My first question when I arrived in London was: Where am I going to get my hair cut? I usually go to my local barbershop in Brooklyn, so as someone new to the neighborhood, I had to ask around before I found a barber I could frequent. Thankfully, there are many different options for styling Afro hair in London. Here are some options:
Champs Barbers is a barbershop located near central London. It has a modern look in a fashionable neighborhood. It was recommended to me by a friend of mine who spent a year in London. “I went there every 2 weeks. They took care of me.” Champs barbers also has a woman barber on their staff. If you want to spend the extra $10 on top of the $25 you’ll pay for a regular cut, they offer hot towels and washes. RXB barbers is located in the historically black neighborhood of Brixton. Brixton is a good place to visit even if you’re not getting a haircut. Check out Brixton market. It has outdoor markets, clothing vendors and restaurants. RXB barbers is very reliable for a precise fade. My friend Cameron, class of 2020, is another associate student at Queen Mary. We are from the same neighborhood in New York. “I wasn’t sure where I was going to get my haircut at first, but I asked my flat mate, and he recommended I go to RXB. I got a skin fade and beard trim for $30. The barber was around my age, and I really liked the job.”
A barber recommended to me by my flat mate at Queen Mary was Cut Above the Rest. It’s located 15 minutes by train in east London. The price range is cheaper than average as well. It often serves the local neighborhood so it can be a long wait. Try to get there early in the morning. My flatmate told me the music was great too. It a good vibe to match a good haircut. I got a regular cut and shape up for $10.
Salons curate environments conducive to conversation and insight. A salon can be a great place to meet people and learn more about hair but also London in general. You can ask the various individuals who work there for more tips. Most salons that have Afro hair services can do things like braids, weaves, and washes. Chop Chop London is a hair salon located in Shoreditch which is only a 30 minute bus ride from the Queen Mary campus. They have a $30 flat fee for 20 minutes of styling on any length or hair texture. “I got my haircut and met really cool people! Someone that worked there told me about an event that was going on that weekend. It was super fun,” said Sophia, a student from the Oakland area who is studying abroad for fall semester in London. A salon known for their work on locs is Adornment365 which is located in Brixton. All stylists are experienced with loc’d hair. Since the neighborhood of Brixton usually serves people of color, it is no coincidence.
Beauty Supply Shops
Finding Beauty Supply Shops are important to any study abroad student. To take care of your hair the way you want to, you need the right products. As a rule of thumb, always look local. You can get the best deals that way. Places like “Lush” are huge corporations that charge a lot but don’t provide that much of a difference in quality. Sally is a chain of beauty supply shops that you can find all over London. They are a cheap option for when you just need a few things on the go. There is another chain you keep an eye out for called Pak’s Hair And Cosmetic Centre. “Every black girl goes there” said my friend Lola, a local to London who goes to Queen Mary.
Not being comfortable with your hair because you don’t know where to get the necessary care can be very stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask, since many people of color can relate. I went out and tried different things before deciding on a consistent barber as well. Sample some places and see what works best for you.
Jahmir Duran is an African-American Studies major at Wesleyan University and studied abroad with IFSA at Queen Mary, University of London in England for the academic year 2018-2019. He is an International Correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study Program.