The length of my average daily male grooming routine is usually determined by how long the kettle takes to boil; and my hair has remained the same style since I first accidentally shaved it off when I was 19. Today however, I am in Ruffians – a new barber salon in Queensferry Street – where the emphasis is very much on taking the time and effort to ensure you leave looking your best.
My barber, Ian Fallon, explains more about the company’s ethos as I sit sipping freshly-brewed coffee and surfing the web on one of the free-to-use customer iPads. From the moment a customer sets foot inside Ruffians, things are designed to be treated as a luxury experience to be savoured, leaving your hair safe in the hands of the shop’s experienced and friendly staff, and you free to relax.
Indeed, as he leads me to the tiled rear of the shop and gets me settled in one of the custom-designed shaving chairs, the mood is informal and chilled, helped by the unobtrusive but cool tunes playing over the shop’s sound system. The chair is comfortable, and easily adjusted to my height before Ian gets to work: proceeding to moisturise and exfoliate my skin with a succession of oils and balms, all belonging to Ruffians’ own exclusive range of men’s grooming products.
Hot towels, a massage…and then it’s out with the razor: a small and gleaming instrument which wouldn’t look out of place in a surgery. Ian demonstrates surgeon-like precision and skill as he glides the blade over the contours of my face, telling me I have a ‘good beard’, after having checked my normal shaving style to ensure my stubble reacts well to the razor. Indeed, the shave is so smooth, I can hardly feel the blade as it makes light work of my three-day old growth.
Ian tells me the open razor removes far more dead skin than a normal blade; but that the Ruffians range of shaving products are designed to eliminate the risk of ‘razor rash’. An ice cold towel finishes the process, and he’s right – my face feels fresh and tingling, with not a hint of the stinging sensation I normally get after a wet shave. And, rubbing my hand over my chin almost an hour after the experience began, I’m probably the cleanest and closest-shaven I’ve been since I was a teenager.
And whilst the length and cost of a Ruffians shave makes it something you’re unlikely to be able to do on a daily basis, it’s the kind of thing you would certainly consider before an important night out, or just as a way of being good to yourself.
My haircut is a much shorter affair, but then so is my hair. That said, things still impress. The barber stations are cleverly built into a large oak table, with the mirror, apparatus and hair product all concealed beneath a lid which Ian opens as the cut begins. Things are kept informal and friendly, but there’s no denying his skill and experience are equally suited to treating the hair on my scalp as they are to removing it from my face.
Then with the minimum of fuss and mess (my head’s even vacuumed at the end to remove any stubble), my Ruffians experience is at an end. Throughout, the mood has been relaxed and informal, but the treatments have been expert and measured. My head doesn’t really know what’s happened to it, but I’m pretty sure it’s grateful.
The only way you’re likely to leave Ruffians disappointed is if you go in expecting a leaf through some 6-month old magazines, a slapdash short back & sides and a quick chat about where you’re going for your holidays.
If however you’re after a stylish and unique experience where you can literally sit back and relax, confident in the knowledge you’re going to leave a heck of a lot smoother than when you went in, it comes highly recommended.
Check out Ruffians online for more details of their service and for special offers.