Barbers are accustomed to using multiple tools in a classic cut, switching among clippers, trimmers, shavers, shears, even massaging devices, all in a 40 minute or less cut. For a salon stylist, that “barber thing” can be intimidating and many believe that these tools are just for male clients.
To help increase comfort and confidence in working with barbering tools, we went to some of MODERN’s favorite barbers for must-have tool recommendations, plus their tips for usage, some watch-outs and common mistakes, as well as a bit of career advice. The four are BaBylissPRO Ambassadors and members of the BaByliss4Barbers (@babyliss4barbers) team. Each of the four artists--Vic Fontanez (@vicblends), Sofie Pok (@staygold31), Rachel Romero (@Barberologist_) and David Connor (@davidconnorhair)--is at the top of their game. Find out what they keep in their kit—and why!
PHOTO: Vic Fontanez at work using the BaBylissPRO SilverFX Cordless Metal Clipper
“I think every salon pro needs to be able to serve the needs of any and every client that comes through the door,” 20 year old Atlanta-based Vic Fontanez (@vicblends) says. “Why limit yourself in a limitless industry? The more tools you have, the more services you can offer. You want to be able to sell an experience.”
For Rachel Romero (@Barberologist_), a stylist turned barber and owner of The Barberologist Lounge in Albuquerque, NM, these tools are necessities to have for male and female styles, for removing bulk and detailing, “and they also give the ability to offer multiple services. Having the skills to use all these tools makes you a versatile barber/stylist.”
David Connor (@davidconnorhair), a classically trained cosmetologist who added barbering to his repertoire, agrees. “Not only is it necessary to have a wide range of tools to complete modern looks and styles, but the clients’ perception of value is increased when more tools are used.”
Fontanez adds that he likes to add some “soft tools” as he calls them (tools that aren’t as sharp/aggressive) to his tool kit. You need a mixture of tools based on the sensitivity of the client in your chair. Not everybody can handle sharp tools on their skin.
FAVORITE TECHNIQUES AND TOOLS
PHOTO: Rachel Romero treats her client to a service using the BaByliss PRO VibeFX Cordless Metal Massager
These hard and soft tools offer different experiences. All barbers have special and favorite techniques, and these artists are no different. “My favorite technique is corner cutting with my clipper,” Fontanez says. “I do a lot of very detailed fades and tight blends. When I corner cut with my clipper, I’m able to detail and pinpoint exactly where I want to cut.”
Romero agrees that corner cutting can be tricky. “The best way to blend out a line while fading is by using the corner teeth of the clipper blade to help effortlessly erase guard lines.” Connor uses foil shavers to completely ghost away any weight lines while Pok uses a single foil shaver between a double foil and trimmer line when doing a skin fade. “As far as I know, only BaBylissPRO carries a single foil shaver. This helps make the fade transition seamless.”
When it comes to picking a favorite tool, each artist has trouble narrowing it down.
Connor says that although he uses the "SilverFX Cordless Metal Clipper(FX870S) most frequently, he is torn when asked about his favorite. “It is so so hard to choose,” Connor says. “It’s definitely a toss-up between my Skelton trimmers and my double foil shaver. I’ve never used any tools that have such quality and precision. Hands-down the best!”
For Fontanez, the tool he uses the most right now is the "SilverFX Cordless Metal Outlining Trimmer(FX787S). I’m using this trimmer so often now because of the deep tooth black graphite blade. I do a lot of sharp lines so it makes the whole day easier for me.” But when it comes to his favorite, he pivots. “My favorite tool is the SilverFX Cordless Metal Clipper (FX870S). I love it because I can adjust it perfectly for skin fades. It helps me be super-efficient with my timing for a fade.”
PHOTO: David Connor working with the BaByliss PRO Cordless Metal Double Foil Shaver
Romero uses the BlackFX clipper the most often, but is torn when it comes to her favorite, saying she has more than one. “However, the VibeFX is a huge tool in my arsenal and definitely one of my favorites right now because of the simple fact that it is a cordless massager that I use on all my clientele. They absolutely love it!”
For LA based Pok, it’s all about using high quality metals. “When grazed against someone’s scalp it’s smooth and doesn’t cause a ‘weird’ friction.” She says that the cordless feature allows her to float freely around my clients. Additionally, “I love the sharpness of the Silver FX blades when doing edge ups. The single foil shaver is great for detailing in tight spaces because it’s single foil and it’s super lightweight. I can’t choose,” adds Pok, who was named the 2017/2018 Female Barber of the Year at Barbercon.
Based on questions asked at workshops and shows, the artists see there is the need for education. When asked if there is anything that many in the industry are doing wrong on a regular basis, Fontanez says that he sees a lot of people trying to rush the process. “My best advice is to take things day by day and understand that everybody has a time. If you aren't where you want to be right now, don't envy anybody else - just know yours is coming soon!”
For Romero, it’s the concern that too many people are focused on trying to become a celebrity via social media.
“Nobody is showing all the long nights and dedication it took to get to get to where they are today," Romero says. "All you see is the glory of the hard work. If you want to be successful in the industry, I think it’s best to find what you are good at and what makes you happy and then go super hard. Finding your own lane is the best thing possible because you can’t do 2,3,4 things at once and expect to be great at them all.”
Pok adds that keeping an open mind while focusing is key. “I’m working heavily on being more mindful and aware of everything around me. As important as we do the physical duties, there’s also a mental side that fuels our drive.” Connor believes all artists can travel different paths to achieve success. “We all approach this differently but most importantly we must approach this with passion. If anything is wrong - it’s leaving passion out of your formula.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
PHOTO: The BaByliss PRO SilverFX Cordless Metal Outlining Trimmer is one of Sofie Pok's favorite tools.
The most frequently asked questions are actually quite assorted. Fontanez is regularly asked if his clippers are zero gapped or modified. “My answer is yes, and no. I have most of my tools zero gapped because of the type of haircuts I do - tight fades and sharp lines. Not all of my tools are adjusted though. I always make sure I have some ‘soft tools’ as I mentioned before. You need a mixture of both based on the sensitivity of the client in your chair. Not everybody can handle sharp tools on their skin.”
Romero is questioned about the difference between a taper blade and a fade blade. “The taper blade is best for removing bulk. The fade blade is best for detailing and tapering when cutting the hair down to the skin,” she says.
“One of the most common questions I get asked is how a barber can become recognized by a brand to become an educator and platform artist,” Connor adds. “My answer to them is that they must first create your own platform for education and start to share on every platform possible. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook are all examples of platforms that stylist can use to support the industry and create a strong ‘why‘ for a company to choose you to be on their team.”
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
Each of the artists interviewed for this article do not take their recognition for granted. When asked about their “secret to success” all agree that consistency is key followed by some interesting thoughts.
For Pok, “Putting myself in uncomfortable places and not being afraid of failure,” is the secret sauce that has her driven her so far.
For Fontanez, “Make sure that you wake up every day with the same amount of effort if not more than you had yesterday. Do not wake up one day looking to chase your dream and then the next day you're back to old habits. Consistency is going to create success guaranteed.”
Connor agrees. “Success can be achieved in so many different ways. Continue to push forward when others no longer want to continue. You’ll end up in a place where only the ones who kept pushing reside. My secret to success has always been surrounding myself with like-minded people who never give up and who are forever passionate about growing at least one percent a day.”
And Romero gets the last word: “Find what you love about this industry and dedicate yourself to becoming a master at it. Hard work and dedication will always pay off!”
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