The world of men's grooming is opening up in a big way. Guys can now experience the luxury of a hot shave with a straight razor whilst also getting a manicure, pedicure, full body wax and a moustache tint. Wanted dispatched some of its roving male contributors to experience the best grooming lounges currently on offer in SA's major urban centres, to give our gentlemen readers some unique alternatives to the conventional "sports on Saturday" bonding ritual.
What: Hines & Harley men's grooming lounge is tucked unobtrusively into a Cape Dutch-style former home on Parktown North's main drag, 7th Avenue. Owner Jared Hines has created a space that feels unaffected and perhaps most importantly, unintimidating for men trying out male grooming for the first time.
How: I took the combination mani and pedi treatment. My therapist Terry Morris made me feel at home immediately, regaling me with stories of how she came to be involved in the beauty industry (she studied makeup as a prelude to a career in special effects for films). Terry eased the pains of the day away whilst thoroughly exfoliating and moisturising my hands and feet with QMS and Theravine products. My nails and cuticles have never looked better, and Terry managed to get rid of the calluses on my hands that had built up after years of gym without gloves.
Why: Terry says that she's seeing more bachelor parties coming in for group treatment sessions. Guys who have never experienced male grooming end up being regulars after their first treatment session. In addition, Hines & Harley allows you to pre-order your preferred food and drinks so that its waiting for you and your friends when you arrive. Think pizza, beer and a beard trim.
Where: 25 7th Avenue, Parktown North. 011 026 7637. hinesandharley.co.za.
What: At the ‘cutting-edge’ of bustling Bree Street is inner-city man cave Barnet Fair, which was established well before the revival of the popular strip. This laid-back, Rockabilly crypt with its white-washed stone walls and low-slung wooden beams is a welcoming retreat for regular grooming.
How: Although Barnet Fair operates on a drop-in basis only, I’m usually prepared to let other callers jump the queue and chill in an armchair for a while to get a seat with my preferred stylist Warren Matthee. His sense of humor is sharper than his scissors so there is never a dull moment in his good company. My hair style is slightly classic, short-back-and-sides with a bit of length on top to play. However, Matthee is a master of the scissor cut and I trust him to always give my barnet that extra edge — appropriate to one’s age of course. The styling is always completed with a smidgen of American Crew Fibre.
Feeling a little wild and wooly, I opted for a hot towel clean up. Matthee used the wonderfully soothing Bluebeard’s Revenge shaving soap, which lathers up nicely to lube the path of the straight razor.
Why: Relaxed, no fuss establishment but with all the right frills. Enjoy a complimentary glass of whisky or cup of coffee while you wait to step up to a chair. It’s a little quieter in winter so there is also more time to chat but things can get quite heated when the list at the door gets long in-season.
On offer: Cut, trims, hot towel shave, and beard shaping at any of their three outlets.
Where: 98 Bree Street (021 424 1302); 59 Harrington Street (021 461 5340); 63a Shortmarket Street (021 422 2549). barnetfair.co.za.
What: Nev the Barber opened his first store in Durban’s arty district, Glenwood, in August 2010, in a tiny space behind a popular restaurant. In 2012 he moved into a bigger space in the same area, and has been growing steadily ever since. He now has a second shop in the more upmarket Durban North. Nev’s spaces are typically humble, inviting and colourful, with a strong Durban aesthetic, local slang and iconic Durban imagery adorning the walls and various artworks in the shop.
How: I’ve been lucky enough to have my hair cut for a wedding at Nev’s Glenwood store. His staff are always friendly, and give you the sense of stepping into a good mate’s place to get a haircut (only way better than your mate could probably do it). I went with my usual short back and sides, which was executed carefully and attentively, and like any good barber, I had a willing ear to listen to all my problems. Aside from the haircut I also received some good advice on hair and beard products, which Nev stocks in his shops.
Why: Nev tells me about the rising trend in men’s grooming culture over the years. He says that back in the day it was very much a “one size fits all situation”, whereas today there are a number of shops and products available catered directly to men. He has noticed a growing grooming trend amongst young professionals, who he sees as his main clients. Guys who want to look sharp while maintaining a clean, professional look.
On offer: Nev the Barber is a full service barbershop for anything from cuts, shaves and beard grooming to colouring. Their most popular being cuts and beard grooming.
Where: 197 Brand Road, Glenwood (071 898 7555); 28 Mackeurtan Avenue, Durban North (083 248 5150). nevthebarber.co.za
What: Men’s Grooming & Spa (MGS) opened up in 2013 after its owner, Pearl Luthuli, realised the “need for, and importance of, an establishment that would offer grooming services to men”. Located on Palm Boulevard, adjacent to the Gateway Shopping Centre, MGS is a bespoke and upmarket establishment catering mainly to businessmen and executives. They have also seen a rise in demand from younger, upwardly-mobile young men who recognise the importance of being well-groomed.
How: MGS is located on the more upmarket side of the men’s grooming spectrum. The staff are all well trained, friendly, and highly knowledgeable about a range of hair and skincare products and treatments. This is something that Pearl believes is vitally important. More and more men are seeking out advice about how to groom themselves. Importantly, MGS offers a space for men to seek out grooming without feeling as though they are losing touch with their masculine side.
Why: Pearl tells me that she has noticed more and more men becoming clued up about their skin and their bodies. It’s about a lot more than just a haircut these days. It’s especially important these days for men to have well manicured hands. “Men want to know and understand the products they are using, so they often prefer professional advice. They want something that is results-driven”, Pearl explains.
On offer: MGS offers barbering services (haircuts, hot-towel shaving, as well as skin and body treatments (facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing). They have also introduced a skincare line of products which addresses shaving and skin problems for men.
Where: 14 Palm Boulevard, Umhlanga, 031 566 1335. mgsandspa.co.za
What: The Rocks Barbershop is a cozy yet clean barbershop located in Umhlanga’s popular Village. Anthony Robertson and Rob Sheath have been in the barbershop business since 2004, and have had The Rocks Barbershop at its current location since 2014
How: The Rocks Barbershop is a clean-cut, sophisticated men’s grooming store in the heart of Umhlanga’s Village. The store is immaculately kept, with attention to detail lavished on everything from the chairs to the cash register. No expense is spared to make men feel comfortable and in safe hands. The vibe is catered to those looking for quality treatment but with a familiar friendly edge. If you pull in on a Friday, expect a cold beer to be served on the house with any of their services.
Why: According to Ant and Rob, men have really started paying attention to their grooming and appearance over the past 15 years, so much so that barbershops are among the fastest-growing business segments in the U.K and U.S, with South Africa now following the trend. They cater to a wide range of men, and view their core clientele as coming from all walks of life, the only things in common being a need for a quick convenient cut and possibly a beard trim or shave, and to chew the fat with the guys.
On offer: The Rocks Barbershop offers a wide range of services from traditional gents haircuts, hot towel shaves to eyebrow and ear threading
Where: Shop 55, Protea Mall, Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks, 0315612010. facebook.com/pages/The-Rocks-Barber-Shop