A great haircut can have you walking around like you know you're the man. You look clean. You look fresh. You look put together. It can be as powerful as wearing your favorite item of clothing. You just KNOW you look good. I am a big fan of haircuts. I get one every 7 to 10 days. I love that fresh haircut feel.
I've had a number of different haircut experiences. From using coupons for $7.99 haircuts at Great Clips to my cool local black owned barber shop to the upscale national 18/8 salons. After going to each place many times I have an opinion on which one I think would be best for guys. I'll first list the pros and cons of each spot.
This is your every man spot. They function on volume. You come in. Sit in the chair for 12 minutes. You leave. The stylists are rewarded for being very efficient. I used to go to my local Great Clips for 5+ years. I was overall happy with my time there. I did have a few bad experiences that I chalked up to you get what you pay for. Here's what I loved and hated about Great Clips
- Maximum efficiency. I was on their app, so was able to check in ahead of time and be seen usually within a couple of minutes. When you're busy this is such a clutch benefit.
- It's cheap. I would get coupons for $7.99 haircuts. $7.99. I would always feel bad the haircuts were so cheap that I would always tip the stylists well.
- More haircuts. I looked at the cheap price as a justification to get my haircut more often. Since I love fresh haircuts I would go every week and almost always be looking like I walked out of a barber.
- Overall decent haircuts. The stylists just don't have time to give you an amazing haircut. They do well for the time that they have though. I was happy with my haircuts 80% of the time. For $7.99 I was happy with that number.
- You don't feel cool. There are often kids running around in the waiting area. They have lollipops at the checkout. The stylists are very nice, but it's a transactional experience.
- You can 100% get a very bad haircut. It can happen. I was home for Christmas and went to Great Clips to get cleaned up for family pics. The stylist didn't speak English well......and we had a miscommunication on how high I wanted my fade to go. This was about 4 inches higher than I wanted.
This is an upscale place with locations across the country. It is focused on men and on making a haircut an experience. They have broad services haircuts, shaving, waxing, to nails. There is dark wood interior to give it a man cave feel. The service from everyone there is impeccable. You feel special. You pay for it though.
- The haircuts are very solid. The stylists really take the time to understand what you want and talk through what they plan to do. They'll suggest styles that you might not have thought about. They feel invested in you looking your best. You're with the stylist for 45 minutes plus compared to maybe 15 minutes at Great Clips.
- Scalp massage. They do this as part of the service. It feels good.
- They give you free "clean ups". You can come back in a week or two and they'll do a quick clean up cut of your hair. They want to ensure you keep looking solid for more than just a week or two after your initial cut.
- The reservation system makes things organized. You can call or go online to make an appointment. With them expecting you won't find yourself waiting for your haircut.
- The stylists are hired for skills and personality. I've always had nice conversations with the stylists. They're interesting and very good at making you feel special.
- Beer. You walk in and they offer you a beer. Great way to start a haircut!
- The haircuts aren't cheap. You are definitely seeing this as an experience versus just a haircut. The prices start at $35 for a classic haircut. You get a free "clean up", so it's actually not THAT bad.
- Other than the cost I don't see much else negative with 18/8. I've been extremely pleased with the haircuts, service and experience. You feel pretty cool being there.
The local barber is someone you might have to search around for. These are locally owned shops. Not big companies like 18/8 and Great Clips. These can range from a one man spot to a larger place with a lot of barbers. I go to a black owned barber down the street from me. They're not as professional as the others, but that can sometimes be a good thing. It has character.
- Supporting the local guy. It feels good to go to a place where you feel like you're really helping folks within your community.
- TVs and music. The more corporate places have strict ways to operate. This keeps them super consistent, but also makes them lack in some flare. My barber shop always has movies or basketball games playing. They're usually playing hip hop music too. You feel part of something unique and cool.
- High quality haircut. I have not noticed any difference in the haircut quality between my barber and 18/8. I notice a BIG difference between my barber and Great Clips. When you spend 45 minutes on a haircut versus 15 minutes you get better results. My barber, Onyx, really cares about giving a high quality haircut. He wants you to show and tell people about the haircut to get more customers. He's invested.
- The barbers have character. You can get some cool guys from neighborhood that know everyone and have some personality. Onyx is a rapper. He sends me his music and has invited me to the studio. That's NOT happening at Great Clips. We talk sports, music, relationships and overall solid life topics. It's never boring.
- No reservation system. I text Onyx and he lets me know around what time he's free. I'll come in sometimes and have to wait 45 minutes if someone gets there before me. Not a big deal, but it's not as reliable as an app or a reservation system.
- Rigid pricing. They are pretty set with their pricing and don't entertain ideas like discounted "clean up" haircuts. I pay $25 every time. I told them I'd come more if they provide discounted cuts just to cut my sides. In the end it's about the same price as 18/8 when you throw in the free "clean up".
I'm going to give the slight edge to my local barber. 18/8 makes me feel like I'm headed into a spa or something. It's a nice feeling, but sometimes it feels too indulgent. I feel like a man walking into my barber. Music is playing. Sports are on. My barber is a rapper. I feel like my money is supporting a local guy trying to make it.
The total cost is about the same as 18/8 when you factor in 18/8's free "clean ups". I do think you get a lot for your money at 18/8. Can't argue with the free beer! I have heart for the local guy and I think that tips the scale for me. Before you lock on a local guy make sure you do your research and find a guy who you're happy with.
Great Clips is fine for a basic haircut. As I've gone to 18/8 and my barber I have had a lot of people actually compliment me on my haircut. I never got that from Great Clips. I think the $25 is worth you knowing your hair looks as fresh as possible!