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Sat 16 May 2020 12:05 PM

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Review: Getting a haircut in the Covid-19 era

As our hair grew into a thick crop, we ventured out of quarantine for some much needed grooming at local favorite 1847

Review: Getting a haircut in the Covid-19 era

Image: ITP Media Group

About a month into my quarantine, my hair problems began. Centimetre by centimetre, my hair grew into a thick crop; an unruly mess that slowly crawled down my ears and down my neck. Day by day, I looked more like a 1970s teenager.

Despite my wife claiming she loved my youthful-yet-retro look, things couldn’t go on like this. I needed a haircut.

At the outset, I strongly considered doing it myself – or getting my wife to do it. How hard could it be? I began searching for barber kits online, and carefully studying YouTube tutorials.

1847 offers high-end grooming services for men 

A DIY haircut, however, is trickier than it seems. All it took to convince me that it was a bad idea was a casual look at Instagram. Friend after friend tried it – and friend after friend was left with horrifying disasterous scenes atop their heads. The phrase ‘Quarancut’ even found its way into popular lexicon, with thousands of men around the world taking to social media to proudly – I’m not sure why – display their own home haircut experiences.

My hair needed a professional. With that in mind, I booked a visit to 1847 Executive Grooming for Men at their branch in JBR.

The fact that I even had to “book a visit” represents something of a change, at least in terms of my own experiences with barbers in Dubai. While usually I just walk in, 1847 – and other barbers across Dubai – are now by appointment only as a precautionary measure in the Covid-19 era.

These safety procedures have drastically altered the experience of going to a barbershop. In addition to mandatory bookings, clients and staff with flu-like symptoms are forbidden from entering, and temperatures are checked at the door. Waiting areas have vanished – and surfaces and handles are meticulously wiped every 15 minutes. Even the cutting shears and other implements come in sterile plastic bags, like something out of a hospital.

The experience of a haircut itself was fairly standard. My barber went about his business quickly and efficiently, leaving me feeling like a modern human again. Although I expected it would be tricky to cut around the straps of my mask, the barber deftly managed to do so without much of a problem.

(Photo taken before the Covid-19 pandemic. For illustrative purposes only)

That being said, getting a haircut in the coronavirus era isn’t fun. For one, the masks make for a bit of an awkward experience, with little to none of the casual small talk one might find at a barbershop. That, combined with the sterile instruments and medical gloves reminded me – in an unpleasant way – of going through surgery.

Additionally, over time, wearing the mask becomes unbearably uncomfortable, particularly if – like me – you’ve made the mistake of walking through the horrendously hot sun on the way to the barber.

However, what choice do men have? Options are limited. One can choose to let their hair grow out further until the pandemic ends, and face the risk of looking unkempt and untidy on your next Zoom call. Alternatively, you can try cut your own hair, and see how that goes.

If you go for the third option – to head to the barbershop – then 1847 is a good choice. Although Arabian Business can’t speak for other branches, its outlet in JBR is luxurious, convenient, and large enough that one need not worry too much about social distancing. In fact, aside from the receptionist and the barber, we didn’t encounter any other customers, although there were several inside. The entire premises is limited to 9 customers.

Additionally, their adherence to the rules takes away much of the concern that comes with going to get one’s hair cut – or anywhere really – during these rather complicated times.

As far as barbers go, a trip to 1847 isn’t cheap, with haircuts starting at AED 75 (for just clippers and a wash and dry) through AED 275 for a scissor haircut and the famous trademark 1847 shave.

(Photo taken before the Covid-19 pandemic. For illustrative purposes only)

Incidentally, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Arabian Business went to try out massages at another 1847 outpost, in Nakheel Mall, when we got a ‘wellbeing’ massage that stretched out our neck, shoulder and back after a long day’s work.

Although massages currently aren’t available anywhere in Dubai, once the pandemic restrictions are over, it will be well worth going through some of 1847’s other options. From massages to manicures, they’ve got you covered.

Other haircut options

Keep in mind that as per regulations set by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), barbershops and salons

across the Emirate must take the same safety precautions as 1847 has, including mandatory bookings, face masks and regular disinfection.

Other options

Julians: A Dubai favourite, the British run barbershop is back and open for business at its location in Arenco Tower in Media City. An adult haircut costs approximately AED140.

The Art of Shaving: A global chain of high-end men’s shaving and skin care accessories, the Art of Shaving has outlets at City Walk, Dubai Mall, Nakheel Mall, Dubai Festival City and Dubai Festival Plaza. A normal haircut costs AED105, while a haircut and the salon's ‘royal shave’ costs as much as AED315.

Chaps & Co: Another local favourite among businessmen, Chaps & Co has re-opened five of its six locations, which include Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Design District, and Reform Social Bar & Grill at the Lakes. A haircut costs AED125, or AED180 with the addition of a beard trim.

Beats and Cuts: Located on Al Wasl Group, the homey and warm Beats and Cuts has also re-opened. It’s one of the more affordable – yet still good options – in the city, with haircuts starting at AED70.

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