Lifestyle

My Black Barber Remains My Therapist

This story is written by Ryan Brown originally posted Tonic.

Mental health and the barbershop have a deep correlation that exceeds beyond a haircut and goes into the mind of a man. One of Groom Guy’s core values is celebrating diversity in the realm of barbering & overall grooming but we also spotlight the barbershop’s cultural significance within particular ethnic groups. Read full story below.

Hands On Barbers in Mount Rainier, Maryland is pretty much my second home. The tiny barbershop is tucked between an equally small Dominican beauty salon and a dusty antique shop walking distance from the nation’s capital. The neighborhood surrounding my safe haven isn’t the best.

There’s a growing problem with local residents abusing PCP, alcoholics wandering up and down the block with brown paper bags of booze, and abandoned buildings outnumbering the occupied ones. I know this doesn’t sound too appealing to the average person, but I am there every week due to my sometimes untamable facial hair.

If Hands On is my home, then the barbers, Will and John, are the older brothers that I never knew I wanted. Not only are they experts on black hair, but they are unofficially sports analysts, local restaurateurs, DC historians, and more importantly, therapists (their business cards only say “barber,” though). They’ve been there for me for years—and I’m not talking about just their crisp haircuts and beard trims either. I’ve talked with them about absolutely everything from job interviews and my personal health issues to my dating life and, of course, how shitty the Redskins can be.

It has been well discussed that many people of color are not fans of therapy. Taking it a step further, blacks have significant issues when it comes to trusting health professionals and are sometimes undertreated when we do go to the doctor. That, along with the Trumpcare on the horizon and 22 million people possibly losing healthcare in the next decade, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the black community.

However, the need to take matters into our own hands—which can mean self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, not expressing our issues, and a slightly healthier option: relying on communal spaces to vent where individuals have similar backgrounds and experiences. Places like church, or yes, the barbershop.

“In these public communal spaces, there is less fear of that type of racism which would be further detrimental to our health,” says Carlton Green, a psychologist at the University of Maryland. “For decades, the barbershop has been a place of self-definition where black people have this degree of power in a society where in most cases we feel inferior. In these communal spaces, we are not constrained to larger social norms.”

Being around other men who occupy the same neighborhoods allows for a level of understanding and makes it easier to open up about issues that aren’t discussed at home or in a doctor’s office. It’s as if they’ve taken a cue from British barbers, who at certain shops are actually given mental health training to help deal with the rising number of male suicides in Europe.

In the US, barbershops have been consistently used as research sites for communicating health messages. Nonprofits like the Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC) partnered with healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente to create barbershops that combine health outreach initiatives. By combining the barbershop experience with interventions for hypertension, diabetes, and HIV for people of color, the program was able to expand from one barbershop to twelve. Health professionals are starting to realize that when it comes to treating men more effectively, it starts with being in the public spaces that we frequent.

“Barbershops allow African American men to talk about a myriad of issues impacting the black community,” says Larry Walker, a researcher who has written extensively about black barbershops and mental health. “Important issues including politics, economic development, and wellbeing are frequently discussed. Without barbershops, black men would have very few places to feel physically and emotionally safe.”

Every type of person walks through the shop doors on a given day. Police officers, city councilmen, addicts, family men, and their sons are all welcome. But once you sit in that chair, it’s like the walls we build come crashing down and every opinion comes out. For an hour or two, you can unapologetically raise your voice, call your cheating girlfriend everything under the sun, and walk out feeling and looking like a better man. It’s cathartic. But is it actually therapy?

Black customers and barber laughing in classic barbershop

“Barbershops are considered the black man’s country club and often there are men in there who are not even getting haircuts,” says Sula Hood, a behavioral and social sciences professor at Indiana University-Purdue University. “But the relationship between a man and his barber is a unique and trusting relationship. Barbers tend to chime in with their own personal experiences so the client doesn’t feel isolated or alone. That’s a different kind of relationship [than] a psychologist, who may not identify with you.”

Of course, there’s a big difference between getting treated by a mental health professional and working through some issues with a barber. Receiving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) from a psychologist may restore a brain’s structural balance and ease chronic pain. For illnesses like bipolar disorder, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) has proven to be an effective treatment. You won’t get those benefits hanging out at the shop—some people might even find being around large groups of people to be stressful. No doubt, the physical and mental benefits of seeing a professional outweigh the benefits of not seeing one.

That being said, there’s something about the safe space of the barbershop that gets men to open up, no matter how personal the subject matter. Three-time NBA champion LeBron James alluded in a recent barbershop conversation to turmoil between him, his wife, and his mother about potentially coming back to Cleveland in 2014. In 2015, rapper Killer Mike and then Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had an extensive conversation in a barbershop ranging from free healthcare to social justice issues.

Yes, there are clinical differences between paying 150 dollars an hour for therapy from a psychologist and a 20 dollar haircut from my favorite barber. One is a licensed mental health professional and the other is not. But both have their place. This past weekend, for instance, one of my best friends, Brad, and I took the short drive to the barbershop for our Saturday morning ritual. After waiting my turn and conversing with the regulars, John offered his chair, and then he asked how my parents were doing.

