Could this be the best barber in Dublin?
Grooming has moved from preening to maintenance. One shop is at its epicentre
Sam’s Barbers has an authentic vintage atmosphere with every hint of modern comfort and style.
Men’s grooming in Ireland has visibly improved in the last five to 10 years. Skincare lines targeted at the male market are becoming increasingly popular and we have experienced a cultural shift that has seen male grooming move from something seen as excessive preening to basic maintenance.
As well as the re-emergence of the beard (which Celtic men sport most fetchingly), the curated hairstyle with a vintage flavour is back. These classic styles require skilled barbering – technically perfect fades and crisp partings are not achieved by the ham-fisted or poorly trained. Sam’s Barbers consistently comes up in conversation when I ask men where the best haircut in Dublin can be procured. So I contacted its director, James Donnelly, to get the best advice for men who are serious about their hair.
Finding a good barber can be challenging and a lot of new establishments have popped up around the country in recent years. To find the right barber for your needs, James Donnelly recommends looking out for good communication skills. If your barber is receptive and seems keen to listen, give relevant advice and help you to achieve the look you want, you’re on to a winner. If they’re not really engaging with you about the look you’re going for before they start cutting, look elsewhere.
According to Donnelly, “most clients chief difficulty is explaining exactly what they want”. Bring in photographs of looks you love and even of some you don’t. The photograph will help you to explain precisely what you’re looking for and give the barber a sense of direction. Donnelly recommends being open to your barber’s advice, though. “An experienced barber will know what will and won’t suit your hair. It’s our job to make you look your best.”
Some of the more graphic styles will require careful upkeep and good styling products are essential for that. Donnelly says “clients often say that they just can’t achieve the same results when they style their hair themselves. Get the most out of your barber by asking them for tips and recommendations on styling and the right products for your hair type”.
Men with curly hair can struggle more with finding a barber who can make the most of their hair, but Donnelly sees this as failing the client and encourages making the most of curly hair rather than fighting it.
“A lot of people with curly hair used just to cut it short to make it more manageable. But with the availability of quality products in most of the today’s barbershops and the change in styles, curls are no longer a style issue. Our motto is, ‘embrace the curl’. A good mix with curly hair can be to keep it short on the back ‘n’ side with a healthy dose of length left on top to truly show off the curls.”
Sam’s Barbers has been in Dublin since 1940 and originally brought Pomp & Co. into being, one of the best men’s grooming brands on the market and the Irish brand I’ve been gifting to the men in my life for several Christmases now. With the same blend of vintage style and pragmatism, as well as luxury, that you’ll find at Sam’s, Pomp & Co. products are always gratefully received.
Since I can’t exactly test Sam’s Barber’s for myself, I asked a discerning male volunteer go for a haircut and wash, which costs €30. To give the barbers at Sam’s a challenge, I chose someone with extremely curly hair who is serially unhappy with his experience at barbershops and vocal about it.
I was genuinely shocked to find that his feedback was glowing. “You can get minute steak anywhere, and it’s fine, but this was a fillet. The attention to detail was incredible. My barber took the time to make my experience really positive. He’d been working there for six years, which made me feel really at ease. Everyone was friendly. They styled my hair carefully with really good products and ensured there weren’t any hair clippings left anywhere on me.
“I always have to head home and shower straight away after a haircut because I’m covered in hair clippings and I’ve just become used to that sort of lazy service. They managed to give me the sort of clean, 1940s-inspired style I’ve always wanted but other barbers have said can’t be done well on curly hair. This is the best haircut I’ve had; I’m looking forward to going back.”
Sam’s has an authentic vintage atmosphere with every hint of modern comfort and style. It is a decidedly masculine space with a friendly and mellow air, the decor hinting at the style and function the barbers reproduce in their work.
Dublin is home to several excellent barber shops. If you’re looking for a new barber, do your research, shop around and feel free to contact a place and ask questions before you make your choice. If you’re not happy when your barber has finished his or her work, always say so. A bad haircut is your barber’s problem, not yours.
- Do you have a favourite barber shop or men’s hairdresser? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about them. Include a photograph of your haircut if you have one.