My beard has been butchered once too often to let just any Joe or Jane Soap go near it.
From old smooth faced Spanish barbers ignoring every word I say, to kamikaze beard trimmers plunging haphazardly into my precious six months of tenacious growth.
Barbers who don't understand or even care how long you've been nurturing that beard are what all of us hairy-faced men dread. So often they nod their heads, pretending to have taken in all that was said, before completely doing their own thing.
Well enough is enough! Here are four things to look for in a Barber before allowing them wield that scissors or trimmer in front of your face.
What to look for in a great Beard Barber
1. A well-kept beard
A man that knows what you go through daily to keep your beard in the best possible condition understands your fear as you sit in that Barber chair. They are your bearded brother and know that this is a big deal.
They themselves have been through the trials and tribulations of washing, oiling and trimming facial hair so they have your back.
However, make sure their beard looks cared for! Even in 2018 there are still plenty of male bearded barbers that do not routinely look after their facial hair.
2. A steady slow hand
Beard trimmers flying around my face at break neck speeds give me night sweats! You sink into your chair, dare not move your head, and hold on for dear life as your Barber hurriedly takes frenetic bites from your mane.
There's nothing more terrifying for a bearded man than knowing one false move will end it all. It sounds dramatic but that is honestly the way I have felt on numerous occasions. Grit your teeth, get through it and promise never to return.
A slow deliberate hand is what you're after. This assures you, calms you down and helps you believe your beard will survive the encounter.
3. Bearded Clientele
There is confidence in numbers as the old saying goes. A glance around gives you a fair idea what sort of Barbershop you're in.
A swarm of baby faced teenagers squashed on the bench waiting their turn...you may not be in the right place. Children fighting over one of the tattered magazines on the coffee table...turn around now. Bearded men of all ages browsing through their phones..ah this may just be the place for you.
4. Beard Care Products on Show
You nervously walk to the chair, sit down and get wrapped in your Barber cape. You're seconds away from having a stranger go hell for leather on your locks when you see a small dark bottle amongst their scissors and combs.
Hallelujah you internally cry! It's a half empty bottle of beard oil which means this Barber has done it all before. They've tested their skills on some other poor sod's beard before you, and had the know-all to recommend and apply a nice lashing of beard oil.
It's the clue you had been looking for. You let out a relieved sigh, unclench your buttocks and let the wonderful Barber before you do their thing.