Beardcare, Shaving, Videos

Rapper Stalley Drops Gems On Facial Hair Growth + New Track

Previously written by Nate Ericksen on GQ.com 

 

No Shave November ended, but your scruff stuck around. Maybe your girl liked it, maybe it added some swagger to your step, or possibly you were just too damn lazy to pick up a razor. One way or another, that baby face of yours has some newfound growth that you’re just not sure how to maintain. You’re in luck. Ohio rapper Stalley happen to be the proud owner of one of the best beards in hip-hop. We hit up the Maybach Music / Blue Collar Gang rapper (and pick designer) to drop some knowledge on what you need to make a long-term commitment to facial hair.

 

GQ: So when was the last time you were facial hair free?

Stalley: In 2008.

 

GQ: What’s been the hardest part of maintaining your beard?

Stalley: Sleeping on it.

 

GQ: How often do you groom?

Stalley: Three times a week I’ll wash and condition it with Organix Shampoo and Conditioner.

 

GQ: Besides washing, what do you do to keep your facial hair looking fresh?

Stalley: I have a great barber named Sherman in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. He uses Andis clippers and a straight razor. He’s been cutting my hair for about 13 years now.

 

GQ: Any other products you use? Oils, etc.?

Stalley: No other products but pure confidence and a handsome face.

 

GQ: Lastly, what advice do you have for someone who’s looking to make a long-term beard-growth commitment?

Stalley: It’s pretty simple advice – just patience and let it grow.

Fast forward into 2017, the Blue Collar Gang CEO gives us a audio glimpse of his forthcoming album, New Wave, with the newest single below. You’ll want to make sure you’re pressing the gas with the windows down on this one.

Lifestyle, Videos

Powerful: A Barber & Cop Team Up to Bring Peace to Their City [WATCH]

In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and the resulting unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Shaun “Lucky” Corbett wanted to do his part to ease tensions his own community. A barber in Charlotte, Shaun reached out to his local police department to explore how he could help encourage and build stronger bonds between officers and the city. Shaun teamed up with Officer Rob Dance to start a mentoring program to encourage cooperation and understanding. And, so far, the program has been successful in opening up a productive and important dialogue between the police force and the community. Watch the full video below to get a glimpse into the program & its long term impact on the youth.

The programs include:
– Cadet training
– Tutoring
– Transparency programs
– Mentorship

You can follow Lucky & his barbershop team here: @daluckyspotbarbershop

Lifestyle, Videos

“The Shop” with LeBron James, Draymond Green & more ESPN [WATCH]

NBA’s LeBron James & Draymond Green are the lasts two we’d expect to be in the same room sharing a laugh…but ESPN made it happen courtesy of the barbershop. They share thoughts on NBA, Olympics, music & more at the gentlemen’s sanctuary aka barbershop. In the video, we also discover why LeBron’s Mom didn’t want him to go back to Cleveland. Other guests included 2Chainz, Steve Stoute and more.

I’m sure LeBron James dismisses these video after watching his rival team take a sweeping win as the new Champions. Either way, it’s got some light hearted moments we don’t when they’re on the court.

Videos

Introducing “The Streets Barber” & How Cutting Hair Saved His Life [WATCH]

Nasir Sobhani aka ‘The Streets Barber’, is a true Nomad, not just of the world, but also of the mind. Growing up in Japan, attending University in Canada, volunteering his time for Youth Work in the Vanuatu and then Australia to start up his own initiative helping the homeless, Nasir has certainly lived a fruitful life. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, with a crippling drug addiction along the way, Nasir thanks his Baha’i faith and barbering for his new found sobriety. Working six days a week cutting hair, Nasir spends his one day off hitting the streets to give free haircuts to the homeless. He calls it, ‘Clean Cut Clean Start’. [via PLGRM]

Nasir Sobhani was recently selected & featured for Kenneth Cole’s The Courageous Class campaign this past 2016. We salute you and your effort to push the barber industry forward shedding light on social issues and changing lives one day at a time.

Lifestyle, Music, Polish / Men's style

“Pharrelleva Young” – 3 Critical Grooming Lessons We Learned From Pharrell Williams

It’s no surprise one of the most versatile artists of our generation is Pharrell Williams. From celebrated producer, film composer, philanthropist just to name a few, it continues to amaze us to see his inability to age…at least show it. Over the years, you’ll fail to point any type of wrinkle or grey hair on his head? How? Why?

We were able to finally compile three solid reasons why after a couple research interviews.

  1. Readily hydrated
  2. Exfoliation
  3. Red meat reduction

 

Hydration

He explains in a couple archived interviews that a lot of his daily intake is good ol’ H2O. “You know, I guess, its lots of water” says Pharrell. We can hardly imagine anything less then water would suffice considering this man probably travels to Dubai and London while on a “lunch break.” We can also assume that from the late studio nights to early music compositions with Hans Zimmer, he’s not touching any Deer Park or Poland Spring bottles. An creative of his stature likes to load up on Core Water.

