Barber Shop Babe One beauty writer nixes the pricy salon for cheaper option

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barber shop babe
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

“Ouch,” I say, feeling a jolt of financial pain. My eye-popping bill for a haircut with a master stylist, color and glaze is nearly $300. Before tip. The dent to my wallet wouldn’t be so bad if my pesky gray roots didn’t make their unwelcome return every four weeks. If you’re doing the math in your head, yes, this adds up to thousands of dollars each year. When did the price of getting a trim, a few dabs of color plus shine booster become equal to a car payment?

The worst part is, I hated the haircut. For weeks, my hair was unmanageable. The stylist spent more time name dropping than making sure my hair was even on both sides of my head.

I left lopsided. The financial shocker,  plus more than two hours at the salon and a Herculean endeavor to make another appointment, put me over the edge. Never again, I vowed.  I had my next haircut at a barber shop.

Your At-Home Guide to Skin Care

No kidding. For years, I walked past Annapolis Barber Shop in the Eastport Shopping Center on my way to my workouts at Annapolis Athletic Club a few doors away. The barber shop (complete with twirling barber pole above the door) is frequented by mostly men or kids with mothers waiting in metal chairs lined up against a wood-paneled wall.

Stereotypes are dreadful things but let’s face it, a barber shop is a no-frills destination. There are no stacks of fancy magazines. No lattes, cappuccinos or cookies are served. No Zen music. No hand massages or heated neck wraps. And, no air-kissing favorite customers. What it lacks in cliché bells and whistles, it makes up for with a warm welcome and down-home authenticity.

But if the idea of walking into a barber shop is unsettling, history says there is good reason. During medieval times, barbers also performed tooth extractions, amputations, blood-letting and surgeries. The original barber shop pole had a brass wash basin at the top to hold leeches and one at the bottom to collect blood. Fortunately, times have changed, and Annapolis Barber Shop is sticking to haircuts and shaves.

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I poke my head inside the door and spot Cho, a twinkly-eyed woman cutting a man’s hair in the window seat. “Do you cut women’s hair?” She smiles, says yes, and the rest is history.  Cho, originally from South Korea, learned her skills 25 years ago at a barber school in Pasadena and has been at Annapolis Barber Shop for 18 years. “I love it here, I love my customers, I make them happy and look better,” she says.

After a five-minute wait, I sit in her chair. We briefly chitchat about my cut. Cho doesn’t mess around: There are no questions about kids or the latest movie. She is all business, focusing on my hair. She snips. She layers. She double-checks.

After 30 minutes, voila! I am done. Price? $20. Haircut? Fabulous!  A few days later I snap up a box of Madison Reed hair color at Ulta that sets me back $27. Full of Keratin, argan oil and ginseng root extract, this no-odor, no animal testing, ammonia-free home hair color is easy-peasy to apply. While the color is cooking under a cap included in the box, I wrap myself in a comfy robe, sip a glass of Cabernet and work at my computer for 30 minutes.

Results? Shiny glam hair.

Fashion With a Punch

So, dear and valued reader, before we part you’re probably wondering what I’m doing with that fat wad of cash I’m saving. Well, it’s stuffed into a new designer handbag as I head to New York for a fun weekend escape. Perfectly coiffed, of course.

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