“I don’t like dropping names,” says Haks Oscar, when I ask him about his celebrity clients, “but we’ve got several – from Hugh Grant to Jose Mourinho.” The Chelsea based barber has been cutting hair for 33 years, and the tradition has been in his family for five generations.
“We are, what I call, the old school real barbers,” says Haks, who’s transported by private jet to attend to the tresses of Saudi royalty, “whenever they require.” His King’s Road barbershop in Chelsea has even had princely posteriors in its seats. “We have members of royalty from various countries that, as a family, come over on their private jet, just for their haircuts, then go back.”
Crikey. What sort of sorcery are the Oscars practicing? “A real barbers is not just about cutting hair, it’s like buying yourself a suit or a dress. You can buy it off the peg, or you can have it tailor made. A real barbers is bespoke – it’s highly skilled work,” says Haks, explaining: “We inspect the scalp, we inspect the hair, and we look at which parts are thick, and which parts are thin, then it’s all about how you blend it in – it’s an art form.”
I understand why Haks is in demand. So what does he suggest for gents experiencing separation anxiety from their barbers during lockdown? Should they start hacking away with their household scissors? Here’s his advice:
You can leave your hat on
If you can wait, then wait. Just keep yourself looking fresh and tidy, and make yourself feel good. Even if your hair grows below your ears, you can always tuck it behind. As soon as you jump out of the shower, towel dry your hair, rub in some wax or gel, massage it in all over your hair, then comb it and let it dry. If you’re going for a walk, you can always put on a cap or a Panama hat – whatever makes you feel comfortable. Hats are great anyway!
Stand and deliver
If you can’t wait, get whoever’s living with you to give you a trim. It won’t be a perfect haircut, but it will be fine. The easiest way to do it is to comb the hair on top of your head straight upwards, holding it between your fingers, and cutting as much as you want. On average, hair grows half an inch a month, so cut off an inch to see you through lockdown. Do the same at the sides and the back, pulling it outwards, and if there’s short hair that doesn’t reach, don’t cut it.
Back to the future
If you live by yourself and you’re cutting your own hair, the back is going to be the trickiest bit, but the great thing about our senses is that although you can’t see, you can feel. Usually our senses are correct, so you’ll be able to gauge how much hair you’ve got between your fingers. Is it going to be perfect? Absolutely not. Is it going to look OK? It will look fine. If you have a Skype call, you’ll only be seen from the front anyway, so it’s not a problem! When all this is over, you can go to your barber and they can fix what you’ve done.
Beggars can’t be choosers, so if it’s paramount that you have your hair cut, then use what you’ve got. Dress making scissors will be big, and heavy, but sharp and if you use nail scissors you’ll be there for two days. Kitchen scissors, in these circumstances, are OK – if you have to. Just make sure they’re not too blunt. Hairdressing scissors are sharper than a razor because hair is very strong, so depending on the coarseness of your hair, if the scissors aren’t sharp they won’t cut your hair, they’ll just bend it.
It’s a numbers game
If your hair’s cropped with clippers, you’ll probably know the number your barber uses, so buy some clippers from Wahl, then put the guard on that number, and repeatedly go over your hair. Don’t do it just the once, or you’ll have little bits sticking up – and make sure you hold onto the guard, otherwise you’ll have an accident. With scissors, you can buy any make, but with clippers, go for Wahl – they’re very good and some of them come in a set with scissors and a comb.
Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here.