Exfoliation 

It’s probably one of the most overused words you hear your girlfriend saying but its about time you understand it. The term “exfoliate” simply means the act of removing, in this case, dead skin cells. So we’re sure in between his private studio sessions & hosting gigs, Pharrell adds this routine to his schedule. Keep the skin refreshed & clean with a weekly regimen of exfoliation 2-3 times a week.

Red Meat Reduction

Although there is no proven facts surfacing that red meat indeed affects ones overall health including skin & aging, Pharrell remind us to enjoy in moderation. He’s not only a proud Southerner (Virginia native) but he also shares that he treats his stomach to classic BBQ….and so can you. I can add that you do lower your chances of any type of reaction to red meat when slimming your intake. Producers of red meat, like your local super market, does have a reputation for having extremely questionable methods of chemically-enhanced farming. The less chemicals the better!

Watch him respond to questions on his mastering of agelessness with the Breakfast Club. You can see catch him gracing your newsstands on the cover this month’s Esquire Magazine.

Lifestyle, Videos

Daily Ritual of Michael Chamley-Watson with VICE [VIDEO]

If you weren’t able to watch this past year’s Olympics or simply sleep to the sport of fencing, chances are you’ve never heard of Michael-Chamley Watson. Standing tall at 6″4, Michael remains one of the most prolific athletes in the sport of fencing. Proclaimed as the “bad boy” of the 100+ year sport,  he continues to work tirelessly to add more medals & championships to his collection as well as his crusade for the commericialization of the sport.

Take a look at the latest video above where we get a closer look into the superstar’s life:

Amuse and The Art of Shaving peer into the habits and routines that groom US Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson for success. These daily rituals unfold a larger story about identity, hopes and dreams. – VICE

 

fencingolympicsday7owlrysj-ne_l

Lifestyle, Polish / Men's style

5 Things Every Man Should Carry With Him on the Daily

By: Kadia Blagrove

As a member of the female human species, I must admit, I am a bit jealous of men’s ability to travel light. Sure, some guys carry handbags and backpacks but menswear gives ample storage space (see: pockets) to put all of your belongings. You dudes have options! But enough with my rant; let’s talk about the things you should be stuffing in your pockets/handbags/backpacks. A huge part of a groomed lifestyle is maintenance. In order to sustain peak flyosity all day, be sure to have the below essentials on your person.

Hand Cream:  Everyone loves a smooth handshake. Keep your hands moisturized throughout the day with the help of a travel-sized hand cream. You don’t have to get anything fancy, any kind of hand lotion or butter will do.

Breath Refresher: Never leave the house without a breath mint, a pack of gum, or a tiny bottle of listerine. Everyone’s breath can get a bit tart throughout the day and it can get really bad after eating certain foods. So load up on your mints and feel free to have that delicious, stinky, garlicky lunch before your meeting.

Comb: We can all use a little midday touch-up, especially on those long, busy days. A small comb or brush will keep your hair/beard looking sharp from AM to PM.

Small Cologne: So many folks overlook the importance of carrying a little bottle of smell-good with them on the go. Some fragrances wear off and sometimes outside elements, like smoke, stick to your clothes. Carrying a small container of cologne or perfume oil will save you every time.

Lip Balm: Harsh weather climates, whether hot or cold, can discolor and irritate your lips. Keep your lips healthy and hydrated year-round by applying a little balm throughout the day. Extra point for you if your lip protectant contains SPF.

All of these items come in travel sizes and you can find them at your local drugstore or online. You’ll be amazed at how a little bit can go a long way.

Kadia Blagrove is an NYC writer on all things life and culture. Catch her tweets at @KazzleDazz and her work on KadiaB.com.

Lifestyle

Letter From the Editor | GroomGuy.com

Pursuing your dream while you live in comfort can be one of the most challenging circumstances to go thru. Before 2015, my career was sailing high with a career in the music business. I traveled the world, met some of my favorite artists, and didn’t have to pay for a concert ticket for an entire year (true story). I thought I had reached the level of career fulfillment and this was the path that was going to lead to that 401K.

Fast forward into the summer of 2015, it wasn’t until one of my best friends pick up a pair of shears and clippers at 12AM as he cuts his clients hair and we chat over some Modelo beers that it hit me….I want to be a [Master] Barber. It took all the energy in me to defuse my excitement and anxiety the following day….especially since I was gearing to tell me boss that I’m quitting my job after fours years in the music business.

“Quitting while your ahead is not the same as quitting.” – Chinese Proverb

My love for barbering, hair, and client relations grew stronger. I knew I wanted to honestly contribute something to society and if I were able to properly do that through self esteem building, then a pair of shears was truly MY way out. I started to grow passionate about men’s grooming and the education of general hygiene upkeep. If my friend was able to score that date because of that cologne suggestion or get that job because of his haircut, those were the moments that I wanted to create & replicate. There many men out there battling insecurity, anxiety, depression and various forms of fear living in the shadows.

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Our mission isn’t to commercialize “looks” or upkeep with trends, Groom Guy is an editorial platform of “manliness” information that is simply designed to make YOU feel better by looking better. Well, I’m happy to present Groom Guy to you…for us. If we look good, we feel good.

Stay Polish’d.