Great Hair, Better Prices

Great Hair, Better Prices

I ran into Jack last week on the street. He’s the editor in chief of a popular men’s fashion magazine, the glossy kind filled with expensive products, airbrushed models and super-slick clothes.

It wasn’t his duds that caught my eye, but his new short hairstyle. It was neat, easy to care for and no-nonsense -- the perfect summer cut.

“Nice cut,” I said, honestly.

“Thanks,” he said, slightly embarrassed. “I was just across the street at the barber.”

Really?” I asked, surprised. Jack isn’t the kind of guy to get his haircut at a barber. He prefers the high-priced chic salon scene.

“A few months ago, I got tired of paying 80 bucks a pop for this haircut,” he said. “That place charges $20 and does just as good a job.”

Celebrities such as “The Voice” host and Maroon 5 front man, Adam Levine, as well as teen idol Joe Jonas have made short hair en vogue this year. While they surely can afford to spend lots to get the clean-cut look, most of us can’t. And we don’t have to. There are plenty of scissor jockeys coast-to-coast that can give you the same level of follicular artistry -- and do it for a lot less than some swanky salon. Here are six of the best.

Rudy’s Barber Shop  in Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Los Angeles
Rudy’s is an anomaly in the world of barber shops. It’s actually a chain, but holds on to its indie roots like a hungry dog with a bone. Each location has its own local flavor, but all are basically adorned with Gen-X counter-culture memorabilia. As far as the cuts are concerned, “they offer a no-hassle haircut with a nice scalp massage in a timely fashion and at a fair price,” says a regular at Portland’s Division Street shop. “Plus, they give you a beer while you wait.” A haircut starts at a mere $17.

Mystic Haircutting  in San Francisco
Mystic is a breath of fresh air in a city full of hair salons that charge an arm and a leg to cut and style hair. For $30, you get an impeccable cut from a friendly, highly skilled artist. No pretense, no nonsense. And they go the extra mile, cleaning your neck up with a straight razor and wrapping a hot towel around your face afterwards.

The Best Little Barbershop in Texas  in Houston
BLBT doesn’t look like much, especially considering the trendy Montrose neighborhood it’s located in. But the $17 cuts are clean, and head and shoulder massages are included in the price. Call for a reservation, though; this place is packed.

Gaby’s Barber Shop  in Chicago
There’s nothing fancy about this no-nonsense establishment -- walk in off the street, sign your name on a chalkboard and wait for an open chair. However, the barbers are well-trained, help those who don’t know what type of cut they want, and offer useful between-cut maintenance tips. Cuts only cost $14, so wait times can be long.

Old Town Barber Shop  in Alexandria, Va.
You can go where congressmen go to get their hair cut, but do you want to look like John Boehner? Didn’t think so. So take yourself south of D.C. into Virginia. “At Old Town, the going rate is $17 for a haircut, and you get a scalp massage and a hot towel thrown in too,” says Anthony, a longtime customer. “It’s great.”

FSC Barber  in San Francisco and New York City
The wood-and-tile decor at this mini-chain’s two Big Apple locations definitely has that clubhouse feel. Hence, the name: Freemans Sporting Club Barber. While you might have to beat off the hipsters with a stick, the staff is knowledgeable and skilled, and they never rush -- no matter how packed the waiting area is. Plus, they also offer a killer selection of grooming goods and their own line of turn-of-the-century clothing. Cuts start at $40.

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Tags: Grooming , Haircut , Style

Aaron Krach, former grooming editor of Cargo magazine, is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in InStyle, Out, and TimeOut New York, as well as on Aaron is a frequent contributor to Style and Tech for Men.