All About Turkish Barbers
According to The Economist, Turkish barber shops were “taking over Britain’s high streets” in 2020, and men’s hairdressing has continued to be one of the fastest-growing independent business sectors. Although many new salons stick to traditional haircuts and “short back and sides”, this new wave of Turkish barbers’ is offering men the chance to indulge in a wide variety of treatments. Turkey has embraced male grooming for centuries, so let’s take a look at what you can expect if you visit a Turkish barber whilst you’re travelling or cruising in Turkey.
The History of Turkish Barbers
Barbers were highly skilled and respected during the Ottoman times, with trainees undergoing a series of tough exams and years of apprenticeship before being classed as masters of their trade. Back then, barbers didn’t operate from shops, and they were more like peddlers who worked from tea houses, street corners or visited client homes. During the Ottoman Empire, barbers’ skills varied, and they also conducted basic medical tasks, like dressing wounds, taking blood, circumcisions, and removing teeth. Their businesses grew from word of mouth and recommendation, so a barber had to be social, well-mannered, empathetic, exceptional at their job, and an excellent listener. Today, medical duties are thankfully left to doctors. Still, a barber still takes great pride in their work, and their customer service and attention to detail remain. This makes a Turkish barber one of the most welcoming and skilled professionals you could hope to meet in Turkey and in the male grooming industry.
What Makes a Turkish Barber Different?
Turkish barbers differ from many other gentlemen hairdressers as they are trained to offer a range of treatments aside from basic haircuts. Other services they provide typically include:
Hot Towel Shaves
A Turkish hot towel shave is an age-old classic and comes highly recommended. It usually begins by wrapping the face in a hot towel to open the pores, rid the skin of dirt and impurities, and prepare the skin for shaving. The barber then smothers the jaw and face with a lather of whipped shaving soap, gel or foam and uses a straight razor to perform an extra-close shave. Once complete, the face is splashed with cold water, patted dry, and quality local cologne or aftershave is massaged into the skin to leave the face feeling smooth and refreshed. A hot towel shave typically lasts two or more days.
There’s an art to the upkeep of a beard, as they can quickly become unruly and appear dishevelled without regular grooming. Turkish barbers are skilled at the trimming and maintenance of beards and moustache and take direction from you to ensure the shape and style are as requested. Often, hot towels are used before trimming to steam the skin and free underlying pores of impurities. The beard is then shaped and blended or faded out with clippers, a comb and scissors, and excess upper cheek, jaw, and neck hair is removed with a razor.
Head and Shoulder Massage
Combine a hot towel shave or any other treatment with a head and shoulder massage. Turkish barbers use well-practised techniques to relieve stress, pressure, and anxiety before you leave their shop. Some also offer back massages to leave you feeling incredible.
Singeing of Fine Nasal and Ear Hair
One of the most unique and traditional skills of a Turkish barber is their ability to remove unwanted fine hair with flames. Although the process sounds daunting and dramatic, the singeing of ear and nasal hair is painless, takes seconds, and has been carried out in Turkey for centuries. Singeing is only carried out by master barbers who use a small lit wand or taper swiped towards the area to singe away the fine hairs.
Removal of Unwanted Hair and Shaping of Eyebrows
Aside from singeing of nose and ear hairs, Turkish barbers are also skilled at shaping eyebrows and removing other unwanted facial hair. This is traditionally done with a thin thread, although some do now use wax.
Many men are prone to oily and greasy skin. Dirt accumulates quickly on facial hair and can cause blocked pores, in-growing hairs, and spots. This is why most Turkish barbers offer facial treatments, including exfoliation, masks, and scrubs to complement traditional shaves. These treatments help to nourish and revitalize the face and skin and leave it healthy and smooth.
Arrange to Visit a Turkish Barber
Who said women should be the only ones to get pampered? In Turkey, men can too.!
They're popular because they offer an inexpensive alternative to barbershops and the skill is high quality. These barbers don't just cut hair but offer a complete hair care experience. They will also advise your style and make sure you're looking your best.
The most important legacy of Turkish barbers is the relationship between the barber and his customer.