I spent the last week of August and first week of October 2017 in Johannesburg and Pretoria working on a cultural event organized in by a group of Ghanaians and South African nationals in partnership with the Ghanaian High Commission in Pretoria. It was a platform to showcase the rich Ghanaian culture to the rest of through a series of events including musical performances, exhibition of arts and craft and workshops on tourism in Ghana.
Though not my first time in one of Africa’s most developed (infrastructure and economy) countries, one of the several things that struck me was how much importance South Africans, not excluding men in certain suburbs across the country placed on their grooming needs – haircut, styling and general looks.
Mathew Kabelo, is a trained editor and public relations professional who works with South African Broadcasting Corporation, the state broadcaster which provides nineteen (19) radio stations and five (5) television platforms broadcasting across South Africa. Mathew, who I have known for almost four years tried to justify the ‘craze’ about looks in South Africa and why men aren’t left out.
“I hold in my hands the Ultimate Guide publication on fashion and grooming and it covers just about everything you need to know about men’s hairstyles and haircuts. Mine and just like several other colleagues of mine that have purchased this guide will focus on men’s hairstyle trend and what is in style in 2017. However, you can add a twist to it to make you very unique in your own way. It is just a necessity we have come to discover and not sure we can depart from it. You are as good as your looks and so why don’t you invest time, energy and money into that to get the desires satisfaction. That is what drives several men around the country to be particular about their looks, from what they wear to their hair style”, he said.
Back to the motherland and I decided to engage Christian Dordoe, the founder and owner of C- Dors Executive Grooming, who is popularly known as the Celebrity Barber on the same subject. I made my way to “Rasta”, an area along the bush road (behind Trade Fair, from La to Teshie) to meet up with Christian at the latest branch of his chain of grooming centers.
After introducing the topic, Christian indicated to me that Ghanaians have become more cautious about their looks and seem to pay attention to that. “People come into my place and they start to engage you and move on to talk more about the service you will render to them and what specifically they want. They want you to be aware of their face shape and hair type, then discuss choosing a hair length, beard grooming, and hair products. Their main aim is to help you get a haircut and style that looks great and make them feel better”, he added.
Men’s hair has experienced a renaissance in the last few years, with more styles and products available than ever before. That’s the good news. The bad news is it can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve had the same haircut for a long time and are uncertain about trying something new. A new cut could be better but it could also be worse.
According to Christian, “you don’t need to know everything about the hair to get a great cut and style. You are seeing a professional though unfortunately we don’t have a lot of them in Ghana. It is their business to not only know the trends but to adapt a style for different hair types and face shapes. So if you want a new haircut but don’t know what to get, the most important thing is working with a barber or stylist you trust. There has been several instances when people have come in with photos of haircuts they want. I have always welcomed that as it gives you an idea of what exactly the client wants when they don’t know the name of the haircut they want”.
About how to find a great barber or stylist, Christian jokingly said “First, ask your friends, especially if there is someone with consistently good hair. Also, if you spot a fresh cut on the street, you can always ask them where they got it. It’s a huge compliment so don’t be shy. Online reviews can also be helpful but it is rare in Ghana so that isn’t an option you can rely on”.
He further stated that “all of these tips depend on having a good barber or stylist. There are so many of them out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. You can decide if you prefer a barber or salon environment. One isn’t better than the other but they are different. Barbers have usually more masculine environments, provide straight shaves and beard grooming, take less time, and tend to be cheaper. Salons will be unisex, sometimes offer appointments for hour long cuts that provide more time to discuss what you want, and provide a more pampered experience. You can also have an home or office appointment where you will be treated from the comfort of your house or work station. An important distinction can be a barber versus a stylist but who you trust to cut your hair is very key”.
It has become obvious that men’s grooming is a polite way of talking about cleansing, hair removal, and managing facial hair. While your body requires grooming from head to toe, this is about facial hair, shaving, and skin care. Follow these simple men’s grooming tips and you’ll know you look good. That combination of grooming and confidence will make you unstoppable in anything you do. Whether you have a beard, go clean-shaven, or somewhere in-between, you need to take care of the rest of your face too.
According to Christian, he will on any day advice people (men) to use hair products for great results. “9 times out of 10, perhaps even 99 times out of a 100, the answer is yes. Why? Even short hair needs some hold to look its best. The shortest buzz cuts are exempt but anything longer will benefit from the shaping, texture, and finish that hair products provide. That is just for basic hairstyles. Products also allow you to create any style you can come up with from the hottest slick styles to gravity-defying spikes to coveted messy hair. Hair products also make the most of your hair type, controlling thick hair, adding volume and fullness to fine hair, and defining curls”, he added.