. Apply your barbershop shampoo directly to dry hair. Add water as needed to work up a lather. Scrub thoroughly with a shampoo brush or soft nail brush, adding water and shampoo as needed. Rinse forward in sink or shower and repeat. Wet grooms nearly always call for re-soaping; greaser styles required multiple lathers, and Vaseline, used for cutting 'fifties flattops, could take five to ten relatherings to wash out.

       Wet hair is weak, so care should be taken both in washing and toweling the hair. But hair is dead anyway, short hair is stronger than long hair, and the goal in washing is to unclog the scalp. Most of the time is spent rinsing. The barbershop shampoo also saves water: the faucet is only used to rinse. This is the same idea as a "Combat Shower," designed to save water on ships: rinse, turn off the spigot to lather up, and turn it back on to rinse. Short hair also dries quickly, without the need for a hair- scorching blow dryer, drying sprays, or hard gels to hold it in place. Wildroot already conditions, so you don't need an extra conditioner. The greaser's back- pocket Brylcreem meant he never had dry scalp. The "slick look," now so in- demand, comes standard.  Thinning hair looks better short --skip the comb- over, and when it goes, it's time to Bic your head. Short hair requires frequent tune-ups at the barbershop. While there, discover the other "Hair Care Twin," and supplement the daily Vitalis with a weekly Super Shampoo.   

Vitalis ad

1968 Vitalis ad. Today, many guys would choose the grease.  The ad copy read: "Vitalis introduces low calorie hair tonic. Most hair grooms are rich in grease or fat. Vitalis doesn't have a single drop. Try it. Use all you need. Indulge. And don't worry. You'll never get a shiny head or a dirty look. Vitals is nice and clean and clear and liquid. Put your hair on a fat free diet of Viatlis. Maybe you won't lose any weight. But you'll feel better."




 

 


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