I've been looking for a barbershop for a year and a half — something retro, not anachronistic; quality, not pretentious. I'd heard good things about Mike Coronella of Barbershop Deluxe in the South End, most intriguingly that he specializes in "vintage haircuts." Since I've got a low-key pompadour and the price was right ($23), I figured I'd check him out.
Mike Coronella of Barbershop Deluxe
Mike's a barber's barber — a master barber, in fact — and a bald barber, he joked, at that. But Barbershop Deluxe doesn't have that AM-sports-radio, talcum-scented vibe I remember from the place down the street from me growing up. It's airy and bright, with a diverse clientele — gays and lesbians, men of color, and regular ol' straight, white guys. They also cater to kids and give out big lollipops, not the crappy little ones — a point of pride, clearly. And they do haircuts for short-haired women. ("A confident woman can always do short hair," Mike declared, permanently endearing him to my wife and short-haired women everywhere.)
The whole deal took 45 minutes, and Mike spent most of the time waxing philosophical about his commitment to the scissor cut ("Hear that?" he asked proudly, clack-clacking some American-made steel scissors) and insisting that he "cuts to the personality," meaning he likes to talk things over and feel you out before getting started. He's convinced past customers to abandon haircuts that don't work for them, but he agreed that my pompadour could stay, and gave me a pro tip: classic styles are meant for maintenance every two weeks. That's why barbers are so cheap. "It's the price of two beers!" he said.
Somewhere along the way he handed me his great-uncle's scissors, telling me they've cut the hair of men heading to Vietnam, to their wedding days, to their first job. "You're holding history in your hands," he said. Time was up though, so he wheeled me around to look at his work. Verdict? Mike's definitely worth those two beers — you might even consider buying him a couple and asking how he got into vintage haircuts in the first place. Now that's a story.
BARBERSHOP DELUXE 288 COLUMBUS AVE, BOSTON :: 617.425.1928 :: BARBERSHOPDELUXE.COMA CLOSER SHAVE
This month, the Art of Shaving opened a Newbury Street store, leaving me curious about their claim that they've turned "shaving from a chore into a luxurious ritual." Can it be so? They were kind enough to ply me with samples so I could find out.
I applied the sandalwood pre-shave oil ($16–$25) with caution that turned to abandon as I found myself basically huffing my own face, which smelled of warm wood and figments of fall. I was suspicious of the pre-shave extra step, but between that and the shaving cream ($16–$25), I got the closest shave of my life.
From there, things devolved a bit with the after-shave gel ($40), which probably could have done more to soothe fiery skin. But all was well as I tucked under the covers in my ingrown-hair night cream ($45) with white-willow-bark extract. I cannot yet say whether it prevents ingrown hairs, but I know I drifted off smelling like a forest of weeping willows, so who cares?
The Art of Shaving, 139B Newbury St, Boston ::theartofshaving.com