I am not a man who is comfortable going to a salon. I’m a barbershop guy. I ask for a haircut—no scalp treatments, no manicures, no massages. Never in my life have I used the words nose and wax in the same sentence.
Sitting in a barberchair the other day at 18|8 Barrington, I stared uneasily in the mirror at myself, two popsicle sticks dangling from my nose. How had I allowed this to happen?
The answer was simple. As a new writer for 365 Barrington, it’s my job to spotlight local businesses and show what they have to offer. As it happens, I have been getting my hair cut at 18|8 for three years. But Jeff Eggert, the owner, said if we were going to feature his downtown barbershop, he wanted me to convey the full experience.
Which explains why Kristina, who always gives me excellent haircuts, was now reaching for the popsicle stick lodged in my right nostil and with zero warning giving it a swift, decisive yank.
I believe in honest marketing, so I won’t lie: it hurt. But after a leisurely, two-hour appointment that included an executive haircut, scalp treatment, hot stone massage, and a straight razor shave, I can report that that momentary discomfort was a blip in an otherwise highly relaxing morning. I stepped out into the noontime sun afterward feeling stress-free and looking sharp, wondering why I had never done this before.
If you’ve never been to 18|8 Barrington, here’s the gist: it’s something of a hybrid between a men’s salon and barbershop. The atmosphere is sleek and professional. A highly trained staff of stylists and barbers attend to their clients at semi-private barbering stations. Services include beard trims, grey blending, face treatments, and solutions for thinning hair. Men can order a cold beer while they wait for their appointment, at least when a pandemic isn’t curtailing drink service.
“It’s all men here and there’s nothing foofy,” Kristina, the barbershop’s master designer, told me while she worked a tingly, peppermint-scented conditioner into my hair. She said 18|8’s clientele tends to appreciate that the entire staff specialize in men’s hair. Many clients become members—essentially a package subscription service that includes product discounts and free touchups between cuts. With upscale barbershops in short supply outside Chicago, she said some men drive to 18|8 from as far as 35 miles away.
I asked Kristina how many of her clients routinely take advantage of add-on services like scalp treatments, which are meant to repair damaged hair and improve scalp circulation, or upgrade from a standard to executive haircut, which includes a facial cleanse and tone, along with a neck, shoulder, and scalp massage. About half, she said.
Then she coated a stone with massage oil and presesed its hot, smooth surface onto the back of my neck, and I immediately understood why. Over the next several minutes, my tension melted away. Kristina then reclined my chair and gently coiled a steaming towel around the perimeter of my face, leaving me for a few glorious minutes to do absolutely nothing.
I had to admit, I could get used to this. Whatever concerns I may have had that these services bordered on foofy salon pampering were quickly put to rest a few minutes later when Ashtyn, a trained barber with double-sleeve tattoos and edgy hair pressed a razor-sharp steel blade to my skin and began to meticulously shear away three days of stubble. Speaking of steel, that’s where the name 18|8 comes from—specifically from the 18% chromium and 8% nickel found in stainless steel.
I laid there, eyes closed, feeling the pleasant scrape of the blade, then the smooth application of a hydrating mask, and, finally, the bracing effect a cold towel, Guns N’ Roses playing overhead.
“Man at His Best Starts Here,” reads the 18|8 tagline. I have to say, I felt that way as I put on my jacket to leave—cool, composed, and well groomed. I even felt like I could breathe easier. Probably thanks to that nose waxing.
About 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon & Barber Lounge
Located at 120 South Hough Street in the Village of Barrington, 18|8* is committed to creating an experience unlike any other for their guests. They combine the best of the traditional barbershop and the upscale salon. With their semiprivate stations, comfortable barber chairs, relaxing environment, and friendly staff, Eighteen Eight is the perfect escape from the rigors and stresses of the outside world. Guests become like family and walk out with a little extra confidence both in their daily lives and before important milestones and events. learn more at 188Barrington.com.
* 18|8 is a 365Barrington partner. If you’d like to see your story featured here, call 847-691-3150 and we’ll hook you up with John, our go-to barbershop guy who whips up true tales, professional photos and sensational steel-cut oats for his family daily.