An Interview With: DENIS ROBINSON
Denis Robinson is the creative director of one of London best barbershop brands, Ruffians. Ruffians have 4 shops across London and one in Edinburgh with Denis being based at the Soho branch in the world famous Liberty store.
With a wealth of knowledge Denis has been involved in the hair world for 32 years having previously been art director at both Charles Worthington and Brookes & Brookes Hairdressing salons.
EF: What is the one grooming product you can’t live without?
DR: Always has been always will be, it’s water so it’s not actually a product. Ive always maintained that hair and skin if they’re well hydrated you’re going to get great skin and you’re gonna get great hair. Also its my favourite styling product when it comes to styling hair, working with the right level of moisture, I find that if the hair gets a little too fluffy or a little too big or whatever it might be, just by having a bit of moisture is always the one. So actually staying away from producty products and just getting the right levels of moisture in there and then I think the hair and skin does pretty much whatever you want it to.
EF: With being from Northern Ireland and now living in London how have you found the difference in water?
DR: Water in London is so much harder than what I was used to. I moved to London in 1988 and you don’t notice the hardness or I didn’t when I was here, when I noticed the difference was when I would go home. Any time I get off the plane the first thing I want to do no matter where I go in the world is wash my face, with the pressure in the cabin, and everything that goes with it and I remember one time going into mum and dads bathroom back home and throwing the water on my face and thinking ‘my god, that’s just a whole different ball game, so much softer.’ Maybe the water in London helps give the hair a little bit more guts, maybe that’s why I can use it as a styling product because of all the stuff that’s in there.
I would use soft water shampoos, using things without sulphates and things that are leave the hair feweleing a lot fresher and a lot softer, the same with the skin as well, if you use more gentle products, I just find if you just, any product will have build up any product will leave a residue and just that’s my favourite male grooming tip.
EF: What would you say about washing your hair with mineral water then?
DR:I think if when I go out to New York I always have a bottle of Evian I would literally throw that all over myself at the end because their water feels almost a little plastic, I don’t know what they use to treat their water so things like my face and my hair I would always pour it over to refresh it and get Reid of the harder water of my, something a little fresher. Also if that bottle has been chilled then that’s great to close all the pores at the end of the hot shower.
EF: What would be your favourite product to use in the barbershop be right now?
DR: It changes all the time, but currently I’m loving the Sachajuan volume cream. Its pre dry product, so post shampoo and before you dry; it’s very adaptable, it gives some smoothness and gives it some volume also a little bit of shine if you put more in. If you apply it to dry hair it has a tendency to go little more matte which is quite nice, I’m more about using products before rather than after. More of a prepping product and it works on fine hair to thicken it, its has some smoothing and de-frizzing properties. Yeah that’s my go to product at the moment that I’m using on a lot of guys. It’s nice to get away from salt sprays and the real matt finishes. Slightly more natural look to it that you can pump up the shine or also mattify if need be.
EF: From what I’m seeing clients are asking for something with a little variation as opposed to just a sea salt spray, thy’re asking ’is there nothing else I can put in pre dry?’
DR: Male grooming and barbershops in particular you don’t want toy be overstocked with lots pf products, most guys want 1 or 2 but to use those products really well. People are always going to want a little bit of variety, fashions change, to have a different type of product to use in a different way. I’ve got clients I’ve been doing 5/6 years, they don’t want the same products all the time because they don’t want the same haircut all the time. If they’re at a black tie event they’re going to style it differently to if they’re going to the park. Having the variation is key.
EF: Whats your favourite hairstyle at the moment?
DR: You’re going to find this one really bizarre because I’m going to mention someone or a music group that you’re going to think how does he know who they are? An it’s a bowl cut, it’s very 90s and ‘Spiral Carpets’. I won’t listen to the music but that kinda of bowl, heavy, quite sharp, quite flat less volume than others. Little bit page boy, very easy to see right now in the news season of stranger things on Netflix. And that’s sort of late 80’s early 90’s kind of bowl cut type thing, a little Madchester and one of the reasons it’s nice is that’s guys are growing their hair out or a lot of guys are. It makes me check me technicality of cutting hair with scissors, I’ve cut hair for 32 in hairdressing shops before getting into the male grooming side. 99 % of haircuts I did back then were with scissors and razors, its nice to bring some of that back in. I think it makes helps me to stand out from other people possibly, who’s approach to barbering may be a little more 1 dimensional.
EF: Where do you see hair going in the next year?
DR: Well, when you mentioned you were going to ask this question, 10 years ago I would have been getting out Italian Vogue etc and looking through to see what is happening but I think you get to a certain point and you think, actually, it’s my responsibility to decide where hair is going. And I think as an industry and people within our industry that’s our responsibility. The first ever haircut I did back in 1982 was with a cut throat razor and I remember because that’s what people did back then, scissor cut was getting more popular and now I’m more moving back into razor cutting. Surface cutting and thats on short hair as well as longer hair, I’m doing a lot more of that, taking a lot more soft weight out. Feathering hair, I think hair is coming little bit, I loathe to use the word ‘grunge’ but it’s almost a little bit there with these kind of diverse lengths , broken up and looser, especially with longer, but still even with shorter. It’s becoming different textures, and unusual textures that can be moulded into something that is more groomed by wearing some pomade or worn softer and more naturally.
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